Back when I was a broke college student I was very limited on how I could make money.
Since I couldn’t work off-campus and had no car anyway, I had to get really creative on how to rustle up some extra funds to pay for books, cell phone bills, etc.
And that’s how I stumbled across this method to make hundreds of dollars – even as much as $1000 with very little effort on my part.
What I discovered was that companies would pay me money just to open a bank account. Something I would have done anyway.
Yes, you read that right.
You can make money by opening a checking account because companies will pay you, by giving you a monetary incentive. Cold hard cash, from $100 to $1000, depending on the promotion, just to become one of their valued customers.
And it’s not just one or two banks, lots of them do it.
Chase regularly offers a $200 bonus for opening a checking account. Huntington gives a $150 bonus for joining, and fifth-third also passes out $250 bonuses in Valpaks and many others.
Those 3 deals along could fetch you $550.
So I know you’re wondering how you can find these deals and it’s pretty easy.
How to find the promotions
You can find them:
- On your own
By googling ‘money to open bank account’ you can find the promotions for banks directly, or
- links to bloggers
(moneycrashers, Bankrate, and nerd wallet) that actively follow and report offers each month like the sites below.
Moneycrashers.com searches the web and keeps a very thorough monthly post of all the current promotions, here are a few of the promotions from the site.SOURCE: MoneyCrasher.com Best New Bank Account Offers
Now, the key to getting these deals and making a quick couple hundred is to be organized and read the rules.
Some have more complicated rules than others (as you will see below) but most are worth the effort if you really want to take advantage and test out a new bank. So getting paid for something I would have done any is a win-win for me all day long.
Now there are rules you must abide by the make this work.
Read the fine print. Before you even think of opening the account make sure you know (and write down the following):
1. the requirements to receive the promotional funds,
2. what it’ll take to maintain the account so you don’t pay fees, and
3. how long you’ll need to keep the account open (in case you don’t like the service).
Know the requirements for the promotion
Follow all the guidelines to receive the promotion as per the company rules. If they say set up a direct deposit with at least $500 then that’s what you’ll have to do.
- Direct deposits. Probably the most common requirement and one people think is the most difficult to meet. Usually, the fine print on these bonuses says that it must be a deposit from your employer or a government benefit. You can try to spoof it with a regular ACH, but I wouldn’t. If you try and it doesn’t work then you lose the bonus and did all that work for nothing. if it means you have to move some money around to get the payroll working then tweak away.
- Debit card transactions. Another popular requirement is for regular expenses to be used on the debit card. You can easily do this at a grocery store – self-checkout of 5 $1 gum for example. The bottom line, there are many ways to meet this online, etc.
- Bill payments. This one is easy to meet, rather than paying a bill in full you can instead split it up in smaller payments (just make sure it’s paid in full before the due date) to generate multiple bill payments. Sometimes the fine print will say that only one payment per biller counts, but chances are you have multiple bills to pay anyway.
Know what it takes to avoid fees
I hate fees.
Anyone that knows me knows that I hate them … a lot.
So when I do this deal, I make sure I understand any associated fees – mostly if there is a maintenance fee or an early closure fee. And I figure out a way to not pay them.
Getting the bonus than having to pay $20 a month in fees to keep the account open eats into the profits.
But once in a while, I can’t be bothered, and the fees are low enough where I don’t care and suck it up to pay the fees.
Actually, that’s only been one time.
Other than that one time, my rule is to never pay fees. Here are the most common fees to look out for.
- Monthly fees. Usually, you can avoid these fees by doing something – keeping a specific minimum balance, etc. You just have to know the fee is coming. And if you decide to be lazy, you can subtract it from your bonus money. Still a win.
- Early account termination fees. This one can sometimes catch folks off guard. If you close an account earlier than the company ‘would like’ then you could be charged a fee. that’s because it costs companies money to set up new accounts and they want to recoup the loss. Most banks will charge this early account termination fee if the account is closed within 90 or 180 days, obviously, this is easy to avoid if you know about it in advance.
- Keeping organized is key. Seriously, this part is crucial. You gotta keep organized so you know when the money should hit your account when you opened the account, and how long the account needs to be open to avoid any termination fees, etc.
My final tip: Don’t be a menace
While it is a fast and easy way to make a couple of hundred bucks when you’re desperate it is a privilege that the companies give to attract customers. As such, don’t take it for granted and abuse the benefit.
Always aim to keep the accounts for as long as you are happy with them (I aim for at least 6 months unless they have truly bad terms). That’s long enough for you to get a good feel for the company and see if you really want their card in your wallet.
Don’t let the big bad bank scare you or feel bad about taking their money.
You are on the path to being wealthy and financially conscious, and they want a customer like you to bring business to their bank.
Remember, you are interviewing them for the privilege to be your main financial institution so use the accounts!
These companies have great benefits – ones you might have never thought about – Huntington has a 24-hour grace period, and really good bill pay, Key Bank has HelloWallet for free, which is such a robust personal finance tool I would actually pay for it, Chase and Bank of America have a great nationwide presence, etc.
So have some fun with them.
It’s your turn
Now some folks might think it’s not worth the effort, but me? I love it.
One, because I collect bank accounts like squirrels does nuts.
And two, because I like testing out new banks so when my current one decides to be a jerk, then I can kick them to the curb.
Oh, and of course, it pays pretty well too.
So you tell me, is it worth it to you to take a new bank for a spin and get paid to do so?