How I Made $200 This Week for Doing Nothing - picture of woman's hands with cash at teller window

How I Made $200 This Week for Doing Nothing

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I get a lot of banking offers in the mail.  Unfortunately, most of them want me to set up some sort of direct deposit, which is almost impossible for us since we have to have direct deposit at our current bank (Chase) in order to qualify for free checking.  I could, of course, switch banks every 6 months to take advantage of some of these offers, but I usually have better things to do.

Usually. 

But I always check out any banking offers I get in the mail anyway, just in case they have reasonable terms and come with a big, fat bonus.  Fortunately, I got one of the mail last week that met the criteria, and I was all over it.

How I Made $200 This Week

The deal was this: Huntington Bank was offering up $200 in cash if I opened one of these *asterisk-free checking accounts.  You’ve seen the commercials.  They don’t charge any fees (unless you buy checks), and there is no minimum required balance.  All I had to do was use the free debit card they sent me for ten purchases within 60 days.  That’s all.

So I did. 

I set up the account and put $300 in there immediately, then went to the grocery store to get the job done.

Then I went about my business picking up things like bread, milk, grapes, oatmeal, and stuff for salads.  When I was done, I headed for the self check-out aisle, because I would never, ever ask a cashier to split my groceries into ten separate transactions. 

But I’m more than happy to do it myself.

I Love Free Money

So, now that the deed is done, I expect $200 in cold, hard cash to be deposited into my account in the next 60 days.  And since I already got the free checking account, I figure I’ll go ahead and use it for some kind of targeted savings account.  A vacation fund, perhapsOr maybe I will do something boring like add it to my Vanguard account or buy groceries.  #AdulthoodSucks

Regardless, I love any situation where I can score free money just for doing something I was going to do anyway.  And I’ll gladly spend 20 minutes scanning my own groceries to earn $200 buckaroos.

Current Bank Bonus Offers

Want to earn some free money of your own?  Here are some of the current bank offers that might be available in your area:

These obviously are not all of the offers out there, so keep your eye out for others.  Also make sure to watch the mail for any targeted offers you might receive.  I earned $350 for opening a checking and savings account with Chase several years ago, and it all started with something I received in the mail.  People do sell their targeted offer coupons on ebay, but I am pretty much against paying for a coupon that someone else got for free.

$6 for a $400 Chase coupon?  Really?

Are Free Banking Offers Worth It?

In my opinion, some are and some aren’t.  It just depends what they’re asking for in return and whether the payout is worth my time.  If they want me to set up 5 direct deposits and use a debit card for 30 transactions per month, then the answer is no.  Actually, hell no.  But a speedy online set-up and a quick grocery trip?  I’ll sign up for that all day long.

Have you signed up for any free money lately?  Do you think free banking offers are worth it?



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46 Comments

  1. Nice, that was easy! I use self-checkouts to get rid of my change rather than rolling it. I make sure there isn’t a line and start pumping the machine full of nickels and dimes 🙂

  2. I have yet to see one that feels like it’s worth the hassle and I like our two current banks too much to want to really switch.

    Re self check-out… at the grocery store? really? Around here the only places with self check-out are Lowes and Home Depot. =)

    1. Oh yeah! All of our grocery stores have self check-outs around here. I didn’t realize that was strange!

  3. My wife and I do stuff like this all the time. It’s like free offers that require signing up after so many days. If you do it all the right way, you win! They do it so people will get sucked in to whatever they are offering. In this case, it’s simply an account, so that can’t hurt. I would have done this in a heartbeat! Great find!

    1. Chase sucked me in with the last banking offer I did. After signing up for a checking and savings account to earn $350, I realized that I loved their online interface and bill-pay. I’ve used them as my primary bank ever since.

  4. Hey Holly,

    I have used banking offers to signup in the past both for Huntington and Chase, but neither deal was that good! Both were like $100 or something.
    Usually these deals have some work around for not needing direct deposit, but it often require a large amount of cash from what I have read in the fine print.
    Currently I have two $150 offers, one from Choice One Bank and one from Bank of America sitting around because they require direct deposit. I probably won’t go through that hassle but I haven’t discarded them yet.
    Right now I am working on the credit card signup promos, I will be getting a $400 one for Chase Sapphire once I spend the $3,000 in 3 months. Which is alot of money, but my 6-month car insurance bill is due this month so that will take a good chunk out of it.
    Great score!

    1. Thank you!
      Question: Have you considered using your Chase Sapphire UR points for travel?!??!

      1. Well seeing that they give a 20% bonus on the conversion, it would be a good deal and probably would have been the smart thing to do when we booked our vacation this past June. But to be honest we don’t spend alot of money on travel so that short of thinking doesn’t just pop in my head as it would for a travel hacker like you.
        We don’t book hotels or anything too often, but there is more of a desire to travel after FI and when we have kids and they are at a tolerable age for traveling distances. That will be a good time to learn about the travel hacking :).

  5. Your deal definitely seems worth it, others I’ve seen not so much. Thank goodness for the self checkout, right?!

    1. Yes. I usually hate it but it does come in handy!

  6. I tell clients to do this all the time. It is amazing how many offers there are out there for setting up new accounts and the bank’s systems are very robust and automated so you barely have to follow up with it because the money will be in your account. The worst that can happen is that you close the account down the road, so make sure they don’t charge account closing fees before you sign up, otherwise, I say go for it!

    1. Yep! It really is easy money if you want to put in the effort.

  7. I once had a grocery store cashier break up a bunch of six bananas into six separate purchases in Vegas so I could get maximum cashback with each banana instead of using the overpriced Vegas ATMs. Thankfully, now I have free ATM use.

  8. I tried to open a Chase account for and extra $200, but all the codes I had didn’t work. You only had to have a $1500 balance and have one direct deposit of $500. I hope that offer pops up again. I love free money!

  9. Nice! I’ve been scouting around for good bank offers so I’ll have to check these out. And I love the self check-out, especially at Costco. Mr. FW and I get super nerdy and total stuff up by category. Good thing we go on Friday nights so no one cares how long we take to check ourselves out.

  10. I also didn’t realize that self-checkouts weren’t as available until I moved to NYC. In Montreal the larger stores and groceries they have them and I love to use them. In and out quick I say! I did that once with an online bank and earned a cool $100 for little trouble.

  11. Nicely done. I’ve been too lazy to check, but based on your experience I might have to start reading the fine print on offers I get.

  12. I’ve been considering the Chase $200 bonus offer for opening a checking account and keeping $1500 in it. I get that offer all the time. I did the Capital One Bonus offer. It worked out well.

  13. I love FREE MONEY and bank offers. I got the $200 from Chase and closed the account, my wife did the same, but they kind of harassed her about getting the bonus and closing the account. I think there’s a way to close it without actually going to the branch though. I will be opening another Chase account because I’m using Chase to get my mortgage and they offer 1% cash back on mortgage payments. And I have paid for the coupons on eBay…usually like $1 or $2…I don’t mind it since there isn’t always a coupon lying around.

  14. I work at a bank so the perks associated with the accounts for employees are above and beyond what I could get anywhere else. We do have a separate bank account but it’s only because Mrs. Even Steven brought it with into the marriage. I think the offers can certainly be worth it, but I would pass on all the money out there for finding the right bank for you.

  15. I think is worth it. I switched to Santander because it pays me $20 a month ($240 a year) for have direct deposit and paying two bills with their online bill pay. There’s no minimum requirement so I just pay myself twice a month. For me it was simple to switch because I didn’t have any automatic payments with my bank account and Bank of America wanted me to have a minimum balance of $1,500 or they charge $14 penalty. Hell no. They don’t pay any interest on what you have on the balance either.

    I have my savings in a credit union that’s paying almost 1% interest. So since I get paid every other week, I just bill-pay myself by sending money directly to my credit union as if it was a payment. It’s like transferring money from my checking to my savings but my savings are in a different bank. I don’t have to waste time going to the bank, withdrawing money, and they making the deposit on a different bank. Just send a payment twice a month and that’s it. $240 a year is not much, but it’s a lot more than Bank of America was giving me.

  16. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    Awesome! I took advantage of Capital One 360’s Black Friday deal to get $150 last year and I just opened a Chase Total Checking account to get a $200 bonus. A few years back I opened an account with a local bank in Utah for an iPod, which I ended up selling for $150. It takes a little work, but what else do I have to do that could bring in that much for so little work?

  17. Very nice! We’ve unfortunately not gotten anything like that lately. The ones we have received usually want some sort of required number of direct deposits or something like that. But, I’ll take free money any day. 🙂

  18. Freaking brilliant. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go to self-checkout and do 10 separate transactions. You learn something knew everyday, right? 🙂

  19. That’s awesome, and I never would have thought to do separate transactions at the self-checkout. We don’t normally receive any special offers like that in the mail. I kind of like having everything at one bank, but $100+ is pretty tempting.

  20. Wow! – The only offer I knew about was Capital One 360. When I opened my checking account I got (I think ) a $50 bonus – but that was back when it was ING direct. When I opened my savings account with them it got a $127 bonus, so that was awesome as well. I’m definitely going to try some of these out, but it will almost take a spreadsheet to keep track of how long you have to keep the account open, minimum deposits, direct deposits, and the actual rewards.

  21. Nice! I did something similar last month..I got 2 family members to sign up for a free bank acct using my referral and got $50 per. Not to bad considering I literally did nothing! Same bank is offering $120 free if I change payroll over…not too sure yet.

  22. It’s too much of a PITA to change banks for us because of all the automation we have set up. I’ll forego the “free” money to keep things running smoothly at our current bank (PNC)

  23. I just signed up for a bank offer that gives new customers a Samsung tablet. My plan is to do the same thing with a competing bank in 6-8 months when they come out with a similar offer. I definitely have time for this.

  24. I might have to try this one for my daughter in college. This is big money for her! Well, OK I might try it too! Using the self checkout, smart idea!!!

  25. Dang! The best I have seen here in NZ is a free $50 for opening an account and putting $1000 in. Did that for both of us a couple years ago.

  26. I did the $200 with chase last year and was surprised that at tax time they sent me a statement with the $200 as interest income. Since we had to pay taxes on it, it wasn’t the whole $200 at the end of the game, but yes, still some free money!

  27. I would absolutely love it if Canada had more of these offers. We don’t have that many fee-free banks, and the one that we do have that offers bonuses I’m already a part of so I wouldn’t be eligible. I am definitely going to look into more.

  28. Well, that sounds like an easy way to earn some money! I have done that before, but now most places want a direct deposit, which I have no desire setting up. I already have it!

  29. That was a funny one Holly. I tried this once and guess what they told me, after I already opened it. That I was already an account owner in the past and that I did not qualify. Apparently this bank bought another bank in the past, and I had an account at the other bank. Go figure. A waste of time. The PNC one looks like a good one.

  30. Ahh the best kind of money. Free. That was a nice and easy offer. I never thought of splitting transactions at self checkout I should tuck that away if I need to split transactons at the store. Thanks for the tips!

  31. That’s pretty crazy that they throw money around like that to get customers. Then again, I’m from Canada where we have monopolies and oligopolies up the yin yang!

  32. Thanks for sharing the bank offers, I will closely take a look at them 😉

  33. Well done! I recently signed up with a bank that required 2 deposits in the first 45 days — but Direct Deposit wasn’t necessary — to get a $200 bonus. I picked up a coupon for my husband too, so he’s going to open an account this week. I love free money!

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