Banks are offering some eye-popping bonuses for opening a checking account these days, but the obligatory fine print reveals that it takes some effort — and a lot of cash — to collect.
A new Bankrate.com study comparing checking account sign-up bonuses found that banks in the 10 biggest cities are offering anything from a $10 iTunes gift card to a whopping $400 to open an account.
The bank giving out those four Benjamins is Citibank (C), and the offer is available in New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The big hurdle here is you have to deposit $15,000 — and you have to keep that amount in there to avoid getting dinged with a $25 to $30 monthly service fee.
Another big bonus amount comes from First Republic Bank, which is offering $350. Their requirements are a little more slippery, though: “Offer is a case-by-case basis. Bank wants customer to bring all banking relationships and banker will determine if eligible to get the bonus,” Bankrate said. It’s also only available in San Francisco.
If you think one of these sounds like a good deal, you’ll need to act fast. “The offers tend to come and go rapidly,” Bankrate said. The Citi offer, for instance, is only through the end of August. It also warned about the importance of reading all of the terms and conditions, saying, “They often have conditions that can make a cash reward less worthwhile than you might think at first glance.” Aside from potentially high minimum balance requirements, many of these offers require direct deposit, some have a minimum number of required debit transactions per month, and quite a few have monthly service fees that can cost as much as $25 a month.
If you’re thinking about opening a new checking account, though, it pays to look for one that’s offering a bonus. In it’s analysis, Bankrate found more than three dozen bonuses being offered for new checking account sign-ups.