Wachovia is offering California customers up to a $125 checking account bonus. Here's Wachovia's promotional page. $75 is availble for opening a Free Checking account with a minimum deposit of $500 by June 24, 2007. An additional $50 bonus is available when you set up Direct Deposit within 90 days. You must be a new checking account customer. The credit in your account will appear within 150 days of the offer expiration. Value of the bonus will be reported to the IRS.
This offer is only available in California. You can apply by phone at (800) 801-0717 or at one of Wachovia's Southern California branches.
Wachovia's free checking account has the basic components of free checking: no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, etc. A reader in the previous post mentioned that Wachovia does a hard credit pull (via Experian). I called for some additional information. According to the banking representative, checks are not free, however, they are optional. You can just use the free debit card and free online BillPay. The cost of checks varies by state. There is a $25 fee if the account is closed before 6 months. In addition to the hard pull, Wachovia also does a ChexSystem verification.
For those outside California, you can still get a $50 bonus for the free checking account or for the free student checking (see post).
Wachovia's Expansion into California
With this bonus Wachovia seems to be heavily targeting California, and as this article indicates, Wachovia is having success. These Southern Wachovia branches use to be Western Financial. Later this year, Wachovia plans to open its first Bay Area branch in San Francisco. It plans to end the year with 170 locations in California operating under the Wachovia name. The article also mentions the merging of World Savings into Wachovia. The new free checking at World Savings is one Wachovia induced change, but the executives are careful not to change World's CD strategy of offering promotional rate CDs. I found this quote from the article interesting:
"In essence, we'll follow the same pricing strategy as World has," McGee said, adding that World often pulled in a customer with a promotional rate and then rolled over the CD to a lower rate upon renewal. "Our intent is for them to have a similar experience at Wachovia as they had at World."