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Wachovia's Golf Tourney Promotion: I'll Stick With My Bank

Tuesday, 6 May 2008 | 9:52 AM ET
Wachovia Championship
Wachovia Championship

With Tiger Woods sitting out, Wachovia was facing the prospect of having a no-name champ win its golf tournament. But the suffering bank gave the average person a reason to care when they announced a national consumer promotion tied to the winner's score in the tournament.

For a three-month period, beginning in June, customers who participated in the bank's Way2Save savings account would receive an interest rate commensurate with the champion's strokes under par.

So when I turned on my TV on Sunday and saw that Anthony Kim was, at one point, 18 under par, I had this image of red-faced bank officials watching this 22-year-old golfer destroy their business even more.

With two bogeys on the final three holes, Kim won the tournament at 16 under, still a tourney record by three strokes. If you own Wachovia stock, you should be glad this 16 percent interest rate is pretty much a publicity stunt.

If you were thinking about transferring your money over to a Wachovia checking account on account of Kim's win (the company noted in Monday's USA Today ad that you have until May 30), you might want to do the math first. I did.

An 8 percent blended yearly interest rate--which is what this equals out to--is insane, with the best online rates being in the neighborhood of three to four percent. But start doing the work and reading all the red tape and you'll get depressed.

You see, despite all the disclaimers we read these days (with magnifying glasses), the most important disclaimer isn't in the USA Today ad, its on the promotional web site.

Here it reveals that for those three months with 16 percent interest, you can only transfer $100 per month from your checking to your savings for each of the three months. So, what's the maximum grand total this "Anthony Kim interest" will yield you in additional bucks? $48 over three months.

If you keep money in the whole year, you'll make $96 in interest off the eight percent rate.

The bank says you'll get a five percent yearly bonus for keeping it in the entire year. But read the fine print and you'll discover that the same $100 per month transfer rule applies. With a maximum of $1,200 in savings, you will earn an additional $60.

You can actually earn up to $240 more if you use your check card or make an electronic payment. As part of the promotion, Wachovia will take $1 from your checking and put it into savings. That allows you to earn interest on more than $100 a month, since you are not transferring it.

In order to make that additional $240, I'd have to make 4,800 transactions. And I'd have to think that if I were writing 13 electronic checks a day for a year, I wouldn't need $260 that badly. Wachovia's motto for this promotion is "even though you may not be able to play like a champion, at least you can save like one."

If "saving like a champion" Is earning a maximum of $396 in a year off their interest and bonuses, I'll stick with my current bank. It's not that far off.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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