by Lyle Daly | Updated Sept. 15, 2021 - First published on Oct. 14, 2020
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If you want to score some extra money during the pandemic, bank account bonuses are a smart option.
Until recently, bank account bonuses had never caught my eye. I was happy with the bank accounts I had and didn't want to spend time opening new ones. Credit card sign-up bonuses also seemed to be better from a value perspective.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on, I've realized that I've overlooked some great money-making opportunities with the best bank account bonuses. Some of these bonuses offer hundreds of dollars in cash if you complete their requirements. And there are a few factors that make these even better deals right now.
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Exact qualifying requirements vary from bank to bank, but they tend to be fairly simple.
A typical requirement is that you open a bank account, deposit a minimum amount, and keep that money in the account for a specific timeframe. For example, the bonus terms could be to deposit at least $10,000 and maintain that balance for at least 90 days. Another common requirement to receive a certain number of direct deposits.
In many cases, one or both of the above is all you need to do to receive bonus money. Since there's so little work involved, you can check all the boxes in a matter of days, though you might have to wait a little while before you receive the cash.
My monthly spending has gone down quite a bit during the lockdown and I'm sure the same is true for many others. It might be that you're not going out much or you're trying to keep costs down and boost your emergency funds.
Some bank account bonuses require a minimum amount of debit card purchases, but the majority don't require you to spend a thing. The biggest credit card sign-up bonuses, on the other hand, often require thousands of dollars in spending, which could be a struggle right now.
Bank account bonuses are focused on saving, not spending, so they're perfectly suited to the current economic climate.
With a 2.15% APY, my high-yield savings account was among the best savings accounts available when I opened it. Unfortunately, interest rates started to drop in 2019, and they've sunk even lower during the pandemic. My account's APY has decreased by over 1.50% since last year.
Now that interest rates no longer offer me much of a return, it makes sense to find other ways to earn money back from my savings. Bank account bonuses are ideal for that.
It's not difficult to open a bank account. You apply, and most banks do a soft credit check that doesn't impact your credit score (though you'll find some banks do a hard credit check).
This gives bank account bonuses a couple of advantages over credit card bonuses. You can open bank accounts even if you don't have a good credit score, which you'd need to qualify for the best credit cards. And if you're trying to improve or maintain your credit score, you won't need to worry about a hard credit check bringing it down.
The lack of a credit check is particularly helpful for me because I've applied for a number of credit cards in the past. Card issuers can be hesitant to approve applicants with too many recent accounts on their credit files. It may be harder to get approved for new credit cards, but I don't have that problem with bank accounts.
There are still ways to get quick, easy cash during the COVID-19 pandemic, and bank account bonuses are one of the best. All you need to do is find a bonus offer you like and check you meet the requirements. If you can, sign up for the account and you'll be well on your way to boosting your savings.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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