Banks Can Offer Great Signup Bonuses if You Know What to Look For

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Banks want customers. It's how they make money. To get customers, many banks offer lucrative signup bonuses that can put cash or travel points into the pockets of new customers. While the personal finance blogosphere frequently talks about ways to travel for free through credit card signup bonuses, there are also options for those who would like to see a bit more cash coming their way via other bank accounts. While there are some minor local banks that offer these bonuses for their clientele, the major nationwide banks offer some of the more lucrative bonuses. There are also bonuses that savers can earn through signing up for a new checking or savings account. They just need to know where to look.

Checking Account Bonuses

These are some of the more common bonuses across the banking spectrum. Banks hope to get people to deposit money so that they can turn around and make loans that will have their borrowers paying bank these loans with interest. Even those who have little money to put into a savings account each month will need to have a checking account to pay common bills. Local banks will frequently offer a small bonus of $50 or so for signing up for a checking account and then making a direct deposit of varying levels for a specified period of time. Sometimes, they require only one direct deposit of $500. Other banks will require three months of deposits. Some of the more common options for earning $50, $100 or even $200 come from major nationwide banks. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Bank of America

Savings Account Bonuses

Some of the more common options for earning a hefty bonus from opening a savings account are the same as those offering bonuses for checking accounts. Most of these bonuses will come in at a similar level, or even more. However, they can come with more stringent requirements. Rather than requiring a certain number of direct deposits, the savings accounts will usually require a minimum deposit that can sometimes be quite high. For example, a bank like Citi or Chase will offer a $200 or $300 bonus for leaving $10,000 on deposit for three or six months before the bonus posts. Those who have a large amount of money available that they can tie up for a fairly lengthy amount of time could see returns of between 5 and 10 percent on an annualized basis. This return is not terribly risky if the bank is FDIC insured. Bonuses on both savings and checking accounts can sometimes be churned. This means that people can earn them more than one time as long as they allow a specified period of time elapse between applications. For example, Chase allows another bonus after a year.

Credit Card Bonuses

Credit card bonuses, like bonuses for savings and checking accounts, require users to open up a new account. Those who have a good credit score can earn some fairly hefty bonuses that will usually range between $100 and $1,000 or 25,000 and 100,000 frequent flyer miles or hotel points. These can be some of the more lucrative bank bonuses around, probably because of the higher interest rates that borrowers have to pay. To earn these signup bonuses, cardholders need to spend a predetermined amount on the card within a specified period of time, usually the first three months the card is open. The lower bonuses of $100 to $200 frequently require $500 to $1,000 in spending. The higher bonuses will usually require spending of $3,000 to $5,000 within three months. Some of the travel cards will pay a bonus after a single purchase, but most require similar levels of spending that are comparable to the cards offering cash bonuses.

These bonuses are a bank's attempt to gain market share. Those who judiciously choose the bonuses that they attempt to earn could obtain thousands of dollars of benefit each year. Overspending on credit cards or tying up money that is needed for other uses would be a way to offset the benefit that new accounts could provide. These considerations should be primary in the minds of those who might decide that these bonuses are a good way to improve their finances.