With interest rates falling, bank bonuses can be a way to offset the loss of interest earnings. New account bonuses do require some work and the accounts are rarely something that you’ll want for the long term. Nevertheless, a bonus in which you can earn a few hundred dollars can be worthwhile in today’s environment.
Here’s a checking account bonus in which you can earn up to $400. It’s being offered by the Indiana-based First Merchants Bank. Three different bonus amounts are available with the larger bonuses requiring checking accounts with larger monthly maintenance fees and more difficult requirements to have the monthly fees waived. Here’s a summary of the three bonus levels and the required checking accounts:
- $400 bonus, Elite Checking, $15k balance to avoid $20 monthly fee
- $200 bonus, Advantage Checking, $1,500 balance (or other ways) to avoid $15 monthly fee
- $100 bonus, Carefree Checking, $100 balance (or other ways) to avoid $5 monthly fee
The following is a summary of the requirements to qualify for the bonus. For the full details of the promotion and the eligible checking accounts, check out this First Merchants promotion page.
- Must reside in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio or Michigan
- Account must be opened by December 31, 2020 (offer is subject to change and may be discontinued at any time.)
- Offer valid only for households with no current First Merchants Bank checking accounts
- Must use promo code 2020CKMD
- Must have a direct deposit of at least $500 within 60 days of account opening
- Must complete 15 transactions within 60 days of accounting opening
As you might expect, these checking accounts have very low interest rates. The highest rate is currently only 0.15% for a $10k minimum balance (Elite Checking Account for Ohio residents). There are a few features which may make these accounts something you may want to keep for the long term. All checking accounts include free ATMs nationwide with the MoneyPass network. The Elite Checking offers free speciality checks and a 25% discount on safe deposit box rentals.
If you choose not to keep the checking account, be aware that there is a $50 early closing fee when the account is closed within 180 days of opening.
First Merchants Bank has offered similar checking account bonuses in the past. A recent one offered bonuses of up to $500, but that one has expired.
Headquartered in Muncie, Indiana, First Merchants Bank has 134 branches in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. To qualify for this promotion, you must be a resident of one of these states. In addition, you must live near one of the Bank’s branches. The online application requires that you enter in your zip code. If you live in one of the above states but outside of the Bank’s market area, you will not be provided with any checking account options.
The checking account can be opened either at a branch or online using the promo code 2020CKMD.
To open a checking account online you must be at least 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien. The following information will be required in the online application process: U.S. Social Security number; a valid form of identification such as Driver's license, State ID, Military ID or Passport; your previous home address (if you have lived at your current home address less than two years); and a U.S. checking or savings account to fund your new account.
First Merchants Bank has 134 full-service branches in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. The major cities with branches include Indianapolis (2), Lafayette (6), Muncie (7), Fort Wayne (4), Columbus (6), and Chicago (1).
First Merchants Bank has an overall health grade of "A+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 1.17% (excellent) based on December 31, 2019 data. In the past year, First Merchants Bank has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $1.8 billion, an excellent annual growth rate of 23.64%. Please refer to our financial overview of First Merchants Bank (FDIC Certificate #4365) for more details.
First Merchants Bank was established in 1893 under the name The Merchants National Bank of Muncie. From 2006 to 2019, it acquired 17 banks and is now the second largest bank based in Indiana, with assets in excess of $12 billion.
How the Bonus Offer Compares
Checking account bonus amounts from $300 to $700 are available at a few large banks including Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, PNC, and HSBC. The larger bonuses tend to either require maintaining large balances or establishing a large monthly direct deposit. With a $15k balance requirement to avoid fees and a $500 direct deposit requirement to qualify for the bonus, First Merchants Bank’s $400 bonus size and requirements are comparable to the offers from these big banks.
Other Bank Bonuses
Be sure to check out our full list of the best savings and checking account bonus offers.
The above offers and rates are accurate as of 4/30/2020.