We get a lot of promotional credit card and bank account offers in the mail; $100 here, 30,000 miles there… 99% of those get shredded and recycled. But every once in a while a good offer comes through that makes us weigh the restrictions and time commitment involved. One such offer came a couple months ago. A major national chain bank was offering $500 to open a checking account at their higher account tier. There were just three conditions. The account has a monthly fee with balances below $15,000, and I have to set up direct deposit, and hold the account for 6 months.
Now, we are quite anti big bank. I’ve got USAA as my prime account, and the wife uses a very popular local credit union. She once had an account with this bank before we were married, when we moved out of state for a while and the local credit union obviously wasn’t available and the new local credit union scene was pretty sparse. USAA still worked for me, as it is in every way built around distance banking. Closing her account when we moved back was quite an ordeal.
But $500! If we go about closing the account in 6 months because this big bank has proven to be everything everyone hates about big banks, then that is a 6.6% annualized return on holding our money there, and $15-20k is about where we like our cash levels to be anyhow. So we decided to get organized and go for it. Because so much of our money gets auto-invested we don’t have that much of a positive cash flow each month, and for reasons I can’t remember we didn’t have $15k of completely free cash available, so we had to wait until right up to the deadline to get our account set up with the bonus. In about a month, once direct deposit and everything has processed, we should be seeing that $500, and stabilizing our balance right just above $15k for 6 months while we ponder the future of the account. As a matter of fact, the banker who set up my account looked over the card quite a while and told me he had never seen an offer at $500.
In related news, we are also planning to close the account we had set up with the bank that we got our mortgage with. It seemed convenient at the time (and landed us a $100 bonus), but now they’ve offloaded our mortgage, and the account makes no sense. I can’t imagine the closing process being too smooth, but will be worth it to get rid of some clutter.
So what do you think? What’s the point where you’ll go through the hassle to snag a sweet banking offer like this?