A reader recently asked me a question that I thought was worth answering in a full post. His question – how do I keep earning so many bank account bonuses each year?
It’s a question that I hadn’t really thought about, but indeed, over the past five years, I’ve earned more from bank account bonuses each year than I did in the previous year. (For readers that don’t know what I’m talking about, many bank accounts offer new customers a signup bonus after meeting certain requirements. If you’re strategic, you can generate a significant amount of extra money by strategically opening new bank accounts in order to earn bonuses.)
Here’s what my wife and I have been able to earn from bank account bonuses since 2016:
- 2016 – $1,398
- 2017 – $1,800
- 2018 – $4,162
- 2019 – $7,577
- 2020 – $10,138 (as of November 2020)
I was much more careful and deliberate in my first two years, which is why my bank account bonus earnings back then were more reasonable. As you can probably see, I got more comfortable with how to earn bank account bonuses from 2018 onward. It was around then that I was opening 20 or more bank accounts per year. Whether I can keep up this pace is unclear – my guess is that I’m probably close to the maximum that I can realistically handle.
Needless to say, I’ve earned bank account bonuses from a lot of banks to the point where you’d think I’d run out of banks by now. So how do I do it?
There are three main strategies I use which allow me to continue earning significant sums from bank accounts bonuses each year. These three strategies are:
- Churning Bank Account Bonuses
- Opening Out-Of-State Bank Accounts
- Finding New Bank Account Bonus Offers Each Year
Let’s take a look at each of these strategies.
Note: If you are interested in the world of bank account bonuses, be sure to read my post, The Ultimate Guide to Bank Account Bonuses, where I walk you through everything you need to know about bank account bonuses and how to earn them.
Churning Bank Account Bonuses
The first strategy that I use is to churn the same bank accounts over and over. A little-known secret with many large national banks is that their terms often allow you to earn the same bonus every 6-12 months. This is a big deal because most national banks almost always have some sort of bank bonus offer, which means that you can essentially earn a bank account bonus from these banks each year.
In general, the time restrictions are based on one of three factors: (1) when you last earned a bank account bonus; or (2) when you last opened your account; or (3) when you last closed your account.
For example, one bank might say you are eligible for a bonus if you haven’t earned a bonus in the last 12 months. Another bank might say that you are eligible for a bonus if you haven’t had a checking account open with the bank in the past 12 months.
Here’s how often you can repeat the same bank account bonuses for some of the major national and large regional banks (as of November 2020):
- BBVA Compass: 24 months from when account was last closed.
- BMO Harris: 12 months from when account was last closed.
- Chase: 2 years from when account was last opened.
- Citi: 180 days from when account was last closed.
- PNC: 12 months from when last bonus earned.
- US Bank: 12 months from when last bonus earned.
- Wells Fargo: 12 months from when last bonus earned.
There are likely many more regional banks with similar restrictions, so you’ll want to check the terms with the major banks in your area to see if they’re churnable. The important thing is that because of these rules, we can earn the same bank bonus multiple times, which can really help increase our yearly bank bonus earnings.
Another important thing to remember is that checking accounts and savings accounts are almost always considered different products for bank bonus purposes. That means if you earn a bonus for a checking account, it typically won’t preclude you from earning another bonus for opening a savings account. Similarly, business checking accounts are also separate from personal checking and savings accounts, so you can earn bonuses on business checking accounts as well, even if you’ve earned a bonus for the personal checking and/or savings accounts. In other words, you can potentially earn 2 or 3 different bank account bonuses in one year from the same bank.
Opening Out-Of-State Bank Accounts
A second strategy that I’ve used is to open out-of-state bank accounts while I’m traveling. This is a strategy I’ve only recently incorporated in the past two years and it doesn’t account for a huge percentage of my bank account bonus earnings. But the main takeaway here is that it’s another thing you can do to earn new bank account bonuses that you otherwise might not be able to earn.
Here’s how it works. Most regional banks won’t allow you to open a bank account with them online if you don’t live in their geographic area. However, a lot of these banks will let you open accounts in-branch even if you don’t live in the area. So, if you happen to be in the area and know that a bank is offering a bonus to new account holders, you can simply walk into the bank and open the account with a banker.
I did this several times in 2019 and early 2020 (before the pandemic ended my travel plans). For example, last year I spent a few days in Chicago while my wife was attending a conference. While I was exploring the city on my own, I went and opened two bank accounts in person, which earned me $700 after I met the requirements.
On another trip, I went to Indianapolis to watch the Big Ten Championship. The game was in the evening, so I had time in the morning to open a bank account at a bank that was near my hotel. I earned $200 from that bonus.
Opening bank accounts in-person typically takes 20-30 minutes. I don’t know how you value your time, but to me, those earnings make opening accounts in-person well worth my time.
If you plan to go with this route, you’ll have to do research in advance to see which bank account bonuses you can earn. You also have to be comfortable with opening bank accounts in person (it can be nerve-wracking to open a bank account in person knowing full well that you’re only doing it to get the signup bonus).
In my experience, most bankers won’t really question you as to why you want to open an account. That’s because bankers generally have quotas they need to meet, so they’re almost always going to want to open a bank account for you. If I am asked about why I’m opening an account, my typical answer is to say that I’m moving into the area and want to have a local bank account or that my parents live nearby and I want to have a local bank account for when I visit them.
New Bank Account Bonus Offers Come Out Every Year
The final strategy is to simply keep an eye out for new bank account bonuses. I think as people, we tend to have a limited view of the world and think that there can’t be that many new bank account bonuses each year. Remember though that there are currently over 5,000 banks in the United States.
That’s a huge number of banks all competing and looking to acquire new customers. For us, it means that it’s very likely that each year, there will be banks that we’ve never heard of before offering bank account bonuses.
The best source to find new bank account bonuses is Doctor of Credit. This website has the definitive list of bank account bonuses, updated monthly. Bookmark that page and keep an eye out for new bonuses. If you’re diligent about keeping up with new bank bonus offers, you’re going to earn a solid amount from bank bonuses each year.
It always surprises me when I see how much I bring in from bank account bonuses – when I’m in the moment, it doesn’t always seem like that much money. But that money adds up.
By utilizing these three primary strategies outlined above, you can keep earning bank account bonuses for years to come. Repeat the same bonuses as often as you can. Keep an eye out for new bank bonuses each month. And, if you’re up for it, add out-of-state bonuses when you travel.
Hope that helps! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.