In order to attract customers, banks often offer sign-up bonuses for opening a new account. These bonuses typically come with conditions — such as setting up direct deposit — that help the bank to establish a continuing relationship with the account holder. If you’re searching for a new bank and looking to make extra cash, these accounts may be a good option. To make sure you get your free money, follow all of the fine print associated with a bank account bonus on the financial institution’s website.

ValuePenguin chose the best offers based on several criteria, including minimum deposit required to earn the bonus, fees associated with the account and broad accessibility (although not all of these offers are available nationwide).

Best bank account promotions and bonus offers in October 2021

Bank Account
Bonus
Deposit Requirements
Expiration Date
BMO Harris Premier Checking*$500$7,500 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of openingOct. 15, 2021Learn more
Citizens Bank Checking Accounts*Up to $400$500 in direct deposits within 60 days to earn $300; each debit purchase within 60 days earns $2 for a maximum of $100Oct. 28, 2021Learn more
PNC Bank Virtual Wallet*Up to $400$5,000 qualifying direct deposits to earn $400, $2,000 to earn $250, or $500 to earn $100 within 60 days of openingOct. 31, 2021Learn more
First National Bank Checking Accounts*Up to $400$1,500 qualifying direct deposits to earn $150 or $2,500 qualifying direct deposits to earn $250 within 90 days of opening; additional $150 for completing 10 bill payments within 90 daysDec. 31, 2021Learn more
TD Bank Beyond Checking*$300$2,500 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of openingNov. 30, 2021Learn more
BMO Harris Smart Advantage*$300$4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of openingOct. 15, 2021Learn more
People’s United Bank*$300$2,500 in qualifying direct deposits within 60 days of openingOct. 29, 2021Learn more
Fifth Third Bank Checking Accounts$300$500 in qualifying direct deposits within 60 days of openingDec. 31, 2021Learn more

*These accounts have some geographic restrictions

BMO Harris Premier Checking — $500

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  • Bonus amount: $500
  • Expiration date: Oct. 15, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Residents of Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri or Wisconsin who do not have a BMO Harris personal checking account and who have not had such an account in the last 12 months.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make $7,500 in qualifying direct deposits — which include paychecks, pensions and Social Security — within the first 90 days.
  • Account information: The Premier Checking account is an interest-bearing account with a low minimum opening deposit of $25. It offers access to more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs.
  • Monthly fee: $25 (waived with a minimum balance of $10,000 for the account’s previous month, combined balances of $25,000 across eligible BMO Harris accounts for the previous month, an investment account with BMO Harris or a relationship with the employee benefits program Best of BMO U.S.).

Citizens Bank Checking Accounts — Up to $400

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  • Bonus amount: Up to $400
  • Expiration date: Oct. 28, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Residents of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont who do not have a Citizens personal checking account and who have not had such an account in the last six months.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make a $500 direct deposit within 60 days of opening to receive a $300 bonus; each debit purchase within 60 days of account opening earns a $2 bonus for a maximum of $100.
  • Account information: Citizens offers this bonus for several accounts, including Quest Checking, One Deposit and Student Checking. Quest Checking is an interest-bearing account; One Deposit is designed for simple services; Student Checking has no fees for college-aged customers.
  • Monthly fee: $25 for Quest Checking (waived with at least $5,000 in deposits with Citizens Bank); $9.99 for One Deposit (waived with at least one deposit per month); $0 for Student Checking for those under the age of 25.

PNC Bank Virtual Wallet — Up to $400

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  • Bonus amount: $100, $250 or $400
  • Expiration date: Oct. 31, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Availability may vary based on where you open your account and your address.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make $5,000 in qualifying direct deposits — which include paychecks, pensions and Social Security — in Virtual Wallet with Performance Select to receive $300; make $2,000 in qualifying direct deposits in Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend to receive $200; or make $500 in qualifying direct deposits in Virtual Wallet to receive $50. Deposits must be received in the first 60 days.
  • Account information: PNC offers three levels of Virtual Wallet that earn this bonus: Virtual Wallet, Virtual Wallet Performance Spend and Virtual Wallet Performance Select. Each one offers tiered perks, with Performance Select at the top (but with higher account balance requirements to maintain no monthly fee). Those perks include overdraft protection, ATM fee reimbursements and no minimum balance requirements. It’s your choice whether your Virtual Wallet contains both a savings and a checking account, or just a checking account.
  • Monthly fee: $7 for Virtual Wallet (waived with $500 monthly direct deposit, a $500 monthly balance or if the account holder is 62 or older); $15 for Performance Spend (waived with $2,000 monthly direct deposit, a $2,000 monthly balance or $10,000 in all PNC accounts); $25 for Performance Select (waived with $5,000 monthly direct deposit, a $5,000 monthly balance or $25,000 in all PNC accounts).

First National Bank Checking Accounts — Up to $400

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  • Bonus amount: $150, $250, $400
  • Expiration date: Dec. 31, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Residents of Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia or Washington D.C. who are opening a new First National Bank personal checking account.
  • How to earn the bonus: Earn $150 by making direct deposits of at least $1,500 or earn $250 by making direct deposits of at least $2,500 within 90 days of account opening. Earn an additional $150 by completing 10 online bill payments through FNB’s online bill pay.
  • Account information: This offer is valid for all new First National Bank checking accounts, including Freestyle checking, Lifestyle checking, Premierstyle checking, eStyle checking, eStyle Plus checking, or Workplace First checking accounts.
  • Monthly fee: Fees vary by account, though there is no monthly maintenance fee for Freestyle checking.

TD Bank Beyond Checking — $300

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  • Bonus amount: $300
  • Expiration date: Nov. 30, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Available nationwide to those who do not have a TD Bank personal checking account and have not had one in at least 12 months.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make $2,500 in qualifying direct deposits — which include paychecks, pensions and Social Security — within the first 60 days.
  • Account information: The Beyond Checking account bears interest on all balances, and account holders can receive reimbursement for withdrawals from non-TD Bank ATMs.
  • Monthly fee: $25 (waived with monthly direct deposits of $5,000, a minimum daily balance of $2,500 or a combined balance of $25,000 in eligible TD Bank accounts).

BMO Harris Smart Advantage — $300

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  • Bonus amount: $300
  • Expiration date: Oct. 15, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Residents of Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri or Wisconsin who do not have a BMO Harris personal checking account and who have not had one in the last 12 months.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits — which include paychecks, pensions and Social Security — within the first 90 days.
  • Account information: The Smart Advantage account has a minimum opening deposit of $25 but no monthly fees. The BMO Harris Smart Money account also earns this bonus.
  • Monthly fee: None (or $2 for paper statements)

People’s United Bank Advantage Plus Checking — $300

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  • Bonus amount: $300
  • Expiration date: Oct. 29, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Available in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont for those who don’t have a People’s United personal checking account and who have not had such an account in the last 365 days. Their website will ask for your zip code to confirm eligibility.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make $2,500 in qualifying direct deposits — which include paychecks, pensions and Social Security — within the first 60 days.
  • Account information: The Advantage Checking account offers customers unlimited ATM rebates and free ATM transactions, as well as some interest paid on the checking balance.
  • Monthly fee: $25 (waived with a combined average balance of $7,500 combined in People’s United accounts).

Fifth Third Bank Checking Accounts — $300

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  • Bonus amount: $300
  • Expiration date: Dec. 31, 2021
  • Eligibility requirements: Available nationwide for those who don’t currently have a Fifth Third checking account and who have not had such an account in the last 12 months.
  • How to earn the bonus: Make at least $500 worth of qualifying direct deposits within 60 days of account opening. You will need an offer code provided by Fifth Third to open the account — that can be received by email or by clicking a button on the bonus offer page.
  • Account information: Fifth Third’s Momentum and Preferred checking accounts are eligible for this bonus. The Momentum account is a simple, affordable option with no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees; the Preferred account has some additional perks, including unlocking better rates on loans.
  • Monthly fee: $0 for Momentum, $25 for Preferred (waived with a combined Fifth Third balance of at least $100,000).

Why do banks offer bonuses?

Banks and credit unions offer sign-up bonuses to attract and retain new customers. Requiring new account holders to set up direct deposit creates a "sticky relationship" that is not always easy to sever. Banks currently offer more significant bonuses for checking accounts than savings accounts due to the low interest rate environment, which has cut APYs on savings accounts.

For those who are ready to start a new account, bank bonuses are a great incentive that can often significantly exceed the interest paid on checking accounts.

What to keep in mind when opening a bank account

Just because a bank or credit union offers a bonus doesn’t mean that it’s the right financial institution for your banking needs. You should make sure that a checking or savings account fits those needs: confirm if you’ll be able to waive any monthly fees (if there are any) and determine whether you’ll be able to write checks or make ATM withdrawals as needed. If a bank doesn’t offer fee-free ATM access in your area, it may not be worthwhile to pursue that bank’s bonus.

Bank account bonuses are a strong incentive to sign on with a bank, but you shouldn’t choose a bank on the bonus alone. Monthly fees and minimum balance requirements can eat into your checking or savings balances, and in some cases, those costs may exceed the bonus benefits you receive from the bank. Likewise, if the bank offers a low interest rate, you may find a better deal with a bank that offers a better interest rate — even if they don’t offer a bonus.

Methodology for determining best bank account bonuses

ValuePenguin identified the best checking and savings account bonus offers available from FDIC-insured or NCUA-insured financial institutions. There are some requirements for bank account bonuses to make our list:

  • Bonus offers must be either available nationwide or available in states with a combined population of at least 30 million people.
  • Accounts with minimum deposit requirements exceeding $10,000 were not considered.
  • Accounts with monthly maintenance fees higher than $25 were not considered.
  • Banks that require customers to open more than one account in order to qualify for the bonus were not included, so that our list reflects bonus offers associated only with a specific account.
  • The bonus offers on ValuePenguin’s list were sorted by the bonus amount, starting with the highest bonus currently offered for an account that meets our criteria.

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