In our first Bank Bonus podcast, Grant Sabatier interviews Kevin Ha from FinancialPanther.com. Kevin shares his experience and expertise in earning bank bonuses since 2015.
Kevin offers a few great suggestions for those new to bank bonuses such as:
- Start with easy bank bonuses to get a feel for the process before moving on to more complicated ones.
- Have $5,000 set aside specifically for bank bonuses and treat it as an investment that can earn a higher return than a regular savings account.
Overall, Kevin highlights the potential to earn significant money through bank bonuses with relatively little time and effort.
Interview with Kevin Ha
In this episode, Grant Sabatier chats with Kevin Ha, the founder of FinancialPanther.com.
Hear how Kevin earns on average around $10,000 per year in bank bonuses. He also gives advice on how to get started in your bank bonus journey and how to best keep track of your earnings and requirements.
Bank Bonus Podcast: Episode 1 Transcript
Grant Sabatier (0:26)
Hey everyone, welcome to the podcast. I’m really excited today to have Kevin Ha from FinancialPanther.com. I’ve known Kevin, gosh, I want to say four, probably five years.
We started our websites around the same time. Early on he was FinancialPanther.CO and I remember advocating very heavily for the .com, and so excited to see that you transitioned at some point over the last several years, but we really haven’t had a chance to talk much since kind of those early days.
So I wanted to have Kevin on the show because I’ve watched really as my journey progressed, his journey progressed from big law attorney to government attorney to now full-time blogger, side hustle experimenter extraordinaire.
The man knows more about side hustles probably than anyone that I’ve seen online. And really excited to bring him on and really excited to have you here, man.
Kevin Ha (01:24)
Yeah, thanks so much for having me on.
Grant Sabatier (01:26)
I’ve been getting bank bonuses since 2011 when I got my first business bank bonus, it was $300 for opening an account.
Since that time, I’ve been able to get over $30,000 in bonuses, but Kevin really crushes my bonus game, and I think I was looking on your site at one point, maybe you’ve generated over $50,000 in bank bonuses, or at least consistently over $10,000 a year.
Kevin Ha (01:53)
This past year I got $13,000 in bonuses between myself and my wife. So that’s the two-player mode.
Grant Sabatier (02:00)
So as another way to gamify your life here, you’re obviously crushing the bank bonus game.
Can you talk a little bit about how you got started with bonuses, and for someone listening to this, how they could get started as well?
Kevin Ha (02:14)
So basically the concept with it is a bank will give you money for opening an account and meeting certain requirements.
Typically, the requirement is something like a direct deposit into the account of X amount of money or doing a certain number of debit card transactions. So those are the kind of typical requirements for it.
And some people get confused like, oh, why would a bank give you money? It’s like, well, because they have to get customers and no customer is free. So you’re basically just getting, instead of seeing an ad on TV that they spend a million dollars on, maybe they can just give you 200 bucks instead to be a customer.
And so the way to get started with it, I find, is to do kind of these easy bank bonuses first. There are some that are much easier than others, and it kind of gives you a nice little starting point, kind of get a feel for how it is, because once you get to the more complicated ones, the ones where you have to worry about fees on the bank account or where you have to keep a certain amount of money in the account for a specific length of time, it gets a little more intimidating, I think.
And so there are specific banks out there like SoFi Money is a really easy one. It’s like they pay you 50 bucks, you fund it with $500 and they’ll give you 50 bucks right away, and it posts instantly.
And so that’s a very easy one that you can start with and just feel very comfortable like, oh, okay, I see now how it works. And then as you get more comfortable, you can start doing the more complicated ones that require you to keep money in there longer, that you have to worry about closing the account later and that kind of stuff.
Grant Sabatier (03:47)
So how did you get started with this? What was the first bonus? Do you remember?
Kevin Ha (03:52)
Yeah. Oh gosh, no. I don’t remember, this first bonus would’ve been in 2015 or something when I first discovered it. I remember surfing the web, found some stuff about this, and I just tried it out and I was hooked from there because it was like, wow.
And I can’t remember what the first ones were, but since then I’ve kind of done the same ones. The funny thing is that a lot of these bank bonuses, you can do them again every 12 months.
And so I have literally had a US Bank account every year open for two months, and then I keep getting the bonus and then close it and I just open it again in 12 months.
Grant Sabatier (04:29)
So a lot of people question, how is that even possible? Wouldn’t US Bank just say, “Hey, you can’t do this.” and one of the things I’ve said is, of course, as you mentioned, they set aside a portion of their marketing budget to get new customers.
And ultimately the goal is that you’re going to be happy with the service and you’ll stick around, and so why would they let you keep applying for the bonus each year?
Kevin Ha (04:56)
They’re the ones who make the terms. So for whatever reason, they’ve decided that 12 months is a good enough period for them. And I don’t know why, because there are some banks where they’ll say, you can only get it once, ever.
And I get that, that seems like it would make more sense, but some of these banks will just let you do it every 12 months. And maybe there’s some reason maybe they want to boost their numbers up at a specific time of the year or something.
I mean, most of these banks are publicly traded companies, and so maybe that does something for them, I don’t know. But yeah, I actually don’t know why they let you do it over and over, but while it’s there, I’ll take advantage of it.
Grant Sabatier (05:32)
So you mentioned starting with SoFi, $500 for a $50 bonus. A lot of bonuses out there, 200 to 300 dollars. Sometimes they can get much larger if you’re opening a business account or using larger amounts of money, for example, if you’re moving into a brokerage account or a different type of bank account.
So how did you make over $10,000 in the past year with these 200 to 300 dollar bonuses? Do you have 40 bank accounts open at any given time?
Can you explain how is making $10,000 even possible?
Kevin Ha (06:07)
Yeah, so it does sound crazy, right? But you got to think of the math there.
So it’s like there are so many banks out there. So many. And you’d just be surprised at how many, and a lot of them, you’ll get ones that are like 400 bucks, 500 bucks. And so that just adds up.
And then for myself, I have my wife also, I do them for her, so she will just get random debit cards in the mail that she has no idea what they’re for. I’ll just open up accounts for her.
And so if you see a $400 one, let’s say, and I do it twice because I do it once for me and once for my wife, it’s 800 bucks right there without much work.
And so that’s how it’s possible. In a year I open a lot of accounts, well over 20 per person, so 40, 50 accounts each.
Some accounts will have a referral thing too, which is helpful. So I always refer, one of my best friends always does every single one. My brother will always do every single one. I refer my wife and there’s one that’s like that, which is even better because then she gets a bonus and I’m getting a bonus for referring her.
And so it’s kind of like these types of little strategies that you can do to increase your earnings. And so referrals, these don’t even include the referrals I do with my blog.
These are just referrals that people I know, which is you probably have some friends of yours, a lot of your friends will be skeptical, they’ll be like, I’m not going to do that at all. Right?
But you will have some of them who are very into it, and those are the ones you want to make sure that they know about anything that you are doing.
Grant Sabatier (07:46)
And how much money do you need to do this? Is this $5,000, $10,000? For someone listening to this, how much do you need to get started?
Obviously with the SoFi, $500, but you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get these bonuses.
Kevin Ha (08:04)
Right. And so typically, I would tell people just have 5,000 bucks they set aside just for bank bonuses. And so the way to think about this is to use that as your emergency fund.
Basically, we all know we should keep an emergency fund. And so if you take your emergency fund and put it in a regular bank account, it’s earning nothing.
But if you take it and you use some of it for bank bonuses, you’re basically getting a much bigger return. It’s not passive, like yeah, you got to do a little bit of work to research these and find it, but at least it’s like your money, your cash is working for you.
And worst case scenario, let’s say you do need that money, so you pull the money out, you don’t get the bank bonus, but it’s like a 100% safe way to use your emergency fund to get a better return on it.
Grant Sabatier (08:50)
And do you do this for personal and business or just personal accounts?
Kevin Ha (08:55)
I do it for both business and personal accounts. Business accounts are always a little bit more difficult because usually, you have to go into the branch to get them.
And before COVID it was much easier. Nowadays it’s a little more of a pain to do it. But most people have a business of some sort, even if you’re doing Uber or anything, that’s a business and that makes you totally legit to open a business bank account. So I’ve done that.
Most of the business accounts I’ve opened, I used to do Airbnb, and so I would always say it’s for my Airbnb and they would have no problem with it.
And then I’ve had my wife do it too where I’ve had her go in and open a business account. She hates doing it because she has to go in and do it, but I’ll be like, “Oh, it’s for like $500. It’ll take you 20 minutes. It’s well worth it. We got to do it.” So I’ve had her do it too.
Grant Sabatier (09:50)
That’s so funny. So do you ever do brokerage bonuses as well, in terms of moving investment accounts?
Kevin Ha (09:58)
I have, not the huge ones though. Some of these brokerage bonuses are kind of crazy. They’ll ask you to move a million dollars or a thousand dollars and it’s like, I don’t have that.
But there are some easier brokerage bonuses that I have done, but I typically just do the ones that are the ones where you fund it with some money.
So they’re essentially like a bank bonus. I don’t do the ones that I have to move money into them too much because that’s just a whole different thing for me to deal with.
Grant Sabatier (10:29)
Yeah, I actually did that for the first time this year. I had quite a bit of excess cash, and so one of the things you can do with brokerage bonuses, because everyone wants your trading business, you can actually, if you get a good offer from one, you can call up another and say, “Here’s the bonus that I was offered,” and kind of pit them against each other.
And with a $250,000 investment bonus, I was actually able to get $12,000 in a signup bonus, cash immediate in my account. Didn’t have to leave it in for any particular amount of time. It took three days to get it.
And so those are obviously scarce, but from an investing standpoint, people now more than ever, those brokerages, they want your money. Brokerage bonuses I see growing a lot, and it’s a little bit of the Wild West, and so if you call them up, you can get quite a bit of cash in return.
I know one woman who does have a million dollars to move around and she consistently makes over $50,000 a year on brokerage bonuses and uses that basically to pay off her mortgage, pay her mortgage. She’s like the ultimate… I’m going to try to get her on the show to talk a little bit about that.
But one of the things you’d mentioned just in your gig work is that sort of effective hourly rate, you’re making 50, 60 bucks an hour delivering for these food delivery services.
Do you get that granular with your bank bonuses to figure out based on how much time it takes you, how much money you typically make per hour working on it?
Kevin Ha (12:00)
Yeah, so I have not tracked that ever, but this is a thing I try to tell people actually when people are like, “Oh, it’s like work to do that.”
And I’m like, yeah, it might be, but let’s say it took you an hour to do it, right? And the bonus is paying $200. Is your time worth $200 an hour? I bet you don’t make that much at your job.
And so that’s kind of how I think about it a lot of the times with those because I think at worst, literally if you had every single thing go wrong, it would take you an hour. Literally everything, you totally got messed up, you had to call them in and wait on hold forever.
That’s probably the most it would take you to deal with any of these. And so usually it’s not going to be like that. It’s usually going to be 10 minutes to make 200 bucks.
Grant Sabatier (12:45)
And is this something that anything gets easier over time as you’ve learned more about it? I mean, I imagine over time the better you get, the less time it takes, the more money you’re making per hour.
Has that been your experience?
Kevin Ha (12:58)
Yeah, absolutely. When I first started doing it, I was always so careful, I had to read everything. And this is going to be the case for anything you do in the world at all.
It’s always going to be slower when you start because you just don’t know what you’re doing. As you get better, you start knowing.
And so now I have it all set up, every time, I have my spreadsheet, I enter in when my account was open, what the bonus will be. I have another thing that’s a checklist and I literally cut and paste all the terms directly into it, a checklist of everything, and I check off each thing as I do it.
I schedule everything in advance, right off the bat so I don’t forget. It’s just gotten faster as I’ve gotten more into understanding how these things.
Grant Sabatier (13:45)
Yeah, I think this is a great way to wrap this up. You’ve used the word system quite a few times in this conversation, and I think that’s an extremely important part of your story and just building a life that you love.
I think that over time as you learn more, whether it’s about the gig economy or investing or bank bonuses, setting up these systems that ultimately make your life easier and your financial life, it’s kind of like your financial game plan, seems like kind of turnkey now.
You have a system designed that with bank bonuses you’re going to earn $10,000 plus, and with these high-interest savings accounts maybe even a little more each year and you can kind of plan for that.
And that’s a substantial amount of money for really not a ton of time. Can you talk about how those types of systems have impacted your life and ultimately helped you create more freedom?
Kevin Ha (14:50)
Yeah, I mean, the key with anything with money I think is automating stuff. And that’s the great thing with all these banks and these things, you can automate everything right away.
And so once you automate it once, you don’t really have to worry about it too much again. And so that’s kind of how I’ve done. I’ve got my whole money system set up and everything just kind of flows to where it needs to go.
It’s all set up once and I don’t have to think about it too much. And you think about, you mentioned about these bank bonuses and how much they’re worth and you go like, oh, 10,000 bucks isn’t… it’s a decent amount, it’s a lot of money, but it’s not like it’s-
Grant Sabatier (15:29)
It’s a lot of money.
Kevin Ha (15:30)
It’s a lot of money. But it comes even more crazy when you think about what you would have to have to make that much in interest. If you want to make $10,000 in interest from a bank account. And so it’s kind of crazy.
I don’t do it with that much. I use 5,000 to $15,000 to earn all these bonuses, and so it’s just kind of interesting when you extrapolate it that way.
Grant Sabatier (15:54)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s totally worth it. I mean, I’m a millionaire and I focus on getting these bonuses because it’s legitimate money that adds up, that’s easy to get. And it’s also a lot of fun to play the game as well.
Kevin Ha (16:09)
Yeah, it’s a game.
Grant Sabatier (16:09)
It sounds like you enjoy it too. Well, Kevin, man, it’s just been great. It’s been too many years since we’ve caught up. Congratulations on all your success and the new baby the success of your blog and building a life you love.
Man, you seem super happy and joyful, and really appreciate your energy and coming on the show to talk about how you built that life to share more about the gig economy and bank bonuses as well.
Everyone, if you want to learn more about the gig economy and everything we talked about, FinancialPanther.com is an absolute treasure trove of information. It’s one of the only blogs that I actually still read and enjoy.
I love keeping up to date on Kevin’s life. Love the tone, everything you heard here, you hear and will see on the blog. Where else can everyone find you, Kevin, and what are you up to?
Kevin Ha (16:59)
And then otherwise, yeah, what I’m working on is I just write and try to share things I’m doing.
Grant Sabatier (17:16)
Dude, great catching up with you. Hope you have a good day and let’s chat again soon.
Kevin Ha (17:21)