Getting the Most Out of New Bank Account Offers

FT Contributor
A woman who just opened a bank account on her laptop is happy and looking at the bonuses it brings.

Many people choose to maintain their finances in a bank so they can earn interest on their money. Whether you’re closing a bank account to move to a new bank or opening your very first account, doing so doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience.

Banks make it fairly easy to open a new account with their institution. In some cases, you can even make money by doing so, as many banks offer incentives to new customers.

From new account bonuses to other special offers, find out how you can get the most out of new bank account offers with this helpful guide.

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What Is a Bank Account Opening Bonus?

A bank account bonus is an incentive that a banking establishment gives to an individual when they open an account. These types of offers are used to lure new customers and attract them towards doing business with a particular bank.

There are many types of offers a financial institution might make when attempting to convince a consumer to open a bank account with them. One of the most common bonuses is a deposit directly into your account simply for opening one by a certain date. Other times, new members will be rewarded for their first deposit or purchase made with their new debit card.

Another example of a bank account opening bonus is a monetary offer if you maintain a certain balance in your bank account. The bonus that you’re offered depends on the bank making the offer.

Why Banks Offer Bank Account Bonuses

While a sign-up bonus from a bank may seem too good to be true, remember that banks are businesses. This means the bank also benefits from offering new customers a bonus.

Sign-on bonuses are a bank’s way of attracting new customers to ultimately bring new deposits into their institution. By incentivizing new customers to safely store their money in a savings or checking account, a bank is able to have more deposits on hand and in turn offer more in financial products, such as loans, to their customers.

Another reason a bank might offer a sign-up bonus is to mask the not-so-favorable aspects of banking with that institution. For example, some banks offer sign-up bonuses because they have certain requirements that must be met to bank with them, such as a minimum account balance. Additionally, a bank might offer a bonus to assuage the concerns of new customers who are worried about the fees associated with their checking or savings accounts.

What to Watch for With New Bank Account Offers

If you’re looking to sign up at a bank to receive a new bank account offer, there are a few things you should watch out for. Most promotions that banks offer — especially those that seem too good to be true — have some sort of catch or stipulation to be aware of. When shopping new bank account offers, here are a few things to be mindful of:

  • Minimum account balance requirements: Sometimes when a bank offers a sign-up bonus, its minimum account balance requirements can be excessively high. If you’re able to maintain that balance, the offer may be worth it, but if there’s a chance your balance could be too low, you might have to pay hefty fees.
  • Banking locations: When signing up for a new account, it’s important to check that the bank fits your lifestyle. In other words, check to see if they have branch locations, ATMs, and banking hours that are convenient for you. A new account offer may seem great, but the bank should work for your lifestyle before you agree to become a customer.
  • Interest rates: Some banks will offer a sign-up bonus to make up for what they don’t offer in interest. If you’re interested in a savings account, check to be sure another bank isn’t offering a higher interest rate. Over time, you could be earning more elsewhere, even without a sign-up bonus.

Best Bank Account Opening Bonuses

Certain banks have the ability to make better bank account opening promotions than others. Below are five of the best bank account opening bonuses that are currently being offered.

  1. CitiBank offers new checking and savings account customers anywhere from $200 to $700 in bonus cash when you sign up and complete the required activities. The type of account you open determines your minimum balance. Citi Bank has the most ATMs in the U.S. that are fee-free for Citi customers, as well as an incentive program that allows you to earn money when you refer friends and family. Note that there are monthly service fees ranging in price, depending on the account you open.
  2. TD Bank is offering a $300 bonus to new TD Beyond Checking customers who make more than $2,500 in deposits within two months of signing up. Customers of TD Bank don’t have to pay ATM fees and can be reimbursed for certain overdrafts and rushed bill payments. There is no minimum balance required to sign up, but there are fees for overdrafts and certain international banking transactions.
  3. PNC is offering a $300 bonus to new customers who sign up for a Virtual Wallet with Performance Select. All that’s needed are qualifying direct deposits of $2,000 or more. PNC offers its customers fee-free ATMs, but in the event you use one that charges a fee, you could be reimbursed. Note that there is a monthly service charge of $25 and a minimum account balance based on the type of bank account opened.
  4. Discover is offering bonuses to new online savings account customers. Savings accounts have a 1.60% annual percentage yield (APY), which means if you deposit $10,000, you could earn $160 in interest. There is no monthly fee or minimum account balance that must be met. Instead, Discover lets customers determine how much of a bonus they’ll earn by how much they deposit into their account.
  5. Chase is offering up to $350 in bonus cash to new checking and savings customers. The account you open determines the monthly fee you’ll owe, but if you meet the minimum balance requirements, those fees are waived. All accounts offer access to Chase’s online banking and bill pay, as well as 16,000 ATMs and 4,900 branches. Note that only the Premier Plus and Sapphire accounts are eligible to earn interest.

Don’t just sign up for a new account to receive the offer. Remember to choose the bank that makes the most sense for your financial situation and lifestyle.

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