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Do you take advantage of banks’ new account promotions?

chase credit card promo

Thanks for the $150 new account bonus!

Over the last few months, I have been taking advantage of various banking promotions to generate a little extra income. I signed up for new accounts and got $50 from ING checking, $50 from ShareBuilder, and $150 from Chase checking. Last week I received a mailer from Banner Bank with another $50 new account promo. Previously, I ignored these mailers and just stuck with my credit union, but this year, I’m taking full advantage of any promotions I can find.

The only downside to these new account promos is that I will have to keep track of them. I have 4 checking accounts now and do I really need another one? However, $50 is a great bonus in this low interest environment. My ING savings account is paying out only 0.8% interest at this time. That’s only $32.50/month with our $50,000 emergency fund. My Credit union saving account pays out even worse at 0.2% interest. At this rate, it’s better off to scatter the cash and earn some new account bonuses. I used to think $50 is peanuts and it wouldn’t make much difference to our finances, but when the cash flow is tight, $50 does make a difference between a positive and a negative month.

Bank new account promotions

The Banner Bank promo sounds good to me because I only have to deposit $50 to receive the $50 bonus. After a few months, I’ll close the account and transfer the money back. I don’t think opening a new checking account is a big deal. It doesn’t impact our credit scores so there shouldn’t be any adverse side effects.



Credit cards new account bonus

On the other hand, applying for a new credit card can lower your credit score especially the store cards. At this time I am still ignoring credit card promotion offers, but I’m starting to waver. I’m really tempted by some offers since we are planning to travel to Denver in September for the 2012 Financial Blogger Conference and haven’t purchase the flight tickets yet. The reward would go a long way toward paying for the trip.

What about you? Do you ignore the new account promotions like I used to do or do you take advantage of them? Are there any good promos that you have taken advantage of lately? Don’t hesitate to share. 😉

Disclosure: I’ll receive a commission if you sign up through the link above.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Mike May 4, 2019, 7:17 pm

    It’s been a few years since this article was published. Out of curiosity do you still do these sorts of promotions? Promotions have gotten larger – often times several hundred dollars per bank. But the stock market and economy in general are doing well too. How do you weigh whether something like this is worth your time?

    • retirebyforty May 5, 2019, 11:27 am

      Yes, I still take advantage of these promotions occasionally. It doesn’t take much time and the bonus is much higher than the interest. I think it’s worth it especially if you keep the cash in an emergency fund anyway. Cheers.

  • Debra November 26, 2014, 5:18 pm

    How long does it take to get the $50 gift card?

    • retirebyforty November 26, 2014, 10:19 pm

      Sorry, I forgot how long it took. Maybe 3 months or so?

  • TinkoDinko May 18, 2012, 7:57 pm

    Hi I do the same thing, get the bonus and run, but if you think about it, the money comes from other bank customers fees (nsf….) and the bank give you free money expecting you to have direct deposit and pay some fees also.

  • ShortRoadTo May 16, 2012, 7:06 pm

    I used to switch bank accounts to take advantage of promotional interest rates. I don’t do it any more. it is too much of a pain to make a few extra dollars.

  • Ed May 16, 2012, 5:28 am

    I’ve done this several times. Chase and Citi both had $500 gift card offers and I did both. Got the gift cards and cancelled them. Southwest Visa have done a couple times to get 50,000 bonus points each time. Then cancel.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:45 am

      $500 gift cards sounds good to me. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for those.

  • Kevin May 15, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Since at least 2004 until just a year or so ago, I transferred Rxs back and forth from one place to another collecting between $10-$25 Giant, Rite Aid, or CVS cards because of all the competition. My wife and I didn’t spend anything for detergent, OTC drugs, and greatly reduced our food bill using this strategy. At first, I thought I was onto something novel; eventually, I realized others did it and talked about it online…finding the coupons, etc., was easier that way.

    I’ve just recently noticed a lot of bank promos for starting checking accounts. As long as you keep a small minimum balance and complete the requirements, you can make some easy cash from what I can tell. I was already thinking of leaving Wells Fargo because their online banking is a step backwards from Wachovia.

    Today, I openned a TD Convenience Checking and chose (thanks to relatively recent new law) to opt out of overdraft protection so I would not be allowed to make purchases if I were to overspend somehow (if you use Quicken, not much reason for it to happen anyway). I’ll get $100 for making 9 debit purchases and paying one bill online (you can do any combo of 10, as long as you do one each of those two actions). Simple.

    I already have an ING Direct Savings (.80%APY), but plan to get $50 for 3 card purchases or person to person payments w/in 45 days once I set it up. Refcode:EM783. Earn .20%APY interest on this, whereas TD checking above offers none. 50 checks for $5. Lots of ATMS around.

    I also see PNC is offering $100, but wants a $750 direct deposit and 10 purchases. Must be done by June 30. I can make that happen too.

    The purchases could be Redbox movies or small groceries, gas, etc. Just grab a notebook and get to work. I think the banking industry owes us, don’t you? ;—–)

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:44 am

      Thanks for sharing! I will have to check out PNC. Is that 10 purchases/month? That’s a lot of work for me because we don’t use the card that often.
      I agree that the banking industry owe the tax payers!

      • Kevin June 25, 2012, 11:48 am

        Sorry not to have gotten back to you, but the offer is still available. 10 purchases in two months is easy. It’s the direct deposit part that is a pain; that means payroll check for most people…

        4. PNC Bank – $100 Bonus
        To receive this cash bonus, you’ll need to sign up for PNC’s Virtual Wallet (http://www.offers.pnc.com/checking/100_reward/index.html) with an associated Performance Spend Account. Once you get your PNC check card in the mail, you then need to make at least 10 purchases with it during the first 60 days of opening your account. You also need to make a direct deposit of at least $750 during the same time frame. There are certain fees involved, so make sure you investigate the setup before going forward.

  • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter May 15, 2012, 1:38 pm

    I will usually take a quick glimpse at what they are and then I read the fine print. I often find there are hitches to the deal. I haven’t found too many that work out for my benefit. There are a lot less options here in Canada for accounts and cards.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:43 am

      Most checking accounts have some kind of minimum balance, but I think that’s the only catch. Some high interest checking accounts require direct deposit and 15 debit card usage/month. That’s too much work for me so I skip those deals.

  • my jam packed life May 15, 2012, 12:54 pm

    oh my. this is such a crazy thing to do!! so crazy that i am so intrigued and need to go get more info. are you serious? does this work? i’l have to look into these options in Canada but if i can score money for free, im in. wow. its amazing what some people are doing.

  • Bichon Frise May 15, 2012, 11:36 am

    Credit Card sign up bonuses for travel? Yes Please. And it is why I have tons of credit cards.

    One of my family members scored a Southwest companion pass without ever stepping on a southwest plane. Flying domestically 2 for 1 for the next 19 months, guess who gets on southwest planes more frequently now?

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:41 am

      I need to get one of those Southwest companion pass.

  • RichUncle EL May 15, 2012, 6:02 am

    I tried to a few years ago, but was denied by Chase. They said because I had a checking account with them previously that I couldnt get the bonus. The thing is the checking account I had was closed for about 5+ years and I had forgotten I even had that account. So my effort backfired on me as the $150 bonus was going to be a pretty nice birthday gift to myself.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:39 am

      It’s too bad that they don’t purge the account info. Perhaps if we change our name every year or so? 🙂

  • Deacon May 14, 2012, 7:53 pm

    I admire your desire to capitalize on as many deals as you can. I have thought about doing that in the past, however, I decided to keep life as simple as possible; therefore I have yet to sign up for any promotional offers like this.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:39 am

      That’s a good policy too. 🙂

  • Jai Catalano May 14, 2012, 7:32 pm

    I will never change my bank. They saved me $2500 on a financial situation that I almost got burned on. HSBC rocks.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:38 am

      How did they save you $2500? That’s pretty good.

  • Linda May 14, 2012, 6:38 pm

    I took one of those offers from a regional bank in my area. I opened a checking account and they gave me a total of $150 in rewards for opening the account and setting up a direct deposit. I didn’t have intentions of closing it at anytime, actually, but then they changed the account rules after about two years. I don’t recall seeing any notice about it, but I was charged for not having enough activity in my account. I pretty much did the direct deposits, made a few ATM withdrawals, and deposited a few checks every month. But that wasn’t enough activity for them. I was already opening an account with Ally so when I noticed the fee charged to my account, I just closed that it down ASAP, had them cut me a check for the balance and then deposited it in my new Ally account.

    • retirebyforty May 16, 2012, 9:38 am

      That sucks and that’s why I’ll close down the account as soon as I can. Usually, I can close most accounts after 6 months and not have to pay any penalty.

  • Tiffany May 14, 2012, 1:23 pm

    I’d love to take advantage of the Chase offer you have posted but the link isn’t working. Let me know if you fix it.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:43 pm

      Hi Tiffany,
      Sorry about that. There seems to be some problem with the affiliate program.
      You can try this link https://creditcards.chase.com/sapphire/preferred
      It goes straight to Chase’s page. Hope you can get some travel awards!

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:50 pm

      Ok, I found the right link. You can sign up via my site if you’d like. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Aaron Hung May 14, 2012, 11:18 am

    I like to keep two cards and that’s it. No matter how good a promotion sounds, they’re just another way to get back at you in the long run.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:44 pm

      I only have two cards as well, but I think I need a few more in the sock drawers just in case. Might as well find the best rewards and sign up right? No store cards though.

  • Matt May 14, 2012, 11:17 am

    I agree with your post, but the key is to keep track of the accounts and close them out as soon as you are able to without losing your initial bonus. Bank of America was offering a $100 bonus for opening a cost free checking account when I was in college. This seemed like a no brainier for me at the time, so I opened the account. As the account was explained to me as a cost free account I left the account open for 2 years because I never received the $100 deposit so figured I had to have it open for a couple years to receive the money. I then received a bank statement in the mail that had been forwarded from my college address showing that I had a balance of (-$70) in the account because it had been overdrawn for a year from the monthly $12.50 account fee that they had been charging. I never once used the account, but when I called they informed me that the account automatically switched to a normal checking account after a year and this was the reason for all of the “monthly service charges”. Long story short after an hour on the phone with BofA customer service I was finally able to get my initial $25 deposit back but after the nightmare that this was I no longer opt for the promotions and if I were to I would make sure to get every last detail beforehand.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:45 pm

      That sucks! Thanks for the detail. I’ll close out these accounts after 6 months so they don’t accumulate any charges.

  • [email protected]&More May 14, 2012, 10:55 am

    I recently got a Chase Freedom card that gave me $300 after my first purchase. That was a pretty sweet deal. I tend to ignore the checking account deals because they have so many stiuplations like direct deposit etc. I might have to look into that credit card though because that could pay my cruise off potentially. How much do you have to spend in how many months to get it?

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:46 pm

      Wow, $300 is nice. I already have that card though so no new account bonus for me.
      I think the payout is after 3 months, but the link is broken. You can just Google Chase Sapphire.

  • JW @ AllthingsFinance May 14, 2012, 10:06 am

    Chase has some of the best rewards these days. I opened a Chase Slate card recently and received a $250 bonus. I couldn’t believe that there were no catches.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:52 pm

      I’ll check out the slate card too. Thanks!

  • Jana May 14, 2012, 7:32 am

    I used to think these credit card bonuses were just not worth it until I was able to get a Southwest Companion Pass within 3 months without taking a flight.

    Here’s how we did it http://www.thesummerhouse.blogspot.com/2012/05/southwest-companion-pass.html

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:52 pm

      I need one of those for my trip. I’ll head over to read later today. Thanks!

  • Daisy @ Add Vodka May 14, 2012, 7:03 am

    Like Shawanda, I typically ignore new account offers as well. I’ve used a referral bonus to sign up with ING which scored me $25, and then I opened a Thrive chequing account that scored me $100, but I was already with ING when I did that. Other than that I leave them alone.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:53 pm

      Nice score. I have a hard time saying no to free money.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor May 14, 2012, 7:01 am

    I’ve never opened an account purely to get a bonus, but you’re making me think, I must admit. Could a guy make $100 a month pursuing this strategy? For me, I’d have to consider time spent vs. return.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Some accounts are very easy to open, but some have other conditions so you’ll have to look at them case by case. $100/month extra is nothing to sneeze at.

  • I ignore the new account offers. I’m too lazy to read the fine print, and I’m afraid I might get screwed if I open an account without fully knowing what I’m getting myself into. Plus, I don’t want to have to keep up with all those different accounts. I’m afraid I’ll forget about the money. After a while, a bank could change the terms of the agreement and charge you for going under the minimum balance and God knows what else.

    • retirebyforty May 14, 2012, 1:55 pm

      That’s a good stance to take. I have a spreadsheet, but I don’t want to add too many accounts either.

  • Cassy May 14, 2012, 4:33 am

    The money banks are offering is luring. But I believe no one offers just plain free money. Whats the catch with these promotions? Is this money tax accountable? how much is the “actual” gain?

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