With the holidays in full effect and tons of items on our shopping lists, we could all use some extra pocket change.
Many banks are giving out stacks of free cash. To get your piece of the pie, you’ll need to open a new checking or savings account.
Shopping around for a bank account is never fun. But if you could walk away with an extra $200 or $300, it could be worth your while. With interest rates on the rise, this is a great time to look for banks and credit unions paying higher yields.
Why banks have sign-up bonuses
Banks use sign-up bonuses to distinguish themselves from others in the industry. Cash bonuses also help financial institutions bring in new customers and new deposits.
While they could pay account holders a higher yield, for some banks, offering a bonus is preferable.
“It’s much easier to quantify the bonus than it is to raise the rate on what you’re paying out on deposits,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.
Some banks, like TD Bank, offer more than one sign-up bonus. But qualifying for multiple bonuses at the same time at the same bank usually isn’t possible. Bank account bonuses are typically available only to new checking or savings account holders.
What to watch out for
Every bank account bonus isn’t a good deal. Before you sign up, read the fine print.
Watch out for sky-high minimum balance requirements and monthly fees that could eat into your earnings. If earning a bonus seems to require too much effort, you might want to look for another one.
If you’re applying for a checking account, make sure it’s a good match that meets your needs. For example, if you need them, double-check that there are plenty of branches and ATMs in your area. That way, you’re not driving miles to meet with a banker or wasting money on out-of-network ATM fees.
If you’re looking for a new savings account, consider whether you’re better off finding another bank that pays more interest.
“Those types of bonuses are only on accounts that really pay minimal, meaning that you’re not going to get that 1.55 percent, right,” says Deacon Hayes, founder of the website Well Kept Wallet. “You’re probably going to get less than a percent. So you’re kind of getting that bonus, but you’re sacrificing the long-term return. So you just want to weigh those options.”
Here are some of the best bank account bonuses in December. Compare these offers along with CDs and other savings accounts that pay more interest. And check out other types of bonuses, too, like the best brokerage account bonuses.
Summary of the best bank account bonuses
Best savings and money market account bonuses
Best checking account bonuses
- $200 or $300 Bonus: Chase Bank
- $200 Bonus: Huntington National Bank
- $150 or $300 Bonus: TD Bank
- $200 Bonus: Elements Financial
- $225 Bonus: Santander Bank
- $50, $200 or $300 Bonus: PNC Bank
- $250 Bonus: Wells Fargo Bank
- $200 Bonus: Fifth Third Bank
Best checking and savings account bonus
- $200, $400 or $600 Bonus: Citibank Citibank
Best savings and money market account bonuses
Chase Bank: $150, $200, $225 or $300 bonus
If you open a savings account in a Chase branch by Jan. 17 (and present a printed email with a code), you can earn $300. You must deposit $25,000 within 20 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days. Another deal offers $225 to new Chase savings customers who deposit $15,000. One for accounts opened through Jan. 12 offers $200 for depositing and maintaining a $15,000 balance. There’s also a chance to earn up to $600 when you also open a Total Checking account.
If you have at least $10,000 to stick into a savings account, you can earn $150 for maintaining that balance for 90 days. When combined with the $200 Total Checking account bonus, you’ll earn $350 total. This offer expires Jan. 14.
The downside? Chase’s savings account pays just 0.01 percent APY. Check out the best high-yield savings accounts.
Our review of Chase’s financial health gave the bank four out of five stars. Chase is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
Capital One Bank: $200 bonus
Through Dec. 14, if you open a 360 Money Market account and make a deposit, you can earn $200 if you:
- Haven’t opened a Capital One savings account since January 2016.
- Deposit at least $10,000.
To qualify for the bonus, you must use a promo code (OFFER200).
The 360 Money Market account currently pays 1.85 percent APY to savers with at least $10,000 in their accounts.
Capital One is based in McLean, Virginia. The bank earned four out of five stars in Bankrate’s latest review of its financial health.
Best checking account offers
Chase Bank: $200 or $300 bonus
Through Jan. 14, you could earn $300 by opening a Premier Plus checking account. Or earn $200 by opening a Total Checking account. Through another promotion that applies to accounts opened by Jan. 12, you can earn $300 for opening a Total Checking Account and up to $600 when you also open a Chase savings account.
All three promotions require you to visit a branch and present an email with a coupon code. You’re eligible for a bonus if you:
- Don’t have an existing Chase fiduciary or checking account (or closed one with a negative balance or within the last 90 days).
- Deposit $25.
- Have a direct deposit made within 60 days of opening the account.
The bank has branches in 26 states including Georgia and Florida and in the western, southwestern, Midwestern and northern parts of the country. See how Chase’s offers stack up against other checking account deals.
Huntington National Bank: $200 bonus
Through Dec. 31, earn $200 by opening a Huntington 5 Checking account online or in a branch. To earn a bonus you must:
- Be a new Huntington checking customer who hasn’t closed a checking account within the past six months.
- Deposit $500 within 60 days of opening your new checking account.
- Present the coupon code you email yourself from the bank’s website (if you’re applying in a branch).
You’re eligible for the bonus if you live in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Wisconsin. Huntington, which is based in Columbus, Ohio earned four out of five stars in the latest review of its financial health.
TD Bank: $150 or $300 bonus
A $300 bonus is available for TD Bank customers who:
- Open a Premier Checking account online.
- Have never had a TD Bank personal checking account.
- Have at least $2,500 worth of direct deposit funds within 60 days of opening the account.
There’s also a $150 cash bonus if you’d prefer a Convenience Checking account.
Bonuses are available to residents in the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and every state on the east coast except Georgia.
TD Bank is based in Wilmington, Delaware. In Bankrate’s review of TD Bank’s financial health, it earned four out of five stars.
Elements Financial: $200 bonus
An Indiana-based credit union is offering a $200 bonus to new members who open a high interest checking account and enter a promotional code (CHECK200). To qualify for the bonus you must:
- Join the credit union.
- Set up a recurring direct deposit of at least $500 within 60 days.
If you meet additional requirements, the high interest checking account pays 2 percent APY on balances of up to $20,000. Anyone nationwide can join Elements Financial by becoming a member of Tru Direction and paying a $5 membership fee. The credit union earned four out of five stars in the latest review of its financial health.
Santander Bank: $225 bonus
Earn $225 from Santander Bank. The offer expires Dec. 31. You can open a new checking account online or in a branch. To get the bonus, you must:
- Register online to receive a promotional code via email.
- Have direct deposits of $1,000 or more made into the account within the first 90 days.
- Keep your account open for 90 days.
The offer is only available to residents in eight Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire.
Santander Bank is based in Wilmington, Delaware. It earned four out of five stars in the latest review of its financial health.
PNC Bank: $50, $200 or $300
Visit a branch or go online to open a virtual wallet. If you make 10 debit card purchases and receive a direct deposit within 60 days (and you’re not an existing consumer checking account customer or someone who’s closed their account within the past 90 days), you could qualify for one of the following bonuses:
- $50 bonus for receiving a $500 direct deposit and opening a virtual wallet.
- $200 bonus for receiving a $2,000 direct deposit and opening a virtual wallet with Performance Spend.
- $300 bonus for receiving a $5,000 direct deposit and opening a virtual wallet with Performance Select.
The offers expire Dec. 31. To qualify, you must live in the District of Columbia and one of 19 states, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
PNC is based in Wilmington, Delaware and earned four out of five stars in Bankrate’s review of its financial health.
Wells Fargo Bank: $250 bonus
Earn $250 when you open an Everyday Checking account online or in a branch by Dec. 31. To qualify you must:
- Not be the owner of a Wells Fargo consumer checking account or the recipient of a bonus within the past 12 months.
- Deposit $25.
- To receive a $150 bonus, have at least $500 deposited directly into your new checking account within 60 days.
- To receive an extra $100 bonus, continue receiving qualifying direct deposits for the next five consecutive months equal to at least $500 each month.
Enter your zip code on the promotional page to see if you qualify for the offer. The bank, which is based in San Francisco, earned five out of five stars in Bankrate’s latest review of its financial health.
Fifth Third Bank: $200 bonus
Through Dec. 31, you can earn $200 from Fifth Third Bank by opening an account in a local branch or over the phone. To qualify you must:
- Not be an existing checking or Express Banking customer or closed your account within the past 12 months.
- Open an Essential Checking account.
- Have a $500 deposit made into the account within 45 days.
- Maintain a $500 minimum balance for 60 days.
Fifth Third Bank is based in Cincinnati, Ohio and serves customers in 12 states. In Bankrate’s review of Fifth Third Bank’s financial health, it earned five out of five stars.
Best checking and savings account bonus
Citi: $200, $400 or $600 bonus
Customers in the market for a new checking and savings account can open both through Citi and potentially earn a bonus.
- To earn $200, open a checking account in the Basic Banking Package. Deposit $5,000 and maintain that balance for 60 calendar days.
- To earn $400, open the accounts in the Citibank Account Package. Deposit $15,000 and maintain that balance for 60 calendar days. When you have funds deposited directly into an eligible checking account for two consecutive months, you can earn an extra $100 (meaning you’ll have a $500 bonus).
- To earn $600, open the accounts in the Citi Priority Account Package. Deposit $50,000 and maintain that balance for 60 calendar days.
All three offers expire Dec. 31. Citibank is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but bonuses are available nationwide. In Bankrate’s review of Citibank’s financial health, it earned four out of five stars.