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The 5 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Earning Bank Bonuses

Learn how to avoid common mistakes when earning new bank account bonuses.

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Taking advantage of a new bank account bonus could potentially be an easy way to earn up to a few hundred extra dollars. But before you decide to open a new checking or savings account in an effort to score a bonus, there are a few rules you should understand first. 

The following five tips will help you avoid careless mistakes that can cause you to lose out on your hard-earned money while pursuing a bank bonus.

1. Understand the Rules

mobile deposit
iStock

Mistake: Trying to earn a bank bonus without understanding the offer’s full rules.

It’s important to review the terms and conditions of any bank account bonus offer thoroughly before you start to fill out any new account applications. First, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eligible for the bonus opportunity and see when the offer expires. Then you should check out the qualification criteria and evaluate whether the terms sound like requirements you can realistically meet.

Bank account bonus offers commonly feature a certain number (or certain dollar amount) of “qualifying transactions” you’ll need to satisfy. Qualifying transactions might include: 

  • Traditional Deposits
  • Direct Deposits
  • Debit Card Transactions
  • Online Bill Pay
  • Virtual Deposits

You might also need to reach some minimum balance requirements—both in the form of your initial opening deposit and a daily or monthly account average. Every bank and offer is different, of course. It’s imperative to read through the fine print with care. 

Bank Account Bonus Examples

1. Chase Total Checking®

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Chase Total Checking®
Bonus:
$200 for New Accounts
Monthly Fees: $12 monthly service fee with options to waive
Minimum Opening Balance: None
Features:
In-branch customer service in any of Chase’s nationwide locations
Monitor your account and identity with account alerts
Access to your free credit score
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
Zero liability protection
FDIC insured

Let’s look at the Chase Total Checking® account for an example of bonus qualification criteria you might need to meet. With this bank promotional offer, you could earn $200 when you open a new account and complete the following actions: 

  • Open a new Chase Total Checking account 
  • Set up a direct deposit of your paycheck, government-issued benefits, or pension 

With this offer, it’s important not to close your account for at least six months after you open it. If you close your account before that time, you could lose your bonus. You can read more about the Chase Total Checking account in the full Slickdeals review here

2. Axos Rewards Checking Account

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Bonus: $150 for New Accounts
APY: Up to 1.25%
Monthly Fees: None
Minimum Opening Balance: $50
Features:
No maintenance fees or monthly balance requirements
Unlimited reimbursements from any domestic ATM
No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
FDIC insured

Another example of a bank account bonus is the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account. This checking account features a $150 bonus opportunity, but the qualification requirements to earn this bonus takes a little more effort to satisfy.

To earn the $150 bank bonus you must: 

  • Open a new Axos Rewards Checking account, using promo code HOLIDAY on your application.
  •  Receive qualifying direct deposit(s) that total a minimum of $1,00 each calendar month during the first three months your account is open. Each statement cycle you receive qualifying direct deposits, you’ll earn a $50 bonus payout within 10 business days following the end of that cycle. After three cycles, you’ll have earned the full bonus.

2. Pay Attention to Bank Fees

Mistake: Not considering bank account fees when applying for a new account bonus.

In addition to the requirements for a bank account bonus offer, you should check out whether the bank account you’re considering comes with fees. Monthly membership fees have the potential to offset or even wipe out any extra money you earn from opening a new account. 

Imagine the following scenario. You open a new checking account that offers a $100 new customer bonus. However, there’s a monthly fee of $25 per month. You also have to keep the account open for at least six months or the bank will claw back the bonus it gives you. In this situation, it would cost you more to keep the account open than what you would earn in the form of a bonus (unless you could qualify for a fee waiver). 

3. Track Your Progress

Mistake: Losing track of your new account before all bonus qualifications are met.

Once you find a new checking or savings account that you want to open, it’s wise to keep a copy of the offer details for your records. You can print the offer or take a screenshot. Just be sure not to delete it or throw it away. 

Next, you’ll want to track your progress toward earning the new account bonus. If you need to have a certain dollar amount direct deposited into your account each month, you can use a spreadsheet, a note on your smartphone, or even a simple sticky note to write down each transaction that counts toward your goal. 

Finally, once you’re 100% sure that you’ve met the bank bonus requirements, keep an eye on your account. If the bank doesn’t deposit the bonus within the promised time frame, you might need to follow up with customer service for help. 

4. Watch Out for the “Claw Back” 

Mistake: Failing to complete all account requirements and forfeiting your bonus upon account closure.

There’s a reason banks offer bonuses for opening new checking or savings accounts. They want to attract and keep new customers. 

As a result, it’s common for bank account bonus offers to contain restrictions in the fine print that prevent you from getting a bonus and closing your account immediately afterward. Many banks require you to keep your new account open for a period of time (perhaps six months or longer) or they have the right to “claw back” the bonus. 

5. Reward of Credit Inquiries 

meeting at bank with financial professional
iStock

Mistake: Receiving too many hard credit inquiries in a short span of time.

When you apply for a new bank account, there’s a chance the financial institution could perform a credit check. In some cases, this credit report review might be considered a hard credit inquiry, which has the potential to cause credit score damage.

While it’s relatively to fix occasional credit score issues, if you have a lot of hard credit inquiries within a short period, you might cause your credit score to decline.

Does It Make Sense to Open Multiple Bank Accounts? 

Opening different types of bank accounts in an effort to chase new customer bonuses could be risky and time-consuming. Yet there are several different types of bank accounts you might want to open to make it easier to manage your money. 

From personal checking accounts and savings accounts to high-yield savings accounts and money management accounts, having multiple bank accounts might make sense for you. If you’re a small business owner, you can open separate bank accounts for your business, too. 

The good news is that there are bank accounts that come with great features and promotions that could put a little extra cash in your pocket. Below are a few of my favorite bank accounts for both individuals and businesses: 

Personal Checking Accounts

  • Chase Total Checking®
  • Chase College Checking℠
  • PNC Bank Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend
  • TD Bank Beyond Checking

Personal Savings Accounts

  • CIT Savings Connect Account
  • Ally Online Savings Account
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs® High-Yield Online Savings Account

Business Checking Accounts

  • Chase Business Complete Banking℠
  • Citibank Business Checking
  • Axos Bank Business Checking

Standout Business Account Bonus: Chase Business Complete Banking℠

Offer Details
chase business logo effective october 2021

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Bonus: $300 for New Accounts
Monthly Fees: $15 monthly service fee with options to waive
Minimum Opening Balance: None
Features:
Same-day deposits using its QuickAccept service
Unlimited monthly electronic deposits, ACH deposits, and Chase QuickDeposits
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
Process debit card and credit card purchases through the Chase Mobile app
Mobile deposits and account management
FDIC insured

Anyone looking for a good reason to open an additional bank account would do well to consider the current Chase Business Complete Banking℠ bonus offer. This business checking account includes a $300 bonus for new customers.

To earn this bonus, you must do the following:

  • Open a new Chase Business Checking account
  • Deposit $2,000 or more (total) of new money within the first 30 days of coupon enrollment
  • Maintain at least a $2,000 minimum balance for 60 business days
  • Complete five or more qualifying transactions within the first 90 days of offer enrollment. These include: debit card purchases, Chase QuickDeposit℠, Chase QuickAcceptSM deposits, ACH credits, wire transfers and Chase Online Bill Pay

If you or your business is in the market for a new bank account, remember that it’s wise to shop around for the best offers available. While finding a bank account that offers a generous new customer bonus can be great, be sure to pay attention to other details like fees, ATM accessibility, mobile deposit capabilities, and any other features that might impact your day-to-day life.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Michelle Black
Michelle Black
Michelle Black is founder of CreditWriter.com and HerCreditMatters.com. Michelle is a leading credit card journalist with over a decade and a half of experience in the financial industry. She’s an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, small business, and debt eradication. Michelle is also a certified credit expert witness and personal finance writer.

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