Are Rewards Savings Accounts a Good Deal?

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Savings account promotions help you maximize your returns. Offers on savings accounts aren’t as plentiful as checking account bonuses, but several banks provide incentives to get your business. Especially when interest rates are low, cash rewards account for most—if not all—the earnings in your account.

That said, if you’re not already in the process of moving your money, chasing savings account rewards might not be the best use of your time. Options are limited, and banks make it hard to qualify for the best deals, leaving most consumers unable to qualify.

Several reward programs are listed below. They expire quickly (by design), but they often come back around. If you miss the cutoff date for any of these deals, search online for currently available versions.

Easy Cash Bonuses for Large Deposits

If you have a significant amount in savings, a handful of banks pay cash bonuses for opening a savings account. It’s hard to make a habit out of earning rewards (banks prevent you from qualifying repeatedly), but these offers may be worth jumping on when you’re looking for a new account.

The two online banks below allow you to open an account without any minimum balance, they pay competitive rates, and they have no monthly maintenance fees.

Capital One 360: $200

Capital One 360 is an online-only bank that makes it easy to open an account. Plus, there’s no need to open a checking account to qualify for the savings account offer. Capital One pays a competitive 2 percent APY on balances over $10,000 in the money market account.

How to qualify: Open a new 360 Money Market account and deposit at least $10,000

How to request the bonus: When opening your account, use the promotional code OFFER200.

Important details: Verify your eligibility with Capital One 360. Overview of the offer:

  • Open and fund your account on or before December 14, 2018.
  • Transfer funds from an outside bank (you can’t move money from another Capital One account).
  • Be a new customer. If you had an open savings product with Capital One anytime after January 1, 2016, you do not qualify for the offer.

Discover Bank: $150 - $200

Discover Bank’s online savings account also pays a relatively high rate on your savings: You can earn 1.9 percent APY on balances of any size.

How to qualify: Open a new Discover Online Savings account and deposit at least $15,000 for a $100 bonus. You can earn $200 by depositing at least $25,000.

How to request the bonus: When opening your account, use the promotional code NV18. If that code is invalid, search for Discover savings account bonuses online.

Important details: Verify your eligibility with Discover Bank. Overview of the offer:

  • Open your account on or before December 3, 2018.
  • Meet the funding requirement by December 17, 2018.
  • Be a new customer. If you ever had a savings account associated with Discover Bank, you do not qualify for the offer.

Big Bank Savings Offers: Bank in a Branch

National banks also offer bonuses occasionally. But it’s critical to evaluate the big picture. Megabanks typically have relatively low rates on savings accounts, so the bonus needs to offset what you could have earned in an online bank (or make sense in other ways). What’s more, you may have to pay monthly fees for keeping an account, unless you meet fee waiver requirements. With the large deposits required for a bonus, you’ll typically meet those criteria, but you may face fees if your account balance later decreases.

Citi: $400 - $700

Citibank offers a hearty bonus to new customers who open “packages” consisting of checking and savings accounts.

How to qualify: Open a new checking and savings account and fund your account by December 31, 2018. Deposit the required amount within 30 days, and leave the funds in your account for at least 60 days.

  • Deposit at least $15,000 for a $400 bonus
  • Deposit at least $50,000 for a $600 bonus
  • For an additional $100 bonus, set up direct deposit and complete at least one qualifying deposit in two consecutive months within 60 days of opening.

How to request the bonus: Open your account by applying in person or at citi.com/checkingrewards.

Important details: Verify your eligibility with Citibank. Overview of the offer:

  • Funds must come from outside of Citibank
  • If you have been an owner on a Citibank checking account within the last 180 days, you may not qualify for the offer.

Chase Bank: $150

How to qualify: Open a new savings account by January 14, 2019. Then, deposit at least $10,000 within 20 days, and leave the funds in your account for at least 90 days.

How to request the bonus: Open your account by applying in person or at https://www.chase.com/personal/checking/chase-coupon.

Important details: Verify your eligibility with Chase. Overview of the offer:

  • Funds must come from outside of Chase.
  • If you close your account within six months of opening, Chase will deduct the bonus amount from any proceeds.

If You Don’t Have a Large Deposit

Banks offer cash bonuses for large deposits, but not everybody has $10,000 sitting around. That’s okay—there are plenty of attractive savings accounts that pay high interest rates on balances as low as $1.00. Online banks are probably your best bet, and the banks listed above are excellent choices. Those accounts can help you grow your savings over time, which is better than earning nothing at a megabank.

Even if you are rich, cash deposits might not make much sense. After all, if you’re the type of person who has more than $25,000 available, an extra $250 might be nice, but it doesn’t move the needle on your finances. It takes time to switch banks, you need to keep track of everything, and eventually, you may disqualify yourself from earning bonuses.