Of all the different types of finance apps I review, my favorites are the kind that reward you with real money. That’s why I was very intrigued when I heard about Tally Save — an application that incentivizes saving by giving users points they can cash in for gift cards. At the time that I joined, the app was in beta but has since rolled out on the Apple App Store.
So, what is Tally Save and how does it work? Let’s take a look at how to sign-up, what rewards you can earn, and some of the pros and cons I’ve encountered.
UPDATE: Sadly, as of April 2020, Tally Save is no longer available. Below is my original review of the standalone app.
Getting Started with Tally Save
A note about Tally Save
First of all, I should note that there is a difference between Tally Save and another app called Tally. Actually, both applications come from the same company. However, they are separate services and this review will only be looking at Tally Save.
Creating an account
Setting up an account with Tally Save is a pretty straightforward process that includes such things as entering your e-mail address and creating a password. Of course Tally Save will also have you confirm your e-mail address by entering an access code they’ll send you. After that, the only other info you’ll need to provide (at this time) is your legal name and your address. Plus, for this painless process, you’ll earn your first 500 points!
Setting your goals and savings plan
Next up, you’ll want to select what your goal for using Tally Save is and how much you want to set aside each week. Currently there are only two goal options: “Save for a rainy day” or “Pay down a credit card.” Selecting the former will simply place funds into an FDIC-insured account for you while the latter will actually give you the option to have funds sent to your credit card issuers on a monthly basis.
Regardless of which of these two you pick, you’ll then need to select how much you want to transfer each week. This amount needs to be more than $5 and can be as much as $500. As you up your amount, a little reminder at the bottom of the screen will either share how much money you’ll accrue over three years if you’ve selected the “rainy day” option or how much interest you could potentially save by putting the extra cash toward paying your credit card. You can then select what day of the week you want these transfers to happen.
By the way, from what I can tell, increasing the amount of savings doesn’t impact the number of points you earn per transfer. And, speaking of points, you’ll get another 500 once you select your goal and savings plan.
Linking a funding account
Before you can really get to using Tally Save, you’ll need to link a funding source. Like oh so many other apps, this one uses Plaid — a company that was recently acquired by Visa — to securely access your account. Thus all you’ll need to do is login into your bank account in order to allow Tally Save to transfer money.
Once that is complete, you’ll get a quick rundown of what account Tally Save will pull funds from and how much you’ll be transferring each week and on what day. On top of that, you’ll score another free 1,000 points, putting you at 2,000 off the bat.
Adding a credit card to pay (optional)
As I mentioned, one option in Tally Save is to have the app apply the funds you’ve accrued toward your credit card balance. To do this, you’ll of course need to tell the app what card you want to use. Oddly this is actually not done through Plaid like linking a checking account is but is instead done by just entering your card info. With this set up, Tally Save will send your payment on the last business day of the month each month.
Transferring money back
If you don’t want to have Tally Save make payments to your card or just decide you want to move your money back into your account, you can always do so. Keep in mind that it may take a few days for your transfer to complete and that your “available” balance might not match your total if a recent contribution is still pending.
Earning and Redeeming Points on Tally Save
Points earning schedule
Beyond the 2,000 points you’ll gain just for getting started with Tally Save, it’s fairly easy to earn additional points with the app. For each successful transfer you make, you’ll earn 500 points. Plus, when you reach a four-week streak, you’ll earn a 1,000 point bonus (for a total of 1,500 points that week). This means that staying the course after opening your account will get you to 5,000 points — and your first reward — after four weeks.
Gift card options
As I alluded to, once you reach 5,000 points, you’ll be able to cash out your points for a $5 gift card to various restaurants and retailers. Among the impressive list of brands at this tier are:
- Bed Bath and Beyond
- Many more
Alternatively, you can hold out a little longer and get a slight discount, e.g. $10 gift cards go for 9,500 points. While there’s some brand overlap from the $5 category, additional brands in this tier include:
- Whole Foods
- Many more
Got even more time to save up? Then you might prefer to wait for a $25 gift card you can score for 22,500. Some of the brands in this category include:
- And more
Yet, if none of those appeals to you, you have extra points after claiming a reward, or you’re just feeling generous, you can also elect to donate points. Tally Save is partnering with charity: water to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. For every 100 points you donate, you can provide 78 days of water to one person.
It should be noted that this line-up of offerings is subject to change at any time but was accurate as of January 21st, 2020.
My Experience with Tally Save
So far I’ve only redeemed one reward on Tally Save (I’m one transfer away from hitting 5,000 again). If you know much about me, you may have guessed that I decided to cash in my points for a $5 Starbucks card. Within minutes of making my selection, an email with a link to the e-gift card on Cashstar arrived in my inbox. From there, it was super simple to add the card to my Starbucks app. All in all, it was a quick and easy process that proved that Tally Save is for real.
Lack of credit card payment option
I’ll admit that, of all of the aspects of Tally Save, I was most skeptical of how it would be able to make a payment on my credit card by having just the number. Yet, on January 3rd (a few business days after the December 31st payment date Tally Save listed), I got confirmation from Discover that my payment had been posted. Pretty cool, right? Well, yes… but it could be better.
Although I do appreciate Tally Save’s ability to apply your saved funds to your credit card, I wish it offered more options for doing so. For example, it’d be great if you could select the date for your payment. Additionally I think it would be helpful if it could update you on your card balance and perhaps prod you to save more in order to cover it. Of course, the app is young so maybe such functions will come to fruition down the road.
Something I like about Tally Save is that it will send you an e-mail reminder a day before a transfer you have scheduled. I can imagine this being extremely helpful for those who might need to move funds around ahead of time. According to the app’s FAQ, if you need to cancel a transfer, you can contact them at email@example.com by noon Eastern (9 a.m. Pacific) the day of the transfer in order to put a stop on it.
Changing your bank
Another area where I see room for Tally Save to improve involves the linked bank accounts. First, you can only link a single checking account at one time. That may be fair enough but it doesn’t seem very easy to swap what bank account you have linked. It’s possible that I’m missing an option but, while I can view what account my transfers are coming from, I can’t seem to find an easy way to update that. Again, I’ll chalk this up to the app’s youth for now.
Final Thoughts on Tally Save
Tally Save is a fairly simple app but it succeeds in a number of ways. Despite a few nitpicks I have with its functionality, at the end of the day, it allows you to get free gift cards just for saving your own money. How could I really complain about that?!
With the template Tally Save has set so far, I see a lot of promise for the app. For that reason, I recommend checking it out and earning rewards for yourself.
Also published on Medium.