Paying off student loans is a challenge that more than 37 million Americans face. But at least two websites have launched novel ways to make the process a little less painful--and maybe even fun.
[Consider the positives of a student loan burden.]
1. SmarterBucks: A new debit card rewards program created by student loan information site SimpleTuition allows card holders to pay down a bit of their student loan debts with each card swipe.
Users need to register for an online bank account through SmarterBank, which is tied to the rewards program. For every signature debit card purchase (meaning you don't enter your PIN), a small percentage based on the money spent is put toward the principal on the user's student loan of choice.
For the first $100 spent on a purchase, users automatically get 0.5 percent of the total paid; anything more will earn an additional 1 percent towards the principal of the loan. (A $500 purchase, then, would amount to $4.50: $0.50 for the first $100 and $4 for the second $400.)
It's not a swift ticket to becoming debt free, but the percentage rewards can gradually chip away at the principal of your outstanding burden, notes Doug Lowenstein, executive vice president of banking and rewards at SimpleTuition.
"It's a great, low maintenance way to make headway against your student loans through things that you would be doing otherwise," he says.
Loan holders can also open their accounts to benefactors, allowing relatives and friends to put lump sums down toward the debt.
2. SaveUp.com: Need additional incentives to make you repay your loans? Consider SaveUp.com, a free website that rewards users for paying down debt.
The site likens financial tasks to other social games on the Internet, says site cofounder Priya Haji, and is open to any U.S. resident with an E-mail address, a financial account, and any type of loan burden. Every dollar you put toward your loan burden earns a credit, which can then be used to play virtual games for prizes, ranging from gift cards from a variety of sponsors to a cool $2 million.
"There may be that one payment you make on your student loan that makes your whole loan go away," Haji says.
Though the chances of winning big may be slim, users of the site will likely become more informed, at least. The site incorporates financial literacy lessons and videos to help loan holders learn more and earn additional credits.
"It's just a fun, extra reward for doing the right thing," Haji says.
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.