Banks want your money…and Banks will give you money if you give them money. No, really. It sounds crazy, but the truth is it’s less than an hour of work to get a bank account bonus but in some cases you might have to wait between 1 month and 6 months to get the bonus. I’m going to show you everything you need to know about bank bonuses so you can get legitimately free money. I know the biggest challenge for most people is the direct deposit. Don’t worry, I got you covered on that side too.
Savings and checking Accounts are some of the easiest accounts to open. For US residents, you just need to be at least 18 years old. Some banks don’t even require a social security number.
How much actual effort do I need to put into this?
Less than 30 minutes of actual work if you can type fast. Most bank checking bonuses provide at least $100 or more and each bank has specific conditions that need to be met to get the bonus. Each bonus will take you less than an hour of actual work and it’s really dependent on your money sitting with the bank. I wasn’t a bank bonus believer before, but if you factor in how long it actually takes to do and the money you’ll actually get out of it, I’m sure it’s worth your time.
- 10 minutes: Researching the bank bonus
- 10 minutes: Signing up for the bank account
- 5 minutes: Setting up the direct deposit (faking it)
- 10 minutes: Withdrawing your money and closing the account
Do I need $1000+ to get the bank bonuses?
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or don’t make enough money to cover the bonus requirements, think again. You might actually have enough money with the right strategy.
For example, the US Bank $300 checking bonus states that you need $2000 in direct deposits within 60 days. You could achieve this bonus with any amount of money, as long as you reach $2000 in direct deposits. Direct deposits don’t necessarily need to be from an employer, because transferring money from another bank can count as a direct deposit. With $100 in an eligible direct deposit account (I used Charles Schwab and PayPal), you could:
- Transfer $100 to US Bank (will appear as a deposit but count as a direct deposit) from Chase Bank or an eligible “Direct Deposit Bank”
- Withdraw that money from the US Bank ATM
- Deposit cash back into your Chase bank account
- Transfer $100 to US Bank from Chase Bank.
- Repeat process until you reach $2000 and must be completed within 60 days
How long does it take to get a bank bonus?
Each bank has different requirements when offering a Checkings or Savings bonus. It can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months. Some banks may have early termination fees so you need to read the fine print. This is because a lot of people take advantage of these offers. You can be one of those people. I just got the US Bank $300 Checking bonus and it took about 43 days:
- 7/7/2020 Applied for a US Bank Checking Account (with special $300 promo code) and was instantly approved
- Linked Charles Schwab Account
- 7/9/2020 Sent $950 “Direct Deposit” from Charles Schwab
- 7/13/2020 Sent $1000 “Direct Deposit” from Charles Schwab
- 7/16/2020 Sent $582 “Direct Deposit from PayPal
- 8/13/2020 Monthly Maintenance fees waived
- 8/19/2020 Bonus Received
Looking Out For Hidden Fees
Some bank may have an early termination fee or other fees if you don’t have the minimum amount of required to waive the fees. For a US Bank “Easy Checking” there is a monthly $6.95 fee. That fee is waived if you have an average account balance of $1500+ or a total of $1000+ in direct deposits.
Another hidden fee is transferring money from US Bank to any other bank will cost you a $3 fee. That’s why the title says $297/hour and not $300/hour. This one is sneaky but you can avoid it if you just withdraw the money from the bank. I’m cheap, but I’ll pay a $3 fee to get my money conveniently.
Is the bonus worth it?
Determining if a bank bonus is worth your time depends on how much you think your time is worth. So you can break down a bonus by the amount of time it takes to get, the bonus amount, and the money you are holding in the account. Personally, I don’t see $50 for 3 months of holding my money in a savings account worth the time because I like to gamble with my money in the stock market.
$300 Bonus US Bank Checking Account
- Earn up to $300 when you open a new Platinum, Gold or Easy Checking account and complete two or more recurring direct deposits that total a minimum of $2,000 and enroll in eStatements within 60 days of account opening
- That’s a 15% return on your money
- It takes about 1.5 months to complete the process
- That’s the equivalent of getting 120% APR on your money annually.
- Go for the bonus unless you can get more than a guaranteed 120% APR on your money with another investment for 45 days.
$50 Bonus US Bank Savings Account
- Earn up to $50 when you open a new U.S. Bank Standard Savings account then have deposit(s) of $2,000 or more by September 8, 2020 and maintain total account balance of $2,000 or more through November 30, 2020
- That’s a 2.5% return on your money
- It takes 3 months to complete the process
- That’s the equivalent of getting 10% APR on your money annually.
- Go for the bonus unless you can get more than a guaranteed 10% APR on your money with another investment for 90 days.
Do banks check your credit when opening a bank account?
Most of the time banks will do a soft inquiry on your credit report when opening a Checkings or Savings account. They are looking for negative balances, frequent overdraft fees, bounced checks, and fraudulent activity. Basically, they want non-risky customers
Faking Direct Deposit
From my experience, I had a mix of deposit from Charles Schwab and PayPal qualify for the direct deposit. The bonus stated you needed to complete $2000 in direct deposit within 60 days of opening the account so I wanted to test out these platforms before using my other bank accounts to fake a direct deposit. Doctor of Credit has a comprehensive list on banks that register as Direct Deposits so you can “fake” your way to that bank bonus.
How to find the Best Bank Bonuses
Many sites like to advertise the best credit cards and that’s because they are incentivized by credit card commissions. Rarely will you see sites promote bank account bonuses, but there’s at least one awesome website that I recommend for the best bank bonuses: Doctor Of Credit.
How often can you get bank bonuses? Many banks allow you to get their Checking or Savings bonus multiple times. They MAY put a limit of allowing you to be eligible for a bonus 12 months after your last bonus. This information can be found in the details of the banking promotion. I highly suggest keeping a Google Sheets spreadsheet to track your bonuses and your account open/close dates. Some banks may even limit the bonus to one per household. This just eliminates the chance of the entire family taking advantage of the same banking promotions.
How do you keep track of everything? I keep track of everything using Google Sheets. Make a document to track all your bank bonuses and keep track of all the opened and closed dates. This makes it easier to track where you are at with a bonus and when will you be eligible for another bonus. You can even use Google Calendar to set reminders in the future so you know when you’re eligible.
Other Recommended Bank Bonuses: Other than Checkings/Savings bonuses, banks also offer sign up bonuses for credit cards and brokerage accounts (stock trading). The first 3 are referral links and it helps me out if you use these links.
- $5 Cash App (I know, $5 is weak but the Cash App Boost benefits are worth it)
- $100 Charles Schwab Checking
- $200 Chase Checking
- Extensive Bank Bonus list by Doctor of Credit
If you consider the amount of effort it takes to get a bank bonus, your paying yourself $100s/hour. Sure, it may take a few weeks to a few months to get the money, but it’s one of the safest investments because it’s a sure thing. The stock market is doing well, but of course that’s not a sure thing. It’s really low effort and you just have to stay organized and set calendar reminders to make sure you follow up on completing the bonus requirements and closing the accounts. As for physical effort, it’s 1 hour over the course of a few months for a guaranteed return on your money.