Best Savings and Checking Account Bonus Offers - August 2023
These bonuses allow you to earn the most with the least amount of work. Most are nationally available, but a few may only be available in certain states.
The best bonuses don’t just have a large bonus amount with easy requirements. See all the factors to consider for checking accounts and savings accounts to determine if the bonus offer is worth your time.
Before you apply for one of these bonuses, review these bonus tips. They will help you avoid the potential problems and increase the chance you’ll receive the bonus.
If you’re choosing a checking or savings account for the long term, there are other more important things to consider than the bonus. See how to use our rate tables to learn the important details of the account.
All offers are updated as of May 1, 2023.
Checking Account Bonus Offers - August 2023
- Expires: 9/15/23
- Availability: Nationwide
- Requirements: Earn a $300 bonus when you open a Smart Advantage Account and have a total of at least $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of opening. Those direct deposits can be a paycheck, pension payment, Social Security payment, or other government benefits.
- Notes: The BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account has no minimum balance required and no monthly maintenance fee with paperless statements. The Smart Advantage Account has a minimum opening deposit of $25.
- Expires: 12/31/23
- Availability: DC, MD, OH, PA, SC, VA, WV
- Requirements: To earn $250, complete direct deposits totaling at least $2,500 within 90 days of opening — or you can earn $150 with direct deposits totaling $1,500 but less than $2,500. Earn an additional $150 by completing 10 online bill payments through First National Bank within 90 days.
- Notes: FNB has several checking accounts that qualify for this bonus offer.
Savings Account Bonus Offers - August 2023
Features of the Best Savings Account Bonus Offers
Just like checking account bonus offers, the dollar amount of the bonus is the number one feature for a savings account bonus offer. However, unlike checking accounts, savings account bonus offers rarely have much activity requirements since there’s not much you can do with savings accounts. This tends to reduce the bonus amounts as compared to checking account bonuses.
The typical savings account bonus offer requires a minimum deposit to qualify for a bonus. Often there are several bonus amounts with each larger bonus amount requiring a larger deposit. The bonus offers will generally require you to maintain the minimum deposit for a certain period of time.
Of course, the bonus offers with the smaller minimum deposits and shorter required times for those deposits are better bonuses. To decide if it’s a worthwhile bonus, the opportunity cost for the minimum deposit should be evaluated. Instead of opening the account with the bonus, if you opened another account that didn’t have a bonus but had a higher rate, how much more interest would you earn? Is the bonus large enough to compensate for a lower interest rate?
Features of the Best Checking Account Bonus Offers
The most important feature is the bonus amount. The best checking account offers typically have bonus amounts of at least $200. However, this amount can sometimes be lower when the bonus offer has other desirable traits. On the other hand, if the bonus offer has many unattractive attributes, a bonus amount well above $200 may not be enough for it to be included in the best list.
The next most important bonus offer feature is the requirements to qualify for the bonus. The bank is hoping that the new customer won’t leave as soon as they receive the bonus. They want long-term customers who will use more of the bank’s services and become profitable for the bank. The bonus requirements are designed to make the account more “sticky”. In other words, they make it harder for the customer to move their checking account to another bank. That’s why checking requirements often include direct deposit of net pay. Many employers don’t make changing direct deposit a quick and easy process. ACH auto pay, in which you give a company your routing and account number to electronically debit your account, can also make a checking account sticky. Each company has their own procedures for changing or stopping auto pay.
Bonus requirements may help the bank, but they can make the bonus offer impossible to do for some people. At the very least, the requirements can make the bonus much less appealing. Direct deposit is probably one of the most common checking bonus requirements, and it’s also one of the most disliked requirement.
The downside with direct deposit is that many people can’t receive direct deposits from an employer. Even those who do receive direct deposit may not want to change it for a promotion. There can also be an issue if there’s a requirement that the direct deposit be a certain amount. That can make it difficult for those with lower income to participate in the bonus offer. For all of these reasons, bonus offers that require real direct deposit will be less likely to be on the best list. Whether a direct deposit is real or not will be discussed in the Tips section.
Another typical banking activity that is included in bonus offer requirements is debit card usage. A bonus offer may stipulate that ten debit card purchases a month be done for three months, and there may also be a minimum purchase amount. Unlike direct deposit, anyone can make debit card purchases. Unless the number of required purchases or the minimum dollar amount of the purchases are excessively high, I’ll consider this requirement less of a negative than direct deposit.
Tips to Avoid Problems and Help You Receive the Bonus Offer
One thing to be aware of is that bonus payouts are typically reported by the bank to the IRS as interest. The bonus amount will likely be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT in the year the bonus is received. So you should consider the bonus amount to be the pre-tax amount. The higher your tax bracket, the smaller the net bonus amount will be.
Another issue for bonus offers is that many banks target their offers to specific groups of people. Banks want customers who will be profitable for them, and that’s the reason they will target specific customers with promotions. A common example of a targeted promotion is a bonus offer that is mailed to select home addresses. The letter will often direct the customers to open an account at a landing page on the bank’s website. That landing page will probably not be mentioned anywhere else on the bank’s website. If you come across one of these landing pages and you did not receive the promotion mailing, you may not be eligible for the bonus. The landing page will sometimes warn about eligibility. For example, the small print of the landing page may say that the offer is only for those who received the direct communication. Sometimes, the banks do pay the bonuses to non-targeted customers who open accounts through these landing pages and meet the bonus requirements. However, there is no guarantee. These bonus offers are often considered “your miles may vary” (YMMV) cases since non-targeted people may occasionally get lucky and receive the bonus. Sometimes you can improve your odds of success by receiving confirmation of eligibility from a customer service representative (CSR). However, CSRs often provide wrong information. It’s always best to communicate with CSRs in writing, either by email, secure messaging or online chat service. Then keep the written record for future reference.
If you’re a bonus chaser who participates in many bonus offers each year, you’ll want to watch out for hard credit pulls and ChexSystem verifications in account applications.
Banks often do a hard credit inquiry (also called hard credit pull) in their account application process. When a hard credit inquiry is done, it can temporarily ding your credit score. This is rarely a big deal for those participating in a few bonus offers a year, but for the serious bonus chaser, this can be an issue.
Many banks also do a ChexSystem verification step during account application. ChexSystems is primarily done to ensure you have a history of being responsible with checking accounts. If you have unpaid fees at banks or have written bad checks, banks will report you to ChexSystem, and that can make it difficult to open new accounts. If you apply for an account and the bank looks at your ChexSystem record, those with a record of checking account abuses are likely to be denied. Unfortunately, there’s another reason a bank may deny you an account. A ChexSystem report can tell the banks how many accounts you have applied for at other banks. Each time a bank pulls a ChexSystem report, that goes on the ChexSystem report as an inquiry. Some banks will reject an account application if they see too many recent ChexSystem inquiries. Thus, you have to be careful on how many bonus offers you attempt.
A bonus offer may say it requires direct deposit, but in reality, it may not require a real direct deposit from an employer. Any ACH deposit may count. If that’s the case, a direct deposit can be simulated by initiating an ACH transfer from another bank. For example, the customer can log into their account at an internet bank and initiate an ACH transfer from their internet account to their account at the bank offering the bonus. Many internet banks offer a free bank-to-bank transfer service. Unfortunately, there is no certain way to know if an ACH transfer can be used instead of a real direct deposit. Customer service representatives are often not reliable on this, and banks often change how they count direct deposit. Sometimes banks will specifically state in the small print about what qualifies as direct deposit and what does not. For example, the small print may say that a qualifying direct deposit is defined as a recurring direct deposit of a paycheck, pension or Social Security. It may also say that a transfer from one account to another does not qualify.
Another potential way to add to a bonus offer (or any new account opening) is to fund the account using a cash back credit card. This requires that the bank allows funding with a credit card (if they do it’s typically limited to a certain amount). It’s also only beneficial to you if the transaction is treated as a purchase and not as a cash advance. If it’s treated as a cash advance by your credit card, you’ll be hit with a cash advance fee which will more than offset the cash back you receive. Unfortunately, banks and credit cards each treat account funding differently, and this can change over time. So you can never be 100% sure that credit card funding of an account will be treated as a purchase or as a cash advance. One way to reduce the chance of being hit with cash advance fees is to make a request to your credit card issuer that your cash advance limit be set to zero. This isn’t a total solution, however, since many credit card issuers don’t allow customers to lower their cash advance limit to zero.
Even if you are careful and precisely follow the bonus requirements, banks do not always pay the bonuses as promised. Banks do make mistakes. If you have met the requirements and the bonus doesn’t arrive by the date specified in the bonus offer disclosure, make sure to contact the bank. The customer service representative should be able to tell you if the bonus payout is just late or if no bonus payment is pending. If the bank determined that you didn’t qualify for the bonus, any documentation you have supporting your case will be useful. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a copy of the bonus offer disclosure. When you apply online, take a snapshot of the webpage describing the bonus offer by either printing the page or using your computer’s snipping tool.
Going Beyond the Bonus Offer When Choosing Your Bank
The best bonus offers are for accounts that you’ll want to keep for the long term. They will be the bank accounts that have a history of offering very competitive rates. They will also have the useful features that you need without excessive fees.
An account that has a competitive rate now doesn’t mean it’ll remain competitive over the long run. Banks are allowed to lower interest rates on their checking and savings accounts at anytime. Although there’s no way to guarantee a bank will remain competitive over the long run, you can improve your odds by looking a bank’s history. This can be done by using our checking rates table, savings rates table and money market rates table. In these tables, you should be able to find the bank and the account. Click on the “details” arrow on the right side of the row. This will expand the row displaying the rate history chart. This chart shows when we began tracking the account and how the rates have changed. Beware of new accounts without much history or with a history of big rate fluctuations. The best accounts have a long history of steady and competitive rates. If you can’t find a bank in these tables, search for the bank using the search box on the top right of any page. That will take you to our information page for that bank that will include the list of accounts with the rates. Clicking on an account row will expand it and display the rate history chart for that account.
In addition to competitive rates, a good long-term checking or savings account should have no excessive fees. You don’t want an account in which you have to worry about monthly service charges or minimum balance fees. Also, the best accounts offer many services for free. This includes free wire transfers for savings accounts and free ATM access for checking accounts.
In addition to the rate information, we have fee information for most of the checking, savings and money market accounts. You can access this fee information the same way that the rate history is accessed. In any of the rate tables, click on the “details” arrow on the right side of the account row. This will expand the row and display the fee details. If you can’t find a bank in these tables, search for the bank using the search box on the top right of any page. That will take you to our information page for that bank that will include the list of accounts with the rates. Clicking on an account row will expand it and display the fee information.
To help you find the best long-term checking account that gives you the best combination of high rates and low fees, we have the Free Checking Finder tool. Input your monthly banking behavior and the tool will search our database of free checking accounts to find the ones in which you can earn the most on your expected balance and will cost you the least based on your anticipated use of the account. For example, if you typically overdraw your account several times a year, the tool will put more weight into searching for accounts that have low overdraft fees.