Taking fire from the enemy is hazardous, but for soldiers who save money it offers at least one financial perk.
U.S. troops who serve in areas designated by the military as combat zones can earn 10% interest annually on their savings, via a program set up by the Defense Department.
Warriors who receive hostile-fire pay and who have been deployed in a qualifying zone for at least 30 days are eligible for the Special Deposit Program Account. Deposits up to $10,000 per deployment earn the high interest rate.
The accounts, which were highlighted Wednesday by Go Banking Rates, a savings website, pay about ten times the rate of interest on savings offered by civilian lenders. The Defense Department provides the accounts, according to Steve Burghardt, a Defense Finance and Accounting Service spokesman. Commercial banks are not involved, he says.
A survey of competing rates Wednesday morning showed top rates on savings accounts at Ally Bank, which offers 0.9% annual percentage yield on deposits up to $10,000; FNBO Direct, which pays 0.85% APY; and Capital One 360, which offers a rate of 0.75%.
Still, the Special Deposit Accounts have drawbacks. Because the military caps the total contribution at $10,000, savers can expect to earn, at most, $1,000.
Soldiers can only withdraw money in an emergency, which must be documented by a commanding officer. Otherwise, they must keep the funds in the account until they leave the combat zone. They continue to earn the 10% APY on their money for three months afterward.
The accounts are said to have experienced glitches. "I have heard of more soldiers having pay problems through this program than any other changes they make to their paychecks, withholdings, etc.," Hank Coleman, who chronicles personal finance and the military, writes on his blog MilitaryMoneyMight.com.
Of course, to qualify for the rate, savers must risk their lives.