Vanderbilt Law Review


Ann E. Watford

First Page



In February of 2010, Billie June Smith received exciting news. As the lucky winner of a statewide drawing, this elderly woman was awarded a giant check for $100,000. Billie June's good fortune cost her nothing, for she did not spend any money on the winning ticket. Instead, she became eligible for the grand prize when she decided to save for her retirement at her local credit union. Billie June was the inaugural grand-prize winner of "Save to Win," an innovative pilot program that launched in 2009 to test a concept known as prize-linked savings. In partnership with the nonprofit Doorways to Dreams, eight credit unions in the Michigan Credit Union League ("MCUL") introduced account options to their members that were designed to "make savings fun." These prize- linked savings ("PLS") products incorporated an exciting element of chance that rewarded a consumer's decision to save. By opening a twelve-month share certificate worth a minimum of $25, consumers earned one entry into a grand-prize drawing. Each additional deposit of $25 generated a duplicate entry, and participants were penalized for withdrawing their savings too quickly. In addition to the chance to win monetary prizes, participants also accumulated interest on their federally insured share certificates according to rates set by each credit union. Credit unions advertised the initiative as a no-lose opportunity.