If you're looking for a new bank, the recent uptick in sign-up bonuses offer a good opportunity to boost your balance by a few hundred dollars. We researched promotions at a dozen major banks to find out where you can get the best combination of value and reasonable requirements in your bank bonus.
|$400||Citibank Account Package||keep $15,000 deposited for 60 days|
|$350||HSBC Advance Checking||deposit $5,000 within first 30 days|
|$300||TD Premier Checking||make $2,500 in direct deposits within first 60 days|
|$200||Chase Total Checking||deposit $25 and make one direct deposit within first 60 days|
|$200||Wells Fargo Everyday Checking||deposit $25 and make three monthly direct deposits|
The table above features bonuses that have the best value relative to the requirements for earning them. Larger bonuses aren't necessarily the most valuable because they often require you to deposit thousands of dollars beforehand. Such offers don't always make sense when compared to the rates you could earn by putting that money in a high-yield savings account instead.
To determine which bonuses are worth considering, we broke down the available bonus offers at each of several major banks. While we made an effort to focus on offers that appear nationwide, not all of the following bonuses may be available in every location.
Bank of America Bonuses
Currently, Bank of America doesn't offer any nationwide sign-up bonuses. However, it does offer a targeted checking account bonus of $300 to customers who already have credit cards or loans with Bank of America. These types of targeted bonus offers are usually sent out by email or via web app.
|Account||Bank of America Core Checking or Interest Checking|
|Requirements||Direct deposits of $4,000 or more within 90 days of opening account|
If you've been targeted for this offer, you'll need to open up a Bank of America Core Checking Account or Interest Checking Account and deposit at least $4,000 within 90 days of opening your account. The lack of any minimum deposit requirement makes this is a relatively strong bonus. So long as you select the Core Checking Account, you'll also be able to avoid monthly fees with direct deposits of just $250—which should require no extra effort if you're already setting up direct deposits to earn the $300 bonus.
Bank of America also has bonuses available for existing customers and anyone they refer to sign up for new accounts. This email-only offer goes to Bank of America customers who give a friend or family member their referral code. The new account holder must set up and make two direct deposits of at least $500 to their new Core Checking or Interest Checking Account within the first 90 days. Once this happens, they receive $150 while the original referrer gets $25. You can refer up to 36 individuals for the $25 bonus.
Chase Bank Bonuses
Chase has many different bonuses for both checking and savings accounts, making it a great place to start comparing bonus offers if you don't already have a bank in mind. Chase's bonuses are a good deal when compared to the bonuses offered on similar accounts at competing banks.
|$150||Chase Savings||Deposit $10,000 or more in new money within 20 business days of account opening and maintain this balance for 90 days|
|$200||Chase Total Checking||$25 opening deposit and one direct deposit within 60 days of account opening|
|$300||Chase Premier Plus Checking||$25 opening deposit and one direct deposit within 60 days of account opening|
Combining the savings account offer with one of the Chase checking accounts gives you a way to increase your total bonus to $350 or $450. For most people, the best combination of bonuses would involve the Chase Total Checking Account and Chase Savings. Total Checking has no monthly fees so long as you keep a minimum balance of $1,500 or make at least $500 per month in direct deposits.
By contrast, the Chase Premier Plus Checking Account costs $25 per month if you don't keep a daily minimum balance of $15,000 throughout the month. There's no way to waive the Premier Plus Checking fee with direct deposits. Since this $25 fee would erase your $300 bonus after just one year, it makes little sense to open a Chase Premier Plus Checking Account unless you always have at least $15,000 to keep in the bank.
HSBC Bank Bonuses
Although HSBC isn't the most accessible bank in the country, it does offer a few premium checking account bonuses for new customers who do live within its service footprint. Between the two offers currently available at HSBC, most people will find the $350 HSBC Advance Checking Account bonus more viable.
|$350||HSBC Advance Checking||New-money deposit of $5,000 within 30 days of account opening|
|$750||HSBC Premier Checking||Make recurring Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 from a third party to your HSBC Premier checking account(s) per calendar month; and receive monthly Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 into your checking account for 3 consecutive months from the first full calendar month after account opening|
Unless you earn $5,000 every month and auto-deposit the entire amount into a new checking account, the $750 bonus offered for HSBC Premier Checking won't be a good option. Even if you do, the relative return on the bonus is insignificant compared to the required minimum. By opting for the HSBC Advance Checking account, you can earn almost half as much by depositing just a tenth of the Premier Checking offer.
TD Bank Bonuses
At TD, the best bonus offers are available for new checking account customers who open either the standard TD Convenience Checking Account or the higher-tier TD Premier Checking Account. Because TD's bonuses only require direct deposits instead of a minimum balance, they're ideal for people who have regular paychecks but less money saved up in the bank.
|$150||TD Convenience Checking||Direct deposit of $500 or more within 60 days of account opening|
|$300||TD Premier Checking||Direct deposit of $2,500 or more within 60 days of account opening|
Both tiers of checking account bonuses at TD require a relatively low amount in direct deposits during the first two months of your relationship with the bank. The only caveat to watch out for is that TD Premier Checking costs $25 in monthly account fees unless you keep a daily balance of at least $2,500. TD Convenience Checking is much cheaper, allowing you to avoid the $10 monthly fee with a minimum daily balance of $100.
Wells Fargo Bonuses
Wells Fargo has only one bonus offer currently available nationwide, although you may run into regional promotions depending on where you plan to open an account. This $200 bonus—only available online—isn't very attractive when you consider the requirements you have to meet in order to earn it.
|Account||Wells Fargo Everyday Checking|
|Requirements||Three direct deposits of $500 or more within 150 days of opening account|
Wells Fargo's online-only nationwide bonus offers $200 for new customers who open an Everyday Checking account with at least $25 and receive at least three consecutive monthly direct deposits of $500 each. All three direct deposits must take place within 150 days of opening the account. Given how much time and money you need to put in, this offer compares poorly to bonuses of similar size at Wells Fargo's competitors.
How Do Bank Account Bonuses Work?
Every bank can set its own rules for earning sign-up bonuses, but most of them establish several standard requirements. These include "new money" rules, minimum deposit levels and account activity requirements.
Typical Bank Bonus Requirements
- Be a new customer or deposit "new money"
- Deposit a minimum amount in the new account
- Set up direct deposits to the new account
- Make a certain number of qualifying transactions
The most important rule to note is that you probably won't qualify for a bonus from your existing bank, even if it's currently offering one. Except for referral bonuses, most bank bonuses only apply to customers that deposit "new money”, which refers to funds that the bank isn't already holding. This often means that only brand-new customers can earn bonuses. Of course, you can always become a new customer yourself by finding a different bank.
From there, earning a bank bonus involves keeping a set amount of money deposited in your new account for a predetermined amount of time, typically one to three months. Another common rule is that you must make a certain number of direct deposits to the account within the first few months. Banks use these requirements in order to ensure that new customers will actually contribute meaningful deposits to the bank's balance sheet.
Finally, not all bonuses are available in all states. Banks run bonus campaigns based on their need for additional deposits, which leads to regional variation in the availability of bonuses. Other bonuses may be targeted rather than openly marketed, so that only a certain set of consumers are invited to earn the bonus. If you're interested in a bank that isn't offering sign-up bonuses online, call a local branch to see if there's an active bonus program for your area.