Yotta Savings Review — A Gamified Banking Account
No matter how hard we may try, sometimes convincing yourself to set aside savings just doesn’t work. And even if we do begrudgingly do it, there’s often little immediate reward for doing so. Enter the app Yotta, which looks to change that by offering a free savings account that comes with the chance to win a lottery jackpot each day.
You read that right — so how does it all work? Let’s take a look at Yotta Savings, how its lottery component works, and how it could help convince you to start saving.
What is Yotta Savings and How Does it Work?
Yotta’s lottery rules
The idea behind Yotta Savings is that it’s a saving account with a lottery element. Previously, the app utilized weekly drawings to reward users. However, as of December 12, 2022, the company has moved to a daily drawing model.
Each day, users have the chance to win up to a $1 million jackpot (which is actually paid out in 24 monthly installments of $41,666.67). While scoring that loot is a long shot, prizes starting at $0.03 may be more attainable with odds currently estimated at 1:129. Of course, when it comes to larger prizes, your odds of winning are also impacted by the number of players, as prizes may be split in the event of multiple winners.
For more details and rules regarding Yotta’s lottery, you can check out their page.
Since Yotta offers an FDIC-insured bank account (thanks to a partnership with Evolve Bank & Trust), you’ll need to provide some basic personal information in order to sign up. This includes your legal name, birthdate, address, phone number, and Social Security Number. However, rest assured that this information isn’t used to pull your credit and thus, won’t impact your scores in any way. Also, Yotta Savings is completely free to use, with no fees, minimums, or other expenses.
Making your first deposit (and beyond)
Once you open your Yotta Savings account, you’ll be invited to schedule your first deposit. What’s more, when I initially joined, I was offered the chance to earn bonus tickets — four additional tickets for making a one-time deposit or eight if I set up recurring transfers (I opted for the former). We’ll get more into what exactly that means in the next section.
In order to facilitate transfers between Yotta and an external account, the app utilizes the secure Plaid API. If you’re not familiar, this tool allows you to log into your existing bank account and link it to Yotta Savings, making it easy to set up current and future transfers. Speaking of future transfers, Yotta only allows you to link one account at a time.
If you do want to set up recurring deposits, you can select your preferred amount and elect to have transfers occur weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. These transfers can also be in nearly any amount (even though the plus and minus buttons will increase/decrease your amount by $25 by default).
With Yotta Savings, your daily entries will be determined by your account balance. For every $25 you hold, you’ll earn one ticket for the week (unless your balance is over $10,000, in which case you’ll earn 1 ticket per $25 held up to that limit and then 1 ticket per $150 held after that). To be clear, this means that, if you deposit $100 and don’t add anything, you’ll continue to hold four tickets for each night’s game.
What’s also nice is that, while a transfer can take a few days to reach your account, Yotta will credit you with your applicable tickets right away so that you can join the action. On top of that, Yotta recently introduced a new benefit where, if you don’t win anything during a week’s contest, you’ll earn one free ticket for the following week. While not a huge benefit, it’s definitely a nice gesture.
Another way to earn tickets is through referrals. For each friend who joins Yotta using your invite code, you’ll earn bonus tickets and move up the Status chain (Bronze is the lowest tier followed by Silver, Gold, and Platinum). Unlike with deposit-based tickets, however, this is a one-time bonus for the following day’s contest — so don’t expect to be rolling in tickets forever.
Selecting your numbers, nightly drawings, and winnings
Just like with the real lottery, you have the option of selecting your own lucky numbers or leaving it up to the machine. In this case, you’ll select six regular numbers and then a YottaBall number. Now, all six numbers range from 1 to 99. If you don’t get around to choosing your numbers and filling out your tickets, they’ll be randomly picked for you. However, you can also now set Lucky Tickets that will automatically generate each week before the rest of your earned tickets are auto-selected.
Each night at 9 p.m. Eastern, another contest is drawn and Yotta users can see if any of their tickets are winners. Notably, these numbers are actually selected by a third-party insurance carrier and not Yotta themselves. Additionally, the app can’t see what numbers users pick, creating a “double blind” situation that prevents foul play.
Although the main draw of Yotta is the gamification aspect and the ability to win money, Yotta previously paid 0.2% APY on savings in addition to any prizes you earned. However, for whatever reason, this aspect of the account has been discontinued.
However, as of December 2022, Yotta estimates that the average annual savings reward amounts to around 2.70%. For context, that’s still below what some online banks such as Discover, Marcus, and Ally are offering as of this writing but significantly better than traditional bank savings APYs.
Whether you want to cash out your winnings or need to move money back to your main account, the good news is that you can withdraw money from Yotta at any time. However, there is a delay between the time a transfer clears and when you can take out that money. According to Yotta “In order to prevent ACH fraud, a deposit becomes available to withdraw 3 to 4 days after it settles.” On top of that, transfers may take 2 to 3 days to clear and arrive back in your linked bank account. Also, keep in mind that withdrawing funds will lower the number of tickets you have for the weekly contest. Also, withdrawals are limited to six per month.
If you do need your money faster, Yotta does now have an Instant option. To do this, you’ll need to connect a debit card. You’ll also need to pay a 1.5% fee on the money you transfer. But, the benefit is that your deposit should post within an hour or so (usually faster).
A while back, Yotta Savings added a feature, allowing users to add a secondary account holder. To do this, you’ll just need to visit Account Info under Settings, tap Add Joint Account Holder (written in yellow text underneath the Routing and Account Numbers), and provide your joint account holder’s info. In my experience, this was a simple process and I appreciate the option overall.
Yotta Debit Card
While Yotta was previously only a savings account, that changed with the introduction of their debit card. Continuing the trend of FinTech debit cards, the Yotta Debit Card has arrived, earning a single-use (non-recurring) ticket for every $2 users spend on the card. Additionally, there’s a chance that debit card customers can get their purchase for free — with their odds improving if they opt into direct deposit, refer friends, etc. On that note, those who have more than 10 referrals will also earn a premium metal card.
Personally, while I have a Yotta debit card, I’ve actually had trouble using it. I first tried it when getting my car tuned up, hoping that I could perhaps get that large purchase for free. Alas, it was declined for no discernible reason. Since then, I’ve tried it a couple of other times with similar results. I’m sure this is just something with my account but I’ve stopped trying.
Even if it weren’t for my specific troubles, I do think that the concept of the card is a bit overly complicated. While it’s awesome if you do get your purchase for free, the consolation prizes aren’t that appealing. Thus, I’ll personally be sticking with my credit cards.
Speaking of cards, In addition to its debit card, Yotta has a credit card. On their site, Yotta teases an up to 2% chance that anything you buy using the card will be free. Plus, credit card customers will be able to earn 1 ticket back for every dollar spent on the card.
Seeing as I just shared my disinterest in the debit card, I wouldn’t bet on my picking up this card. But, for those who want to go all-in on Yotta, perhaps it will be an appealing option.
Crypto Yield Buckets
In recent months, Yotta has rolled out or teased a number of new features. One of those is Crypto Yield Buckets. This is a feature I actually never quite got a grip on before it was apparently recently removed. I still have a small amount of money in my Bucket but I can’t find any info about it on the Yotta FAQ. So, I’m guessing new users won’t be able to open one and there’s probably little benefit to existing users.
A more recent (and still existing) feature addition to Yotta is their I Bond Buckets. This new option was added at a time when I-Bond exploded in popularity as their interest rate skyrocketed thanks to inflation. Currently (I’m writing this in December 2022), I-Bonds are offering an interest rate of 6.89%, making them still an attractive deal. Even better, this Yotta feature makes it easier to purchase them.
To get started, users can open an I-Bond bucket and deposit funds in it. Then, Yotta will do the rest. However, there are some important things to note about this particular bucket. For one, funds in I-Bond Buckets must be held there for at least one year. Moreover, if you cash out before holding the funds for five years, you’ll forfeit the previous three months of interest from the bonds. Additionally, these funds can’t be spent via the Yotta Debit card. Finally, funds in I-Bond Buckets don’t earn tickets.
Lastly, when I previously updated this review, Yotta was promoting a waitlist for its Credit Builder account. Yet, while I can still access a page for that offering, I don’t see it advertised on the app or mentioned in the FAQ. Therefore, I’m not sure whether this is still a thing or if it ever ended up being one.
Note: This video was created before the major Yotta overhaul
My experience with Yotta Savings so far
It was now years since I played my first full game with Yotta. For that contest, I held seven cards (three for my $75 in deposits and four bonus cards from my initial deposit) and won… $0. That means I didn’t manage to match any number across my cards.
But, hey, what’s cool about Yotta is that, as soon as that contest ended, I had more tickets for the next go-round. Sure enough, I managed to win 20¢ the next week followed by a 40¢ score the week after that. Okay, so 60¢ isn’t going to get me very far, but it’s almost certainly better than I would earn in interest — and it is damn fun to win.
Given that initial experience and with APYs continuing to fall among many of my other accounts, I then reshuffled my money, with Yotta being one of the accounts I choose to emphasize. So, after putting an additional $2,500 in my account, I now earn 105 tickets a week.
Since this change, I typically end up with 40¢ a week, although my largest weekly win was $1.10 (twice!). Again, these aren’t huge numbers but do amount to a sizable APY. In fact, according to my Account Summary, my realized APY for February 2022 was 1.15% — although I’ve had better months in the past. Plus, prior to that, I’d apparently won $32.63 in prizes.
Unfortunately, since then, Yotta has gone through a number of updates. As I noted above, some new features have come and gone while the app has also made some tweaks to its lottery system that have been hit or miss. Of course, I’m writing this on the day the new daily drawings system launches, so it’s hard to say whether this will be a game-changer for the app or not. Ultimately, my plan is to continue to keep an eye on it but, sadly, I’ve moved much of my money elsewhere, leaving only a couple of hundred dollars on the app for now.
Final Thoughts on Yotta Savings
As I noted before, I’m a pretty big fan of gamifying good financial habits. That’s why I found a lot to like about Yotta Savings initially. Like with other apps before them, the service allows users to enjoy the thrill and adrenaline of gambling without actually risking anything. On top of that, the app is easy to use and rewards customers week after week — including paying a decent APY.
Since those early days, Yotta has seen a number of updates, with some being for the better and others… not so much. While I applaud current features such as the I-Bond Bucket that seem to think outside the box, I also wonder if this feature will also fade away should the current I-Bond craze die down or interest rates for them fall.
And speaking of interest rates, with APYs at online banks currently pushing 3% or more (as of December 2022 anyway), you’ll likely need to get pretty lucky with Yotta in order to outpace what you’d get just parking your money elsewhere. On that note, I do feel as though the time is right to bring back their flat Savings Bonus that was seemingly removed when interest rates were way down.
With all of that that said, I continue to be interested in what Yotta has built and what the company is doing now. To that point, I’m very excited to try out the new daily drawing system and see how it ends up comparing to the weekly version. As 2023 approaches, I’ll be keeping an eye on Yotta and will update on whether or not I end up moving more money back to my account or not.
According to Yotta, “We partner with banks that don’t have bloated marketing budgets and real estate expenses, allowing us to pass on 20-100x more value on your savings to you than Wells Fargo and Chase can in the form of a monthly savings bonus plus prizes.” In other words, Yotta likely earns interest on deposits that amounts to more than they’re typically passing on to users.
Deposits made with Yotta are held with Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC. Therefore, funds are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor.
Yotta was co-founded by Adam Moelis and Ben Doyle, but counts Y Combinator, FundersClub, Slow Ventures, Twenty Two VC, Graham Stephan, and others among its many investors.
Yotta’s Luck Index attempts to quantify how lucky you’ve been in a given week’s contest. The Luck Index goes from 0 to 100, with 100 being the luckiest and 50 being average.
Yotta deposits are held with Evolve Trust & Bank and are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor.
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