Banks are always on the hunt for new customers, and if you qualify, some will pay you — often around $200 — to open an account. You may have to meet certain qualifications, such as receiving direct deposit or maintaining a minimum balance. But if you follow the rules, you can typically get the bonus money within a few months.
You can maximize your earnings by choosing an account with a strong interest rate. Online banks tend to offer higher rates because they don’t have as many operating expenses as traditional brick and mortar banks. The average savings account earns 0.06% APY, while a high-rate account typically earns a 0.40% APY or more. Depending on your balance, earning the higher rate could be like earning another bonus.
» Looking for online savings accounts with the best rates? Read NerdWallet’s list of the best high-yield online savings accounts.
How to sign up with banks that pay you to open an account
Here’s how to find bank promotions that could be a good fit for you.
Check the sign-up dates. It is not hard to find bonus offers online, but some expire quickly. If you find an offer that interests you, check that it’s still available before starting an application. Some banks consistently offer promotions each month, but there is no guarantee they’ll be there in the future.
Make sure you qualify. Many bonuses are limited to those who meet certain criteria, such as living in a certain geographic area, and many are reserved for new customers. If you have a current account at the bank, or had one within the last six months or year, you may not qualify.
For recent offers, you can check out NerdWallet’s list of current bank promotions and bonuses.
Consider any activity rules or conditions. Read the fine print for the bonus before you apply for an account. For example, you may be asked to receive a minimum amount in direct deposits each month, typically at least $500. Or there could be an overall minimum deposit requirement — generally around $1,000 for the first few months — all while keeping your account open and in good standing.
Note that if you are eligible, any bonus funds you receive are probably considered taxable income.
Avoid future fees. Many checking and savings accounts require a minimum balance or activity level, or they’ll charge a monthly service fee — typically around $10. Make sure you can meet the requirements on an ongoing basis to avoid the fee. And if you tend to overdraft, look out for those fees as well. Large banks charge an average of $35 per overdraft item, so a few of these charges could easily erase any bonus.
If you are planning to close an account after you receive a bonus, you might want to think twice. Some banks may deduct the bonus if an account is closed too quickly after you receive it.
Give your account a boost
Bank promotion offers can give your bank balance a nice lift. The funds could go toward building an emergency fund or providing extra cushion in your budget. If you’re searching for a new checking or savings account, or are willing to start, getting one with a sign-up offer can be a financially smart move.