How to Earn Extra Cash with Bank Account Bonuses
Easy money is the best kind of money, especially when it helps you pay down debt. In this article, I’ll go over a hobby I picked up a couple of years ago that is a simple way to earn extra cash: bank account sign up bonuses.
Earning extra cash with bank bonuses is something that’s adjacent to credit card churning (another one of my hobbies). Taking advantage of these bonuses is easy. Just find one you like, sign up, and complete any required qualifying activities.
What Are Bank Account Sign Up Bonuses?
There’s a lot of competition in the banking industry. The influx of online-only banks has made attracting new customers harder for banks.
One method banks use to get new customers is offering sign-up bonuses. Some bonuses can be as easy as opening up a new account. Other bank bonuses can be a bit trickier.
For example, they may require you to deposit a large amount of money by a certain date. Most of the ones I have done require multiple direct deposits into the new account.
My Bonus List
Here’s a list of all of the bonuses I have received over the past couple of years.
|Entity||Bonus||Date||Criteria & Notes|
|Fidelity||$100||October 2018||Open a new checking account and get $100. I already had a Fidelity investment account so it was no problem.|
|PNC||$200||October 2018||Open an online checking account and get $200. At that time, you could fund the initial opening amount with a credit card which earned points.|
|Chase||$600||January 2019||Savings & checking accounts. Maintain $15k in savings for 90 days, $300 savings required for no fee. $1,500 checking required for no fee. Keep open 6 months before canceling. This was a targeted offer so I bought a code off of eBay for a few dollars.|
|Schwab||$100||January 2019||Open a checking & brokerage account and get $100. This has been a great account that I have kept open. It also opens the door if you want an Amex Schwab Platinum down the road|
|Chase||$300||February 2019||Open new business checking account and maintain $1k for 60 days. $1,500 required for no fee. Keep open 6 months.|
|Wells Fargo||$400||May 2019||Checking account required $3k in direct deposits for 3 months. $1,500 or DD required for no fee.|
|Citi||$500||May 2019||$400 Checking & savings bonus. Deposit $15k within 30 days, maintain balance for 60 days. Direct deposit for 2 months for extra $100|
|Wells Fargo||$1,000||June 2019||Business checking account. $25k balance on day 30 & day 180, 10 debit transactions. Had to apply in person and was also offered a business credit that had a separate $500 bonus.|
|HSBC||$750||August 2019||Premier Checking account required $5k direct deposits per month for 3 months|
|Chase||$600||August 2019||Same details as the other Chase $600 offer but my wife set up this account.|
|US Bank||$400||August 2019||Business checking account. Required deposit of $5k into checking within 30 days of opening. Had to apply in person.|
|US Bank||$300||August 2019||Personal checking account required a direct deposit of $2k (twice) within 60 days|
|Discover||$200||December 2019||Online high interest savings account required $25k deposited into account within 30 days.|
|HSBC||$750||December 2019||Same details as the other $750 HSBC offer but my wife opened this account|
|US Bank||$400||December 2020||Personal checking account required direct deposit of $5k in 60 days|
The grand total of bonuses I received is $6,600. Some were easier than others, but none of them required more than an hour or two of real work. The business accounts required an in-person application and my LLC paperwork.
Typically, electronic deposits play a critical role in scoring bank bonuses.
Some bonuses can be satisfied by a regular electronic deposit from one account to another. Others required actual direct deposits (like from payroll). In those cases, I just changed my payroll bank information as needed.
Fortunately, many employers offer you the ability to change your direct deposit bank information online.
Caveats & Warnings
There is a catch to getting sign-up bonuses. Most of the bonuses I received are taxable, so you will get a 1099-MISC mailed to you and the government will get their cut.
Also, opening up too many checking accounts can get you flagged on ChexSystem. Chex is a service that banks use to assess the risk of potential clients.
If you plan on taking advantage of many bonuses, I recommend using a dedicated checking account for electronic transfers. It’s best to keep these separate from your regular checking account.
I like to use my Schwab checking account as my “hub” account. It offers the additional benefit of having no-fee ATM withdrawals. This lets you get cash anywhere in the world with no fees. It has definitely earned a spot in my wallet.
Level Up With Player 2
As you can see from my list, I have had my wife sign up for the same bonus and we both received them. This can be an effective way to double your earnings.
Some of the bonuses I have seen have a limit of one per household, but I have not run into any problems with that. Keep in mind that you will want to use different e-mail addresses when you sign up.
Having a business opens up a ton of other bonus options. Some of my biggest bonuses were from business accounts. Most of them require paperwork and an in-person application process.
Tools of the Trade
This is a hobby that requires a lot of research. Fortunately, there are many resources there to help you along.
The best place I have found to stay in the loop on these offers is DoctorOfCredit. It’s a site that has some great info on bonuses and other promotions. Reddit is a good source as well.
You’ll also want to track each bonus you sign up for to make sure you complete any requirements and receive the bonus. I use Evernote to keep track of everything.
Here’s an example entry of my most recent bonus:
$400(12/13/2020) checking, deposit $5k in 60 days(paid 1/15/21)
In this example, I have the name and bonus amount. You’ll notice that the amount is crossed out because I have received it.
Next is the date I opened the account, followed by the type of account. I link to the DoctorOfCredit article that has the bonus details.
After that, I add a brief summary of the criteria. I cross this out as I finish the step.
The final piece of info is the date that the bonus was paid out. This is important to track because you can sometimes get the bonus more than once. In this case, I did the same bonus in August of 2019. I was able to qualify again since it had been over a year.
Bank bonuses can be a great way to earn extra cash to put towards your debt. Each offer has different rules, so you need to read them carefully and plan accordingly.
To better understand how bank bonuses can help you pay down debt, don’t miss our article on debt snowflakes.