Who doesn’t like free money?
We all do, which is why our massive list of 40 companies practically giving away free money ($4,327.25 combined) is one of the most popular posts on MoneyPantry.
Today, we are going to talk about banks that offer free money.
Ever since the economy began to downturn in late 2007, it seems as though many industries (and individuals) have been struggling to keep themselves afloat. Amazingly, even international banks fall into this “struggling,” if we are speaking relatively.
One of the ways that banks have been trying to get themselves back to their old success is by offering incentives to incoming clients.
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Specifically, we’re talking about bank promotions that offer cash in return for opening up a new account: checking or savings.
Even in the best of times, banks are always looking for new customers, and some customers never stop shopping around for a new bank. Certain studies (such as the World Retail Banking Report 2013) have found that up to 10% of banking customers are prepared to switch their banks within 12 months.
That means there is a lot of incentive for a bank to try to draw in people who are between banks.
Bank Promotions: Can You Actually Profit from These Incentives?
Yes, the most important question first!
If someone is offering you $200 dollars to simply deposit $100 to their bank, you probably feel like there is a catch.
After all, that’s a return of about 300 percent!
Well, there is and there isn’t a catch!
In the simplest of terms, there is no catch. Simply change your account, deposit the money, and receive the reward. If the plan goes off without a hitch, this is the reality of the situation; it’s a simple exchange of money in return for your continued business.
In less simple terms, the catch is the same as any other bank account would be. It comes along with all the hidden fees and pitfalls that go along with bank accounts, the perpetual risk of unknown charges for things like monthly maintenance or stagnation of account activity.
These “catches” are pretty standard, as far as bank accounts go. If you’ve ever signed up for a bank account, you were taking just as big of a risk then as you would be taking advantage of these incentive programs.
Believe it or not, banking is a competitive industry.
If you are one of the nearly 75 percent of Americans who have less than $1,000 in emergency savings, you might want to realistically consider shopping around for a new bank.
Banks are more than willing to offer you the money to join up with them because, in their best laid plans, you’ll still be with them when you want to take out a loan on a house or car.
The bank wants you in for the long haul, plainly said.
However incoming customers should be thorough in preparing to move banks, as sometimes the costs of closing accounts can overtake the cash that will be gained from moving the accounts.
Top 20 Banks that Pay You to Open an Account (2014)
Before we get t the list, I’d like to quickly touch on one important point.
It’s worth stating twice– please do some investigating before you take advantage of these programs!
You’ll want to know what it says in the fine print, to know if it’s really good for you.
Below, we’ll list basic descriptions about each program, but if you’re serious about them, make sure you protect yourself by reading all the documents.
1. Wells Fargo – Up to $250 Bonus
Wells Fargo’s incentive is to receive up to $250 in bonuses for opening up a checking account.
Terms: You must fund your account with $25 dollars or more, then make 10 debit card transactions (or set up direct deposit) within 60 days of opening the account.
After you complete those terms, they’ll send you the money within 45 days.
The cutoff for this offer is November 21st, 2014.
2. SunTrust – Up to $200 Bonus
Suntrust is an example of a bank that has a slightly more rigorous process for earning the incentive. Suntrust is offering between $100-$200 for opening a checking account with the promo code FALL14CHECKING.
Terms: You must put in a minimum of $100 on opening deposit. Then you must qualify for a direct deposit of at least $1,000 and make one online bill payment for at least $50 within the first 60 days.
Those are the terms for the $100, and the terms for the $200 are this: Qualify for a direct deposit of at least $2,000 and make two online bill payments of at least $50, within the first 60 days.
If you meet the requirements for either bonus, it will be deposited within 8 weeks.
3. Chase – $150 Bonus
Chase is offering a $150 dollar bonus for opening a Total Checking Account, but you must be a new customer!
Terms: You must make a minimum deposit of $25 at time of opening the account, and make a qualified direct deposit of $500 or more, within the first 60 days of opening the account.
Either print a coupon or have one emailed to you to receive this bonus; you can also apply online to receive the bonus.
Once you fulfill the requirements, you’ll receive the bonus within 10 days (which is pretty fast compared to the other banks on this list!)
Your account may have a monthly fee attached, so make sure you look at the fine print before you choose this option.
This offer expires on December 2, 2014.
4. BBVA Compass Bank – Up to $200 Bonus
For those that didn’t know, BBVA Compass is the official bank of National Basketball Association– and they want you to know it!
BBVA is offering various types of small-scale incentives to sign up for their new official NBA checking account.
Terms: This one gets a little complicated. Open a new account and deposit $25 minimum to earn a $75 cash bonus (which may be between $25 and $75, depending on the state you live in.)
If you make at least three online bill payments, which must each be over $50, then you’ll get a $100 e-gift card for the NBAStore.com (if done within 90 days of opening account.)
If you activate Direct Deposit Dash, and then make at least two direct deposits of at least $300 within those same 90 days, they will give you a $15 Amazon e-gift card.
If you activate Swipe for Songs, and then make at least 40 debit card transactions in 30 days, you’ll receive a $10 iTunes gift card.
You can apply for this deal online or in person. An offer for people who are good at pursuing deals!
5. Santander Bank – $240 Bonus
Santander Bank wants you to come over and open up an “extra20” checking account, and set up direct deposit.
Let’s be upfront about this: they aren’t looking for low-income applicants.
Terms: To get your bonuses from the extra20 checking account, you need to have $1,500 deposited into your account via direct deposit, EVERY month.
If you do not receive that amount in direct deposits, you will not receive any bonus, and will in fact be fined $10.
However, for every $1,500 you have deposited, Santander will kick another $10 your way.
It’s definitely a case of diminishing returns, but there is one aspect that works in your favor: this deal is ongoing! So you’re looking at $240 a year as opposed to $240 for a short-term, single-lump payment.
If you like to play the long game, this might be a good deal for you.
6. Nationwide Bank – $200 Bonus
Unlike the previous entry on the list, Nationwide is looking to make a short and sweet deal with you for its incentive.
Terms: Make a new e-checking account with the promo code 02106460 (copy and paste recommended!) before January 12th of 2015.
You’ll need to put in $50 minimum opening deposit, and then make a direct deposit of at least $200 per month.
Do that for two months, and on the following month (past the 90th day) they’ll give you your $200 bonus.
Short and simple, and not too high of an overhead for diverse income brackets.
7. Capital One 360 – $50 Bonus
You may have heard of this back when it was called ING Direct.
Now it’s called Capital One 360, but they’re still offering $50 as a bonus promotion.
Terms: If you open a checking account through Capital One 360 and make three debit card purchases within 45 days of opening the account, you’ll receive your $50 bonus, which is deposited on the 50th day, fittingly.
It’s important to note that you can also make Person2Person payments instead of debit card purchases, and these will still be valid towards your total.
8. BMO Harris Bank – $200 Bonus
Once slated to end at the end of the summer, BMO Harris has extended this offer until December 2015!
Terms: Incoming customers can receive $150 for creating an “everyday” checking account, or $200 for opening a Select Checking or Portfolio account (and of course, you’ll need to make a qualified direct deposit, as is the regular.)
You may also set up a pension payment or a Social Security payment, which will fill the role of the direct deposit.
You need to make one of these deposits once a month, and they have to be of $300 or more in value. The first deposit needs to be made within 60 days of opening the account.
You’ll receive your incentive around 120 days after the account is opened, if you met the requirements.
You’ll notice in the fine print that this account must stay open for at least six months, so make sure you plan on that, going in!
Your cash reward is reported to the IRS and will be applied to your taxes.
This account, like most types of account, incurs several small fees on a monthly basis.
Also like most accounts, though, these fees will be waived if you meet one of several various stipulations, which are listed on the company website.
9. Bank of America – $100 Bonus
Bank of America wants you to open a new checking account using the promo code BAW100N, and they want you to do it before December 31st, 2014.
If you do, you’ll be eligible for a $100 bonus.
Terms: You must make $2,000 in direct deposits each month for three months, and you must be a new customer (existing customers not eligible.)
Of course, this offer has a pretty high monthly requirement for the direct deposits, so it’s not the best option for everybody.
10. U.S. Bank – $100 Bonus
This is an offer that requires you to open up both a checking and a savings account. It is a deal that has a low entry cost, but requires you to be able to sit on the cash for a while.
Terms: If you enroll in U.S. Bank’s S.T.A.R.T. savings program, you can earn $50 on a Rewards Visa card, and another one again in a year.
You must open up a Package Checking account with a minimum $50 deposit, and a Package Money Market Savings account with $25 minimum opening deposit.
Then you must set up recurring transfers from the checking to the savings account, and you’ll be given your card when you reach $1000 dollars.
If you leave it at $1000 or above without touching it for a year, then you’ll receive the second $50 dollars.
11. Fifth Third Bank – $250 Bonus
Those of you on the west coast are probably not familiar with Fifth Third Bank, a bank that is regionally focused in the east and southern parts of the US.
However, they’re offering a pretty good incentive to do business with them, if you live anywhere near one.
You can earn between $150 and $250, depending on which type of account you sign up for.
Terms: Regardless of which one you choose, the terms are that you keep the account open for 90 days and that you make at least one deposit of $100 or more within the first 60. Other than that:
- Use the MA Code 95715 to open an “Essential” or “eAccess” checking account, and be eligible for $150.
- Use the MA Code 76069 to open an “Enhanced,” “Established,” or “Preferred” checking account to be eligible for the $250.
To open an account, either go in to your local Fifth Third bank or call them on the phone at 1-800-333-7595.
Accounts must be opened by December 20th to take advantage of this offer, and of course, must meet the terms discussed above.
Compared to the other banks, however, this is a very reasonable time limit to ask you to keep the account open for (and makes it easier to open up other ones, too.)
12. Discover Bank – $50 Bonus
This is a deal that doesn’t necessarily target newly incoming customers.
Discover wants you to open up a Discover Bank Cashback Checking account, and they’ll even let you do so if you already own a Discover Card or are a deposit customer.
Terms: Open one of these new accounts with a minimum $25 down before December 15th of 2014, and receive the bonus by January 19th of 2015.
This account will earn you 10 cents cash back for each monthly transaction you make, which applies to many of the different types of recurring payments that you make regularly.
It caps as the first 100, though, so the rewards are not limitless.
This deal does have a very low barrier of entry, however.
13. Salem Five Bank – $100 Visa Gift Card
Salem Five Bank is offering you some rewards for opening up a checking account with them. It’s similar to the other deals on here in the way it functions, but it relies a little more on small details.
Terms: You must open up a checking account and make two direct deposits that are worth $250 or more a piece.
Alternatively, you can make six online bill payments (worth $25 or more a piece) or make 20 debit card transactions (worth at least $5 a piece.)
If you can complete these requirements within the first 60 days of the account opening, then you will receive your reward card within 4 to 6 weeks of meeting the requirements.
14. KeyBank – $200 Bonus
KeyBank wants you to open up one of six different types of checking accounts before December 5th of 2014, and in return they’ll give you $200.
Terms: You must open the account before the given date, and you must make $1000 in direct deposits within the first two months of having the account.
As has appeared several different places on this list, the reward will be reported on a tax form.
Direct deposits may only be pension, governmental, Social Security, or payroll.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: This offer will ONLY occur if you enter the promo code ONFT0614 when you go to register your account. Don’t forget that part!
15. PNC Bank – $300 Bonus
First things first, this deal is NOT good for all 50 states.
I’m going to list the states where it does apply: AL, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, VA, WI, and District of Columbia.
However, this deal does boast one of the highest rewards on the list (along with the highest requirements.)
Terms: You must open up a new Virtual Wallet account online, or click the link on that page to be sent a coupon (to redeem inside an actual branch.)
You need to get $5,000 transferred into your account via direct deposit within the first 60 days, as well as making a single payment with online bill pay.
After meeting the requirements, you’ll get your bonus within 60 days, and you have until December 31st of 2014 to INITIATE the offer (but you’ll have more time than that to complete it.)
This nets a pretty nice reward if you make enough money to cover the direct deposit cost, but you’ll need to be in the 30k+ a year bracket to cover those direct deposits.
The last five items on this list are still bank-based ways to earn rewards, but they’re a little more unconventional than the ones above in terms of rewards / methods.
16. Citizens Bank – $1,000 Bonus for College Savings
This is an offer for the long term thinkers.
Citizens Bank wants you to sign up for their CollegeSaver savings account and they’re offering you $1000 as a bonus to sway your decision (though it comes at quite a delay.)
CollegeSaver is a savings plan account that is interest-bearing.
Terms: You need to open the account before your child’s 12th birthday! And you need to save the yearly minimum amount every year after that, or the deal is off.
However, when your child turns 18 years old, you’ll receive your $1000 extra.
If you can play this long term game, it’s worth noting that if you open the account before their 6th birthday and meet the terms all the same, they’ll offer you $2000.
It’s not a small amount by any means, but there might be more efficient ways to earn $2000 in twelve years (and that $2000 is going to be a lot less money 12 years later, that’s for sure.)
17. First Republic Bank – $25 Bonus
First Republic Bank, not to be confused to Citizens Bank, is offering a small reward to their preexisting customers who are willing to download a software. The software is called Trusteer Rapport, it is free, and it is designed to help protect your sensitive banking information from the prying eyes of the internet.
First Republic is so passionate about protecting you from identity theft, they’re offering you this $25 bonus simply for downloading the software, which was developed by IBM.
All you need to do is sign into your account after downloading Trusteer Rapport and send an email to the bank letting them know where to send the credit to.
This one is easy and considerate if you’re already a First Republic customer!
18. Regions Bank – $165 Bonus
This one offers a specific amount of money to cater to their promotional deal.
The way it works is nice and simple, just open an account with Regions Bank using the promo code “165” and then meet these terms.
Terms: Make 10 purchases on your Regions Visa Check Card within 60 days of opening the account.
Also within those 60 days, you’ll need to make $500 or greater in direct deposits to your account.
If you can pull those two requirements off, you’ll get your $165 in a few weeks afterwards!
However, the offer is only available in these states: AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, & TX.
19. BankDirect – AAdvantage Miles
Do you fly a lot? Do you WANT to fly a lot?
Check this out: BankDirect wants you to open up a special BankDirect Mileage Checking Account to earn points towards American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
You’ll receive 1,000 miles for opening the account, 5,000 for setting up your direct deposit, and 2,000 for using the online bill pay service for a year (but you can also earn 1,000 extra miles for referring a friend!)
That’s a possible 8 or 9 thousand miles for very little work, which will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go.
Of course, this is a combination of both a bank and an airline, so you can bet there is some stuff in the fine print!
There is too much to list here, so if you’re interested in this one, you’re going to want to investigate it thoroughly.
It could definitely be worth it, though: those are a lot of miles we’re talking about!
20. TD Bank – $100 Bonus
Let’s finish off the list with something easy, shall we?
TD Bank wants you to sign up for their Easy Rewards Visa Credit Card and spend $500 within three months.
If you do, they’ll give you 10,000 points (at a rate of $1 USD per 100 points) which comes out to $100 cashback.
Recouping 20% of your spendings isn’t a bad deal at all.
But like all the deals on this list, you should do some reading if you’re serious about it. Signing up for a deal you know little about could potentially cost you the money that you’re trying to make!
So What’s the Bottom Line?
These bank promotions are best suited for someone who is already planning to switch to a new bank.
You could try to pick through them and take advantage of as many as possible, of course; that part is up to you entirely. After all, there are some pretty sweet incentives in here if you’ve got the power to take advantage of them!
Even if you’re just a casual reader, don’t forget that ANY time you sign up for a banking account, you need to know the little details: Does it bear interest? What monthly fees are there? Is checking free? Are there perks?
Banking is serious business, and there’s nothing quite so upsetting as having an issue with your bank, so only go into these free money and promotional deals if you’re well informed.