About Ken Tumin

Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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Union Bank (San Francisco, CA)

Union Bank's 3% Cash Back Debit Card Promotion


Union Bank has a checking account promotion in which you can earn 3% cash back on eligible debit card purchases. Here are the basic requirements:

  • Open a new consumer checking account with a $100 minimum by 1/31/2011
  • Maximum cash back is $500
  • Debit card purchases must be made by 4/30/2011

The promotion is listed at unionbank.com/rewardthree. The offer's small print describes what counts as eligible purchases:

Purchases returned do not qualify. The following count as "eligible debit card purchases:" purchases you sign for, PayPass™ tap purchases, purchases made on the Internet, by phone, or by mail-order, and small-dollar purchases that do not require a signature. Determination of eligible purchases is at the sole discretion of Union Bank.

Here is some additional important small print:

Cash Back will be deposited into the cardholder's primary linked checking account by May 31, 2011, which must be active and in good standing. Cannot be combined with other checking offers. Current Union Bank checking customers are ineligible. Cash Back may require a Form 1099-MISC be sent for tax purposes.

Note that the cash back may be reported on your 1099. That would be a significant downside compared to credit card cash back bonuses which aren't reported on 1099s.

Application Process

There's an online application, and according to the customer service rep, accounts can be opened in any state. The free checking account qualifies for this promotion. I was told that a hard credit inquiry was possible if you apply online or by phone, but typically, only a ChexSystem verification is used.

Other Debit Card Rewards

If you want a debit card cash back program that's not just a temporary promotion, PerkStreet Financial is a good choice. With PerkStreet Financial's checking account, you can get up to 2% cash back. They also have a new-account promotion (see review).

Future of Debit Card Rewards

This might be the last year of debit card rewards if the Fed implements its proposed rules that limit interchange fees. The new rules are suppose to only affect banks with assets over $10 billion. That would definitely affect Union Bank which has $79 billion in assets. It's questionable how much effect will occur for banks with assets under $10 billion. PerkStreet's parent bank is Bancorp Bank which has $2.66 billion in assets.

Union Bank Overview

Union Bank is a large regional bank that's based in San Francisco, California with over 400 branches in California, Washington and Oregon. Its overall health score at DepositAccounts.com is 4 out of 5 with a Texas Ratio of 16.18% (excellent) based on September 2010 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Union Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1979 (FDIC Certificate # 22826).

Other Bank Bonuses

To find other bonus deals at other banks, please refer to the bank bonus page which has all of my recent bank bonus blog posts. There are also additional bonuses listed in the checking account deals forum.

Related Pages: Union Bank (San Francisco, CA), checking account, checking account

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pearlbrown   |     |   Comment #1
To receive the maximum $500 cash back, $16700 (approximately) of purchases would have to be posted by 4/30/11 - roughly $4175 / month.  The cash back will be taxable income (and reported on a 1099).   For the right person, this could be a great deal, but I'll pass on this one. 
specie8470 (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #2
Might be beneficial if you pay your rent or mortgage from the card other then that I don't think its worth it.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
I am thinking about this one.  To me this isn't $500 as I have 2% cashback from Schwab now FIA so the switch for 4 months would be just for the extra 1% or 1/3 of the $500 which is $166.67.  If I made $16,700 of purchases in 4 months the most I would benefit is an additional $166.67 and I was planning on cutting back on purchases.  I don't want to credit hits either or the lack of credit card usage for 4 months might lag down my FICO a bit from non-usage while I am using this debit card instead.  It is nice to see what options are available.
tightwad   |     |   Comment #4
#3, your credit score won't drop because of cutting down credit card use for 4 months...
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
#4, it sure the heck does!  FICO score impacted even if you change from putting $2,000/month on a 10 year old credit card to a brand new credit card!