The banking industry is a very competitive place, and financial institutions are all vying to hold your hard-earned dollars. Some banks offer customers a bonus for opening or adding to an account. So if you're thinking about moving around your money, you may want to take advantage of bank bonuses that sweeten the deal.
Some banks will give you a cash bonus after opening a new account if you meet certain conditions, often a minimum balance requirement or direct deposit requirement. Sometimes, banks will even give existing customers a bonus for bringing more dollars into their accounts. But it’s important to research the most attractive options before shifting your money because interest rates are so low that the bonus needs to make the effort worthwhile.
We based this list on the highest bonuses we could find in mid-March 2021. When multiple banks offered similar ones, we chose the bank with the best account features for the typical user. (See more about selection criteria at the end of the story.)
Here are some of the best bank bonuses available today that could offer you lucrative rewards while keeping your money safe.
Best for a Large Checking Account Bonus : Citi – Up to $700
Citibank has a current offer for a bonus worth up to $700 for opening and funding a new checking account. To get the main bonus, worth $300 or $700, you have to open a new checking account and keep a balance of $5,000 or $50,000, respectively, for the various levels of bonus. You must keep your funds in the account for 60 days to earn the bonus. Each bonus is tied to a specific Citi checking account.
It’s important to note that these accounts are not no-fee accounts. Monthly service fees apply if you don’t maintain the required minimum balance or activity requirements. Citi accounts also may charge fees for using non-Citi ATMs, among other charges. But if you’re able to meet those requirements, it’s nice to walk away at least a couple of hundred dollars richer.
Earn up to $700 for opening and funding a new checking account
Lower bonuses are easier to earn, starting with a $5,000 balance
No direct deposit requirement
Must deposit $50,000 between checking and savings for two months to earn the top bonus
Accounts have monthly service charges (though they can be avoided)
Best Direct Deposit Bonus : Chase – Up to $225
Chase is offering a bonus of $225 for opening a new Chase Total Checking® account by October 18, 2021, but you’ll need to set up direct deposit within 90 days of enrollment to qualify. Once your direct deposit is set up, you'll receive your bonus within 15 days.
Chase is great for its huge network of branch locations and ATMs, but there is a potential monthly fee to be aware of. Chase Total Checking has a $12 monthly fee that can be avoided with direct deposit or minimum balance requirements. If you can avoid the monthly fee, this bonus may be a good deal for you.
Earn up to $225 for opening a new checking account and setting up direct deposit within 90 days
No specific dollar requirement to qualify for the direct deposit bonus
Accounts charge monthly fees unless you meet fee-waiver requirements
Best for Low-Fee Account : PNC – $200
PNC’s checking account, called Virtual Wallet Checking Pro, comes with a $200 sign-up bonus after $2,000 in direct deposits within the first 60 days of opening your account. You can open the Virtual Wallet Checking Pro account on its own, or with a savings and a reserve checking accounts package to qualify for the bonus.
The best part about PNC compared with others on this list is no or low account fees. This checking account has no minimum balance requirements, no monthly service charges, and automatically reimburses up to $20 in ATM fees charged by other banks. While the $200 bonus is likely to lure you in, the low fees may be what keep you around.
Earn $200 with a new checking account
Choose checking-only or checking and savings account packages to earn a bonus
Accounts with very low fees, including no recurring monthly charges
$2,000 direct deposit requirement to earn the bonus may be a challenge for some households
Best for Minimum Balance Requirements : Capital One – $150
From June 16 until August 17, Capital One is offering a $150 bonus to new account holders who open a 360 Checking account using promo code BONUS150. New account holders must set up and receive at least two qualifying direct deposits each of $250 or more within 75 days of account opening to qualify. Click “Learn More” for additional bonus info and account disclosures.
360 Checking is a low-fee account that has no minimum balance requirement or recurring account fees.5 Capital One has a network of branches and cafes to handle banking in person, though many people use Capital One as an online-only bank. And, like the 360 Checking account, 360 Performance Savings offers no minimum balance or activity requirements. If you hate fees and want a bank account that just works, Capital One is a good choice.
One innovative feature at Capital One is a choice of how overdrafts are handled. The default overdraft option is to automatically decline purchases that would overdraw your account. You can also choose to have funds transferred from your savings account for free, or opt to add funds to cover the overdraft amount by the next business day. That flexibility could help you save money on fees over time.
$150 cash offer to new account holders
Relatively low deposit requirement to obtain offer
No recurring fees and no minimum balance requirement for checking account
Offer only applicable for new 360 Checking accounts
Offer cannot be combined with any other 360 Checking account opening offers
What Is a Bank Bonus?
A bank bonus is a type of reward given to customers by a bank for meeting certain activity requirements, often tied to opening a new checking or savings account. Most bank bonuses require you to meet certain minimum direct deposit requirements for a checking account or minimum balance requirements for a savings account, although this isn’t always the case.
In some cases, you’ll earn a modest bonus that’s a nice perk for opening an account. In others, you could earn hundreds of dollars or more. If you are looking for a new bank anyway, a bonus could be a good motivator for where to move your money next. But remember, in a low-interest-rate environment, you’re not likely to gain on return in the longer term by shifting.
Is the Bonus Worth It?
Not all bank bonuses are easy to earn. As you can see above, two of the most common hoops you may have to jump through are direct deposit or minimum balance requirements. In some cases, these could be easy for you to satisfy. But in others, it may not be worth it, if you can meet the requirement at all.
For example, a bonus that requires a $50,000 cash deposit for two months is not viable for most people. But there are other bonuses that are much easier to earn. It’s up to you to decide if pursuing a bonus is worth the effort and realistic for your financial situation.
How to Find Bank Bonuses
Bank account bonuses come and go regularly. Some banks are working to attract more cash on hand so they can make loans, which could inspire them to offer a sizable savings account bonus. Others want more-active customers and to boost debit card activity, so they will seek this by promoting bonuses for checking accounts.
You often can find bank account bonuses listed on bank websites. Beyond that, you can peruse researched and fact-checked lists like this one to get an idea of what bonuses are available and could be right for your needs.
How We Chose the Best Bank Bonuses
This list of the best bank bonuses is based on the highest bonuses we could find at the time of writing and publication in mid-March 2021. When multiple banks offered similar bonuses, we opted for the bank that had the best account features for the typical user. The size of the bonus was the biggest factor considered, but bank fees, notably ongoing monthly charges, also carried weight when picking winners for this list.