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Tools for saving: Using prepaid accounts to set aside funds

We present the results of a large field study exploring consumers’ use of the Reserve “set aside” feature on the American Express Serve prepaid card. The study aimed to address two key questions: 1) Can certain strategies encourage consumer saving behavior; and 2) Is saving behavior associated with better outcomes for consumers, particularly for low-income and underserved consumers?

The results emerging from this pilot suggest that incentivizing prepaid card customers to save, and providing an opportunity for them to do so using a savings feature that keeps funds dedicated for saving separate from those used for spending, could provide tangible financial benefits. Consumers in this pilot demonstrated a willingness to take up the savings feature, indicating interest in alternative savings vehicles, and some customers also reported actual changes in their financial behavior.

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