Bank Bonuses – Worth the Effort?

Almost everywhere I look, banks are offering bonuses for opening checking accounts and savings accounts, usually with very few restrictions (Usually either using a debit card OR enrolling in direct deposit). With banks offering $50, or in a recent mailing I saw, $200 to sign up, why not sign up for an extra checking account (or 3)? It only takes a few minutes to sign up and it sure beats actually working for your money, right?

A Closer Look

The advantages are clear: You get extra money to spend on anything you want: Paying off debt, going out, boosting savings or retirement, or maybe some fun vacations. Unlike with credit card rewards, opening checking and savings accounts typically don’t affect your credit rating (although some companies do hard credit inquiries), so you can have as many accounts as you like without any consequences.

The disadvantages are a little less obvious. The major disadvantage would have to be the time committed to opening the account. Being able to sign up online takes no more than 10 minutes, and for $100, you’re time is definitely worth that much. But what about having to remember to use your new debit card at least three times in the first month? Or giving your employer a new direct deposit form? Is it worth the hassle?

The direct deposit route is a little too much of a hassle because when you have your primary checking account sending out payments automatically, be it for rent or monthly bills or savings and retirement accounts. Unless you’re ready to commit to a new bank full time, it’s best not to mess with the careful balance you’ve set up, and there’s no sense in risking an overdraft fee.

Bottom Line

For some people, $100 every month or two is insignificant, while for other it represents a big bonus they can use to get ahead. For someone who is able to save $800, an extra $100 per month represents an additional 12.5% in take home income! And of course, this new money comes with no risk, so it’s a great investment to make!

For the relatively low time commitment and the sometimes large bonuses, isn’t there something you’d like to save for? Or is it too much of a hassle to keep track of yet another card in your wallet?

5 Responses to Bank Bonuses – Worth the Effort?

  1. For me its just not worth it. If I don’t used the card I will get charged plus I will have to remember to keep enough money in that account. The plan is to get you to use the account more and more so that they can get you pulled into banking with them. I like just having one bank that I can count on.

  2. It really depends on the reward and how much effort. I won’t be doing any work for a free toaster, or box of checks. For a free ipad, I might be willing to submit a new deposit slip, until I have put in the time to close it down.

  3. I tried this approach, and there are often several obstacles you have to jump over that are time consuming, as you point out. Maybe worth it for $200, but haven’t seen any like this.

  4. My wife and I have no problem trying to get the bonuses if we’re in the market for a new account. We don’t normally just sign up for something in order to get the bonus because that would require us to keep track of yet another account. We just recently cut down on the number of accounts we had in order to simplify our finances.

  5. I don’t see the value in doing this unless you were already planning on opening up a new account. Opening and closing bank accounts is usually never worth the hassle.