I signed up with Acorns Australia when they first launched here in February 2016. Then, in late 2016, Acorns Australia added the “Found Money” feature to their app. The concept behind this is that you get rewarded with bonus money in the form of cash back, for shopping with participating retailers. Generally, when you make a purchase on one of your linked cards, let’s say for $10.30, you would then automatically pay $0.70 from your funding account into your Acorns investment account, effectively rounding your purchase up to $11.00 and contributing to your investment portfolio at the same time.
When you activate “Found Money” for a participating retailer, that retailer will reward you with bonus money deposited into your account for eligible purchases. Each retailer is different, but I have seen three different ways of calculating the amount so far. The most common are multiples of your regular round-up amount. For example, 4x your round-up on a $0.70 round-up means the reward would be $2.80. The second reward method is a percentage back. For example, I’ve seen four of the retailers offering 10% of your purchase value back. So on $10.30 that would be $1.03.
The third method I’ve seen is just a dollar reward per purchase. For example, one retailer offers a $1 reward per purchase, and another offers a $3 reward per purchase.
A bonus I’ve seen is a new customer credit. For example, Foodora is currently offering a $10 reward for new users after their first purchase in addition to a $1 reward per order.
One caveat of “Found Money” is that you have to make the purchase online from one of the participating retailers. You cannot make the purchase in-store. You also have to activate “Found Money” for the store before purchasing by navigating to it while logged into the Acorns app or website and clicking the “Shop Now” button.
Another caveat is that your purchase must meet the eligibility criteria described in the terms and conditions for that particular store. Each store has its own set of rules, so you do have to check them at least once before you make a purchase to ensure you are going to be eligible for a reward. For most of them, the eligibility is simply a minimum purchase amount, such as David Jones which is $5. Some of them exclude shipping and other things from the minimum purchase amount, and some don’t include shipping in the reward calculation.
From what I can see, it works the same way as most of the other online rewards earning shopping malls with other loyalty programs like the Qantas Online Mall, Velocity eStore, FlyBuys eShops, and many others. In those programs you log into your account, navigate through the list of retailers who offer a certain number of points back per dollar you spend. Once you select the one you want to purchase from, you click the “Shop Now” or similarly worded link, then make your purchase through their website.
Given this, and the fact that many of the retailers on Acorns are also on other reward malls, you have to choose which reward is of more value. I generally go for Qantas Frequent Flyer points, but their dollar value is variable and is often low, so Acorns does offer a good alternative that is money straight back in your pocket, contributing to your Acorns investment.
So, how do you find money with Acorns?
It would be a vast improvement if the Acorns “Found Money” reward applied automatically and on in-store purchases, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. So to make sure you get your bonus money here is the process:
- Open Acorns and log in.
- Click on Found Money.
- Find the retailer you want to purchase from and click on them.
- Check you are happy with their reward and make sure you understand the Terms and Conditions to be eligible for their bonus round-up (e.g., the minimum purchase amount).
- Click the retailers “Shop Now” button.
- Once their website loads, navigate to the products you want to buy and complete the checkout as normal to finish shopping. Make sure to use a credit card that is linked to your Acorns account so that the reward can be credited to you.
- In a few business days, the charge will show up on your credit card and Acorns will pick it up. Your round up will be processed as normal.
That’s it. It is an awful lot of steps, and once you have done it once it is quicker since you don’t need to check the terms and conditions every time, but even so, some automation would be great!
Who can I shop with?
The choices on Acorns are limited, but like all the other online malls around, they are growing and have been actively adding new retailers. The choices as of writing this article are:
- The Iconic
- Dan Murphy’s
- David Jones
- Cotton On
- Mr Porter
- Charles Tyrwhitt
- Lorna Jane
- Pharmacy 4 Less
Some are the same as other malls, some are different, so it add’s to your choice when it comes to getting the best value for your money and helping you save.
I am very impressed with it as a loyalty option for retailers. If you aren’t already leveraging rewards through another online loyalty program, then you will want to jump on this one for sure. It’s essentially cash back on your purchase and often does not exclude sale items.
If you do use other loyalty mall programs though then you may want to weigh up each purchase more carefully. For example, on the Qantas Online Mall, a $1,000.01 purchase from David Jones will get you 4,000 Frequent Flyer points based on the current 4 points per dollar reward. Comparatively, a $0.99 round-up will get you $3.96 in rewards. Which one is worth more will depend on what you want to do with it. Of course, if the purchase were $1000.99, then your Acorns reward would only be $0.04. In this instance, the Frequent Flyer reward would be far more valuable.
Comparatively, a $10.01 purchase from David Jones would only get you 40 Frequent Flyer points compared to $3.96 in Acorns rewards. Here, the Acorns reward far outweighs the Frequent Flyer reward. Of course, if your value drops under $10 then you may as well go with Frequent Flyers since you won’t get anything through Acorns.
Since it does work out better value than the Qantas Frequent Flyer Online Mall for a number of our purchases and puts money straight into our investment account, this is now a part of our savings approach so that we can travel more. Of course, we don’t want to spend more for something, but if we are going to make a purchase from one of these retailers anyway, then why not save some extra cash using Acorns Found Money. It’s a pity there aren’t more retailers, but Acorns have been working hard and adding more each month so I expect there will be more in the future.
Want to sign up and get an extra $2.50 bonus?
If you are in Australia and aren’t already using Acorns to turn your spare change into an investment portfolio with higher returns than bank interest, you can use my referral link here to sign up, and Acorns will give you a $2.50 bonus directly into your new account to help get your savings started.
For reference, my Acorns returns for my first full year, which was also their first full year of operation, were 6.41% compared to the 1.6% base interest rate at the bank or 3% maximum interest rate when meeting the eligibility criteria of depositing $1000 per month into savings.