Bank Bonus Podcast: Episode 3

In our Bank Bonus Podcast Episode 3, Grant Sabatier interviews Alex Robinson, a bank bonus enthusiast who has earned over $18,000 in bonuses in the past year.

Alex shares his journey into the world of bank bonuses, starting with credit card bonuses.

He discusses his strategies for maximizing returns, including finding the best deals, building rapport with bank representatives, and keeping track of bonuses.

Alex also talks about the challenges he has faced, such as dealing with ChexSystems.

He advises that bank bonuses may not be for everyone, as they require time and effort, but can be a lucrative side hustle for those willing to put in the work.

Bank Bonus Podcast: Episode 3 Transcript

Grant (00:25)

Hey everyone, and welcome to this episode of the Bank Bonus Podcast. I’m very excited today to have Alex Robinson.

He is a Bank Bonus email subscriber and reader and reached out with a pretty amazing story about how he’s gotten over $18,000 in bonuses in the past year, and I believe approximately $7,000 just in the past month.

Once we went back and forth, I realized that Alex’s operating at really the master level of bank bonuses. So I invited him on the show and he gladly accepted I can’t wait to dig into bonuses with Alex.

Welcome to the show.

Alex (01:04)

Hi, Grant, nice to be here. I’m glad you reached out. I appreciate it.

Grant (01:09)

So, let’s start at the beginning. We were talking a little bit before the show. How did you get into bonuses?

Alex (01:16)

Alright, well, I do like to say that I enjoyed the first podcast you did with Financial Panther and just listening to him, it helped me understand, how did I get started?

And I basically was getting mail from Chase Bank a long time ago, back before all this stuff was on the internet and it was like 200, 300 bucks and you had to take the code into your local branch.

And so I went in there and I did it and did everything that I needed to off the disclaimers and I was like, wow, that was so easy, that’s great!

And then I got another one and another one and another one and I just kept doing it and I was like, dude, I kept talking to the same guy down at the Chase Bank down the street Max, and I was like, I can’t believe this guy isn’t blacklisting me, because he’s like, oh, it’s you again because I’d have to go down in person to cancel the account too. That used to be how it was.

You couldn’t just click a button on the website or you couldn’t just call it in. And so he knew me and it was a little bit embarrassing and it was even more embarrassing for my wife when I started making her go down there and I’d open one and she’d open one, but I think that – that’s where I started the bank bonuses.

But as I reflected on it, I’m pretty sure I started with credit card bonuses earlier. We had a bunch of credit card debt probably in the early two thousands, 20,000 or 28,000 bucks, and we did a Dave Ramsey course, which I don’t know if you guys listened to Financial Peace University or anything, but that really pointed me in the direction of 0% interest on my credit cards.

And so I started just getting these things in the mail that were, hey, switch to our credit card and you’ll get 0% on purchases and on your balance transfers for two years almost, and we’ll give you 500 bucks if you spend a $1,000 on it because they want you to get locked in on the rates, you have to pay the whole 0% interest.

So we started doing these 0% interest credit card deals, and I think that because I started to get so many credit cards that put me on the radar for all these banks that wanted to do prequalifications, and I just started getting more and more deals in the mail and I think that’s how I ended up on Chase’s radar.

And then I got one from KeyBank back when iPods first came out, like Touch iPods.

Grant (03:26)

Oh yeah.

Alex (03:27)

I was like, dude, I don’t have an iPhone, I don’t even want one. At that point, I still had my Nokia brick and I was like, but I’d love to try it out.

So I went down to KeyBank and I got myself a bank account and they gave me an iPod worth, I don’t know, 400 or 500 bucks at that point, and then I was like, this is so cool, I’m going to go bring my wife down.

So then she got an iPod touch. I mean I think I still have ’em in a box.

Grant (03:51)

Yeah, they’re collector items now I think.

Alex (03:53)

But that’s how it all started and then it was only a few years ago that I really started hitting it hard. But I’m going to give you another soundbite or idea here is that – I tell people about this and I’ve been telling them about this for a long time!

I would get codes in the mail that were not just for me, but anybody who had the code could go into the bank and use it, I had a business where I had about 20 employees and I would tell them about it.

They would say, oh yeah, tell me next time you get one. I would bring it in and I would say, here it is. I will do it with you, let’s all do it together.

And people are nervous that they’re going to miss out on steps or something’s going to happen to their credit report and I’m like, look at my credit report, it’s 800 plus, they love me.

The craziest thing is nobody ever did it, and I’m talking about 15 years worth of me telling people because I would have people come over for dinner and stuff, we’d all arrive at my house at five o’clock and I’d be coming home from work, I would’ve just grabbed the mail and I’ve got a stack of 10 or 15 debit cards to open up, which takes me on another segue, but I’ll get to that in a sec.

Grant (04:57)

Let’s talk a little bit about why you do the bonuses. You’re obviously spending the time and we’ll talk about how much money you’d net doing this, but why do you bonus?

Alex (05:07)

It’s a hobby, so why does somebody build model airplanes? Why does somebody watch football? I take my hobby time and I apply it to getting these bank bonuses and I get a lot of, I don’t know, endorphin hits.

Grant (05:21)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alex (05:22)

Off of gaming the system in a way.

Grant (05:24)

What do you do with the money you were mentioning?

Alex (05:26)

College probably.

Grant (05:28)


Alex (05:28)

So this last month I was like, okay, I’m going to hit it harder than ever because my daughter got accepted to a college that she really wanted to go to that was $20,000 a year more than we had budgeted for college. I was like, okay.

I ended up with a lot of motivation. I’m a freelance graphic designer now. I sold my graphic design business, this last month was also a time when I had less freelance work, and so I was like, all right, I want to make extra money to compensate for that between the two.

It really pushed my motivation to really do it, and I will say that one of the things that people always ask me is, how long does that take? Your previous guest was like, well, how much do you make it work? I’m trying to make a 100 bucks an hour.

One of the things that I do to maximize my returns and how I can make 8,000, 9,000 bucks in a month, I’m doing it for three people.

Last year when I used my daughter’s identity if you will, but she would get the money, I was just like, here, you let me do this for you as it’s fun for me and to do it for a third person doesn’t take me that much effort. I’m going to give you the money, and so I just started piling it up into a savings account for her, she was like, okay, great.

Now this year rolls around and she is going to this more expensive college. I’m like, great, how about I keep doing it for you and now we’re going to take that money I saved and we’re actually going to put it towards your college, and she was totally happy with that.

So buy some books, buy some gas, and now pay for two months of her payment plan.

Grant (07:00)

Are you doing card and bank bonuses for your daughter and your wife or just bank?

Alex (07:04)

So that’s a great question. I’m pretty much excluded from doing credit cards and I think that’s how I ended up reaching out to you and a couple of the other bonus websites that I work with.

I also just discovered seriously last month I was like, I got to maximize, so I just discovered in Doctor of Credits website down at the bottom, all of the chat that goes on.

Grant (07:25)

Oh yeah!

Alex (07:26)

The conversations that are happening, and so that opened my eyes a lot. I’ve been doing this all by myself for a long time and I didn’t have a community to tap into, didn’t have anybody else who was offering ideas.

I had never noticed the discussion happening down there at the bottom of those pages.

Grant (07:44)

Oh yeah, that’s where all the action happens.

Alex (07:45)

Yeah, lots of people have given lots of good info, so I want to get in with that.

Grant (07:50)

So why don’t you do cards?

Alex (07:52)

I’ve done too many and it’s come down to because the cards do a hard check and they end up as real inquiries that stops them from proving you. And the number one thing that makes a difference between the credit cards and the banks is at the bank, you can talk to the person who’s reviewing your application, at the credit card, it’s all computers, and good luck getting to talk to somebody and having them take a second look.

With the banks when it comes in as a soft inquiry on my checks report, so I’ve got 28 checks reports this month, they question that. I call them up in person, typically after my first application has been rejected, and they told me that the reason why the system rejects me is because, with so many inquiries, it looks to the system like there’s been identity theft. And that there’s somebody that’s got a stolen identity and they’re applying for as many things as possible just to try to hope that something hits.

When I call them up, I’m like, hey, I’m a real person, I’ve got money to add to your deposit quota you need to make this month. Here’s my passport, here’s my ID, let’s get on a video chat, here’s my address, I’ll go outside.

I have worked for credit unions for a long time when I was a graphic designer in my business, one of our biggest customers for many, many years was a local credit union. So I kind of understand what their motivations are, and for many, many years, you look at CD rates over the past 10, 15 years, CD rates have been so incredibly low because interest rates were low and they had lots of money to lend and they were just lending, lending, lending. What I came to understand from working with them, one of the quotes that will never leave me is “a bank is in the business of loaning money.”

They position themselves in a way to make it look like, oh yeah, we’re your friend, we’ll hold onto your money in a secure way and you don’t have to worry about it and we’ll provide these services to make it convenient for you to access your money. But they are literally in the business of making loans, that’s all they care about. Right now, interest rates are really high. We come out of the pandemic, things look pretty good, and then it’s getting worse and worse. Inflation is getting higher, costs are getting higher. People aren’t saving as much money and they are taking their money out and banks at this point and credit unions, when I say banks, I mean credit unions as well. But they are really looking for deposits because they don’t have any money to lend any more. They are really running low.

One of the ways when I talk to them on the phone that I kind of stroke their needs is I basically say, yeah, I was really interested in your 5% CD rate. I’ve got a CD ladder and every month they come to maturity and I’ve got to find a new place to put the money, and I tell ’em, 10 years ago I just kept it all at the same bank and it just rolled over, rolled over, rolled over, but the reason I’ve got so many inquiries now is that I am basically trying to find a new place for my CDs.

And hey, you’re the lucky ones, and so then they get excited about, oh, we really need this guy’s money so that we can lend at a, I don’t know, seven to one ratio or whatever they’re at.

That’s how I’ve been getting around to the inquiries when I actually call ’em up.

Grant (11:00)

So $7,000 to say $9,000 a month in bonuses just seems astronomically high to someone just getting started. It sounds like a lot of work.

How do you keep track of all of this, number one, and then how do you make sure that you try to hit that a $100 per hour ROI?

Alex (11:21)

At the worst, I feel like I ever go down to 50 and even then I’m like, 50 is great, but a hundred bucks an hour, ROI. So to somebody just starting out, if you’re doing it by yourself.

Grant (11:32)

How are you tracking all this? That’s a lot of account opens, a lot of hurdles you have to hit, a lot of things you have to check up on, a lot of things you have to monitor.

Alex (11:42)

I keep track of my average more than I keep track. There are so many bank offers available. Finding the ones that allow you to do it in your area, that wheedles it down to a list of 5 – 10.

Then you just order them by how much money you can get versus how much effort.

With the credit card deals I used to think, well, if I could get a $100 per $1,000 that I have to spend, that’s a decent credit card deal.

If you could get $100 per $500 on a credit card deal, that was amazing.

And so when I look at the bank bonuses, I’m like, okay, if the requirements are really low, I think people would say, okay, if I don’t have to do debit transactions, then that puts something higher on the list than if I do.

If I have to do one direct deposit, man that’s at the top of the list. If I have to do two or three over the course of several months, I’m like, okay, that’s fine, because once I get it set up the first time, then it doesn’t take long to do it the second time.

So I kind of triage them like that. What I’m really looking for is just the highest amount of money I can get for the lowest amount of effort, which is common sense.

But right now if I look at my spreadsheet and so I track it with a spreadsheet, I’ve got 59 deals, and if I divide that by the $18,900 that I’ve got this year, that’s $326 per deal.

Grant (12:58)

So you’ve done 59 deals this year so far, that’s not like your target list.

Alex (13:03)

I’ve actually done more than that. I just haven’t put them onto the list, but only a few more.

It’s just like some of them are in progress like I’ve applied and I’ve gotten in, but I’m still waiting for my wife and daughter to get approved, and so those haven’t made it onto the spreadsheet yet just because once I put ’em on the spreadsheet, then that means that, okay, I’m tracking it by when I have to do things, what the expectations are from the bank and then when I should receive the bonus and when I should close the account.

Grant (13:31)

So let’s talk about the direct deposit hack that you have. That was pretty cool. How do you get beyond that direct deposit requirement, which tends to be something that stops people in their tracks or seems like a big, big hurdle if you’ve got to contact your HR Department and change your direct deposit form, and all that stuff?

Alex (13:50)

Yeah, so that’s a good question. Having run my own business for many, many years and having an HR Department that I had to talk to change things, I understand that ADP, at least when I was doing things back before 2020 and I sold my business, ADP would let me have three or four splits off of my direct deposit or off of my main payroll before the business started incurring any additional fees.

They might’ve increased that or decreased that at this point, but that would be the number one thing I’d find out is how many you can do at your office and be good friends with your HR person.

That’s going to be a big pit of molasses that you have to slog through is how long between the direct deposits or how many direct deposits you can do and how often you can do them.

If you’re on social security, boy, that’s going to be tough. If you are a person at a job who can split your income and you have an HR Department, then maybe you could do four different direct deposits a month.

Your HR person has to be nice to you about it and talk them into getting deals, try to convince them, say, this is what I’m doing, we should do it together.

For me personally, because I’m a freelancer, I have, and my wife had a business too, so we’ve got a couple of business accounts that are still open.

I have income that comes in and I just look at it and I’m like, okay, how can I split this up? But I hit my $15,000 ACH limit at my bank and I had to ask him like, hey, can I have a couple more?

Because I was doing so many this month that could give you kind of a scale of if you want to make 8,000, 9,000 bucks a month, you got to have enough flexibility in your direct deposits to be able to send out as many as you can as fast as you can.

At the end of the month, I was like, oh dude, I want to crest my highest bonus month ever and I’m just going to keep pushing it and pushing it.

And so I started to have to get to the deals where it’s like I had to do more in a direct deposit or I had to do more direct deposits, and so it’s like, okay, I did one already this month on the 15th, now I’m going to do another one on the 30th, but I’m doing it for three people and if I have to do a minimum of a 1,000 per person, now I’m doing 3,000 on the 15th, 3,000 on the 30th for just that one bank.

In the meantime, I do try to draw some of that money back. I try to look as much like a reasonable customer as possible to the banks. So even when they say, oh, you have to keep your account open for 180 days, I keep mine open for 240.

Maybe that hurts in the churning in the long term, but I feel like they could blacklist me. I feel like somewhere someday they’re going to put together a list of bank bonus churners and that’s just going to be like, that’s going to be the next thing on the checks list. That checks is going to be like, oh, this person just churn the bank account.

So I do try to look more like a legitimate customer, so if they say 1,000, I’ll do 1,250. If they say I have to have a minimum of 500 in my bank account, I put 750 and I’ve found that that greases the wheels.

If there’s ever a problem and you have to call the bank and say, oh, didn’t I meet this requirement or didn’t I qualify for this bonus deal?

Then that person will look in and be like, oh yeah, sorry, our system somehow didn’t catch this or whatever. Or they’ll look at it and be like, oh yeah, this is not a person that’s totally gaming the system. They’re at least trying to make more of an effort.

So I do think that some karma has been built up maybe, if you will, with the banks or my whole effort in this that I do try to go a little above and beyond what they want just to look more like a legitimate customer I guess.

I know that from working with the banks and credit unions, they do have systems that automatically flag, and so I’m sure that when they’re setting up these bank bonus deals in their core system, they’re like, oh, and if the person only deposits exactly a $1,000, maybe we need to watch that account.

If you read the disclaimers, they say, oh, we can revoke this at any time for any reason, and you have no say in it, and some of them literally say, if we think you are gaming the system, then we can cancel our deal, our agreement. And so I try to look like I’m not gaming the system, I guess is where that’s all going.

Grant (17:43)

So how much money are you moving around here? I mean is this, you have 30,000 you’re using to get these bonuses or I know that Kevin, in the first episode he has between five and $15,000 that he’s moving around at any given time.

What’s your core amount of working capital, let’s say for your bonus endeavor?

Alex (18:02)

That’s a great question and one of the things that I appreciated in his answer was that, hey, it’s just use your emergency fund.

When I say how much money do I have to move around? I was in all that credit card debt, I followed the Dave Ramsey system of snowballing my debt, putting $1,000 away from my baby emergency fund, and then putting away six months to a year’s worth of salary so that I could cover any lows.

Over many, many years, I developed a great emergency fund and let’s say it’s 65,000 bucks and that’s just money that’s pretty much sitting there right now because of the high-interest rates you can get off of regular savings accounts.

I got a bank deal from UFB Direct, and ended up at 5.25% in your savings account, so that’s where I keep the majority of the money, I move around.

I try to keep the money again, trying to look like a regular customer and not a scammer. I try to move the money to UFB and then I move the money back to my business bank accounts from there. So that the money doesn’t just go from my business account bank to my personal accounts at that same bank in a circle.

But yeah, 65,000 bucks, I really don’t even use that much of it, so that’s how much is there, but it would be hard to use that much.

I do get nervous about locking up 15,000 bucks, although I did that for a Chase Bonus like a Chase Business Bonus recently. That was like 500 bucks. I was like, fine, you can have my 15,000 bucks for three months. I did have the ability to do that. That’s a rare occasion.

I don’t know, I just feel more nervous about not having it be more like, although Financial Panther pointed out, so what, you don’t get the deal, you just take the money back and that’s another reason why I’m really leaning more into bank bonuses and why I try to sell my friends and family on bank bonuses is that with a credit card deal, great, you’re probably going to spend that money anyway if you’re not, don’t get a credit card deal.

If you’re not going to spend 2000 to 6,000 bucks, don’t get that credit card deal. My business, I buy a lot of printing and so I knew I would spend that amount of money so I’d get the profit from the client, the print market from the client, I’d get the miles from the credit card and I’d get a bonus for spending 6,000 bucks, which could be 500 to 750 bucks.

Sometimes you spend 10,000 and get 750 bucks. I was like, I know I’m going to spend that, so I would try to get those credit card deals.

Other than that, I’m still pretty conservative with it, I don’t why I feel like I don’t ever want to miss a bonus. I’m pretty focused on that and so I do feel like losing that 200 to $500 for a bonus feels like I’m actually losing that money and I don’t want to risk doing that. So I don’t know.

Grant (20:38)

What about the difference between personal and business bonuses? A lot of people think that business bonuses are tougher to get. They can’t imagine kind of moving their business bank account or opening another business bank account.

Can you talk about how, are you just going equally at personal and business or is there a strategy there?

Alex (20:59)

I find that the business deals are not as good as the personal deals and so I don’t go after them that often.

Right now I’ve got a Banner Bank business deal, had the Chase one recently. I should show you how I keep track of this, but it’s a manual and Excel spreadsheet system.

I just don’t do that many business ones. I do have the BMO business deal, they just took over Bank of the West. I tried to apply for that one online and it said, oh, this information, you’re going to have to do it at a branch.

I was like, oh, well there are no BMO branches near me. I just looked it up offhand and I was like, oh wait, they just took over Bank of the West, so there is actually a BMO branch down the street from me now, and so I’m going to go in and I’m going to get the money off that one.

I think I’ll get 600 out of the 1,600 that they’re offering. I don’t go after the business ones a lot, but I don’t have a problem with it.

I don’t feel ever like if I’m opening a second, third, or 40th bank account, that I have to move my money over there and use that as my primary bank.

It’s like yeah, I have a bunch of accounts open, I try to close five to 10 every month, but just whenever I can. But I’ve probably got 60 accounts, I’ve got one main bank.

Grant (22:06)

So what friction points do you run up against? Because you mentioned you’ve had to talk with people, you’ve had to go into branches.

One of the tips that you shared with me over email, which I loved and I think not enough people talk about is just using the chat feature on the bank’s website.

So can you talk about some of the barriers that especially new people getting into this can hit? People are afraid of it. I get an email a day from people saying, Hey, I’m running up against ChexSystems, what can I do?

Alex (22:37)

The first thing I want to mention is I’ve got a niece and nephew who just graduated from Law School and Vet School and they want to get a house, and house prices are so crazy and all these years I’ve been trying to talk them into doing bank deals. I go, do some bank deals!

I would think one of the biggest friction points right now or for anybody would be if you’re planning on making a big purchase, probably shouldn’t be doing a lot of bank deals.

I know that the banks are going to try to squeeze the highest mortgage rate out of you, they possibly can, do anything they can do.

So if they see your checks report and they’re like, boy, you got a lot of inquiries. This how I always, I’m like, but my credit rating is like 820 and they’re like, but you got a lot of inquiries on your credit report. They use that as leverage.

So I wouldn’t do a bunch of credit card deals and I wouldn’t do a bunch of bank deals if I knew I was going to have to buy a house, possibly even a car.

But anything that has to do with long-term loans and interest.

Grant (23:27)

That’s good advice.

Alex (23:28)

I toned down on them. I finally was like, oh yeah, dude, no, sorry, don’t do it right now. I’m running into these walls. But I mean I think I’m running into the checks wall mainly because I’ve hit it so hard.

But it’s funny. I have noticed some of the bank deals out there will talk about the sensitivity to checks. It’ll be listed in the description and the bulleted points. How sensitive to checks is it?

And it is funny. I do all the same exact bank deals for me, my wife, and my kid, and often one of us will get accepted, no problem. I don’t know why and often the other two will not.

Now where I’m at with the biggest friction is trying to get the other two accepted. Now when I look at a bank deal that’s going to be three to $600 per person and Financial Panther mentioned if you can get a referral, that probably puts things at the top of my list now.

If we talk about how we were triaging earlier, if I can get a referral, I’m usually joining the bank hopefully with somebody’s code that I found in the discussions on one of the bank bonus websites. So sometimes people will leave their code out and you can use that code to at least get half of the referral and then I put my kids on it.

So okay, if I’m thinking I can make three to 600 bucks, then I’m not opposed to spending an hour on the phone over a period of time or an hour on a chat because I’m working at home. I’m going to sit here and work anyway. And I always tell ’em, man, I think another thing that would help a lot with people that churn these bank bonuses is if we just all got together and said, Hey, let’s be so friendly to all the customer service people we interact with that they have a better day because of you.

I’d like to think that I’m getting on a white list for all that because I have been an angel to hundreds of customer service people, whether they’re on a chat or whether they are talking to me in person because that’s probably the easiest way to get past a lot of the friction is to develop a slight rapport.

That’s one of the things I list now when I’m doing a bank deal is who’s my shepherd? If I end up connecting to an individual person and I’m super friendly with them and I write them a review, there are often website links that send feedback to our CEO, I will go on there and I will write a nice letter about how this person helped me out with this hurdle and I’ll be like, and please share it with them and please share it with their boss and I’ll get a great letter back.

I’ve even been asked a few times to give actual testimonials to put on their website because they like my flowery letter so much. But I will identify that shepherd and if that person likes me and here’s my story out, then I only have to explain my whole story once. Then they will help me get my wife on because I’ll be like, look, I’m already a member of this credit union and I love you guys. You guys are great. Your online banking is so great. You stroke their ego and I love the stuff you’re doing in the community. Can you help me get my wife set up because she’s run into this thing on the online application. We just really need a human to review it. We have all the same financial history. Why wouldn’t she be allowed to join?

Then they’ll look at it and they’ll be like, oh yeah, the number of ChexSystems inquiries made the system think that you’re a victim of identity theft. And so yeah, that sounds great. Get her on the phone and we’ll do it. And that brings us to the second big point of friction is when you have to get somebody else on the phone.

So my wife has not been super into doing any of the deals and my kid has not either. It’s like if it takes more than 10 minutes, they’re like, no, I’m done. I don’t want to do it. Sometimes I’m like, it’ll be 10 minutes and then it takes an hour and a half to get through a whole application on the phone.

The banks want to explain all of their great financial products that you could get involved with and you have to be polite in order to not throw up any bad karma flags. Now with my daughter going to the more expensive college, she’s like, yeah, okay, fine, I’ll do more. And my wife is actually now really excited whenever I tell her, yeah, get on the phone if you do this. You just made a hundred bucks towards their tuition. And she’s like, oh, okay, great. And even then it’s still a little bit hard. So that’s another point of friction.

Grant (27:25)

Are you documenting the bonuses? Are you taking screenshots?

Alex (27:28)

Totally, because I’m lucky enough to have a business that needs a printer. I print off things however much I want. It’s like one or 2 cents per copy.

Grant (27:37)

You have stacks of these?

Alex (27:38)

I’m going to grab one just so you can see it and you can describe it if you want to.

Grant (27:41)

Oh yeah, alright, we’re looking at printouts. Those are pretty detailed. A lot of Post-it notes. So you’re keeping files on these, you’re keeping documentation and files on the bonus, what you need to do, the timeline, whether you’ve hit the milestones. That’s smart.

Alex (27:58)

As a graphic designer I had and a project manager and an art director, I had to build a system and I felt like the physical manifestation of a project was the easiest way to keep it from getting off track.

If you could hand it to the next person and they had a checklist of what they had to do and they hand it to the next person and that comes back.

Grant (28:15)

That’s really smart.

Alex (28:16)

And you have everything here for billing at the end of your project and you could show the customer like, oh, this is why it costs 10,000 bucks versus why it costs 500.

Grant (28:24)

I like that.

Alex (28:25)

It is a little bit tedious and when I listened to Financial Panther and he’s like, oh, I have another Word document or whatever that I copied the disclaimer into, I was like, I need to start doing that. I could build a better cover sheet than this.

I mean you can see I’ve got me, my wife, and my daughter, and when we achieve them, and then I’m going to just show you for consistency’s sake, so that’s Educational Systems Credit Union, I’ve got Bank of America.

Grant (28:48)

I like this, I mean like the fact documenting is so essential. I think the physical documentation actually is quite nice in an increasingly obviously digital world.

You have a paper trail, you could always go back to it, you could store them, and you’re not losing your screenshots.

That’s what we always ask people to do with our Bank Bonus, exclusive bonuses, we’re the ones incentivizing it. So we form a deal with the bank and then we pay the user. Where’s the paper trail? When did you apply? What’s the link? We’re doing so much tracking of so many bonuses.

It’s a pretty surefire system, but things do inevitably fall through the cracks on the user side and there’s a lot of passing around of bonuses.

And so I’ve noticed that too, that a bonus might have been for one particular person, for one product category, and then that got forwarded onto someone else and they didn’t qualify for it, nor did they keep the paper trail in some cases.

So I like your system a lot actually, and I’d recommend it to the audience to consider actually doing a printout of the bonus offer, the disclaimer, the criteria, and then manually tracking and then keeping a record of it as well at least until you get the bonus.

Alex (29:58)

And that’s the most important part, making sure you keep track of it until you get it. On my wall I’ve got those command hooks, I have everything clipped together and so it just hangs on the command hook and I’ve got one wall that’s bank bonuses that are in progress and the other one that are bank bonuses I’m waiting for the bonus.

Grant (30:16)

So you’ve been doing this now, you’ve had your own firm for 20 years, you’ve been doing bonuses it sounds like since at least the year 2000.

What have you seen change over the last 20 years of doing this and then do you expect this to continue?

The big question is will these bonuses go away? Obviously from a credit card bonus standpoint, there’s legislation that’s currently being considered in terms of capping the interchange rate.

We would effectively eliminate credit card bonuses. Are you worried about bank bonuses? I know it’s like four questions and one, but I’d love your perspective.

Alex (30:54)

I’m glad you asked because that is something that I have noticed is how it’s been changing.

In the early days before the internet was putting everything out there for everybody, there just weren’t that many.

Chase Bank and Capital One would get you a credit card deal, stuff like that. Really only the biggest credit cards did anything.

What I feel like is kind of like, maybe we’d call this the effect of standing on the shoulders of giants that other smaller companies who are trying to take market share or get into the business at all are like, well, how are the big guys doing it?

They obviously have a 61st floor in their building in Manhattan filled with psychologists who are trying to figure out human behavior for marketing. And so they paid millions of dollars to figure out like, oh, I guess we should offer bonuses.

And I mean it’s pretty common sense in the sense of it’s like a win-win and that’s one of the things that I like about it, but it’s pretty common sense that it’s been done like this forever.

So buy one, get one free at McDonald’s or any kind of coupon deal that anybody’s ever offered you, like, oh, get $5 off if you spend $20. I mean, it’s been there forever, but now that banks have the ability, they know that it’s costing them $200 to get a customer anyway. What does customer acquisition cost? What if the customers came to you? They like a referral program.

I don’t understand why more people don’t do massive referral programs. Every business should have a big-time referral program because that’s a testimonial. It’s like the best way you could possibly get new customers.

And now there are thousands of banks, thousands and thousands of banks and credit unions. I’m going to take one tiny segue here and just say somewhere slip it in that man, credit unions are so much better than banks. If you can get in with a credit union, they care lot more in theory. I mean obviously, they’re banks and they want to lend, but they almost always have something that they’re doing for the community to improve whatever they believe in. Banks don’t they just give the money to their shareholders or on the stock market.

So anyway, how’s it been changing with all the thousands and thousands of banks and credit unions? They are just like, oh, this is how we have to compete. Now if some banks give away $200 to get new members and new deposits, well, I guess we’re going to have to do that too.

And so I’ve just seen it increase absolutely exponentially from almost nothing to, oh, I’d get a few a year or two, I get a few a month, I get a few every day and it’s just nuts.

And so they all think they have to compete this way. They all have milestones to hit, and they all have stretch goals they’re trying to meet internally so they can get their bonuses inside the banks too. All the employees get incentivized, everybody from the top down. And so this is one of the ways that they’ve found even if it’s not successful, they think they need to do it just because they’re losing members to other banks that are leaving because of the bonuses.

So I don’t know how much longer it can go on, but I just feel like it’s a race to the bottom. The smallest credit unions now are into doing this too. And I look at credit unions because not many banks, it seems like I don’t completely understand how banks work in terms of their charters and who they can have join. I know that credit unions, they have a particular charter. It’s like if you live work or worship in Long Island or live work or worship in New Jersey or whatever, then you can join the bank.

But now the credit unions have found a workaround where you can join a foundation or you can join the American Financial Association or join the local public broadcasting channel. You can join those things from anywhere in the country and then you’re qualified to become a member of a credit union.

So that’s another reason I’m really bullish on credit unions right now is because they are offering good deals. They’re better organizations ethically than a bank. I don’t have the empirical evidence to back that up, but boy, I bet it wouldn’t be hard to find any.

But anyway, that’s how it’s been changing is that there’s so many more deals out there and they’re becoming so much more geographically accessible.

I wish I lived in Texas or California because there are so many banks in those states that are offering deals all the time or even on the East Coast. I think that’s one of the important parts for me is that geographic accessibility has been increased exponentially for somebody that lives in the middle of nowhere.

Grant (35:07)

So we’ve covered so much in this conversation. Is there anything else that we left out that you want the audience to know or that could help them make the most of their bonuses?

Alex (35:20)

It’s not for everybody. I definitely wouldn’t say, oh, I wouldn’t be so cavalier to tell people, and I used to, oh, it’d only take you a few minutes, and then I started really thinking about it and being like, well, okay, then I had to get on a chat, well, then I had to set up the direct deposits and then I had to check on it.

Whenever I set up the direct deposits, I have another sheet where I write down any money that’s going out like that, and I check on that, and then every month I look at every single one of my bank account balances and I put it in the spreadsheet.

So easily, easily, easily I’m spending an hour per deal at least. And so that’s why, yeah, seriously, when I see a $300 deal, I’m like, okay, that’s three hours and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Do you have time to do that? Do you have a hobby or do you have free time?

I don’t spend a lot of time reading books watching YouTube or watching TV. I have my messy office that I sit in for Grant, he can see it, but this is the only room in the house that I’m allowed to make this messy.

Grant (36:17)

I like the plants. You and I are not Gen Zers, and I can say it, the plants are very Gen Z. It’s a very zen vibe in there.

Alex (36:26)

I love my plants, I really do, I’m going to get tons. I’ve got more plants sitting in front of me that you can’t see. I got two windows. It’s just like, this is what I do kind of for fun.

Grant (36:35)

And you make great money at it. I mean, that’s the thing too. People apply for these for many different reasons.

From the basic, I need a new account, I need a new bank, I want to make sure to get the best bonus, I’m not going to move my money around to the very popular sort of side hustle, which is I’ve got five, $10,000, I’m going to spend a few hours a month, I’m going to move it around, I’m going to get the big bonuses when they’re there.

It’s free money at your level. It’s still a side hustle, but it’s a very serious side hustle. I would say that makes a difference in terms of paying for your daughter’s education and 7,000 plus dollars a month is really valuable.

That’s a lot of money.

Alex (37:15)

We’ll see if I can maintain that.

Grant (37:17)

It’s like anything in life, being savvy, being organized, and then just recognizing the opportunity.

As you mentioned with the 20 people that worked at your design firm, you were enthusiastic, you were an evangelist, you brought in the deals and they didn’t do anything about it.

So at the end of the day, you do have to take action, and I loved what Kevin said, It can seem a bit chaotic at first, and then you do a few and you’re like, yeah, it’s not easy, to your point, it does take some time, but it definitely gets easier at accomplishing the hurdles to get the bonus and then even easier to identify the best ones.

And so I’m very much of the 80-20 rule where I’ll just wait till a bonus is worth my time, that’s just too good to pass up usually on the credit card side, but sometimes on the brokerage bonus side.

And once I see that I know exactly what it is and exactly what I need to do and that it’s going to be super high ROI and I take advantage of it. The smaller bonuses I tend to let them pass unless they’re particularly attractive.

So I appreciate you coming on the show Alex, you dropped a ton of value for the audience, appreciate you saying yes. It was great getting to meet you and I wish you nothing but the best in your pursuit of bonuses and look forward to staying in touch.

Alex (38:34)

Thanks, Grant.

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