My son and I were talking the other day about how to save for a vacation. I told him when he was small, we saved for our vacations by using a Vacation Club option my employer provided. Every payday, a set amount of my check was sent to the fund before I got paid. It allowed us to put away a small amount every payday, not a huge amount that we would miss, but over time, those little payments added up to a fabulous family vacation. For us having it removed before we got paid was the optimal way to save.
I asked if his company offered the same and was surprised that not only did his employer not offer anything like that, his credit union didn’t offer vacation club savings accounts either. Their only option is to open a second account and pay full fees – not very convenient! So how’s a person supposed to set aside funds, separate from the household accounts, so that one can save for a vacation?
Our conversation got me to thinking about how long it’s been since my husband and I have taken a “real” vacation. It’s been much too long! So I took some time to check out Outski and see if it would help me save for a vacation too.
Outski: a Vacation Savings Account
It was later that day I got a note about a new service called Outski. It’s a “one-stop” site to plan and save for your vacation. But makes Outski different from other Vacation Savings Account (VSA) sites (which I didn’t even know existed), is that they’re an integrated online and mobile platform so you can track your savings from your internet connected devices, anywhere in the world.
How Outski Works
Outski accounts are held at Sutton Bank (Ohio), a FDIC Insured institution where your funds are held in YOUR name, not combined into a large pool of funds. Plus, your account is attached to a debit card Outski sends you which is linked to your Vacation Savings Account so you can pay for your travel and expenses from your travel account. In fact, the Outski Travel Savings Card works like any other debit card – get cash via any ATM, pay for products and services, and more. The Outski TSC is powered by VISA® or DISCOVER® (you choose when you sign up which you prefer) and accepted anywhere those cards are.
Outski – Depositing Money
You can deposit funds directly from your existing checking or savings account and even to and from other Outski users. From your linked account, you can opt for automatic deposits or make manual deposits from your accounts – it’s your choice.
If your company offers direct deposit, you can download a 401 (play) form and have a percentage or set amount sent directly to your Outski account on your behalf. Check with your HR department to see if they offer this service.
Outski – Setting Up Your Account
Registration is free and can be done in just a few minutes at www.Outski.com. You will be required to provide your name, address, telephone number, date of birth, sex, and social security number. Did I just hear a gasp?!? Yes, they are required by Federal Law to verify your identity, as are all banking providers. You’ve provided the same information to your local bank as well as any online payment services you’ve signed up for (like PayPal). Is it scary? Of course, but I verified they’re using a secured page to collect the information, so I felt safe giving it.
Verification takes just a moment. You’ve now completed the first step. The next is to link an existing savings or checking account to your Outski account. You’ll need your bank routing number and account number to complete this process. Next pick whether or not you’d like a Visa or Discover debit card. That’s it – you’re done until you see two small deposits to your linked account and report them on the “Verify Account” tab. Again, this is standard practice and I’ve done it several times for other online banking programs.
Outski: What’s it cost?
There are no fees to have an account with Outski; however, there are a few fees associated with the prepaid card from Sutton Bank including a $9.95 yearly fee for members who are not 401(play) users. Replacement cards are $4.95, ATM withdrawls are $2.95, and supplemental cards are $3.95 + s/h. There are of course fees for international use and other small fees – please see the FAQ on the Outski site for the current fee schedule.
So how does Outski make money? Well, they don’t pay interest on your VSC balance, but that’s a small price to pay for the convenience.
Outski: Features & Offers
Outski offers several features above and beyond vacation fund accounts. They offer the LMT Club, a wholesale travel pricing club that provides you great deals on hotels, cruising, and more. They also integrated with Viator/G-Adventures to give you trip ideas, excursion recommendations, and destination planning. Using these Outski add-on feature could end up saving you money and you may discover a new destination you’ve never considered before!
Outski: Plan Your Travel
You’re not required to plan your travel through Outski, you can use any provide you choose. The benefit of using Outski is the free access to the wholesale travel provider. They’ve also partnered with Allianz so you can purchase travel insurance as well. I’m a huge believer in purchasing health insurance for my son whenever he leaves the country. The cost of airlifting someone home who is hurt or killed on a trip is horribly expensive. Trip insurance will help should something happen.
Outski: My Experience
I signed for Outski and am waiting for my bank account to be verified. I’ve decided to start saving for a trip. I love the convenience of having an online account to track my travel savings and help me with my travel planning.
We need a vacation and we’re terrible about setting aside money for ourselves. This is a pain-free way to make sure we get a chance to get away. I’ll be opting for the manual deposits because I don’t have a regular paycheck – I’m paid for work done and the amount varies for month to month. I can’t wait to surprise my husband with a vacation fund!
How would you use Outski to plan your next vacation?
Outski: Plan, Socialize, Save, TRAVEL