$50 Checking Account Bonus at an Illinois Bank (American Chartered)


American Chartered Bank is having a promotion in which you can get $50 cash for opening a new checking account. There is no direct deposit requirement. They have a free checking account with no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. They'll also pay up to $25 toward the purchase of your new checks when you bring in your check card and unused checks from your current account. The offer expires on 6/15/07.

For those looking for a high yield checking account, their Wall Street Plus Checking has a yield of 4.45% APY on balances over $10K and 5% APY on balances over $50K. This does have a $10 monthly fees if your balance falls below $5K.

[Update 5/25/07: The bank changed the small print on the promotion page. It now states: "Offer not valid on accounts opened through our Online Application." It's not clear if this applies to the $50 sign-up bonus or the referral bonuses.]

According to the banking rep, the checking accounts are available to people out of state and can be opened through their online application. The $50 bonus would also apply. Your initial deposit can be made either by check or via ACH. I also asked about a hard credit pull, and he said that they do a credit inquiry on applicants. I'm not sure if he knew if it were a hard or soft pull.

Branches are located in Chicago and several other Illinois cities. The bank is FDIC insured (FDIC Charter # 27006).
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
If you plan on doing this, please post if you did receive a pull.

Any fees for closing account w/i first X # of days?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #2
Can you please let me know what impact it would have on my credit report if I opened too many banking accounts? Also, what does a hard/soft credit pull mean? Thanks!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
i fill guilty when i open an account just for the bonus.especially when i am not living in those states. Does anyboby have the same feeling?
Banking Guy
Banking Guy (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #4
About opening too many banking accounts, I have heard that some banks have turned down applicants due to too many ChexSystem inquiries. Banks use ChexSystems to ensure customers don't have unpaid fees or other problems at other banks.

A hard credit pull is another way some banks check on applicants. It can ding your credit score. More info can be found on this FW thread.

About feeling guilty for opening the account just for the bonus, that's why I don't always ask about the account closing fee.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
I just spoke with the CSR, who told me I need to come to the branch to open an account and the online applications do not qualify for the bonus.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
The bank does a hard credit pull to check on applicants.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #7
I spoke with two CSR's who both said that online applications do in fact qualify for the $50 dollar bonus. There is nothing on the website to indicate that it doesn't. I signed up, and we'll see what happens.
Banking Guy
Banking Guy (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #8
I should have mentioned that I contacted the bank using their contact form with a 4.65% APY money market account that has check writing (but it has a $1K min to avoid monthly fees). Bankrate typically only lists accounts here with national availability.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #9
I was just on American Chartered's web site and it states the $50 is not available for accounts opened online.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #10
From what I read on their website, the "Referral"(for bring in friends) is not available for accounts opened online, I think the $50 is still good. Reps have confirmed the $50 bonus as well for accounts opened online.
Banking Guy
Banking Guy (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #11
I can confirm that they added the "Offer not valid on accounts opened through our Online Application" in the small print. The other day I did get in writing from their email reply that the $50 sign-up bonus was also for the online application.

Note, it is common for small banks to change a promo like this when it gets popular. So please be aware of this possibility.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
They also have a checking account called Wall Street Checking that earns 3.01% when you have a balance $2,500 and above. https://www.americanchartered.com/personalWallSt.asp
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #13
Thanks for the clarification! I applied online and set up a $50 ACH bank withdrawal for initial funding. I was instructed to print out and send in my signed signature card. It said: We will begin processing your account as soon as we receive your signed signature card and account funding.

I guess based on the last comment, I will NOT send in my signature card because it is NOT certain if I qualify?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #14
Well, I already sent in my sig card and ACH initial deposit because I was told by the CSR that the offer qualifies for online applicants, but if this is now changed, I will immediately withdraw all the money and close the account. I see no early account closing fees etc...
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #15
I just spoke to a CSR, told them that I submitted my application with ACH deposit and mailed in my sig card because yesterday they told me that I would get the $50, but today they told me that I will "probably not get it" - even though it was advertised as such and verified by two CSR's before I submitted my application. Since they have no early closing fee's, I'll just close the account, but I wonder if their doing anything illegal with what appears to be a bait and switch situation.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #16
This from another forum:

Mail received from CSR after I sent my webapp, pasted below. I also have a email confirmation saying the $50 bonus holds good for webapps(separate email not pasted here).

Mail also confirms that there is no hard pull for illinois residents.

This message confirms receipt of your online account application # XXXXX40 dated XX/XX/07. As a reminder the account will not be opened until we receive a signed signature card and an opening deposit of at least $50 if you are funding the account by check. In the event you failed to print the card at the end of the electronic application process we have attached a duplicate signature card for your convenience.

In order to comply with USA Patriot Act regulations, American Chartered Bank must verify certain personal information you have provided to us before was open your account. As a part of this verification process, and upon receipt of your signed signature card, we will run a credit report on non-Illinois resident account applicants.

Please return your signed signature card and check, if applicable, to the address listed on the card.

I personally think this deal is not a "sure thing." And wonder if it is even worth taking the chances sending the Signature Card?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #17
Received an email from the bank indicating that the $50 promotion is being discontinued for future online applicants, however mine is being honored. I'm sure that the bank acted in good faith from the start but simply didn't realize that so many people would be hitting them for $50 dollars. I give credit to them for their good intentions, and I'll certainly bank with them for a while. Heck, free checking - can't go wrong with that at all. Thanks to Banking Guy for getting this posted in the first place. We've all learned a bit from this - the bank included.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #18
Got same message, and mailed in my sigature card after all.
Curtis (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #19
Like others, I received a message that the promotion was discontinued for online apps, but that mine was being honored. I sent in my sig. card.

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from American Chartered with details about the debit funding process. It's basically similar to the trial deposit method; however, instead of two trial deposits, they are making two debits from my account for $50 (the min. amount required for opening the account). I have to reply to the e-mail within 14 business days and provide the amounts of the debits.

This morning, I received a notice from my credit monitoring service that a new hard inquiry has appeared on my TU report. The inquiry came from Kroll Financial Services (listed as "FDC" on the report), and when I called the # provided, the gentleman confirmed that they provide credit information to American Chartered Bank.
Curtis (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #20
It appears American Chartered has extended this offer to 8/3; however, online applications are still explicitly excluded.