Cash in on checking.
Americans resist change, at least when it comes to their checking accounts: A survey from finance site Bankrate and MONEY found that the average American had used the same primary checking account for 16 years, and more than one in four had had their account for upwards of 20 years.
Now may be a good time to change that habit, as banks are offering good incentives to consumers to nab a checking account at their institution, experts say. Some of the more lucrative offers range from $250 to $500, and there are a couple that even offer $750 in cash.
Of course, it’s not as easy as simply taking the cash. “Checking account sign-up promotions are best viewed as a nice perk, if you’re planning to change banks and you’ve fully vetted the bank’s fees and fine print,” says Arielle O’Shea, a banking and investing specialist at finance site NerdWallet. Indeed, most banks that give sign-up bonuses require you to jump through some hoops, like maintaining a minimum balance, depositing a set amount of money into the account within days or weeks, making a certain number of debit card transactions, enrolling in direct deposit, and/or keeping your account open for a set period of time, she explains.
Plus, you need to vet the checking account itself, looking at “things like ATM fees, monthly fees, interest, minimum deposits or minimum balances” and then taking into account “your finances and spending habits and decide what would be the best option for you,” says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with personal finance site Wallethub. Note that most banks don’t offer free checking anymore, at least not without making you jump through hoops for it (like a minimum balance), according to financial research firm Moebs $ervices — so that’s important to consider.
Here are some of the most lucrative checking account sign-up bonuses.
$750 with either HSBC or SunTrust
“It’s an attractive offer, but it comes with a lot of conditions,” says Gonzalez, pointing out that the the accounts require big deposits. They work like this: Sign up for HSBC Premier (by March 29th) orSunTrust Advantage checking accounts, deposit at least $100,000 in 30 days and maintain that for 90 days, and you can get the money.
$500 with SunTrust, or $350 with HSBC
Once again, these big bonuses require big deposits. Pop $25,000 into your SunTrust Advantage account within 30 days, leave it there for 90 days, and you can get $500. Or open an HSBC Advance checking account by March 29th, put in $10,000 within 30 days and keep it in there for 90 days to get $250.
$300 with TD Bank and Chase
Don’t have that kind of cash laying around? “Right now TD Bank and Chase are offering a $300 cash sign-up bonus, but the offer is only available in certain states,” says Gonzalez, who puts these among the best offers she’s seeing. The TD Bank offer requires a direct deposit of $2,500 or more within 60 days and if you keep a minimum daily balance of $2,500, you can avoid the monthly fee; the Chase offer (good through mid-April) requires you to set up direct deposit and you must keep an average beginning day balance of $15,000 or more to avoid the $25 per month fee.
$250 with First Third
The First Third checking offer, valid through the end of March, has a low balance requirement: Reach a $500 balance within 45 days and maintain it for 60 days; offer applies to a number of its checking accounts including Fifth Third Essential, Enhanced, Preferred, or Free accounts.