With the economy recovering, banks are starting to roll out their new account promotions where you can earn a little bit of money to change banks. The offers are usually in the $100 – $200 range, and usually require a direct deposit and some bill payments before the bonus is paid. Banks recognize there’s tremendous competition in the marketplace, especially since they can’t compete just by offering a free checking account  option.
This particular offer from SunTrust is special in that it has absolutely no direct deposit requirement whatsoever, it seems to be purely about bill payment. New customers can earn $150 over the next four months by making three bill payments a month while existing customers can earn $100 over the next three months by making three bill payments a month. Usually these offers require you to be a new customer and direct deposit your paycheck.
SunTrust Free Checking
SunTrust Free Checking  has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly maintenance fee, and offers a first item NSF fee discount. They are one of the ten largest banks in the US , FDIC insured, and offers a free 1st order of small package of personal checks.
SunTrust’s other deposit products aren’t great. For example, their 25 month CD offers 1.50% APY which is lower than some of the 12 month CD rates on our best CD rates  list.
If you close the account within six months, there’s a $25 closing fee. Besides that fee, I can’t seem to find a catch anywhere in their free checking account (let me know if there is one that I missed) and it seems like a pretty consumer friendly free checking account.
SunTrust $150 Promotion Requirements
A new customer is someone who didn’t have a SunTrust personal checking account on or before January 31st, 2010. To qualify for the $150, you must:
- $50 bonus: Visit the promotion page  to open a SunTrust personal checking account between now and April 30th, 2010. After your account is set up, you have to return to the promotion page  to enroll in the program (seems kind of backwards but you must revisit it). Then, make 3 bill payments through SunTrust Online Banking with Bill Pay within the next two calendar months. Bonus is paid out 10 weeks after the last bill payment is processed.
- $100 bonus: Satisfy the initial $50 bonus requirements and continue to make at least three payments each month for the next three months (9 bill payments total). Bonus is paid out 10 weeks after the last bill payment is processed.
You can qualify for the $50 and not qualify for the $100, but not vice versa. Also, it appears that the requirements state “calendar months,” so if you sign up today you have until February 28th to make three bill payments to qualify for February.
You can’t get the first $50 but you can get the $100 for participating in the bill pay portion of the promotion as long as you haven’t used online bill pay since December 1st, 2009. Sign up at the promotion signup page  and follow the prompts to set it up.
When you open the free checking account, SunTrust will initiate a soft inquiry of your Equifax credit report, so there is no impact to your credit score. Finally, if you don’t have three billpayments a month, consider sending multiple smaller payments to existing bills or credit cards.
Finally, remember that the bonuses will be reported as 1099-INT and are taxed as ordinary income (income tax brackets ).