To attract new customers, many banks now offer lucrative cash bonuses – from $100 to $2,000 – simply for transferring money into their various savings and checking accounts.
Recent Reddit carving highlighted dozens of first-hand accounts of people making thousands of dollars by moving their money into different bank accounts to get the bonuses and then moving on. But while some options may seem enticing (hmm $2,000 cash) and moving your money around can pay off, pros say a look at the fine print can help you decide whether to hoop — like minimum balances, required direct deposits and more – which are often significant worth the money. In fact, you might just be better off with a high-interest savings account, as many of them pay more than they have in a decade (check out some of the best savings account rates you can get now here).
However, if you want to put in the work, here’s what you need to know about bank bonuses and 10 of the best.
There will be hoops to jump through
The first thing you should know is that these deals come with caveats. To get the bonus, you may need to move thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars into and leave them there for a certain period of time, hold or make consecutive deposits for several months or even years, keep a minimum amount into the account and/or take direct deposit. “If you miss the requirements, you’ve gone through all that hard work for nothing,” explains Brian Schmehil, managing director of wealth management at Mather Group.
“The opportunity cost of making a few hundred dollars versus the hassle of setting everything up with a new bank is usually not worth their time,” says Caleb Pepperday, a certified financial planner at JFS Wealth Advisors in Pittsburgh.
However, it can be. If you have enough money set aside as a safety net, Schmehil says the return on your investment can be worth it. “The best option, if possible, is to just move cash around to all these different banks to get the bonus, while keeping your main checking and savings accounts intact,” Schmehil says, adding that “the banks, however, are have realized this, so it’s getting harder and harder to do so without actually moving your banking relationship to another bank.
Use the bonus only as one of the factors in whether to switch banks
Bankrate banking analyst Matthew Goldberg believes that staying in the know when it comes to available bonuses is one way to make sure you don’t leave money on the table, explaining that “it’s better to use a bank bonus account as part of the fact-finding process when comparing accounts.’
But in many cases, bonuses come in the form of one-time payouts and aren’t the best long-term strategy, says Margaret Burnett, banking specialist at NerdWallet. “Even after you receive your bonus funds, which can take a few weeks, it may not be worth looking for another offer right away. If you try to close an account that was opened less than six months ago, the bank may charge you an early account closure fee.”
With all these considerations in mind, Burnett says that considering a more stable investment option can pay off just as well, if not better. “A one-time bonus is nice, but it’s also a good idea to consider putting your money into a high-interest savings account and letting it earn a little interest without any extra work on your part,” she says.
The best bonuses for savings and current accounts
If you’re looking for the best bank bonuses available today, MarketWatch Picks has done the research for you. Below are the top five deals on checking and savings accounts. Just remember to read the fine print!
5 Best Savings Account Bonuses
Alliant Credit Union: Getting free money with Alliant can take some work, but you’re eligible to earn $100 after you’ve had an Ultimate Opportunity Savings Account for a year and made deposits of at least $100 for 12 consecutive months. Current Alliant members are not eligible, so this is a one-time offer only.
BMO Harris: New members who open a Savings Builder account can earn $5 per month or $60 per year by depositing $200 each month for the first 12 months.
Find out: Start your savings account and earn a $150 bonus when you deposit at least $15,000 and $200 when you deposit at least $25,000 in a new Discover Online Savings Account. However, the offer is not valid on existing or previous Discover savings customers, so this is essentially a one-time deal. Accounts must also be held for 30 days to qualify.
CIT Bank: Get one year of Amazon Prime, $139 cash value, free when you open a money market account with CIT using promo code AMZN22. Some caveats here include a minimum balance of $15,000 that must be reached in 15 days as well as held for 60 days to qualify. The offer must also be redeemed by March 24, 2024.
Regional Bank: Set up the automatic transfer feature from your regions check to your LifeGreen Savings account and earn an annual bonus of up to $100. Regions Bank is only available in certain states and the program involves some work, so be sure to read the fine print.
5 Best Current Account Bonuses
You are: Earn $2,000 when you deposit and maintain a $300,000 account balance and $1,500 for depositing and maintaining a minimum balance of $200,000. While this may seem like a lot, balances of $10,000 also earn $200 with other offers available on a sliding scale in between.
BMO Harris: If you don’t already have a BMO Harris checking account, you may be eligible for $200 to $350 in bonuses by opening a Smart Advantage account, Smart Money account, or Premier account. One account is limited per customer and must be opened between October 1st and December 30th.
SoFi: Sign up, set up direct deposits and earn up to $250 once it’s in your account. This process, according to SoFi, takes about two to four weeks to complete. Those who deposit between $1,000 and $4,999.99 are eligible for a $50 cash bonus, while those who deposit more than $5,000 earn $250 if they do so within the required 25-day evaluation period.
TD Bank: New TD Beyond Checking customers can earn up to $300 when they make $2,500 in eligible direct deposits within 60 days before October 31, 2023. Existing TD Bank checking customers and those who have had a checking account with the bank through the previous 12 months, or have ever received a checking account bonus, are not eligible. This offer expires on October 31, 2023.
Huntington National Bank: Make a minimum account deposit of $25,000 and earn $300 when you open a new Platinum Perks Checking account. Apply by February 23, 2023 to qualify.
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