The holiday season is in full swing and the new year is right around the corner. You’ve most likely already started buying gifts and booking flights for winter travel. And there’s a good chance that you’re starting to feel like you need some extra cash. Fortunately, banks aren’t opposed to giving out free money.
In exchange for opening a new checking or savings account, you could easily end up with an extra $200 or $300 dollars (or more). Shopping around for a new bank account isn’t exactly exciting, but it could be worth your while.
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
- Fifth Third Bank: $500 bonus
- Wells Fargo: $400 bonus
- SunTrust Bank: $300 bonus
- TD Bank: $150 or $300 bonus
- Chase Bank: $200, $300 or $1,000 bonus
- PNC Bank: $50, $200 or $300 bonus
- Santander Bank: $225 bonus
- Regions Bank: $200 bonus
- Huntington National Bank: $200 bonus
Best checking and savings bonus
Best savings and money market account bonuses
Discover Bank: $150 or $200 bonus
If you open a Discover online savings account by Dec. 2, you could earn up to $200. New Discover savings customers who meet certain requirements by Dec. 16 can qualify for one of the following bonuses:
- $150 bonus for depositing $15,000.
- $200 bonus for depositing $25,000.
There’s no minimum deposit to open the account, but you must enter an offer code (OBE1119) when you apply online. The Discover online savings account pays 1.7 percent APY.
Discover Bank is based in Greenwood, Delaware. In Bankrate’s review of Discover’s products and services, the bank earned 4.4 out of five stars.
Chase Bank: $150 bonus
Through a deal that expires Jan. 21, you’ll earn $150 for depositing $10,000 within 20 business days into a new Chase savings account and maintaining that balance for 90 days. By meeting the requirements for earning the savings and checking bonuses, you could earn a total of $350.
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 3.8 out of five stars. Chase is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
Capital One Bank: $200 or $1,000 bonus
Through Dec. 31, if you open a 360 Performance Savings account and use a special code (SAVE1000), you can earn a bonus. To qualify, account holders must:
- Deposit between $10,000 and $149,999.99 (to earn $200) or at least $150,000 (to earn $1,000) within 10 days of opening your account.
- Maintain the required daily balance for 90 days.
The 360 Performance Savings account currently pays 1.8 percent APY to savers across all balances.
Capital One is based in McLean, Virginia. The bank earned 4.5 out of five stars in Bankrate’s full review of its products and offerings.
Best checking account offers
Fifth Third Bank: $500 bonus
Through Dec. 31, you can earn $500 from Fifth Third Bank. To earn the first $250, you must:
- Not be an existing Fifth Third checking customer or closed your account within the past 12 months.
- Open an Essential, Enhanced or Preferred Checking account.
- Make deposits and reach a balance of $500 within 45 days.
- Maintain a $500 minimum daily balance for 60 days.
To earn the remaining $250 (for a total of $500), you must:
- Increase your total deposit balances by $20,000 within 45 days of opening the new account.
- Maintain the increased balance for 90 days.
Email yourself a promotion code through the bank’s website and then visit a branch to open your account.
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 four out of five stars.
Wells Fargo: $400 bonus
Earn $400 when you open an Everyday Checking account online 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.
• Receive direct deposits of at least $3,000 each month for three consecutive months within 150 days.
The offer is available online to consumers nationwide. The bank, which is based in San Francisco, earned 4.1 out of five stars in Bankrate’s full review of its products and offerings.
SunTrust Bank: $300 bonus
Open a SunTrust Advantage checking account online or at a branch by Jan. 2 and earn $300 by having direct deposits of at least $3,000 made per statement cycle for two consecutive cycles (within the first three months of opening the account).
The offer is valid for residents in the District of Columbia, Maryland and nine southern states. In Bankrate’s review of SunTrust’s financial health, the bank earned four out of five stars. The bank is in the process of closing a merger with BB&T.
TD Bank: $150 or $300 bonus
A $300 bonus is available for TD Bank customers who:
- Open a Beyond 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 (requires direct deposits of $500 within 60 days of opening the 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 services and product offerings, it earned 3.5 out of five stars.
Chase Bank: $200, $300 or $1,000 bonus
Through Jan. 21, you could earn $300 by opening a Premier Plus checking account. Or earn $200 by opening a Total Checking account.
You’re eligible for a bonus if you:
- Don’t have an existing Chase fiduciary or checking account (or had one closed with a negative balance or within the last 90 days).
- Have a direct deposit made within 90 days of opening the account.
There’s also a $1,000 bonus available for customers who open or upgrade to a Chase Sapphire account by Jan. 17. To qualify, you must transfer a total of $75,000 to a combination of eligible checking, savings and/or investment accounts within 45 calendar days. Then, you must maintain that balance for at least 90 days.
Accounts can be opened online or in a branch. 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.
PNC Bank: $50, $200 or $300 bonus
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, you could qualify for one of the following bonuses:
- $50 bonus for receiving a $500 direct deposit.
- $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. The online application is available to consumers nationwide.
PNC is based in Wilmington, Delaware and earned four out of five stars in Bankrate’s full review of its products and offerings.
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:
- 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.
Regions Bank: $200 bonus
If you open a Regions LifeGreen checking account by Dec. 29, you could earn $200. To qualify, you must be a new checking customer and meet the following requirements within 60 days:
- Have a $500 direct deposit made.
- Make 10 purchases with a Regions Visa CheckCard.
To receive the bonus, you can apply online (using promo code 200PD19Q4) or bring a printed voucher to a branch. The bonus is only valid in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and 10 southern states.
Regions Bank is based in Birmingham, Alabama. In Bankrate’s review of Region’s financial health, the bank earned four out of five stars.
Huntington National Bank: $200 bonus
Through Jan. 7, 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 $1,000 within 60 days of opening your new checking account and maintain that balance for 90 days.
- 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 is based in Columbus, Ohio. In the full review of its products and offerings, the bank earned 3.6 out of five stars.
Best checking and savings bonus
HSBC: $350 or $750 bonus
HSBC has a couple of checking account bonuses available online. Through Dec. 31, earn:
- $350 for opening an HSBC Advance checking account and depositing $5,000 in checking and savings accounts.
- $750 for opening an HSBC Premier checking account and receiving monthly deposits of $5,000 for three consecutive months from the second full month after opening the account.
To qualify for the $350 bonus, you’ll have to deposit new money within 30 calendar days and maintain the qualifying balance for 90 days. You’ll also need to have recurring deposits made into the account monthly for at least three consecutive months after the account opening month.
HSBC is based in McLean, Virginia. It earned 3.9 out of five stars in Bankrate’s full review of its products and offerings.
Citibank: $200, $400 or $700 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 the accounts in the Basic Banking Package. Deposit $5,000 within 30 days and maintain that balance for 60 days.
- To earn $400, open the accounts in the Citibank Account Package. Deposit $15,000 within 30 days and maintain that balance for 60 days.
- To earn $700, open the accounts in the Citi Priority Account Package. Deposit $50,000 within 30 days and maintain that balance for 60 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 full suite of products and offerings, it earned 4.5 out of 5 stars.