★ Rockstar Review: EARN Starter Savings Program

Posted May 23, 2017 6:00 am by with 4 comments


Reviewed by:
On May 23, 2017
Last modified:May 23, 2017


A free, easy to use program, that helps lower-income households boost their savings. For every $20 saved each month, they match it with $10 cash rewards!

earn starter program

This is part of our Rockstar Reviews series.
Be sure to check out all previous products we’ve reviewed!

earn.org icon
rockstar rating 4 and a half stars

Who it’s for: Lower-to-middle-income families needing help getting their savings going.

Ease of use: Easy! All you have to do is create an account within minutes at EARN.org, and then connect it to your financial institution.

What we like about it: For every month you save $20, they will match it with $10 up to 6 months in a row. (So basically, if you contribute $20/mo for 6 months, you will end up with $180 total: $120 that you contributed, and $60 that they reward you with for saving consistently.)

What we don’t like about it: Honestly, nothing much – it’s a GREAT savings tool. The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s only for those who fall under “lower-income,” and then you also have to have an account with one of the 15 banks they work with. Fortunately, however, most of the big banks are on the list.

Where to find them:

EARN.org || FREE

A Non-Profit that Rewards You for Saving!

So we’re doing something new this week and featuring a non-profit in our series here, to help spread the word on other great Fintech companies that tend to get passed over. Some of these tools and services won’t help all of us directly, but I urge you to help spread the word either way so that they can make it to those who could use them! :)

We start this month with EARN’s free “Starter Savings” program, aimed at getting more Americans into the habit of saving. Specifically, those with a household income of 80% or below the Area Median Income for your county of residence and household size (as defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development).

How the EARN Starter Savings Program Works

earn starter savings

In a nutshell, their program works like this:

  1. You sign up for an account at EARN.org/save
  2. You connect your existing savings account to the EARN Starter Savings Program (so they can track how much you are saving)
  3. If you save at least $20 in one month, they will give you $10 for that month (you can earn the $10 reward a total of 6 times, but you only have 6 months to do so)
  4. After 6 months they will electronically send you the rewards to your bank account upon completing an exit survey

EARN is not a bank or credit union, and never gets access to your money. They just facilitate the program and are funded by their donors, where the $10 matches come from – cool, right? :) (Maybe we need to do something similar with the Rockstar Community Fund?)

A List of the 15 Banks They Currently* Connect With

To be able to participate in the EARN Starter Savings Program, you’ll need to have an account at one of the following 15 institutions (they only partner with those that offer the most reliable connections):

  • Ally Financial
  • Bank of America
  • BB&T
  • BBVA
  • Capital One 360 (see our review!)
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • PNC
  • Simple (see our review!)
  • SunTrust
  • TD Bank
  • USAA (my personal favorite)
  • US Bank
  • Wells Fargo

*More banks are being added regularly.

earn.org screenshots

About EARN and Its Mission

Founded in 2001, EARN’s ultimate vision is that well-informed American households will achieve financial success through proven strategies, fair public policy, and their own hard work – focusing their efforts to reach America’s most economically vulnerable populations.

This clip from Forbes sums up the Starter Savings mission perfectly:

The EARN Starter Savings Program helps [low-income] households manage financial shocks by teaching and incentivizing regular savings behavior. The program starts a long-term habit of saving and promotes positive financial behavior through easy-to-use tools backed by small monetary incentives.

Launched in 2015, it seems to be working too: 64% of the participants go on to consider themselves a regular saver by the end of the program, and 83% of them leave the program having a strategy for handling a financial emergency. With another 50+ non-profits integrating EARN’s savings solutions into their own services as well.


If you or someone you know needs a boost in getting their savings going, and you qualify as a “low-income” household, this is the program for you! It’s super easy to use, and it’s totally free (in fact, they give you money for saving!). If you don’t qualify, and you believe in their mission, please take the time to pass this around so it can help reach even more families!

To learn more, or sign up, visit: EARN.org

Similar recommendations: Brightpeak Savings Rewards Program (another “matching” savings program, only catered towards those of Christian faith), Digit (an app that helps you save automatically by harnessing algorithms that track your income/spending), and Qapital (an app that incorporates goals and “rules” to help you save more).


Most Rockstar Reviews here include affiliate links to the companies being featured, however this one does not. And rightfully so, non-profits need all the money they can keep to continue on their mission!

Jay is the founder of Rockstar Finance, and blogs about money over at BudgetsAreSexy.com. He loves all things finance, coffee, and hip-hop, and is the proud daddy of two beautiful little boys!

4 responses to ★ Rockstar Review: EARN Starter Savings Program

  1. Korrie May 23rd, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Sounds like an awesome program!


    • J. Money May 24th, 2017 at 5:55 am

      Yeah! Pass on the good word! :)


  2. Tussy May 29th, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Do you know if Earn is only available for Americans ? Thanks!


    • J. Money June 6th, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      No, you don’t have to be a US citizen to use EARN, but you do need to have a bank account at one of the linking institutions in order sign up.


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