Banks and brokers want your money, and they're willing to pay you for it.
Once the exclusive province of credit cards, many financial institutions are jumping on the rewards bandwagon. Unlike most credit card programs, however, several banks and brokers are willing to give you cash upfront just for opening an account.
Citigroup's (NYSE: C ) Citibank, for example, is currently offering $100 to open an Ultimate Savings Account, with no minimum balance and no monthly fees. Similarly, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) will pay you $75 to open a checking account with a $100 minimum opening deposit.
Other deals require a larger commitment from customers. Netbank (Nasdaq: NTBK ) , for instance, will pay you up to $250 to open a combination of checking, money market, and CD accounts. However, you have to keep a daily balance of $500 in the checking account and $1,000 in the money market account for at least a month, and you have to deposit $15,000 in a CD in order to get the top bonus amount.
In addition, not all bank deals are open to the general public. Especially with smaller banks, you may have to be a resident of the state or community that the bank serves. For instance, the South Carolina Federal Credit Union offers $250 for opening certain new accounts, but you have to live in certain counties inside South Carolina to be eligible for membership.
Brokers get in on the action
Banks aren't the only ones paying for new customers. E*Trade Financial (Nasdaq: ETFC ) is currently offering up to $500 if you roll over your IRA from another institution if it's worth $250,000 or more. For more modest account balances, you can earn a $50 or $100 cash reward. If you open a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade (Nasdaq: AMTD ) , you can get $100 in addition to free trades for 45 days if you open your account with $25,000 or more.
So if you're already considering opening a new bank or brokerage account, it can pay to check out potential bonuses. You may get a reward for doing what you would have done anyway. There's no better incentive to start saving and investing than free money.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has just about as many accounts as he needs. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Bank of America is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy is always rewarding.