NerdWallet’s Best Checking Account Promotions
Because checking accounts may often serve as gateways to long-term relationships with customers, banks compete for business with fee waivers, interest rates and other enticing checking promotions.
Chasing such promotions may cost you in the long run. But if you’ve made the decision to seek out a cash bonus, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites.
We focused on sign-up bonuses to narrow the long list of promotions.
$200 from BMO Harris Bank
Learn Moreat BMO HarrisThrough Jan. 22, 2016:
- To qualify, you must not have had (or co-signed on) a BMO Harris personal checking account in the past 12 months.
- To get started, use the form on the sign-up page to have a coupon mailed to yourself, and use that to open a personal checking account.
- To complete the offer, have at least one direct deposit of at least $300 each month, starting within 60 days of opening your account.
- The bonus will be deposited into your account about 120 days after your direct deposits begin.
$150 from Chase Bank
Learn Moreat Chase BankThrough Oct. 14, 2015:
- To qualify, you must not have had (or co-signed on) a Chase account in the past 90 days.
- To get started, use the form on the sign-up page to have a coupon emailed to yourself, and use that to open a personal checking account.
- To complete the offer, have at least one direct deposit each month, starting within 60 days of opening your account.
- The bonus will be deposited into your account no more than 10 days after your direct deposits begin.
$50 from Alliant Credit Union
Learn Moreat AlliantNo expiration listed:
- To qualify, you must not be a current member of Alliant.
- To get started, use the form on the sign-up page to have a current Alliant member refer you, and use that referral — along with promo code CNM — to open a personal checking account.
- To complete the offer, opt in to eStatements and start at least one direct deposit per month within 90 days of opening your account. The account must remain open for six months.
- The bonus will be deposited into your account no more than 60 days after your direct deposits begin.
Getting a cash bonus means you’ll likely have to pay taxes on that money and maintain a minimum balance on the account, and you may face early-closure fees if you change your mind. If those are issues for you, it might be worth taking a different approach to finding the best bank for your needs.
Other sign-up bonuses
These other bank promotions, ordered alphabetically, didn’t quite make our list of favorites:
Learn Moreat Bank of America$100 from Bank of America
Through Dec. 31, 2015:
- You must not have had (or co-signed on) a personal checking account with BofA for six months.
- You must open a personal checking account with code BAW100N.
- You must have at least a $2,000 direct deposit every 30 days for 90 days.
- The bonus will be deposited within 90 days of meeting the direct deposit criterion.
Learn Moreat Consumers CU$50 from Consumers Credit Union
No expiration listed:
- Consumers gives $50 apiece to both you and a referring member.
- You must not have been a Consumers member during the past year.
- You must be referred by a member using the form on the sign-up page.
- You must qualify for any level of rewards checking account within 60 days — at minimum, this means:
- Making at least 12 debit card swipe transactions per month where you sign instead of using your PIN.
- Having at least one direct deposit, online bill payment or ACH debit each month.
- Logging in to online banking monthly.
- Signing up for and successfully receiving electronic statements instead of paper.
- The timeline for deposit of the bonus is not specified.
Learn Moreat PNC Bank$150 or $300 from PNC Bank
Through Sept. 30, 2015:
- You must not have had a PNC account for 90 days or received a PNC promotional payment in the past 12 months.
- The bonus amount depends on account type, one of a new Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend or Virtual Wallet with Performance Select account.
- You must have a direct deposit of at least $2,000 or $5,000 within 60 days, depending on which Virtual Wallet account you’ve signed up for. The size of the deposits affects the size of the bonus. You must also make at least one online bill payment using your Virtual Wallet account.
- Your bonus will be deposited 60 to 90 days after meeting the direct deposit and bill payment criteria.
Learn Moreat SunTrust$100 or $200 from SunTrust
Through Oct. 12, 2015:
- You must not have had (or co-signed on) a personal checking account with SunTrust for the 180 days before Aug. 3, 2015.
- The bonus amount depends on account type: one of a new Essential Checking account online with code ONLINECHK100 or Select Checking account online with code ONLINECHK200.
- You must have at least $500 or $2,000 in direct deposits every month for 60 days.
- The bonus will be deposited within eight weeks of meeting the direct deposit criterion.
Learn Moreat Union Bank & Trust$50 and a free designer debit card from Union Bank
No expiration listed:
- You must not have been a Union customer before.
- You must have a current customer refer you using the form on the sign-up page, then open a checking account with the referral code you receive.
- You must make 10 debit card swipe transactions in 60 days.
- The bonus will be deposited and the designer card made available within 30 days of you meeting the transaction criterion.
If it’s time to switch banks, and you’ve decided to consider a cash bonus, these picks should help you decide. If these bonuses don’t entice you, you may want to look for a different account.
We looked at the 15 largest banks by assets and eliminated those without a significant retail banking presence. We also included financial institutions in the country’s five largest metro areas and several of the largest online-only banks that offer a full suite of checking and savings products. We rounded off the list with some of the country’s biggest credit unions with broad-based membership requirements.
Financial institutions surveyed included Alliant Credit Union, Ally, Bank of America, Bank5 Connect, Bank of Internet USA, Barclay’s, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris Bank, Capital One 360, Chase, CIT Bank, Citibank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, HSBC, Nationwide, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, SunTrust, Synchrony, TD Bank, Union Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
Updated Sept. 9, 2015.
Image via iStock.