5 million people helped and counting  >  Call 1-888-888-CARE or Get Started Now
Article library
"I did a lot of research on various credit counseling agencies and CareOne’s reputation and credibility convinced me that they were the right choice."Kim W., Louisville, KYCareOne Customer

A Lottery You Can’t Lose: Prize-linked Savings Accounts

What if every time you put money into your savings account you were entered to win a cash prize? Seem too good to be true? Think again!

Currently, the rate of savings in America is at an historical low point:

  • According to a recent report issued by the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development, almost one third of all Americans have no savings accounts at all1.
  • And, about 44% of Americans don’t have sufficient savings or liquid assets to keep themselves out of poverty for more than three months should they lose their income.

So, it’s more important than ever for consumers to attempt to build at least some financial cushion – no matter how small at first – should an unexpected emergency arise. In an attempt to help motivate Americans, more and more financial institutions are looking for ways to make saving exciting and fun (yes, fun) and one idea that is gaining ground is the prize-linked savings account.

Prize-linked savings (PLS) are accounts that reward good saving behavior by automatically entering the account holder in a weekly, monthly, or yearly cash prize drawing every time they make a deposit (each PLS has different rules of how much has to be deposited and how often they draw winners). The best part is that there’s nothing to lose. Even those who don’t win the prize are still saving, earning interest, and safeguarding their futures. And, the prize pool is usually funded by the credit union or a third-party so it doesn’t cost the consumer anything to enter the drawing, other than the required deposit amount2.

The first PLS program was started by the Michigan Credit Union League3  with over 40 credit unions participating within that state. Many other states are beginning to take notice and follow suit, for example:  Washington, Nebraska, Maryland, Rhode Island and North Carolina are all pursuing their own PLS programs. Most credit unions are hoping to use these programs to attract the most vulnerable consumers who are considered asset-poor and only one emergency away from financial disaster.

The prize-linked savings idea is catching the attention of leading economists and financial experts throughout the country, including the authors of Freakonomics, and the dean of the University of Oxford Business School who see it as a viable way to encourage smart saving for people all over the world4. PLS programs in England have proven themselves to be highly popular, with more than 20 million participants and cash prizes of up to one million pounds5

So if you’re heading to the convenience store to spend your hard-earned money on a lottery ticket and hoping against astronomical odds that you’ll win, you may want to consider using that money to build a more stable financial future through a PLS instead. Just be sure to research the terms and rules associated with the PLS you want to join. You can save big, and you just might win big too!


  1. NPR, http://www.npr.org/2013/01/30/170561872/study-nearly-half-in-u-s-lack-financial-safety-net
  2. Northwest Credit Union Association, http://www.nwcua.org/member-resources/anthem/two-washington-credit-unions-approve-prize-linked-savings-programs
  3. D2D Fund, http://www.d2dfund.org/prize_linked_savings
  4. BizJournals.com, http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/2012/08/credit-union-prepares-lottery-like.html
  5. Governing.com, http://www.governing.com/topics/economic-dev/states-considering-allowing-prize-linked-savings-programs.html
  6. Daily Finance, http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/04/04/gaming-your-personal-finances-saveup-helps-you-save-and-win/ 

If you liked this you may also like:

  • Understanding Closing Costs

    Avoid surprises! Be prepared for closing costs when it's time to finalize your loan.

  • Estate Planning

    Proper estate planning may be the difference between providing your heirs with a comfortable inheritance or a major financial headache.

  • 5 Simple Steps for Getting Out of Debt Faster: Start Now

    If you’re hampered by high credit card balances or costly personal loans, getting out of debt is probably first on your to-do list.

  • How to Save Money with a Big Family

    You wouldn’t give them up for the world, but having a large family can be expensive. Rising costs make it even more difficult to pay for what your loved ones need. A Pew Research study found that from 1996 through 2014, the median household expenditures rose by 25% with the typical American family spending $36,800 on household expenses. Multiply that for a big family, and you’ll be looking for every way possible to save money. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities available to do that. Here’s how you can learn how to save money with a big family.

  • Top 5 Sources of Frugal Entertainment

    Finding ways to have fun without spending a lot of money can be difficult. For those people who want to be more frugal and hope to save more, there’s good news. It is possible to reduce how much you spend on entertainment and still have fun.

Begin our online process to see your personalized savings.

Start Now

Back Print

Quizzes and Polls

What's your debt IQ? Take one of our quizzes and find out how much you know about financial fitness.

Take the Quiz Now!

Stay On Track

Subscribe to our newsletter, packed with great articles, tips, and advice to help you make the most of your money.

Subscribe Now!

Crunch the Numbers

Our calculators can help you figure out your budget, credit card payments, mortgage, and more!

Learn More
Debt Help - CareOne Debt Relief Services
Offering CareOne Debt Relief Services: