Because checking accounts often serve as gateways to long-term relationships with customers, banks compete for business with fee waivers, special interest rates and other enticing 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
Through April 30, 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 emailed to you. Use the code in the email to open a personal checking account.
- To receive the bonus, you must 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 Associated Bank
Through Feb. 29, 2016:
- To qualify, you must not have had (or co-signed on) an Associated checking account in the past 60 days.
- To get started, open a Packers checking account at Associated with at least $100, online or in person, with promo code 9500.
- Within 45 days of opening the account, pay three bills from your account through online bill pay or make a direct deposit of at least $300.
- The bonus will be deposited into your account within 75 days of the bank’s criteria.
$150 from Chase Bank
Through April 13, 2016:
- To qualify, you must not have had (or co-signed on) a Chase checking or fiduciary account in the past 90 days.
- To get started, use the form on the sign-up page to have a coupon emailed to you, and use that to open a Chase Total Checking account with at least $25. The account must remain open for six months.
- Have at least one direct deposit within 60 days of opening your account.
- The bonus will be deposited into your account no more than 10 days after your direct deposit.
Other sign-up bonuses
These other bank promotions didn’t quite make our list of favorites. Typically, these accounts have:
- Stiffer requirements to qualify for the bonus.
- Lower bonus amounts for comparable requirements and accounts.
- High minimum-balance requirements.
Be sure you read the fine print if you click through. Here they are in alphabetical order:
$100 from Bank of America
Through Dec. 31, 2016:
- Must be an employee or retiree of an enrolled Bank of America at Work® employer.
- 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.
$300 from Chase
Through April 13, 2016:
- You must not have had (or co-signed on) a Chase checking or fiduciary account for 90 days.
- You must open a Chase Premier Plus Checking account with at least $25. The account must remain open for six months. In order to avoid a $25 monthly fee, the Premier Plus package requires a balance of $15,000 across linked deposit and investment accounts, or automatic payments to a linked Chase mortgage.
- You must have a direct deposit within 60 days.
- Your bonus will be deposited within 10 days of your direct deposit.
$150 from M&T Bank
Through March 31, 2016:
- You must reside in one of the counties in New York on Pennsylvania listed on the page.
- You must open an M&T checking account online from the promotional page or at a branch using a coupon you have sent to yourself from that page.
- You must make one direct deposit of $100 or more within 90 days.
- Your bonus will be deposited within 90 days of your direct deposit.
» MORE: NerdWallet’s Review of M&T Bank
$50, $200 or $300 from PNC Bank
Through March 9, 2016:
- 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, either a new Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend account or a new Virtual Wallet with Performance Select account.
- You must have a direct deposit of at least $500, $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.
$100 0r $200 from SunTrust Bank
Through March 14, 2016:
- To qualify, you must not have had a SunTrust checking account in the last 180 days.
- Opening a new Select Checking account using code Q1SELECTOL16 comes with a $100 bonus; opening a new Essential Checking account using code Q1ESSENTIALOL16 comes with a $200 bonus.
- Accounts must be opened online.
- Select Checking account holders must make one direct deposit of at least $500, and Essential Checking account holders must make one direct deposit of at least $2,000 within 60 days of opening the account.
- Your bonus will be deposited eight weeks after the qualifying direct deposit is made.
$50 and a free designer debit card from Union Bank & Trust
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. Finally, we considered banks we’ve reviewed.
Financial institutions surveyed: Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Associated Bank, 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, Huntington Bank, M&T Bank, Nationwide, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, Santander, Simple, State Employees’ Credit Union, SunTrust, Synchrony Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
Updated Feb. 9, 2016.
Image via iStock.