There are two different ways to balance your budget and live within your means. The first way is to trim back your expenses. This is the easiest method to get started, but you quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. After all, there are only so many gym memberships or soy lattes that you can cut out. The other method to live within your means is to increase your income.
There are many ways to increase your earning potential at your main job, but it’s also possible to get extra money through side hustles and other small sources of extra money. In this article, we’re going to talk about earning extra money through bank checking and savings account signup offers. With a little bit of knowledge and minimal effort, it is possible to earn hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year in bank signup bonuses for new checking and savings accounts.
What are bank signup bonuses, and why do banks offer them?
There are many banks out there, and they’re all constantly looking for new customers. Banks have a variety of different marketing channels to attract customers, and there is a cost associated with each one. Just like with credit card welcome offers, banks want to incentivize you to check out their bank, with the hope that you will like what you see and keep your money with them.
To help do that, many banks offer welcome bonuses for creating either a new checking or savings account. Some banks offer these bonuses only periodically, while others offer new bonuses all of the time. Some bank signup bonuses are publicly available to anyone, while in other cases, you must be specifically targeted (usually by email or direct mail). The amount of a given bank bonus varies with a lot of factors, including how big the bank is or how much money they require you to keep on deposit, but most range between $100 and $500. Also keep in mind that these bonuses are offered per ACCOUNT, so if you have a spouse or partner, you can often both qualify for the bonus to get twice as much.
Common bank account requirements
In order to get a new account bonus from opening up a bank checking or savings account, you will generally have to meet a certain set of criteria. The criteria differ from bank to bank and from bonus to bonus. Here are a few of the common requirements you may need to meet:
- Deposit – Most bank bonuses require that you move a specified amount of money into the bank, and keep it there for a certain amount of time. The amount of money can range from $500 to $10,000 or more, and sometimes the bonus amount varies with how much money you deposit.
- Direct Deposit – Oftentimes, in addition to moving money into the account, you’ll be required to set up one or more direct deposits.
- Debit card transactions – You may also be required to make a certain amount of monthly debit card transactions
- Bill payments – Or you could be required to make a certain number of bill payments in order to achieve the bonus.
The requirements vary by bonus, so it pays to look around. One of the tricks is to look for new bank account bonuses that pay the highest amounts while requiring the least amount of work.
Bank fees and how to avoid them
Of course, nobody likes bank fees, and we recommend avoiding bank fees whenever possible. In the case of bank account bonuses though, it may make sense. After all, even if your new account has a $12 monthly service charge, it might be worth paying that for 3 months while you are waiting for your $300 new account bonus to post! Just remember to close that account after your bonus posts (or look for a way to avoid the monthly surcharges).
Make sure to check the fine print when you sign up for a new account. Some banks may charge an early termination fee as well. For example, you may need to have your money in your account for three months to get a bonus but if you close your account within SIX months you’re hit with a $100 early termination fee. If that’s the case, make sure to keep your money in the new account at least long enough to avoid any fees.
Tips for staying organized
While there is nothing particularly difficult about the process, it does require a bit of organization. You won’t need anything too complicated – a simple spreadsheet or date-based reminder system will be sufficient for most people. Just keep track of when you’ve opened an account, what bonus you’re expecting, and when it’s safe to remove your money.
It’s also important to understand that in almost all cases you will be receiving a 1099-INT form at the end of the year. The money you receive from a new account bonus is considered interest, and it is taxable. The bank won’t withhold any tax from the bonus, so that may adjust the size of your refund or how much tax you owe when it comes time to file your tax return.
The bottom line
Bank account bonuses can be a lucrative way to earn a bit of extra money with not a lot of effort. Rather than keep your money in a checking or savings account earning next to zero interest, with a little bit of organization you can start to really put that money to work.
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.