How Checking Account Bonuses Can Turn Your Emergency Fund Into An Investment

Did you know that banks will offer you as much as $300 to open a checking account with them, and on rare occasion maybe more?

Well, they really will. With a bit of research and effort you can easily earn over $1,000 a year just by moving your emergency fund around. If your emergency fund is $4,000 then you would be earning the equivalent of a 25% return: a better return than most hedge funds, especially when you consider that the 25% you earn would be earned without actually taking any risk.

What’s the catch?

As is normal with banks, if you want something (especially a monetary bonus) you might have to jump through a few hoops.

To properly execute this emergency fund investment strategy, you will need to carefully read the terms and conditions of each bonus offer.

You will want to look out for the bonus requirements. Some of the most common requirements are covered below.

Minimum Balances

Many checking accounts will charge a maintenance fee that could take a serious chunk out of your bonus. The most common way to avoid this fee is making sure to meet the stated minimum account balance requirements.

Sometimes, you can avoid these fees by meeting direct deposit requirements.

Direct Deposits

A lot of checking account bonuses will require you to make direct deposits into the account. The logic for this is that someone who makes the extra effort to route direct deposits to an account is more likely to stay an account holder.

Setting up direct deposits can usually be accomplished by editing your direct deposit preferences in whatever payroll software your company uses. If you can’t figure this out on your own, just check with your HR coordinator or ask a friend at work.

Minimum Open Time

Some banks will get extra tricky and require you to keep the account open for a specified period of time.

You definitely want to look out for this requirement, as the bank could void your cash bonus when you close your account if you do so too early.


Seeing as checking accounts are transnational accounts, some bonus offers stipulate that you make a certain number of transactions. The banks want to see that you are actually using the account.

This requirement usually comes in the form of requiring you to make a certain number of purchases on that account’s debit card.

Latest offers

While I have dabbled in checking account bonuses myself, is the best resource for the stuff in my opinion. The site is constantly updated with the latest bonuses and gives its readers all of the important details.

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2 thoughts on “How Checking Account Bonuses Can Turn Your Emergency Fund Into An Investment”

  1. But George, is there no ethical consideration behind taking $300 from different banks just because they offered it to you?

    1. I do not see an ethical dilemma here. Just as I do not feel bad for signing up for a free trial and not continuing to use the service after, I do not feel bad for being awarded a sign-up bonus and closing the account later on.

      Companies surely recognize the risks and costs of their incentive programs.

      The banks are allowed to hold a chunk of my money for a specified period of time and lend it out or do whatever they please with it.

      While I am definitely getting the better end of that deal with the sign-up bonus, I don’t think that a given bank would blink before taking $300 from me. I surely won’t from doing the same to them.

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