Bank Deals Column

Banks are paying good money for your deposits these days and we’ve collected the best of the best bank deals available today. It’s not unheard of for a bank to offer $100 or $150 (or more!) for new accounts. There are many deals to be made so don’t sign up without checking out these bank deals first! Many of the offers below are available nationally but review the terms and conditions just to be sure.


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American Express Shop Small Free $10 Statement Credit

American Express has really made a huge push for small business with a variety of statement credits for using your American Express card at small businesses. The latest one I knew about, and took advantage of, involved Foursquare and syncing an AMEX card. This time, visitors to Boston, Chicago, or Philadelphia get the chance, through the Shop Small Now program, to get a $10 statement credit for shopping at small businesses before July 4th, 2012. You need to spend at least $10 in a single purchase with a registered American Express card.

You’ll need to register for each city separately.

Terms & Conditions:

Limit one per Card across platforms; Cardmembers who have already received a Shop Small Boston statement credit through Facebook, Twitter, or foursquare are not eligible. Registration is limited. Spend $10 or more in a single purchase by 7/4/12. Offer valid in-store at qualifying small businesses in the Boston metro area. Payments using Square are not eligible for this offer. Prepaid and Corporate Cards are not eligible. Offer not valid at government agencies, charities, non-profits, trade associations, shopping property management firms, political, religious or educational organizations, and some franchise locations. Refer to the Shop Small Map and Directory for qualifying businesses. Statement credits are generally issued within 3-5 business days after your qualifying purchase, but may take up to 2 billing periods to post to your account. If your registered Card is replaced during the promotional period, please call the customer service number on the back of your Card for assistance.

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Chase Total Checking $125 Promotion

Chase BankThis promotion has ended early.

Chase is offering new checking account customers, specifically the Chase Total Checking Account, a $125 cash bonus if they satisfy certain simple conditions. The conditions are simpler than the PNC Bank promotion I wrote about earlier this week (for Chase you don’t need to use their debit card) and it offers a little more money. If you’re looking for a new checking account, this is a healthy bonus to entice you to consider Chase.

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PNC Bank Checking $100 Promotion

PNC BankOne of the first bank accounts I had, after the credit union I joined because my parents had an account there, was at a PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, PA. PNC Bank traces it’s roots back to Pittsburgh, as it’s the product of a merger in 1983 between Pittsburgh National Corporation and Provident National Corporation, both of which can use PNC as an acronym! Anyway, enough with the history, the promotion I’m writing about today involves their checking account.

PNC Bank is offering a $100 promotion if satisfy a few conditions associated with opening up a checking account (promo code appears to be PS008):

  • You must open a new personal checking account before the end of the promotion (3/31/12).
  • You must be issued a PNC Bank Visa Check Card.
  • You must make a qualifying Direct Deposit of at least $750,
  • And you must make 10+ purchases with your check card within 60 days (they must post within 60 days) of account opening.

Once you satisfy those terms, you’ll get a deposit of $100 labeled “Cash Trans Promo Reward” and likely issued a 1099 next year, which is customary. You can open an account online or you can have them email you a coupon. You can then take that coupon with you to the bank to open an account and still get the bonus.

The promotion ends March 31st, 2012.

Here is the fine print:
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Everbank Offers $60 Cash Bonus

Bank of America sparked a bit of an outrage (ha!) when they announced a new $5 monthly fee for debit card users and Everbank counters with sixty bucks in bonus cash if you open a Yield Pledge Checking Account before November 30th. One bank announces a $5 monthly fee, another bank offers $5 a month as a cash incentive – can you see where this is going?

Brick and mortar banks can’t compete with online banks on the basics of banking – checking, savings, and certificates of deposits. The finances are what they are. Online banks have lower overhead and so they can pass along some of that in better rates. As of 10/24/2011 Bank of America has a 9 month no-penalty CD yielding 0.30% APY and a 12 month CD yielding 0.50% APY (rates). Everbank’s 12-month CD is 0.80% APY. It won’t wow you but it’s 60% higher.

So if you want to try a checking account that pays you $5 a month, rather than one that dings you $5, think about Everbank.

Clever marketing! :)

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KeyBank iPod Touch Checking Account Promotion

KeyBank is once again offering an iPod touch (8GB 4th generation unit according to posters on Fatwallet) on their promotions page for new account holders who open up a checking account online. The requirements for getting the iPod touch is not unlike what reward checking accounts require:

  • open a qualifying KeyBank checking account online and enter offer code ONTT0311 by June 24, 2011, and
  • make at least 10 payments and/or purchases per month for 3 months after account opening, plus
  • make 3 direct deposits each of $500 or more within 3 months of account opening.

The 10 payments or purchases a month for three months is what I meant when I said “reward checking account”-like in terms of requirements. The three direct deposits of $500+ isn’t uncommon for these types of promotions, it just makes the checking account a little “stickier.”

One gotcha you won’t see unless you really dig is that they charge you a $25 account early closure fee if you close the account within 180 days of opening it.

Here are the somewhat longwinded terms & conditions:
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Citizens Bank $240 Checking Promotion

Citizens BankIf you were thinking about opening a checking account at Citizens Bank, they have a promotion where you can get $240. All you need to do is open a Green Checking, Circle Checking, or Circle Gold Checking account and make at least 5 qualifying online bill payments of $50 or more each month. Every month you do that, they’ll give you $40 and they’ll do that for six months.

It’s one of the trickier promotions out there, you’ll have to find five online bill payments, but it’s also one of the richest as each of the checking accounts have existing promotions. For example, if you go with paperless statements, you can get paid up to $120 a year for that. The “cheapest” account is the Green Checking, which waives the $4.99 monthly service charge if you make 5 qualifying bill payments each month or maintain an average balance of $1500.

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Should You Chase Bank Promotions?

Benjamins!As the economy recovers and banks are taken off life support, in the good way, financial institutions are becoming more aggressive with their promotional offers. The days of toasters and coffee mugs are long gone. The big banks are offering a Benjamin for new accounts. Sometimes two, if you’re happy jumping through their hoops.

What does the prototypical bank promotion look like? The bank wants to get new accounts and it wants those new accounts to stick. The typical bank promotion will require a minimum balance, a scheduled direct deposit each month, and that you keep the account open for at least a hundred days. A few banks will deviate from this prototype a little, perhaps adding in a bill payment or two or debit card activity, but they all follow this pattern.

Is it worth trying to sign up for a bunch of these?

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Fidelity Investments 200 Free Trades Offer

Fidelity InvestmentsIf you have $100,000 in cash and/or eligible securities, you can take advantage of Fidelity’s 200 free trades offer. It’s not uncommon for brokers to offer free trades to entice you to transfer your funds, TradeKing has a $100 refer a friend offer and a $150 transfer reimbursement offer, and 200 seems to be a nice round number that has the “wow factor” they’re looking for. If you want to do a dollar comparison, Fidelity trades are $7.95 a piece so this offer has a potential value of $1590, if you were to use all the trades.

Some basic ground rules:

  • The funds have to come from an external account, so you can’t transfer from another Fidelity account.
  • The free trades must be used within 90 days.
  • The offer ends June 31, 2011.

I personally prefer cash bonuses, but that’s because I don’t think I’ll be making 200 trades in 90 days. The trade-off between a cash bonus as a free trade bonus is that the cash is immediately reported on a 1099. With free trades, it’s not clear how the promotion is going to be reported to the IRS but at worst it’ll be the cash value of the free trades you actually use. I find it difficult to believe they’d 1099 you for $1590.

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