What Are Bank Promotions?
Banks and credit unions are always looking to attract as many new customers as possible.
The more new money that these financial institutions can bring in, the more overall profit they make.
One of the most popular ways that banks lure in new customers is by offering account opening bonuses, which are financial incentives you can get for opening a new account and meeting certain terms and conditions.
These new account offers are a win-win for the bank (or credit union) and customer.
They’re attractive to customers because it’s free money. And for banks, it’s a prime opportunity to bring in new customers, who are likely to stay on board for many years down the road.
How Can I Qualify For a Checking Account Bonus?
First, you typically need to be a new customer.
Next, you’ll have to meet requirements such as completing certain activities for a period of consecutive months after account opening.
These activities can be anything from meeting and maintaining a minimum balance or minimum deposit, making a qualifying direct deposit, using your debit card, enrolling in mobile banking, or a combination of several of these activities.
We’re intentionally vague here, because every new account bonus will come with different terms. Often, the more difficult the requirements, the higher the reward.
Requirements for checking account offers usually fall into four categories:
- Minimum Balance: Some bonuses will require you to transfer new money to the account and then maintain that balance for a certain period of time. How long will vary, but it’s typically from 30 to 90 days.
- Direct Deposit: Other offers will require you to receive qualifying direct deposits from your employer or government benefits such as social security. Often, the deposit will need to exceed a certain amount, and terms can vary from a single deposit to a recurring deposit that occurs over consecutive months.
- Debit Card Purchases: Sometimes the checking account bonus will require you to use your debit card to make a certain number of purchases. Keep in mind that ATM withdrawals won’t count.
- Account Features: The last common requirement involves using account features like Bill Pay, enrolling in eStatements, remote deposit capture, or logging into the mobile app.
Banks will outline exactly which of the above requirements – sometimes just one, sometimes a combination of several – are necessary to qualify for the checking account bonus.
In addition to meeting the initial requirements, you also usually have to stay in good standing with the bank or credit union for a certain number of days after account opening (the first three to six months is pretty typical).
This means that you either have to maintain an average daily balance, an average monthly balance, a specified combined balance, or a minimum balance as required by the bank.
It goes without saying, of course, that avoiding a negative balance is also critical, so don’t overdraft your account!
Ultimately, they’re putting the terms in place so that new customers don’t get the bonus and quickly close the account, which would result in a financial loss for the bank.
How are bank bonuses paid out?
Most of the time, it’s in the form of a cash bonus that the bank puts directly into your new account.
The bonus payment might also be handed out in other forms, such as a Visa Gift Card or rewards points that you can use to make online purchases.
Once you’ve met all the requirements, it’ll usually take a few business days for your cash to show up in your checking or savings account.
Most bank offers will clearly state when and how to expect your cash bonus, so again, read the fine print (we also call this out clearly in every offer we publish on BankBonus.com).
How much money can you get?
Sign-up bonuses typically range from a couple hundred to a thousand or more dollars, depending on the bank, how much money you deposit, or how “tough” the requirements are.
New account bonuses are typically offered for opening a traditional checking account, but you can also find them for opening a new business checking account, money market account, savings account, credit card, or investment account.
How do I avoid monthly fees?
A monthly maintenance fee is a fee charged by a financial institution simply for having the account. This is typically bundled with premium features such as interest on your deposit balance.
This is different from other account fees like atm surcharges, overdraft fees, or early account termination fees.
Fortunately, most of the time, the monthly service fee can be waived by meeting certain requirements such as receiving qualifying direct deposits, or maintaining a minimum balance requirement.
If you can’t meet the thresholds necessary to waive the monthly fee, fear not.
Many banks offer a checking account bonus even for opening one of their totally free checking accounts.
How To Find A Bank Sign Up Bonus
Keep an eye out for promotional materials from local or national banks that advertise a new checking account or savings account bonus.
Banks are frequently sending these out over email, snail-mail, and through online and mobile app ads.
Chances are, you’ve come across more bank promotions than you even realize.
And, just from having searched and found this article, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be retargeted for new account bonuses as you browse the internet.
What Do The Best Bank Promotions Look Like?
The bigger, the better, right?
Yes, and no. Bonus offers vary quite a bit, and it isn’t necessarily as simple as finding the biggest number and going after it.
New checking and savings account bonuses are everywhere, but customers can most often expect to see them popping up at the bigger national banks or credit unions. Some of the most popular are:
- Chase Bank promotions
- Citi promotions
- BMO Harris Bank promotions
- Alliant Credit Union promotions
- U.S. Bank promotions
- Wells Fargo promotions
- PNC Bank promotions
- TD Bank promotions
- HSBC Bank promotions
- Huntington Bank promotions
The best bank bonuses also have easy-to-reach requirements. For example, if the bank requires a $100,000 minimum opening deposit, most people wouldn’t qualify for that.
Another thing to watch out for is that if the bank charges a monthly maintenance fee for your new account. This could eventually wash out any bonus that you might get.
So, if you’re eyeing a $200 sign-up bonus, but then the bank charges an unavoidable $15 monthly fee, then your bonus offer gets washed out in about 13 months.
Ideally, the bank or credit union you decide to go with won’t charge you any fees, or there will be a way to get around them (such as monthly direct deposits).
The same goes for evaluating a credit card offer. The biggest account opening bonuses will come for cards with an annual fee. But this only makes sense if the card offers rewards and perks that you find genuinely valuable.
That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your cash bonus without giving it right back.
As you can see, there are several things to consider when vetting or ranking savings account and checking account offers.
We focused on the following criteria:
- Reasonable requirements compared to the cash payout
- Nationally available offers
- FDIC or NCUA insured, to protect your deposits
- Accounts with no or waivable monthly fees
New Bank Account Offers: The Fine Print
It’d be nice if it was as simple as signing up and cashing in, but there are few more things to consider.
First, make sure you understand the exact requirements, including what’s required of you and by when (not only when the offer expires, but also how quickly you’ll need to complete the tasks).
Also note whether there’s a promo or coupon code that needs to applied at the time you open the account to enroll in the promotion.
What’s more, sometimes you need to be targeted with a specific offer page or email to get in the door.
Next, make sure you’re eligible for the offer. Banks will often exclude current or former customers from a bonus offer, may require you to be of a certain age or live in a certain state or region.
Why a certain location? Bank offers are often regional, so your friend in Michigan might see a checking bonus that’s different than what you’re getting in Kentucky – even if it’s with the same bank.
Once you’re certain that you’re eligible for the checking account bonus or savings promotion, pay close attention to the requirements.
These will be clearly outlined, but still have nuances you’ll want to be aware of.
For example, banks may require that account holders make their initial deposit via a qualifying direct deposit, rather than transferring money from another account. Banks like direct deposits because they provide steady, guaranteed revenue coming into the bank.
Finally, don’t forget that checking account bonuses are considered income and will need to be claimed come tax time. Unlike credit card bonuses, which are viewed by the IRS as a rebate or discount, checking account bonuses are considered taxable income.
The good news is that, unlike applying for a new credit card, when you open a new bank account, there’s usually no impact on your credit score.
Bank Promotions FAQs
What banks give you a bonus for opening a new account?
Offers are constantly changing. At BankBonus.com, we’re constantly scouring and updating the best bank bonuses available, so be sure to check back often (seriously, new offers are added almost every day!).
With that said, even though the actual bonus terms tend to change over time, almost all banks offer some kind of perk for opening a new bank account.
Larger, national banks typically have the resources to pay out the best bank bonuses. But you can also find sign-up rewards at your local community bank or credit union.
Are new savings and checking account bonuses worth it?
Some bonus offers are worth it, and some aren’t.
A $400 cash bonus might seem like an amazing deal, but if you’re moving funds over from your high-yield savings account, which offers a significantly higher Annual Percentage Yield (APY), you might be losing money in the long run.
Generally speaking, big national banks don’t offer the best interest rate on checking account deposits, so take that into account as well.
You also have to pay attention to the monthly fee that might come with your new account.
Why do banks have promotions?
Ultimately, bank account bonuses are a marketing tactic to attract new customers.
While most checking accounts are free (either by default or because you’re able to meet the requirements necessary to waive the fee), banks profit from you in other ways. Overdraft and other fees, add-ons like safe deposit boxes or checks, deepening their relationship with you through products like credit cards or loans, and more.
But even if you never pay your bank a single fee or a dime of interest, they still make money by having you as a customer.
Bringing in new money gives banks lending power – which means they’re able to lend to other clients and earn interest (and origination fees!) from those loans.
So, to attract new customers (and their cash), many banks offer welcome bonuses to new customers.
Are bank bonuses taxable?
Yes, money you earn from a new account bonus will be reported to the IRS and taxed as income. Keep this in mind when you’re figuring out your total return on any given offer.
One exception to this are credit card sign up offers. Since most credit cards require you to spend a certain amount in order to qualify for a bonus, the reward doesn’t count as taxable income.
Do I need a checking account to get a savings bonus?
Sometimes. Banks love to get you in the door with as many products as possible, so some will require you to hold multiple accounts to earn a bonus.
Other promotions will give you a certain reward for opening a new checking account and meeting those requirements, and an extra cash reward for also opening a new savings account at the same time.
In either case, just because a bank is offering money as a sign-up bonus for opening a new account, you still want to be sure the new account makes sense for you.
There’s no limit to how many bank accounts you can hold, so this isn’t a huge issue, as long as an unwanted account doesn’t leave you paying fees.
With this in mind, if you need to add a checking account to get a bonus, make sure that it’s a free checking account that won’t penalize you for lack of use or a low balance.
The Best Bank Bonus For You
The key is to think of a personal checking account bonus as, well, a bonus. It’s a nice-to-have.
What you shouldn’t do is open an account that’s a poor fit for your financial position just to chase some extra cash.
With this in mind, there’s no reason to give a bank your business without getting something in return.
While functionality and low fees should always be your top priority, a nice savings account bonus or new checking account offer can get your balance moving in the right direction.
So, find exactly what it is that you’re looking for in a bank account, then narrow the list down based on which banks not only meet your needs but also incentivize you!
To learn more about how to find, track, and maximize bank promotions, sign up for the free 3-day email course below.