Gone are the days when banks offered toasters to people who signed up for a checking account. Today, banks compete by offering real cash. Banks see the incentive channel as one more avenue for finding business, so while they continue to use traditional and online advertising to buy customers, they also utilize the direct-to-consumer approach.
Are rewards of $200 sustainable? I think so, because market research says that banks routinely spend $500 to establish a new retail banking customer. Paying $200 is a great deal if it can translate into a long-term customer relationship.
I have taken the time to do the comparison shopping for you. The following is a list of current bonus incentive offers. I have grouped them according to their general diffiiculty. Generally speaking, easier programs require you to make a smaller deposit, whereas the harder ones ask for more money and for a longer term of active card use before they approve their reward. Some of these opportunities are out of the reach of most people, but with other offers it possible to earn money with just a few mouse clicks.
Because it's often necessary to make a bank-to-bank transfer to establish an initial deposit, I have also supplied routing numbers.
Empower High Interest Checking - $10. Empower is offering $10 for newly-opened accounts when a person makes a first deposit of $50 or more. The promotion runs through the end of September. A person can only receive one bonus. You can open the account from this page, but you will need to use your smartphone when you sign up. There are no fees to maintain an Empower account, so there is no reason to close the account in the future if you decide to not use it.
Routing number for the Empower Card: 062201601. You can access a direct deposit form for the Empower account at this linked page. The Empower high interest checking account is issued by Evolve Bank & Trust.
Not too difficult
Chime Spending Account - $50 bonus. Chime is another example of a “neo-bank,” following in the example of Empower, that passes on savings to customers because it does not have a branch bank network. Chime is currently offering a $50 bonus for accounts that receive a payroll direct deposit of at least $200 in the first 45 days after opening the account. You can also earn a bonus if you refer a friend to the account and they make a similar deposit. Note that making a payroll direct deposit is not the same as a bank-to-bank transfer. You cannot get this bonus merely by transferring $200 from one of your existing bank accounts via an ACH.
Chime Bank routing number: 031101169 The Chime Spending account is issued by Bancorp Bank (Wilmington, Delaware).
Solid Payouts, but More Work
Huntington Bank 5 Checking Account - $200 bonus. You can receive a $200 reward online or through a branch visit if you open an account and then deposit at least $1,000 within 60 days of opening the account. The account must remain open with a balance of at least $1,000 for 90 days. The offer is only open to people who live in the eight states where Huntington Bank has a physical branch: IL, IN, KY, MI, OH, PA, WV, and WI. The reward will be credited to the account fourteen days after the criteria have been met. Only new bank relationships may receive a reward. Separately, Huntington’s Asterisk-Free Checking has a $150 reward. The same criteria must be met. While it seems counterintuitive that anyone would apply for AFC when 5CA offers a larger bonus, some may want to consider the lower level option. People who continue to use AFC into the future will find that it is easier to avoid monthly maintenance fees with AFC. The program closes on October 7th, 2019.
Huntington Bank has 24 different routing numbers.
Chase Total Checking - $200 bonus. Qualify when you establish a direct deposit of at least $500. The account has a monthly maintenance fee of $12, but you can have it waived if you do one of the following: make a direct deposit of $500, or keep a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or pay $25 in service charges over the course of the prior month. The thing that makes it relatively easy to qualify for CTC is the lack of the need to make an initial opening deposit. As well, people who can make a direct deposit will not have to park the $1,500, so lower-asset individuals will not be excluded from the opportunity.
JPMorgan Chase has 53 different routing numbers.
Discover Bank Discover Checking - $360 bonus*. While technically not a signup bonus, Discover is going to give new account holders up to $360 during the first year that they have an online checking account. The catch is that this can’t be a short-term relationship: you can only earn the incentive by actively using the account. Discover is giving 1 percent cashback on all debit card purchases during the first 12 months. You have to hold the card for a year to realize the maximum savings, as Discover caps the credit you can earn to $30 per month. The Discover Bonus is easy for the fact that there are no account minimums or required direct deposits, but hard because you have to make Discover your primary spending account.
Discover Bank’s routing number is 031100649.
Fifth Third Checking Account - $250 bonus. It won’t be very hard to qualify for this bonus if you can set aside $500 and be vigilant about making a direct deposit every month. Fifth Third will let you open the account without making an initial deposit. You will have to have at least $500 in the account within 45 days, however. The offer applies to people who sign up for Fifth Third Essential, Fifth Third Enhanced, Fifth Third Preferred, Fifth Third Free (only in certain states), and Fifth Third Free Checking plus ExtraMile SM (only in certain states). A word of advice – Fifth Third will apply a maintenance fee in any month where the account does not receive a direct deposit. When I had my account, they charged $12. That’s still a pittance compared to the reward, but it would be shame to lose those funds when all it takes is a few clicks. Fifth Third includes bank-to-bank transfers via ACH as a qualifying direct deposit. The offer is set to expire by the end of October 2019.
Fifth Third Routing Number: Fifth Third Bank uses 25 different routing numbers. The actual number varies depending on the region of the country.
PNC Bank Virtual Wallet Performance Spend Account - $200 bonus. You must receive direct deposits of $2,000 or more in the first 90 days after you open the account. Additionally, you have to make 10 debit card purchases. PNC offers Performance Spend to customers in the following 19 states and the District of Columbia: AL, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, VA, WI & WV. As well, you should know that PNC also offers a $300 reward in association with its PNC Bank Virtual Wallet Performance Select account. The main difference is that the bonus for the Performance Select account requires a $5,000 deposit.
PNC Bank has 26 different routing numbers.
TD Bank Convenience Checking - $150. Your account has to receive a direct deposit (s) of at least $500 within sixty days after the account is opened. There is a $15 monthly fee to have the account, but TD will waive the fee if you keep a daily balance of at least $100. TD says the offer is available to people in the following 15 states and the District of Columbia: CT, DE, DC, FL, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA.
TD Bank has nine routing numbers.
HSBC Bank USA Premier Checking - $750 bonus. To qualify, an account must receive direct deposits of at least $5,000 for at least three consecutive months. HSBC’s bar isn’t as high as the one set by Chase for its Sapphire Checking account reward, but there is one catch. HSBC will charge a $50 monthly fee in any month when the account does not receive at least $5,000 in direct deposits. An alternative way to avoid the fee is to have at least $75,000 at HSBC in deposit or investment accounts. This offer expires at the end of the year.
HSBC has 33 different routing numbers:
Much Harder - Not For Everyone
Citibank Basic Banking Package - $200 bonus. You must deposit $5,000 into the account within the first thirty days and you must maintain that balance for at least 60 days. Essentially, you can only get this bonus if you are willing to park $5,000 for at least two months. That is a tall order for almost everyone. One more thing – there is a $12 monthly maintenance fee that can only be waived if the account has received a qualifying direct deposit in the prior month, was used to make a bill payment, or have had an average daily balance of at least $1,500. You cannot be an existing Citibank customer. When bigger bonuses are available with fewer restrictions, it is hard to imagine that informed shoppers will go after this offer.
Citibank maintains 54 different routing numbers.
Chase Sapphire Checking - $750 bonus. Chase will drop a sum greater than what most minimum wage workers earn in two-and-one-half weeks. However, you have to do a lot to earn your Chase reward. To qualify, you must place at least $75,000 in any combination of securities, checking, and savings to the account. Those balances must remain at that level or greater for 90 days. If you hold the account after that period, make sure you continue to have $75,000 in holdings; otherwise, you will be charged a $25 monthly maintenance fee.
Other things to understand:
Most banks will report your bonus to the IRS as taxable interest income. You will have to file a 1099-INT if the bank does so.
With any checking account, you will receive a debit card in the mail. Before you can use the card, you must call to have it activated.
Banks apply limits to the number of bonuses you can receive. Logically, you would think that banks would only let a person receive one, and indeed, most close the offer to anyone who already has an account at the bank. You will still be approved for a new account – but you will not receive the bonus.
One thing to bear in mind is that some of the offers are difficult to meet. Usually, it’s the highest bounties that come with the hardest requirements. As a result, we advise you to review all of these options – not just the ones with the highest bonuses. Everyone can earn $10 with Empower, but not everyone can bring the resources needed to qualify for Chase Sapphire’s $750 reward.