Bank promos and bank bonuses might be my favorite side hustle. At one point, I had a quarterly schedule for opening new accounts with different banks. There are promos for savings, checking, business, savings, business checking, investment accounts, and credit cards. (I shy away from the credit card promotions because the goal is to save money, and they generally require spending.) The others, however, are fair game. The best part about bank promos is they’re easy and mostly passive. There is a little bit of work up front, but I think it’s worth it.
Why Bother With Bank Promotions?
If you’re using a brick and mortar bank to save money, you might have noticed that you don’t earn much interest in your accounts. That’s because your rate is extremely low. I’m talking 0.001 cents (or 0.10%) for every dollar you invest based on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Let’s say you have $2,000 saved, earning 0.10%, compounded annually. You will earn precisely $2.00 in interest that year. Now, what if I told you that if you were to open a new account with that same $2,000, you could earn $200, a 10% return, in less than six months? What if you only had to set up direct deposits and you could start with $0.00 in the account? This is the world of bank promos.
Here’s how it works.
Research Bank Promotions or Bonuses
Use any search engine to look up the most recent bank promotions or bonuses offered. You want to make sure the promotion hasn’t expired. The reason my schedule is quarterly is that is usually how long the promotions will last. The promotions tend to be seasonal and cyclical so you could potentially rotate the accounts, which I’ll discuss later. Each promotion has different requirements, so you want to make sure you choose the one(s) that make the most sense for your budget, goals, needs, and location.
Bank Promo Instructions
Following the instructions is the most important step. Once you’ve found a bank promo that suits your needs, read the fine print very closely and follow the instructions to the letter. You can easily lose out on the bonus by not paying attention to the guidance. The banking institution will tell you explicitly how to earn the bonus.
The fine print will determine if you need to make a lump-sum deposit or set up direct deposit from your employer or other eligible direct deposit. You more than likely won’t be able to set up automatic transfers to meet the requirements for a bank promo. However, the fine print will tell you when the bonus will be paid.
Additionally, there may be fees associated with the account. It would be horrible to set everything up for no reason or end up losing money in fees. Make sure you pay attention.
Apply Online or In Person
Now that you have a potential source of income in place, complete the application. Please make sure the bank is reputable and isn’t stealing your information. The application will require personal information, including your social security number (SSN). Banks require your SSN because they have to report your taxable income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as well as verify your identity. The IRS may send you a Form 1099 for tax time, depending on how much you earned in that account. If you open multiple accounts, then you might receive multiple Form 1099s.
You might be approved immediately, or they could request more information. If you are opening a business account, you will more than likely need to include documentation regarding your business registration or Federal Tax Identification Number. Follow all prompts and provide the requested information to move on.
Avoid Fees with Your Bank Bonus
Once approved, I suggest you set up your direct deposit at the minimum monthly amount and/or deposit the minimum account amount to avoid the monthly fee. Some accounts don’t have fees, and some have fees as high as $15.00 per month. You will find this information in the fine print. Reread Step 2 for clarity. Also, interest earned and bank bonuses may be subject to Federal and state taxes, so make sure you set aside a percentage or make a payment to the IRS ahead of time.
Continue to Follow the Bank Promo Instructions
Bank promos are set up for you to fail. Most people will not read the fine print and will forfeit their bonus. In my experience, banks will require you to keep the account open for at least six months, even if they only require direct deposits for three months. Some will require you to keep the account open for a year.
There are also stipulations regarding re-opening an account at that bank and earning a bank bonus. Some banks state that you have to wait for one to two years before you’re eligible for another bank bonus. The easiest way to manage this is to set a reminder in your phone for the date you can close your account, and the date you can open another one at that bank.
Rinse and Repeat
Scheduling your bank promos around the close of an account will give you the capital and the habits necessary for opening the next account. Having your account reminders set up will give you a heads up to go through the process again and earn more money. As your balance grows, you will be eligible for even more bank promotions that require starting deposits but may pay higher bonuses. In some cases, you can bundle the bank promos by opening multiple accounts at once with a bank.
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York where she loves the natural beauty of the area.