Fall is officially here, which means the holiday season is right around the corner. Soon, it will be time to start buying gifts and booking flights for winter travel. But for now, it’s best to start saving in preparation for a potentially pricey end of the year.
Banks aren’t opposed to giving out stacks of free cash. 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 October. 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 bonus
Best checking account bonuses
- Fifth Third Bank: $500 Bonus
- Wells Fargo: $400 Bonus
- TD Bank: $150 or $300 Bonus
- Chase Bank: $200 or $300 Bonus
- PNC Bank: $50, $200 or $300 Bonus
- Elements Financial: $200 Bonus
- Huntington National Bank: $200 Bonus
Best checking and savings bonus
- HSBC Bank: $350 or $700 Bonus
Best savings and money market account bonus
Discover Bank: $150 or $200 bonus
If you open a Discover online savings account by Oct. 7, you could earn up to $200. New Discover savings customers who meet certain requirements by Oct. 21 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 (OBE919) when you apply online. The Discover online savings account pays 1.9 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 5 stars.
Chase Bank: $150 or $200 bonus
A deal that expires Nov. 18 offers $200 to new Chase savings customers who deposit $15,000 within 20 days and maintain that balance for 90 days. By meeting the requirements for earning the savings and checking bonuses, you could earn an extra $100 (meaning you’ll earn a total of $600).
Through another offer that expires Oct. 14, you’ll earn $150 for depositing $10,000 within 20 business days in a new Chase savings account and maintaining that balance for 90 days.
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 5 stars. Chase is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
Best checking account offers
Fifth Third Bank: $500 bonus
Through Oct. 31, you can earn $500 from Fifth Third Bank. To qualify you must:
- Not be an existing Fifth Third checking customer or closed your account within the past 12 months.
- Open an Essential Checking account.
- Make deposits and reach a balance of $15,000 within 45 days.
- Maintain a $15,000 minimum daily balance for 90 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 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 5 stars in Bankrate’s full review of its products and offerings.
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 5 stars.
Chase Bank: $200 or $300 bonus
Through Oct. 14, you could earn $300 by opening a Premier Plus checking account. Or earn $200 by opening a Total Checking account.
There’s also a $300 bonus available for customers who open a Total Checking account by Nov. 18.
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).
- Have a direct deposit made within 90 days of opening the account.
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 accounts 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.
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. The average interest-bearing checking account pays 0.07 percent, a recent Bankrate survey found.
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.
Huntington National Bank: $200 bonus
Through Oct. 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 or 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 5 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.