The two most popular reasons we use banks is because our mattress isn’t big enough to store all our cash and the bank pays interest on the money we keep in their vault. What many people don’t realize is that some banks give you more money than other banks and credit unions is because of bank promotions.
If your current bank is only offering you free popcorn and lollipops when you go inside, that might be a good sign that it’s the perfect opportunity to switch banks.
And, let’s be honest, when’s the last time you actually walked into your physical bank branch to make a deposit, withdraw cash, or apply for a loan? The darling of our 21st-century digital world–the Internet–continues to reshape the way we live life, including where we bank.
Even though bank promotions aren’t exactly the most exciting thing to talk about at the dinner table, they are an easy way to make money while you sleep.
Why Are Bank Promotions So Important?
Obviously, banking is a very competitive business just like cell phone plans and home internet. Almost everyone with more than two cents to rub together most likely has a checking account. According to a 2016 study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), only 7% of American households didn’t have a bank account.
Banks want you to park your money at their branch so they can lend it to others and make a profit to pay their light bill. As a “thank you” gift, they pay you interest on your account balance each month.
However, money talks and bank promotions run the gambit of instant cash bonuses when you switch banks to a higher daily interest rate.
Online Bank Promotions vs. Brick-and-Mortar Bank Promotions
So where are we going with all this?
If you still bank at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union, your life savings probably isn’t earning as much money as it could be.
According to Bankrate.com, the national average interest rate for a savings account in April 2018 was 0.09%. While it’s still better than hiding your money under a mattress, a $1,000 deposit only earns $9 a year. And if your bank charges you any fees, you’re essentially paying the bank to keep your money in a safe place that’s fireproof and burglar-proof.
Instead, you should consider keeping your money in an online bank account where you can earn more interest because online-only banks have fewer operating expenses. Since they don’t have to spend money maintaining physical branches, they pass the additional profits to you in the form of higher interest rates and the occasional cash bonus.
Below, you’ll find the best bank promotions for brick-and-mortar and online banks. Whether you’re in the market for a new checking account, savings account, or money market account, you might be surprised how much extra cash you can make by switching bank accounts.
Best Online Bank Promotions
For your convenience, we’re splitting this list into two different sections: online banks and traditional, brick-and-mortar banks.
It’s easier to qualify for online bank promotions because they are usually open to all 50 states. You might not get a one-time cash bonus, but your long-term earning potential is higher because most banks pay a higher ongoing interest rate.
Just like you might decide to shop at Walmart for the “everyday low prices,” you might decide to keep your emergency fund or nest egg at an online bank that offers “everyday high interest rates” to earn 15 times more interest than your traditional bank.
Do you have an extra $100 burning a hole in your wallet? Now’s your time to put your cash to good use!
CIT Bank offers the best everyday interest rate on your savings with an online high-yield savings account or a money market fund.
If you only want an online savings account, CIT pays 1.55% APY with a minimum $100 deposit. Federal law limits high-yield savings accounts to six monthly withdrawals, you’ll still need a checking account to pay your monthly bills, so only deposit money you don’t need in the coming weeks into an online savings account.
Another attractive option is a CIT Bank money market account that yields 1.75% APY with a $100 initial deposit. Money market accounts are still restricted to six monthly transactions, but a CIT Bank money market fund offers People Pay access so you can effortlessly send money to family and friends for free!
CIT doesn’t offer online checking accounts at this time, but you can still easily transfer your cash between your CIT savings account and your non-CIT checking account for free when necessary.
Live Oak Bank
Maybe you don’t have $100 to spare at the moment. If that’s the case, you can earn 1.70% APY with a Live Oak Bank online savings account.
It’s free to join Live Oak Bank, and you’ll never pay an account fee as long as you maintain a $10.01 account balance and you show account activity at least once every 24 months. Scheduling a monthly deposit is the easiest way to avoid the inactivity fee.
Live Oak Bank has a 5-star Bankrate.com Safe and Secure rating which provides additional peace of mind in addition to the FDIC-insured status that all of the banks mentioned in this list also offer.
Bank of Internet USA
Do you use your debit card on an almost daily basis? If so, the Bank of Internet USA probably has one of the best checking account bank promotion of any online bank. You will earn 1.25% APY if you meet these two monthly requirements:
- Receive monthly direct deposits of at least $1,000 (Earn 0.4166%)
- Use your Bank of Internet USA debit card for at least ten purchases (Earn 0.8322%)
If you only use your debit card for ten monthly purchases, you’ll only earn 0.4166% for that monthly requirement. There are no monthly maintenance fees or service fees and you’ll also enjoy unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.
This checking account also has a lot of other perks you’ll enjoy including:
- Free overdraft protection
- Mobile deposit and Green Dot Reload at the Register
- Popmoney people to people transactions
- Online bill pay
In addition to earning one of the highest interest rates possible for a checking account, you can also earn cash back rewards on select debit card purchases. These bonuses are in addition to any cash back you can get from your online purchases when you use Ebates, plus the $10 cash bonus you’ll receive when you make your first $25 purchase.
Capital One 360
Capital One 360 is the digital arm of Capital One Bank and you can find exclusive rates that you won’t get if you open an account at a physical branch.
You’ll also notice that Capital One 360 is one of the very few online banks to offer savings, checking, and money market accounts.
If you’ve never owned a Capital One 360 money market account before, use promo code QUICKONE before May 31, 2018 to fund a 360 Money Market account.
You can earn up to $600 in bonus cash depending on how much money you deposit:
- Earn a $200 bonus if you deposit between $10,000 and $49,999
- Earn a $400 bonus if you deposit between $50,000 and $99,999
- $600 bonus if you deposit at least $100,000
To maximize your monthly interest, a 360 Money Market account is only the best option if you can deposit at least $10,000 so you’ll earn 1.50% APY, plus the cash bonus. Money market deposits less than $10,000 only net 0.85% APY which is half the current yield of CIT Bank.
If you can’t earn the cash bonus, Capital One 360 is still a fine institution. One reason why so many people use Capital One 360 is that you can create up to 25 sub-accounts to track your savings goals with ease. These are often called Sinking Funds and they are absolute best way to save for all your big expenses in life such as vacations, Christmas, auto repairs, back-to-school shopping or whatever else you can think of.
In your 360 bank account, you can make a sub-account for planned expenses like vacation, home repairs, or your children’s college fund as a few examples.
All 360 Savings deposits earn 1.00% APY and your 360 Checking deposits will earn 0.20% APY plus access to more than 39,000 fee-free ATMs.
EverBank requires a minimum $5,000 deposit, but you can earn a handsome interest rate with their Yield Pledge Checking and Yield Pledge Money Market Account for your first year. After that, your balance drops to the regular interest rate which isn’t as high.
Yield Pledge Checking
Your first $250,000 in deposits will earn 1.21% APY during your first year. Because interest rates are still higher with an online savings account, it’s best to stick as close as possible to the $5,000 minimum so you can earn $60 in interest compared to pennies with your current checking account.
After the introductory interest rate ends, the ongoing interest rate hinges on your account balance. Account balances less than $10,000 will only earn 0.25% APY as of this writing.
Benefits of a Yield Pledge Checking account include mobile deposit, People Pay and free online bill pay, and fee-free ATM access.
Yield Pledge Money Market
Depositing your cash into an EverBank money market account currently yields 1.50% APY on the first $250,000 in deposits for the first year. After the introductory APY, your account balance will earn at least 1.05% APY.
Do you want to keep your investments and bank deposits at one place? If so, Charles Schwab will give you a $100 bonus if you deposit at least $1,000 in a brokerage account which doesn’t charge an annual brokerage fee and offers a wide portfolio of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds.
So this technically isn’t a bank promotion because you need to open an investment account to get the cash bonus, you can open an interest-bearing checking account and savings account for free!
Schwab offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements and currently pays 0.20% APY on all checking account deposits plus zero monthly fees. A Charles Schwab savings account currently yields 0.40% APY with a minimum $0.01 account balance.
Bonus Tip: Read these six key investing tips to maximize your passive income!
Amboy Direct offers an eSavings account that pays 1.00% APY as the ongoing interest rate when your balance is at least $3,000. By keeping at least $3,000 in your Amboy eSavings account for at least 90 days, you’ll also receive a $50 bonus!
Brick-and-Mortar Bank Promotions
Maybe you still need to bank locally if you make cash deposits or other complex transactions that are easier to do in-person than online.
Physical bank promotions usually offer cash bonuses–in lieu of higher ongoing interest rates–that can help you earn extra cash upfront.
Remember these bank promotions aren’t always available to every person. You might be required to apply in-person or live in a state where the bank has a physical location.
If there’s a BBVA Compass branch nearby in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, or Texas, you can apply for a free checking account or savings account. Select branches are offering a $250 bonus offer when you call 1-800-COMPASS from your phone to see if you qualify.
Looking for a new business bank account? If so, BMO Harris will give you up to $250 bonus depending on the number of accounts you open:
- $100 for a new personal checking account with qualifying direct deposits
- $50 bonus when you open a new Statement Savings account with $1,000
- $50 bonus when you open a BMO Harris Health Savings Account (HSA)
- Cash bonus of $50 when you sign up for eStatements
Whether you earn $100 or the entire $250 bonus, this is an exciting bonus that’s only available to Bank at Work and Group Banking Services customers with BMO Harris.
Open a Chase Total Checking to earn a $200 cash bonus when you deposit $25 and enroll in direct deposit. To avoid the $12 monthly fee, you must either have a minimum $500 direct deposit or an average daily account balance of $1,500.
If you have more money to deposit, you can earn an additional $150 bonus when you deposit at least $10,000 into a Chase Savings account or a $300 bonus if you can maintain a minimum $15,000 daily balance in a Chase Premier Plus Checking Account.
Citizens Bank will give you a $150 cash bonus with a new One Deposit Checking account after a single $500 direct deposit in the first 60 days.
After earning the bonus, make sure you make at least one deposit each statement period to waive the monthly fee. There isn’t a minimum balance requirement and you won’t pay an overdraft fee if the balance shortage is $5 or less, that’s a $35 savings! For a brick-and-mortar bank, these are pretty good terms so you don’t get nickel and dimed to death.
This bank promotion is only available online and expires June 30, 2018.
Fifth Third Bank
Through June 30, 2018, you can get a $250 bonus when you apply in-person for a Fifth Third Essential Checking Account. You will need to start the application process online to get a special invitation code sent to your email address.
You will receive the $250 cash bonus after depositing $500 within 45 days of opening your account and maintaining a daily $500 account balance for the next 60 days after that.
This is probably the largest bank promotion listed here as you can earn $750!
HSBC is offering three different promotions that let you earn between $200 and $750 depending on which checking account you apply for.
To get the $750 cash bonus, you must meet these qualifications:
- Open an HSBC Premier Checking Account by June 29, 2018
- Deposit of at least $100,000 in all HSBC accounts
- Maintain a combined $100,000 balance in all HSBC banking and investment accounts for 90 days
If the $200 bonus offer is more up your alley, you only need to deposit $1,500 and open an HSBC Choice Checking account instead. Maintaining a $1,500 daily balance also means you can avoid the $15 monthly fee too.
SunTrust is offering up to $500 when you open a Signature Advantage checking account.
To get a free $500, you must meet these requirements:
- Deposit at least $100 within the first 14 days
- Have at least $2,000 in qualifying direct deposits
- Make at least ten debit card purchases in the first 60 days
Because you must maintain at least $25,000 in deposits to avoid the $25 monthly maintenance fee for your Signature Advantage account, you might be better off opening a Select Checking account where it’s easier to waive the $15 monthly maintenance fee.
If you open a SunTrust Select Checking account, you can still earn $250 with the checking account bonus. You still need to make an initial $100 deposit and ten debit card purchases, but you only need to have $1,000 in direct deposits instead.
This promotion is open to residents of the following states: AL, AR, D.C., FL, GA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV.
If you live near a Regions Bank branch, you will get a $200 cash bonus when you open a LifeGreen checking account and meet these two conditions:
- Make ten purchases with your Regions Visa Check Card in the first 60 days
- Receive $500 or more in qualifying direct deposits within the first 60 days
You’ll also enjoy free online bill pay and complimentary ATM access at more than 1,900 ATMs.
Maybe you have your home mortgage with Wells Fargo and now you can get $250 back when you open Wells Fargo checking account. This bank promotion is only available in select markets, so make sure you qualify before you apply or you’ll lose your eligibility in the future.
How do you get the $250 bonus?
You must make an initial $25 deposit and make at least ten $1 debit card transactions each month for the first three months. Using your Wells Fargo debit card at least ten times a month also waives the $10 monthly fee.
If you don’t use your debit card least ten times a month after you qualify for the $250 promotion, you must either have $500 in qualifying direct deposits or maintain a $1,500 minimum daily account balance.
Get $150 cash back when you open a Santander Simply Right Checking Account, by making one direct deposit post with a minimum $1,000 balance–not two separate deposits that exceed $1,000–during the first 90 days and keep your account open.
For a brick-and-mortar bank, this banking product is one of the most affordable as you don’t have to maintain a high account balance to avoid the monthly fee.
Although Santander charges a $10 monthly maintenance fee, it can easily be waived by making at least one deposit or withdrawal each month. In addition to using any Santander Bank ATM for free, you can also use most of the CVS Pharmacy ATMs for free too.
Most bank promotions offered by physical banks are exclusively for checking accounts. US Bank is one exception as you can get up to $100 when you open multiple bank accounts with their Start SMART Savings Program.
Here’s the skinny:
- Open a Silver checking package and link it to a Package Money Market Savings Account
- Receive a $50 bonus when you create a savings goal of $500 and reach it
- Earn 1% cash back (up to $50) on gas and grocery debit card purchases
You can apply online or in-person. Pay attention to the monthly fees; if you can’t waive them, you might look to apply elsewhere.
How does the idea of making a $300 cash bonus sound to you? PNC Bank offers a $300 and $200 promotion depending on how much money in direct deposits you make during the bonus period.
To get the $300 bonus, you must open either a Virtual Wallet with Performance Select or a Performance Select checking account. After deciding which account to open, you must:
- Make $5,000 in qualifying direct deposits within the first 60 days
- Use your PNC debit card for at least ten purchases in the first 60 days
If the $5,000 direct deposit requirement is out of reach, you can still qualify for the $200 bonus offer when you make at least $2,000 in direct deposits.
Advantages of owning a Performance Select checking account including no ATM fees and additional PNC benefits that can help you earn additional purchase rewards on select PNC credit cards, higher interest rates on other PNC savings accounts, and free budgeting tools.
Maybe you’re still unsure which bank promotion is the best option for you. The series of questions below can help you make the right decision.
If you compared the online bank promotions to those offered by your local banking options, you know that the offers can be starkly different.
Are Online Bank or Physical Bank Promotions Better?
Comparing online and brick-and-mortar bank promotions can sometimes feel like comparing apples and oranges, both are fruits but the similarities end shortly after that.
Physical bank promotions are large, one-time bonus payments. You know exactly how much you’re going to make from the bonus when you open your account. The most common physical bank promotion is earning $X with a qualified direct deposit.
Online-only banks tend to skip the lump sum payment and offer a higher interest rate that will help you earn more money long-term.
For example, you have to deposit $10,000 in an online savings account that earns 1.50% APY for an entire year to earn $150 in interest. You need a larger deposit and 12 months to earn the equivalent of a physical bank promotion where you earn $150 in 60 days by enrolling in direct deposit and using your debit card ten times.
When Physical Bank Promotions Are Better
If you don’t have a lot of cash, the physical bank’s promotion might be the better option. But there are two caveats; you might have to pay a monthly fee or live in a certain state to qualify for the bonus.
Make sure you only choose a bank account–local or online–with zero monthly fees.
Most bank promotions are for checking accounts. By only keeping the least amount of money possible in your checking account, you can deposit your extra cash in a high-yield savings account to maximize your bank interest.
When Online Bank Promotions Are Better
You’re probably familiar with the Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. That premise can also be applied to online banks and physical banks.
Online bank promotions might not offer the same adrenaline rush as physical banks, but your long-term earning potential will most likely be more because of the higher ongoing interest rate.
Since you are probably looking for a bank to keep your money for the long-haul and want to pay the fewest fees possible or having to meet specific monthly direct deposit or debit card transactions, the simplicity of online bank accounts can be worth the tradeoff of not receiving a large lump-sum payment.
Just compare the current CIT Bank interest rate to your local bank’s promotional offer to decide which offer is your best option. With online banks that don’t offer an upfront cash bonus, the real value lies in how much money you can make long-term compared to physical banks that might only pay 0.10% APY on your entire deposit amount.
Are Bank Promotions for New Customers Only?
In many cases, you can only qualify for a bank bonus if you’ve never banked at the bank or credit union before. Other banks are more lenient and let you qualify as long as you have never owned that specific product before.
Maybe you’ve owned a savings account with the bank but never opened a checking account. You might be able to qualify for the checking account bonus if you ask.
Do I Need to Switch Banks?
No. You only have to deposit enough money and make the required debit card transactions to meet the bank promotion requirements. If you like the new bank, you can transfer your entire balance over and cancel your existing bank account.
Switching banks can be an especially good idea if your current bank charges you monthly fees that exceed the interest you earn. Because bank account interest rates are near zero, this is most likely the case and you’re actually losing money instead of making money if this is the case for you.
Switching banks and qualifying for a bank promotion means you escape those outdated fees, earn a higher interest rate, and get a cash bonus in the process.
Do Bank Promotions Exceed Bank Fees?
Not always. Usually, you’ll see that the actions you need to take to earn the bonus are often the same ones you need to complete each month to waive any monthly fees.
If you can’t maintain those financial behaviors, the monthly fees will gradually reclaim your cash bonus. Instead, switch to a bank with a higher, ongoing interest rate and low account balance requirements so you get to keep every dollar of your monthly interest.
Are Bank Promotions Taxable?
Yes. Your bank considers the cash bonus as taxable income that you’ll need to report to Uncle Sam just like the interest you earn on your deposits.
You’ll want to set aside a few dollars to help offset your tax bill, but you’re still richer than before when you earn a bonus from a bank that doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees?
Can You Only Apply for Physical Bank Promotions In-Person?
Online-only banks like CIT Bank only offer the highest rates if you apply for a new account online. Banks with a nationwide footprint like SunTrust or BBVA Compass, usually accept in-person or online applications, but that’s not always true and you need to read the terms and conditions.
The larger restriction you’ll run into with physical banks is that the offers are only available in certain states. Even if you live five minutes away from a branch, the bank might not offer a promotion in your state at the moment.
Maybe you’ve never realized that banks will give you money to win your business. Bank promotions shouldn’t be the only reason you open a new bank account with a certain bank, but it can be a tie-breaking vote when you’re considering two institutions with similar fees and minimum balance requirements.
Do you prefer bank promotions for savings accounts or checking accounts?
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