Bonus. Just the word can cause shopaholics to start foaming at the mouth. Who doesn’t like getting a little something extra when they use a particular service or buy a specific product? Banks know this and have learned how to take advantage of consumer habits. Almost all banks offer some kind of checking account bonus in exchange for opening a new account.
Now, you know banks aren’t just being nice when they offer these checking account promotions. There is something in it for them or they wouldn’t do it. They need customers to support banking operations. They need cash on hand to lend out to other consumers and the interest they earn on your money doesn’t hurt either. That doesn’t mean that getting a bonus is a bad thing. It just means you have to be careful to follow all the rules or you could end up empty handed with a checking account you didn’t really even want.
What is a Checking Account Bonus Worth to the Bank?
This is the question you need to ask before you decide to take the leap and open an account. You already know that the more customers a bank has, the more money it makes. But what if you just open the account, get the bonus and close it? How is that making the bank any money? Ah, but there’s the rub. You can’t just open the account, grab your freebie and go. Your bank’s goal is to get you to become a customer and stay a customer.
Banks understand the human’s tendency toward laziness. Once you’re having your paycheck automatically deposited into your checking account every two weeks and your bills are getting paid every month thanks to the bank’s online bill pay feature, you are way less likely to change banks. How long would it take you to contact every single company you pay through the online payment service to change your payment arrangement? What if you forget one, close the account and your payment bounces? Most people are just not going to spend the time to disentangle themselves from their bank once they are in so deep. It’s just not worth the effort or the risk.
What’s the Bonus Worth to You?
So, they make the bonus difficult to get. Well, not difficult exactly. A hassle. You have to jump through the bank’s hoops in just the right order and at the right time to claim your reward. They make you sign up for direct deposit and won’t give you your prize until your first deposit of a certain amount comes through. And, you have to set up this arrangement within a set time frame or you forfeit the checking account bonus altogether.
Or, maybe you have to use your account to pay for three purchases totaling more than a set amount before you are eligible for the promotion. Or, you have to buy checks and use at least two before the bonus offer expires. Or you have to apply for a debit card linked to your checking account and use it five times over the next month to get the extra perk. In just about all cases, you have to leave your account open for a significant amount of time or be hit with an early termination fee.
If you were going to sign up for a checking account anyway, these bonuses are awesome. Some banks offer free cash to sign up, while others offer cool electronics like tablets and video cameras. Just pick your bonus, identify the hoops and jump. Be sure to follow all the rules carefully, though, or your bonus could disappear along with your freedom to switch banks.
One more piece of advice. Banks aren’t the only financial institutions that offer a checking account bonus. Credit unions are well-known for offering many value-added services, products and opportunities for becoming a member. Before you jump at the chance to get a bonus from a national bank, check your local credit unions first. You might just find that their hoops are a lot smaller.
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