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$250 Checking Account Promotion at First Niagara Bank


Update 4/26/2014: The promotion period has been extended to 6/14/2014.

First Niagara Bank has a nice checking account promotion in which you can earn up to $250. The account can be opened online, and I was told by the bank CSR that the promotion is available nationwide. Full details are listed at this First Niagara Bank promotions page. The offer is scheduled to run through 3/29/2014. Below is a summary of the requirements:

To qualify for the cash bonus, a new Choice, Pinnacle or PinnaclePlus checking account must be opened online through FirstNiagara.com. You can earn the $250 when you complete all three of the following within the first 60 days of opening your account. Complete any one for $50 or complete any two for $100:

  • Make a direct deposit totaling $250 or more
  • Make ten debit card purchases
  • Make five bill payments using Online/Mobile Banking

Below is a copy of the offer’s small print:

To qualify for a cash bonus, a new Choice, Pinnacle or PinnaclePlus checking account must be opened online through FirstNiagara.com. Criteria: Within 60 days of account opening you must complete at least one of the following with your new First Niagara account: direct deposits totaling $250 or more, or five (5) bill payments using Online/Mobile Banking, or ten (10) debit card purchases. Payment: $50 cash bonus for 1st completed criteria, additional $50 cash bonus for 2nd completed criteria, additional $150 cash bonus for 3rd completed criteria. Total cash bonus is up to $250. Timing: Applicable cash bonus will be deposited into your new checking account within 30 days from end of the month in which you satisfy offer criteria. Applicable bonus payments may be paid as one lump sum or as individual payments. Checking account must be open and maintain a positive balance in order to obtain the applicable cash bonus. Account must remain open for 180 days to avoid a $25 Early Account Closing fee.

Cannot be combined with any other promotional rate or reward/bonus programs. Primary owner on the account cannot be primary owner on another First Niagara checking account. Not available to Trust or Estate accounts. All accounts subject to approval and applicable fees. Bank employees and members of their household are not eligible for this promotion. Bonus is considered interest income and may be reported on IRS 1099-INT. Promotion runs through 3/29/2014 and can be withdrawn at any time.

Minimum opening deposit is $50 for Choice and Pinnacle checking and $500 for PinnaclePlus. Pinnacle checking is an interest-bearing account. Interest-bearing accounts are variable rate accounts, which means we may change rates at any time. Interest Rates will not be tied to any index but will be set by us at our discretion. There is no limitation on the amount by which Interest Rates may change. As of 2/1/14, Pinnacle and PinnaclePlus accounts earn an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 0.01% for all balances. Fees may reduce earnings on interest-bearing accounts.

Credit for this find goes to FW member Sashinator00 who mentioned it in this FW thread.

Beware of Monthly Fees

As is typical of a large bank, these checking accounts have potential monthly service fees. The account in which fees can most easily be waived is the Choice Checking. The $9.95 monthly service fee can be waived if you either maintain a daily minimum balance of at least $300, maintain direct deposit, complete 10 debit card purchases or maintain at least $5,000 combined balances in deposits or loans.

Bank Overview

First Niagara is a large regional bank with hundreds of branches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Its headquarters is located in Buffalo, New York.

The bank has an overall health grade at DepositAccounts.com of a B+ with a Texas ratio of 5.69% (excellent) based on December 2013 data. Please refer to our financial overview of First Niagara Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1943 (FDIC Certificate # 16004).

Other Bank and Credit Union Bonuses

You can view my latest bank bonus blog posts in this bank bonus page. I and DepositAccounts.com readers often post on bonuses in the bank deals forum.

Related Pages: First Niagara Bank (NY), checking account

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gli (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #1
Thank you.

Applied (Florida) accepted - CHEXsystems inquiry only as per them on the application - painless process so far.
marcal   |     |   Comment #2
The link to the promotion indicates that you have to open a Pinnacle or Pinnacle Plus checking account.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
The fine print at the bottom includes Choice...
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #4
the fine print at the bottom includes Choice...
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
You can not open Choice Checking with the link provided, you must walk in the bank to do so.
Only choice is Pinnacle checking with $1000 minimum balance to avoid fees.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
A CSR confirmed that only Pinnacle accounts are promoted with $250 bonus, the choice account was used for $100 bonus a while ago and may not qualify for the $250 bonus. You can open the choice account, but the bonus may never post to your account. It may be a trap to get new people to sign up but never receive such bonus and to serve as an excuse to the bank for not paying it.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #7
Here's my question and thanks if anyone can help.

What is a direct deposit? I can only do transfers from an online brokerage, which do seem to prevent fees at some banks which require a "direct deposit."

In other words, does it have to be a job or government funds, or can it be a brokerage transfer, which does work? TIA
QED   |     |   Comment #8
Some financial institutions are "ACH originators".  This means they will take orders from you to move your money (money you have on deposit) via ACH to (for example) another financial institution.

I bank with two institutions which are ACH originators.  One is a local bank.  The other, the most prominent in the USA and the easiest to use, is Alliant Credit Union.  I make extensive use of the ACH origination abilities at both institutions for a variety of reasons.  One of those is to enable taking advantage of deals like this. 
Mike (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #9
Hello.  I just called the bank.  They said a direct deposit would have to come from a employer or government entity.  I don't believe this to be the case.  First of all the guy said I would not be able to open an account after verifying with another coworker because I live in GA.  That is incorrect.  I just opened my account just now funding with my credit card of $1000 to avoid fees.  The direct deposit form lists the banks rounting numer of 222370440 and I just received my personal account number so I think that will qualify as a direct deposit which I will fund from my money market account in the amount of $250.  If not at least I can qualify for the other two requirements totaling $100.  I plan on getting my $225 in less than 2 months and closing my account and don't feel guilty one bit the way this country is printing money, makes me sick.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #11
Opening balance does not count as DD and the first month fees are waived. Your $1000 is waisted the first month.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #14
Was credited $200 today and $50 about 2 weeks ago for a total of $250.  Today I sent my letter off to cancel my account.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #10
Just opened a choice checking on line after two First Niagara CSR's validated the Choice Checking account is acceptable for the $250 bonus. Account was funded by CC and account number provided once approved.  Was told the Debit Card would have to be requested once the account is fully opened.  In general I find it always "enhances my customer experience"  when CSR's(and other folks) are "never in doubt but often wrong" with the information they provide believing the remedy for the misinformation being "we are sorry for any inconvenience we have caused".  Hence believing poor performance is acceptable as long as you apologize.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
#10, unless you have that in writing do not believe them. Your bonus may never be credited to you.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #13
There seems to be differing views; their offer webpage says about opening a new Pinnacle or Pinnacle Plus checking account to get the bonus of upto $250. However, the link for their At-A-Glance Fees, Terms & Conditions (PDF) goes to Choice checking. But, as someone else pointed out, the "open account" link from the offer webpage allows you to only open a Pinnacle checking account. The Terms and Conditions clearly states: To qualify for a cash bonus, a new Choice, Pinnacle or PinnaclePlus checking account must be opened online through FirstNiagara.com... I like that the Pinnacle checking account has reimbursements of non-First Niagara ATM surcharges per statement cycle, and to avoid monthly fee, keep daily balance of $1,000.
Steve (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #15
I spoke with a CSR who told me the Choice Ckg account would qualify for the up to $250 bonus, but I had to access it online from their homepage. Select "Checking Just Got Better" from the 5 scrolling ads near the top right of the screen.  Select "open account" green button. Check bubble for new customer(assuming you are) and then you'll see the 3 ckg account choices.  Make sure only one bubble is selected (unless you want   Multiple accounts).  Just opened Choice Ckg account today online 4/26/14.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #16
First Niagara is advertising an Online Money Market account with current APY for September 21, 2015 of 1.05%. It's only available online.