Like any industry working to pick itself up after the economic downturn, banks large and small have struggled to keep business coming through the door. Among the many impacts of the Great Recession was the Federal Reserve's move to keep interest rates artificially low - a maneuver that has made it increasingly difficult for savers to earn yields on their deposit products and harder for banks to entice new account holders.
Looking for an inventive way to grow business, banks are now offering cash rewards to new clientele for opening a checking or savings account with them. With 10 percent of bank customers looking to change banks within six months, according to the World Retail Banking Report 2013, banks are eager for new business, and cash-back rewards are proving both scalable for banks and a much-needed windfall for customers.
Are these deals too good to be true, though? If a depositor puts $100 into a new checking account and gets $200 in return, a 300 percent return on investment seems like a bad deal for the bank.
Actually, no: With banks garnering income from an average of over 30 potential fees on checking accounts, according to The Wall Street Journal, a cash-back promotion can be a win-win for banks and consumers alike - as long as the latter remains aware of the pitfalls that could threaten their deposits, such as monthly maintenance and dormant account fees.
What's more, with 73 percent of Americans lacking emergency savings of at least $1,000, this might be the best opportunity for depositors to move their accounts to more competitive banks - and be rewarded in cash.
Banks are looking to attract heads of households with these promotions - customers who will likely then acquire or move a mortgage, credit cards and other loans to the new bank. And with multiple product discounts, there is an incentive for customers to do just that. However, consumers should be aware of the costs associated with closing and moving accounts before actually doing so, especially if those costs outweigh the advertised cash incentive to open a new account.
GOBankingRates conducted a study of cash-back promotions available today by surveying the 50 biggest banks by deposits in the United States, based on FDIC data. The following 10 are currently offering cash incentives for opening a deposit account.
10 Bank Cash Promotions Available Today
BBVA Compass Bank
Customers who send a Popmoney payment are entered into a daily drawing to win $100. The promotion is available through Sept. 30; all anyone needs to participate is an email address or mobile phone number to send the payment to any recipient in the United States, regardless of where they bank. Customers must sign into their BBVA Compass Online or Mobile Banking account to count the payment toward the raffle.
No purchase is required to enter or win the raffle, and a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. The offer began on July 1 and entries will be received the day the transaction is made.
BMO Harris Bank
Customers who open a BMO Harris Bank personal checking account between June 25 and Sept. 30 can qualify for a cash-back incentive. Depositors earn $150 for opening an Everyday Checking account and $200 for opening either a Select Checking or Portfolio Checking account with a qualified direct deposit. To qualify, a customer must set up direct deposit of a paycheck, pension payment, Social Security payment or other government benefit to be deposited electronically at least once per month. Each of these deposits must be $300 or more, with the first direct deposit occurring within 60 days of opening the account.
This cash incentive is paid approximately 120 days after the account is opened and the bank requires these accounts to remain open for a minimum of six months. The cash reward will be reported to the IRS for tax purposes. This account also comes with fees. The bank's Everyday Checking account comes with a $10 monthly maintenance fee, Select Checking has a $15 maintenance fee and Portfolio Checking charges a $25 fee monthly unless one of a list of requirements is met to waive the fees.
Those who open a 360 Checking account and make a total of three debit card purchases or Person2Person payments, or any combination of the two, within 45 days of opening the account qualify for a $50 bonus that will automatically be deposited into their accounts on day 50 of the account's opening.
This account comes with no overdraft, ATM surcharge or monthly fees, and rewards depositors with tiered interest based on deposited amount: 0.20% APY on balances up to $49,999, 0.75% APY on balances between $50,000 and $99,999, and 0.80% APY on balances of $100,000 and up.
Through Oct. 15, new customers who open a Chase Total Checking account with $100 and set up direct deposit will receive a direct deposit of $150 from the bank. This deal is not available to current Chase checking customers, those who have closed their accounts within 90 days, closed with a negative balance or have fiduciary accounts.
This checking account comes with a $12 monthly service fee ($10 in California, Oregon and Washington) that can be avoided if an account holder either makes a direct deposit of $500 or more to the account, keeps a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in the account, or maintains an average daily balance of $5,000 or more within any combination of Chase checking, savings and other qualified balances.
Account holders must also maintain the account for six months, enroll in Chase Online Banking and activate Online Bill Pay to receive the bonus.
First Republic Bank
First Republic Bank is giving $25 to customers who download Trusteer Rapport for free. This online banking protection software helps protect confidential information that could be jeopardized when banking online. To eliminate this threat and help protect customers' personal information, First Republic Bank is providing a cash incentive just for taking this preemptive measure.
To claim the bonus, customers must sign into their accounts after downloading Trusteer Rapport and send a secure email to the bank letting it know which account to credit the cash bonus to.
By opening any one of six checking accounts with KeyBank, the financial institution will credit depositors' accounts with $150. To qualify, depositors must open their checking accounts between May 31 and Oct. 3 and make at least $1,000 in direct deposits in the first 60 days of account ownership. Direct deposits are limited to payroll, Social Security, pension and government benefits. This cash reward will be reported on a 1099-INT tax form and will be deposited within 90 days of meeting the aforementioned requirements.
Those looking to open a checking account with KeyBank will need to enter promo code ONFT0614 to be eligible for the $150 bonus. Accounts closed within 180 days of opening will be charged a $25 early closure fee.
Those who open a new account with PNC Bank could earn up to $400 for opening a new PNC Virtual Wallet.
Opening a new, standard Virtual Wallet earns depositors $100 between now and Aug. 29. By opening a Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend, depositors get $200 and can further increase their cash-back rewards with another $100 by funding a Growth account with at least $20,000 within the first 60 days of account opening and maintaining those funds for an additional 90 days. Those who open a Virtual Wallet with Performance Select get $300 deposited into their accounts and can earn an additional $100 - bringing their cash-back earnings to $400 - by depositing $20,000 in their Growth accounts within 60 days of opening and maintaining the funds for three months.
Direct deposits must be $500, $2,000 and $5,000 for the Virtual Wallet, Performance Spend and Performance Select, respectively, to qualify for the reward. Customers must establish a qualifying direct deposit to the account and make at least one payment with PNC Online Bill Pay to receive the bonus.
Rather than getting one lump sum deposited in an account, Santander Bank rewards its customers who meet the criteria of its extra20 Checking promotion with $20 a month. By opening an extra20 Checking and extra20 Savings account, depositing $25 in checking and $10 in savings, qualified customers will receive $10 for having direct deposits of $1,500 or more and $10 for paying two bills with BillPay through the bank's online banking portal. The cash-back rewards will be deposited at the end of the service fee period to the customer's extra20 Savings account if conditions are met within the period.
There is no cap to how much a depositor can collect. $20 can be earned each month for the duration of the promotion. Bonuses will be reported as interest on a Form 1099-INT in the year received.
This promotion is designed for young depositors. Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade who read 10 books this summer and fill out the bank's summer reading form will receive $10 in their new or existing Young Saver accounts at TD Bank upon submitting their reading forms to the nearest branch. This deal is available through Aug. 31 and is limited to one $10 reward per reader during the promotion duration.
Encouraging depositors to bulk up their savings, U.S. Bank is offering customers rewards for those who join the bank's S.T.A.R.T. savings program. By opening either a Silver, Gold or Platinum Checking account and pairing it with a Package Money Market Savings account, customers can receive a $50 U.S. Bank Rewards Visa card when they save $1,000 and another $50 Rewards card when they maintain that $1,000 balance for a year.
Existing customers of U.S. Bank can still take advantage of this offer by transferring their existing accounts into a qualifying package checking account and opening a Package Money Market Savings account, which comes with the S.T.A.R.T. enrollment option. Depositors can decide when, how much and how often to transfer money to the money market account.