Forget toasters — one lucky bank customer will get help saving up for a new car


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If the chance to earn a higher yield doesn’t inspire you to save more money, the opportunity to earn free cash just might help.

Customers Bank — a super-community bank with offices in locations like New England, Pennsylvania and Illinois — is promising to give one lucky saver $30,000. New and existing customers can participate in the sweepstakes and win money to put toward the purchase of a new whip.

The promotion runs through the end of December and only applies to savers in 48 states (everywhere but Hawaii and Alaska).

The biggest downside? You need to deposit at least $25,000 to participate — a high bar for many Americans without an adequate savings cushion.

How the sweepstakes works

The sweepstakes is tied to Customers Bank’s Ascent Money Market Savings Account, which must be opened online. All existing customers with the account will automatically receive a single entry into the giveaway.

Each time you make a $25,000 deposit, you’ll earn one entry into the sweepstakes. Up to five entries are allowed per person. To be eligible for the prize, your deposit has to remain in the account through the end of the month. New customers who open the savings account and meet the deposit requirements can join in, too.

The account offers savers an attractive yield: 2.25 percent APY. That’s one of the highest savings rates available nationwide and it’s guaranteed through the end of next December.

Customers with the Ascent Money Market Savings account have to deposit at least $25,000 to earn interest. But savers who don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to set aside can still earn a higher savings account rate through online banks like MySavingsDirect and Vio Bank.

Many chances to earn free cash

Though Customers Bank’s giveaway offers the opportunity to win cash, it’s a sweepstakes, meaning that it’s completely separate from what would be considered a prize-linked savings account. Putting money into prize-linked savings accounts — like the ones offered through programs like Save to Win and WINcentive — is like buying a lottery ticket without running the risk of losing money.

Prize-linked savings accounts are mostly available through credit unions in select states. By making a small deposit (often just $25 is required), you could earn entry into a drawing that might happen on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Though there’s evidence that they can encourage Americans to save, state-based restrictions prevent banks in many states from offering prize-linked saving accounts. That’s taken into account by companies like Long Game, an app that makes it fun to save money and offers the chance to earn a cash prize.

“We run Long Game as a sweepstakes, which is a different legal framework that allows us to provide prize-linked savings,” says Lindsay Holden, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Most of the nation’s biggest banks — and some regional institutions — give out cash to new customers through sign-up bonuses. Simply opening a new checking or savings account can give you access to an extra $200 or $300. There may also be a chance to earn extra money by referring your friends to open accounts at your bank.

Bottom line: Rates tied to deposit accounts are higher than ones we’ve seen in decades. And banks — particularly those that are hungry for deposits — aren’t hesitating to hand out cash to draw in new customers. It’s a win-win for savers trying to grow their emergency funds and a plus for anyone who could use an extra pile of cash this holiday season.