The Easy Way I Made $1,000 Last Week - picture of hands holding out fan of hundred dollar bills

The Easy Way I Made $1,000 Last Week

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Early this year, I took some time to calculate the total value of all of the credit card rewards I redeemed in 2014. Well, let me tell ya, the results were astounding. Including free hotel stays, airfare, cash-back, and other perks I redeemed, my hobby resulted in a “profit” of more than $20,000.

Of course, it wasn’t really profit by any stretch of the imagination, partly because some of those rewards included crazy hotel fares – like the $900 per night I would have paid to stay at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris. Yeah, I never would have paid that out of pocket.

Either way, it’s a fun hobby. I enjoy both going on trips and writing about them as well. Of course, there’s no way I could afford to travel the way I do if not for credit card rewards.

Why I Love Bank Bonuses

But credit cards aren’t the only way to earn free stuff; I keep my eye out for bank bonuses too. Many times, banks will offer big bonuses to new customers willing transfer some money and open an account. Usually, you have to meet some other requirements, such as setting up direct deposit or meeting a spending limit as well.

The first bank bonus I earned was several years ago with Chase. They offered me $200 to open a checking account and $150 to open a savings account, which I gladly accepted (duh). The only requirements were that I set up direct deposit and keep at least $1,500 in savings. Done and done.

But that wasn’t the last time I signed up for a hefty bank bonus. In fact, I’ve “earned” several others since then. For example, I recently signed up for a new Huntington Bank account to receive a $200 bonus. All I had to do was keep $300 in the account for 60 days and make 10 purchases with a debit card. The money was no problem, and the 10 transactions weren’t either. I simply bought groceries as usual, then went through the self check-out so I could split it into 10 different orders. Was it a pain? Hell yes. However, I did make $200 for about 20 minutes of effort.

A few months ago, Greg was getting ready to leave his job and start a new business. And, lo and behold, he got a huge bank sign-up bonus offer for a business account around the same time. That one was from Huntington Bank too, and it was for $500. The only requirement was that he needed to keep $1,500 in his account for 180 days and make six transactions with his new debit card. I bet you can guess how that went. Pretty amazing, I think. His business was brand new at the time, but he had already made $500!

The Easy Way I Made $1,000 Last Week

Well, guess what. It happened again. I opened my mail the other day to a completely different bank bonus offer from Huntington Bank. But this time, it was targeted at Club Thrifty LLC. What’s even more awesome is that this offer was for $1,000, and from what I could tell, the only requirement was that I had to keep $1,500 in a new checking account for at least 180 days. No direct deposit or anything!

Obviously, I was all over that. But when I got to the bank and started chatting with the friendly bank employee, I found that I missed a piece of the fine print. Not only did I have to keep $1,500 in checking, but I also had to carry at least $5,000 over all of my Huntington accounts combined. That wasn’t a big deal, especially to earn $1,000, so I went ahead and plopped $5,000 from my existing business account into the new one.

The crazy thing is, the extra grand was sitting pretty in my account within a few days. It almost makes me want to pinch myself. #Winning

I made $1,000 last week with this sweet bank bonus!

Keys to Optimizing Bank Bonuses

Bank bonuses are definitely free money, but there are a few things to watch out for if you want to maximize them. As always, the devil is in the details. Here are some tips that can help you weed out the awesome offers from the crummy ones:

  • Make sure there aren’t any checking fees – A lot of banks offer a bonus that they merely intend to drain away through monthly checking fees. However, you can usually avoid fees by keeping a minimum balance in your account. Always ask and see what that minimum balance is before you pull the trigger.
  • Make sure to keep your money in there for the required number of months – A lot of banks that offer bonuses require that you keep your money on deposit for a certain length of time – usually between 60 and 180 days. In the fine print, they’ll casually mention that they will snap back that bank bonus if you close your account early. Don’t let them. Mark the date on your calendar, and make sure not to close your account or withdraw your funds early.
  • Watch out for other fees – In addition to maintenance fees, other fees may apply when you open a new account. Keep an eye out for debit card fees, fees for paper checks and statements, and other fees they may try to sneak by you. There are usually ways to avoid them, but you have to know about them first.

As always, the key to properly utilizing bank bonuses is knowing how they work and reading all of the fine print. And sometimes, you have to go through a bit of a hassle, e.g. splitting your groceries into ten different orders.

Personally, I find the hassle to be worth it. Who else is going to pay me $1,000 to sit in a stuffy bank and make small talk for an hour? On my way out the door, they even gave me five free pens! It doesn’t get any better than that.

Have you ever opened a checking or savings account in order to earn a bonus? What kind of bank bonuses have you pursued lately?

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32 Comments

  1. I have never taken advantage of a bank bonus. I’ve been with the same bank for over 20 years. $1k is a sweet bonus. Nicely done!

  2. I don’t do this out of simple laziness. I have enough other things to occupy my mind. That being said, if the bonus was $1K I would be likely to at least think twice about… and then probably not do it.

    1. I don’t think $200 would lure me in anymore, but $1,000 still does! I got it one day and opened a new account the very next day.

  3. That’s really incredible! I’ve been hearing about bank bonuses a bit lately but haven’t taken advantage. It does seem like a hassle, but worth it in many cases. I like your strategy of getting all the debit card transactions out of the way in 1 go so that can be off your mind. Now that I’m contracting at a fairly stable hourly rate I’ve started comparing earning and spending to my own time and $1k is worth many many hours!

    1. Yeah, $1,000 is real money! I don’t like keeping track of how many transactions I have/haven’t made, so that is why I got it out of the way. I like to pull the band-aid off, so to speak!

    1. Yes, definitely read the fine print. I can’t do a lot of them because they require direct deposit.

  4. WOW – you’re awesome!! I got the same Chase deal a few years back and a similar one with BofA, but that’s it. I am definitely going to keep my eye out for specials like this in the future!!

    1. Do it! Why not? It seems like the bonuses are better for business offers.

  5. We haven’t received any bank offers other than for credit cards, but we did take advantage of a couple of TD Ameritrade offers and got $1200 for moving some of our brokerage money to them. Love that free money!

  6. For some odd reason we never receive any targeted bank offers. Though if we did then I’d be all over it as who can turn down free cash? Now, if I could only get those fools at Discover to stop sending me blasted mailers every day then I’d be happy…

  7. My wife and I recently opened chequing accounts at a bank that is offering a lucrative signup bonus – $350 for new accounts (per account) plus a $150 referral fee. This means we will make $850 for opening the accounts. It\’s the best one I\’v seen in a long time

  8. Banks make it so hard to switch your accounts that the only way people seem to do it is when free money is offered. Sounds like a great reason to switch =D

  9. Thanks so much for having me Shannon – I love that I can be honest with you. Makes me feel normal. 🙂

  10. I did the $200 Chase bonus a few years back. Just had to keep a certain amount in it and do x # of transactions. Easy peasy. They’ve switched it up to having a direct deposit which I don’t want to do so we haven’t done any of the ones now being offered.

  11. I’m bookmarking this! I never realized certain banks made offers like that. I think it’s definitely worth it as well. I’ll keep my eyes out and your tips in mind for any offers I may see in the future.

  12. When I was first reading through your post I was going to say: hey that free $200 sounds like a great deal, but then I saw the $1,000 one and holy crap that’s incredible!!!! I think this may be a benefit of having an LLC. Anyone who goes through the process of actually setting up an LLC will probably stick around for a while. Speaking of…I better get that LLC set up 😉

  13. I’ve gotten a few bank bonuses but some of the offers around here aren’t that good. A local bank was offering a $100 bonus for a single direct deposit, but they had a $5 fee if your account is less that $500. That was fine so I just direct deposited $500, planning to withdraw the money and close the account when I got the bonus. But I found out from the not so lovely rep that there is a $75 “early account closure fee”. What crap. But there are some good bonuses out there.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that checking bonuses have to be reported on taxes, so you’re taking an automatic hit right there. That’s why I prefer a good credit card bonus over a checking bonus but there are some good ones out there.

  14. We have never opened a bank account in order to earn a bonus. I like the idea though … especially for $1,000! That’s worth the hassle of reading fine print;0)

  15. We haven’t had the extra funds to stick in various bank accounts in the past. But now that we have some savings, I’ll definitely have to consider that.

    I did get $150 for opening an extra WaMu account at one point. That was something.

  16. Wow… Banks in Australia SUCK! Of course, it could be that I’m completely oblivious to the offers that might or might not be available but, I’ve never been offered enticements, especially cash ones, to open an account. By the banks I currently do business with or any others.

    Obviously, there’s not enough competition here!

  17. That is really a good reward ($1,000). Congrats. What I enjoy from my bank bonuses is that I earned American Airlines AAdvantage miles, which I am gonna enjoy soon. I wish I could have that reward as well.

  18. I’ve been taking advantage of the Santander extra $20 checking, it gives you $20 a month if you have a 2x direct deposit and also use their online billpay for 2 different bills. It’s easy to make a great interest rate as long as you aren’t hoarding money in your checking account. Much more than you can get even in a CD!

    They were already my bank though, so that made things easier. I haven’t really taken advantage of any “lump sum” bank bonuses but with the amount you made I might have to keep a look out. A $1000 bonus is simply awesome.

  19. I love your post. You inspire and educate us on your blog about The Easy Way I Made $1,000 Last Week. You can really help a lot. Great blogs!

  20. Wow – I didn’t know banks gave out bonuses for opening accounts! I thought they just gave away toaster ovens! I’ll have to keep a look out, thanks!

  21. Good work (or lack of work!). We did the Chase bonus a few years back (when no direct deposit was required), and since we were wanting to switch banks now anyway, we just did it again. Plus my wife and I each have Santander accounts where with a direct deposit and 2 bill pays/month, we each get $20/month ongoing. It may take a little extra organization having multiple accounts, but it’s worth it to us.

  22. So ready to get back into rewards after our closing. I haven’t really seen any good offers though lately (might be my credit is so wacky now from previous mortgage-related credit pulls). The only time I made money like that from a bank account was back when ING was still a thing.

  23. Interesting topic, I too have taken advantage of bank bonuses. ING, before it was Capital One, used to offer a number of awesome checking account and referral bonuses that could be used with family members. Has anyone seen any good bank bonuses for students or those entering college?

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