5 Common Bank Account Bonuses

By Jamie Cattanach · May 11, 2023 · 6 minute read

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5 Common Bank Account Bonuses

Bank account bonuses let you earn money or other rewards just by banking, though there may be certain conditions you’ll need to meet.

Typically, bank account bonuses are offered one time, for opening a new account. However, some institutions give ongoing rewards as an incentive for doing business with them. Many bank bonuses require account holders to deposit or maintain a minimum amount of money or meet other qualifications.

Bank bonuses could be a good way to earn or save a little extra, especially if you’re already considering opening a new account or moving your money around.

How Do Bank Bonuses Work?

While the specifics depend on the bank, bank account bonuses are typically offered to new banking customers and they come with some specific stipulations.

Along with minimum account balances or opening deposits, bank sign-up bonuses may also require certain actions—such as making a certain number of debit card transactions or receiving a monthly threshold of direct deposits for several months running.

Once the account holder has opened the account and done whatever actions are required, the welcome bonus is usually deposited directly into their account.

Because some of the required actions may take time to be completed (and due to the bank’s processing procedures), it might be awhile before the account holder sees the bonus—sometimes 60 days or even as long as 120 days. In other words, a bank account bonus isn’t necessarily quick.

What’s more, bank bonuses frequently change as financial institutions review their needs and update their marketing strategies.

Why do banks offer these bonuses in the first place? By offering attractive bonuses, banks can distinguish themselves from the competition and perhaps win customers. They may specifically aim for clients who make large or regular deposits and transactions, all of which are good for the bank’s business.

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5 Common Bank Account Bonuses

These are some specific types of bank bonuses you may come across when shopping around to open a new bank account.

1. Sign-Up Bonuses

One of the most common types of bank account bonuses are those designed for new customers of the bank in question.

Bank account sign-up bonuses, also sometimes called welcome deposits, range from about $100 to more than $500—though larger bonuses generally carry more stringent eligibility requirements. For instance, the bonus seeker may need to open both a checking and a savings account, and meet large minimum balance requirements.

Other common eligibility requirements include setting up direct deposit (and receiving a certain minimum threshold in direct deposits on a monthly basis for a specified number of consecutive months), making a certain number of debit card transactions within a given time frame of opening the account, and depositing a minimum amount into the account.

There are almost always stipulations and eligibility requirements for bank bonuses—which is why it’s important to read the fine print.

2. Bonuses for Upping the Ante

Another way banks might structure their bonus offers is to give higher rewards to those who are able to deposit more money into their accounts.

These institutions sometimes offer bonuses on a tiered system, with higher rewards available for those who are able to meet more strenuous eligibility requirements.

For other customers, a bank might offer a “basic” system of some sort, in which the new account holder will earn a small bonus for opening a new checking account and meeting relatively easy qualifications.

For instance, you might earn $200 if you’re able to fund your account with $5,000 and maintain that minimum balance for 60 consecutive calendar days.

That same bank might also offer a $400 reward for new customers who open both a checking and savings account and who can up that minimum balance to $15,000—or a $700 reward for those who can meet a minimum balance requirement of $50,000.

Higher tiers may come with additional privileges, such as waived fees, along with the bonus incentive.

3. Direct Deposit Bonuses

As mentioned above, many bank account bonuses require setting up—and receiving —direct deposit payments into the new account.

The direct deposits may need to reach a certain minimum amount per month or happen within a given time frame of opening the account. Each deposit may need to meet a certain minimum as well.

For example, one bank might require new account holders to receive $2,000 in direct deposit funds within 60 days, while another might require at least two direct deposits of $250 or more within 90 days of opening the account.

For some banks, simply setting up direct deposit is enough, but again, all this critical information will be in the fine print of the offer.

4. Checking and Savings Combo Bonuses

In some cases—as with the tiered rewards system outlined above—a bank may offer additional incentives to those who open both a checking and savings account.

For instance, a new customer might be able to earn $200 for opening a checking account and $150 for opening a savings account, totaling a welcome bonus of $350.

Of course, as with the other bonuses listed here, these rewards will likely come with stipulations and minimums, which could vary for each account.

Because of the nature of savings accounts, new account holders probably will need to maintain high minimum balances to qualify for the reward.

5. Waived Bank Fees

While it’s not the same as an extra $100 placed into an account, many banks offer the opportunity to waive monthly maintenance fees and other costs by maintaining certain minimum account balances or having a specific minimum number of direct deposits per statement cycle.

Although they’re generally small, monthly maintenance fees can eat into the account holder’s income, so having them waived can be a nice incentive.

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The Fine Print

Bank bonuses can come in different types with different requirements, so it’s important to always read the fine print carefully. That’s where account holders will learn what exactly they have to do to get the bonus.

Also, there may be rules about what happens if you close your account early. Some banks will take back their bonus if you close your account shortly after meeting the bonus requirements, for instance.

These kinds of clauses mean it might not be wise—or even possible—to open multiple bank accounts to get a variety of bonuses.

It may be smarter to use bank sign-up bonuses as one factor to consider when you’re evaluating your options for switching banks.

The Takeaway

Although bank bonuses can certainly be valuable, they’re not always easy to earn. Depending on your personal financial situation, bank bonuses may or may not be worth it, especially if it means tying up a significant amount of your income to maintain high monthly minimums.

What’s more, as nice as a one-time bonus is, there are accounts that offer continual benefits to their clients over time. For instance, with SoFi Checking and Savings, you’ll earn a competitive APY, pay no account fees, and have no minimum balance to meet.

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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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