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Scoop up bank incentives
Opening a new account? Check out bank incentives first.
For example, JPMorgan Chase offers $300 bonuses on new Premier Plus checking accounts through April 13, 2016.
The catch? You'll have to meet requirements like maintaining a minimum average daily balance of $15,000 to avoid a $25 monthly fee. You also will have to use direct deposit and keep your account open for at least 6 months. Smaller bonuses are available if you can't meet these requirements.
At Citibank, targeted credit card holders can earn 40,000 ThankYou points for opening a new checking account.
And, at Capital One, you can get a $500 bonus for opening a new savings account, but you'll need to deposit a whopping $50,000.
Less commonly, you'll find banks that offer referral bonuses. Associated Bank, for example, will give a $50 Visa gift card to existing account holders who persuade a friend or family member to open an account and use online bill pay or direct deposit. You can earn the bonus on up to 10 referrals.
Be careful about making a long-term commitment with a bank that offers a bonus. You may find that standard interest rates are pretty paltry. At Chase, for example, after you earn the bonus, the account pays just 0.01% APY.