How to Participate in the Military's SDP (Savings Deposit Program)
Deployment to a combat zone carries risks. But one reward is the ability to earn 10 percent interest on up to $10,000 of your savings. Here's how to make your money work as hard for you as you do for your country.
Step 1: Understand the program Understand what the SDP or Savings Deposit Program is. It’s a plan run by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to help servicemembers in designated combat zones build their savings. The plan provides a guaranteed annual return of 10 percent on up to $10,000. And your earnings compound quarterly. This rate far exceeds any in traditional savings accounts.
Step 2: Know who's eligible Find out if you're eligible. Any servicemember serving in a designated combat zone, qualified hazardous duty area, or certain contingency operations outside the U.S., for more than 30 consecutive days or for at least one day a month for three consecutive months, is eligible.
TIP: Start your SDP as soon as you get your orders, and be ready to deposit your money when you’ve been in the combat zone for 30 days.
Step 3: Sign up for the program Sign up for the program. Simply contact the finance office in the U.S. before you deploy. They'll help you with the paperwork and tell you when you can begin making deposits. During a deployment, you may deposit all or part of your unallotted pay, which is the money you receive after any deductions. You can also deposit bonuses into the SDP. Deposits must be made in $5 increments.
Step 4: Start saving Start saving. Open your SDP with whatever money you can spare, even if it's not a lot. Then make the most of that 10 percent return by adding as much money as you can during deployment. You may continue to deposit money until the day of departure from the combat zone. Your money will earn interest at the 10 percent annual rate for as long as you're in a combat zone assignment, and it will continue to earn interest for up to 90 days after you leave that zone.
TIP: Start saving now. You can deposit up to $10,000 in an SDP as soon as you are eligible to maximize your earnings.
Step 5: Deposit your funds Deposit your money. Those being ordered to active duty may make deposits by cash, personal or traveler's checks, money order, or allotment. Reservists may make deposits by cash, personal check, or money order. You can view your account on MyPay and on your LES (leave and earnings statement).
TIP: You can make full or partial emergency withdrawals to deal with personal or a dependent’s health and welfare at any time. Your unit commander must support the request in writing.
Step 6: Withdraw your money Once your 90-day period is over, and you’re no longer earning interest at the 10 percent annual rate, you’ll need to transfer the money you've accumulated to another interest-earning account.
FACT: When you deposit money into an SDP, it accrues more interest than it would in a traditional savings account. For instance, in 10 months, you could earn close to $860 on $10,000. That same $10,000 in a savings account with an annual interest rate of 4% would only earn $337 during that same period--a difference of $521. At 1%, you’d earn only about $84.