Triggering high-interest savings accounts

Last month I wrote about two high-interest savings accounts linked to the Mango and Union Plus prepaid debit card products. At that time, Mango was no longer available for new signups, and I speculated that Union Plus would soon be closed to new cardholders as well.

Doctor of Credit reported yesterday that, sure enough, that day has come, and it's no longer possible to open new Union Plus prepaid accounts.

If you were lucky enough to open accounts in time, however, you still have access to those accounts, including their linked high-interest savings accounts, and you may be wondering how to trigger those high rates.

Rêv gives detailed information on deposits

When you make a deposit to a Mango or Union Plus account, it appears in your transaction history with a fair amount of detail. Here are four different transaction types I tried in order to trigger my second Mango card's high-interest savings account (I did two of each):

An Amazon Payments transfer:

A transfer from the Stripe account where my monthly blog subscriptions are deposited:

A TopCashBack redemption:

And a Chase Ultimate Rewards cash redemption:

And sure enough, in June I earned 6.02% APY on my savings account.

The problem is, Mango doesn't tell you which transactions triggered the higher interest rate!

Narrowing it down to 2

That's where the process of elimination comes in, since I opened both a second Mango account and a Union Plus prepaid account. But I haven't made a TopCashBack or Amazon Payments deposit to my Union Plus account: I've only made Stripe transfers and Chase Ultimate Rewards cash redemptions.

But in June, I earned $0.27 on an average daily balance of $66.66 in the savings account linked to my Union Plus prepaid card. Since these savings accounts compound daily, that puts me right in the ballpark of the promised 5.10% APY. In other words, one or both of Chase Ultimate Rewards redemptions or Stripe transfers qualified as direct deposits for the purposes of triggering the high-interest savings account.

If I had an additional account, I would see if Chase Ultimate Rewards cash redemptions alone are enough to trigger the higher interest rate, as I suspect they are.

I'll be maxing out these accounts as quickly as possible

Now that new applications are closed for both products, it's unclear how long existing cardholders will be allowed to keep their accounts. With that in mind, I'll be maxing out these accounts as quickly as possible in order to earn the full interest rate for as long as possible before existing accounts are closed.

Update on MasterCard rePower network

At the beginning of the month I suggested that since the latest Vanilla Reload Network redesign included MasterCard rePower on the front of the card, it might be possible to load MasterCard prepaid debit cards using Vanilla Reload Network reload cards.

The Experiment

To test this theory, I picked what looked like two of the most promising cards: the H&R Block Emerald prepaid MasterCard and the Mango alternative checking account. The Emerald card doesn't have any monthly fees, and the Mango card has a $5 monthly fee that's waived when you load $500 or more during your statement period.

The Result

Unfortunately, neither card is currently loadable using Vanilla Reload Network reload cards.

However, in the course of my experimenting I did discover that Mango allows outgoing ACH transactions . That means that if you are able to load the account (for example, using Green Dot Moneypaks, available in some areas and at some merchants for purchase by credit card), then you can easily liquidate your balance by entering your Mango routing and account numbers in your credit card issuer's bill pay function.

In Other News

It isn't really the focus of this blog or my book, but I should also point out that Mango offers a 6% APR savings account alongside its checking account product. This is more than you'll earn leaving your money in virtually any other FDIC-insured instrument. You'll earn 6% APY on the first $5,000 in your savings account when you "enroll" in their direct deposit service. According to the site, you "enroll" by making 2 payroll deposits totaling $50 or more within 90 days. If you max out the $5,000 cap, and then deposit and bill pay out $500 each month in order to avoid the monthly fee, then you'll earn $300 per year in interest (actually slightly less since it's 6% APY, not APR, and you won't earn true compound interest above the $5,000 level). You won't get rich using this technique, but there's also no reason not to do it, since if you're manufacturing spend then you probably have a fair amount of month-to-month liquidity. You're allowed up to 5 transfers between your Mango checking and savings accounts each month.

One other note: while Mango suggests linking your bank account or PayPal account as a funding source, I was unable to use my Mango routing and account numbers to add the account to either Bank of America's "transfers outside the bank" function or PayPal's "withdraw" function. However, I was able to add Mango as a "linked checking account" to Bluebird. Your Miles May Vary.