Often times, there are a lot of great deals you can take advantage of as a new customer. I wanted to specifically look at some of the bonuses you can get at banks. There are often lots of incentives if you open a new checking account or a credit card. While lucrative, you often have to pay attention to the fine print. For credit cards, make sure you aren't getting a card with an annual fee. I can't even count how many offers I get from airline credit cards every year, but all of them have annual fees. There are options out there that don't have an annual fee, but still give great introductory bonuses. Some of them depend on fulfilling another criteria. For example, the Chase Freedom card has several promotions floating about. You can either get $50 with the card after your first purchase or $200 if you spend $500+ on it within the first 3 months. If you plan on spending $500 in the next 3 months, why not get the card and get 40% of that back? Bank of America also has a $50 cash back offer (after spending $100 within 60 days) with one of their new cards which also gives 2% back on groceries and 3% back on gas. Of course, this all assumes that you are responsible with credit cards already and you won't be tempted to overspend.
Although I don't want this post to be all about Chase, they do have another promotion going on with checking accounts. You can get $150 for opening an account but there are several loopholes you have to jump through. The checking account you open will have a monthly fee which you can avoid with a direct deposit of $500 or more each month, an average $1500 daily balance, or an average $5000 among Chase linked deposits and investments. The average $1500 balance personally seems like the easiest to me, but you would need to have that amount of money available to leave in the checking which limits the people out there who would be able to take this offer. However, if you do have $1500 sitting around, why not put it in this checking account for an instant 10% gain?
I don't know how often people go after these kinds of bonuses, but they see to be a good alternative to use to make some money on the side. You do have to be careful about meeting the criteria, but if you're a college student like me, it may be time well spent to try to get some of these. If you do ever plan on trying them out, make sure you are responsible with your own spending habits and plan things out wisely beforehand. If you already have a credit card and checking account, you could always open these and close them after a year or so, but make sure you always manage your information well. Although these offers don't provide any steady stream of income, it is a nice bonus.