Why I Think I’m Done with Bank Account Bonuses
To probably no one’s surprise here, obtaining lucrative rewards heavily depends on us picking up new credit cards. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, hobbyists won’t get new credit card welcome offers. For instance, the banks turn them down, or individuals self-impose a ban to please a bank (but not this writer). Some turn to a solid rewards alternative in these situations – bank account bonuses. I’ve done so plenty in the past, but I think I’m done with bank account bonuses long term. Here’s why.
Worthy Bank Account Bonuses Are Minimal
Many hobbyists tout the easy money available thanks to bank account bonuses. But generally, the straightforward bonuses float around a few hundred bucks. Sure, certain banks tout more significant offers, sometimes well over a thousand bucks. However, those bigger ones often require more convoluted activities, sometimes involving locking away significant balances in accounts earning inferior interest, if any. Those big bonuses are smaller when you take away the lost interest (and time, as I’ll describe later). I’d rather focus on credit card welcome offers that earn superior levels of rewards.
No Ongoing Rewards Angle
Most of the time, once an account holder achieves a bank account bonus, the benefits of holding the account are over. Unlike credit card rewards, customers largely don’t obtain continuing rewards for using the account. Very few banks provide rewards for debit card purchases. That one-time bonus may be sweet, but the honeymoon’s over quickly. The drudgery comes next.
Account Maintenance Is a Drag
Many banks require you keep the account open for a certain period of time, or they will claw back the bonus. On top of that, they require certain account activities on a routine basis to keep the bank account fee-free. Sometimes, it’s a minimum account balance (again, earning low or no interest – ouch). Or an account holder has to make a certain number of debit card purchases per month. Also, customers may need to arrange ongoing direct deposits.
Cumulatively, the time and effort to conduct all of those tasks adds up. That $100 bonus that allegedly took one hour to earn ends up costing bank account holders much more time. And unlike other assets, I cannot replenish time.
Closing Bank Accounts Isn’t Always Easy
Perhaps it’s just me, but I seem to have a tougher time with closing bank accounts than credit card accounts. Given the variety of banks, it’s natural they each have different processes or wrinkles related to closing accounts. Credit card account closures have been quick and easy for me as compared to bank accounts. Not coincidentally, closing bank accounts is probably my least favorite aspect of our hobby. It’s hard to clearly explain why – I just can’t stand it.
I Just Have Way Too Many Already
Not surprisingly, I have more bank accounts than I care to already. It’s not fun having balances of $500-$1k spread across a variety of random bank accounts. Opening more accounts would just make it worse. Indeed, the first step in resolving a problem is admitting I have one.
Bank Account Bonuses Are No Longer Fun
This all adds up to a basic reality for me currently. I don’t have fun earning bank account bonuses anymore. Increasingly, I focus my hobby activities on plays and processes I enjoy. Now, I’m fine earning less rewards if that means I’m having more fun along the way. If I’m not enjoying the journey, why bother? Of course, others can justify the “work,” thanks to what they earn on bank account bonuses. I’ve just reached the point where I can’t.
The One Bank Account Bonus I’d Pursue
Despite all of this, there’s one bank account bonus I’d jump at signing up for again. Which? A Citi checking account bonus earning ThankYou Points! We’re currently in the midst of one, and it’s a blast. We only earned 10k points for signup activities, but the real fun is the ongoing bonus angle. All spend on the Citi Premier Card associated with the offer earns 25% extra points for the first year after bank account opening. I’m loving the uncapped 3.75x earning at grocery stores, specifically. Unfortunately, one must be targeted for this type of bonus. But if we’re ever offered this bank account bonus again, we’ll jump at the opportunity.
Surely, chasing bank account bonuses is a worthy effort for many hobbyists. I just don’t happen to be one of them anymore. If I were to start over with the bank account bonuses, I would primarily focus on those that offer multiple benefit angles, such as the Citi account I mentioned above or these options. Obviously, seizing on hobby opportunities can lead to big rewards. Saying yes is easy. Saying no is tougher, but it’s sometimes the better call. It is for me with bank account bonuses. Are you still pursuing bank account bonuses? Why or why not?