A signing bonus, once only available to professional athletes and corporate executives, is now available to everyone, notes Bloomberg. Truck drivers, trash collectors, warehouse workers, and other in-demand workers are being paid thousands of dollars upfront by giants like Amazon during this incredibly challenging labor market.
But, did you know that this recruiting tactic has a long, rich history dating back to Ancient Rome? While signing bonuses have changed considerably over the years, it’s still an effective strategy.
In fact, this concept works so well that companies are offering the average person, like me and you, sign-up bonuses to become a customer. In other words, you don’t have to be an elite athlete or corporate bigwig to receive a hefty financial incentive to join an organization. Instead, you can simply sign up for an app or service to snag some of that free cash.
At the same time, with so many businesses enticing you to become sign up for their services, it can be overwhelming. And, in some cases, the incentive really isn’t worth downloading another app or joining a new service. But, the following sign-up bonus can pay handsomely.
With that in mind, here are some of the most generous sign-up bonuses currently available.
Bank Sign Up Bonuses
I remember my grandparents telling me that back in the day, banks would give away toasters and other gadgets like radios to attract new customers. I also recall more recently when banks would offer iPods — you know that thing that played music before the iPhone.
Nowadays? Banks are extending solid financial incentives to open up a new checking or saving account with them. How solid? Well, you’re looking at the $200 to $300 ballpark. However, promotions frequently change so this might fluctuate.
As of this writing, here are the best bank account bonuses according to Bankrate.
1. Citi Priority (Up to $1,500)
Customers who open new checking accounts by July 17 can receive a substantial cash bonus of up to $1,500 from Citibank. You must deposit funds within 20 days after opening an account in order to be eligible for the bonus. The bonus will be calculated based on the balance in your account on the 20th day.
- Depositing between $15,000 and $4999 and maintaining a minimum balance can earn you $300
- You can earn $700 by keeping your minimum balance between $50,000-$199,999
- Keeping a minimum balance of $200,000 or more, and making a deposit of at least that amount, will earn you $1,500
There are a few other important details about this offer;
- The offer is not available to customers who closed their Citibank checking accounts within the last 180 days.
- Offers may not be available in your area.
- You must enroll on Citibank’s website, which contains details about the offer.
- If you wish to qualify for a bonus, you must maintain a balance of $15,000 for 60 days after the 20th day of opening your account.
- You have until July 17 to take advantage of this offer. A checking account must be opened by July 17 if it was opened before Jan. 5.
2. BMO Harris (Up to $350)
BMO Harris offers $25 to $350 bonuses to new consumers who open either Smart Money Accounts, Smart Advantage Accounts, or Premier Accounts.
Here’s the fine print;
- To qualify for the $200 bonus, you must make at least $4,000 in direct deposits within 90 days with both the Smart Money and Smart Advantage accounts.
- The Premier Account comes with a $350 welcome bonus, as long as $7,500 is deposited within 90 days of signing up.
- Employers, pensioners, and Social Security recipients are eligible to receive direct deposits.
Further details are as follows:
- There is only one bonus per customer.
- You must open the account between Feb. 1 and June 3.
- For either bonus, you will need a promo code, which you can find on the BMO Harris website.
And, speaking of BMO Harris, you also might want to check them if you’re looking for a new savings account. By depositing $200 each month in a new Savings Builder account for a year, new customers earn up to $5 a month ($60 a year).
3. M&T Bank (Up to $250)
If you open a personal checking account with M&T Bank by May 31, you can earn up to $250. What’s the catch? To qualify for the bonus, at least $500 must be deposited into the checking account within 90 days of the account opening.
Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses
Arguably, the most well-known sign-up bonuses are associated with credit card companies. In addition to the bonus, using a credit card reasonably can boost your credit score. The downside, of course, is high APRs.
Moreover, there are generally two types of credit card sign-up bonuses;
- Points and miles are often awarded as travel rewards on travel cards. The value of a mile will depend on the program, but it’s roughly equal to 1 cent.
- Cashback bonuses are also offered by many credit cards. Through gift cards, you can get cashback much faster than anticipated.
But, with so many credit card promotions out there, which credit card sign-up bonuses are the cream of the crop? Well, here are three that deserve serious consideration.
4. Citi Premier Card (60,000 bonus points)
“The best credit card sign-up bonus is the Citi Premier® Card’s offer of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening,” writes John Kiernan, Credit Card Editor for WalletHub. “That bonus is worth $600 in gift cards at thankyou.com. Citi Premier also gives 1 – 3 points per $1 spent on purchases. This card has a $95 annual fee.”
Here are the additional details you should know;
- You will earn 60,000 ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening your account
- Spend $1 at a restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel, or air travel and earn 3 points
- Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
- You can redeem 60,000 points for $600 in gift cards when you redeem them at thankyou.com
- This card has no expiration date and no restrictions on how many points can be earned
However, there are some drawbacks to be aware of as well. For starters, there’s a $95 annual fee. Also, the regular APR is high at between 16.24% – and 24.24% (V). And, there are no 0% intro rates.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (60,000 bonus points)
You can get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months when you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Additionally, there is a 2x reward rate for dining and travel; a 1x reward rate for everything else.
The offer is timely as we are entering the upcoming summer travel season. What’s more, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extremely valuable because you can use them in a variety of ways. For instance, you can convert these points into cash, gift cards, or get a bonus for booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
But, I’m not big on the annual $95 fee.
6. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card (40,000 Rapid Reward points)
Do you frequently fly Southwest Airlines? Then you are eligible for one of the best signup bonuses. With a $1,000 spending requirement in the first three months, you can earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points. The total could be more than $600 in airfare (assuming points are valued at around 1.66 cents each).
In addition, you can earn 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases and 1x points on all other purchases. On top of that, you’ll get 3,000 points when you reach Cardmember status.
Southwest does offer some great benefits, but it does charge an annual fee of $69 for its membership.
Rewards Site Sign Up Bonuses
Rewards sites pay you for the things you already do on the Internet. For instance, you can watch videos, read emails, and take surveys. You will also often find that many companies will offer you something extra just for signing up with them.
To be completely honest, though, these sign-up bonuses are nothing to brag about. Moreover, the time spent taking surveys, as an example, may not be worth your time.
Regardless, free money is free money.
7. Acorns w/ Swagbucks Hack ($50)
Users who link their bank accounts to Acorns receive a $5 sign-up bonus when they sign up.
However, Acorns’ best feature is the ability to automatically invest spare change. Acorns will automate the deposits when your spare change reaches $5 (for example, if you spend $4.25 at Starbucks, 75 cents will be deposited).
Not bad if you want to automate your savings. Before signing up with Acorns, though, you should first sign up with Swagbucks, suggests R.J. Weiss, CFP.
You can search for Acorns in the search bar once you’re signed up. For signing up through their site, you’ll get 5,000 SBs (the site’s reward points).
At 1 cent each, this is a quick trick you can use to make $50 in a minute or two. Within seven days, Swagbucks gift cards can be redeemed for PayPal gift cards.
8. Rakuten ($30 sign-up bonus/referral offer)
Originally known as eBates when founded in 1998, Rajakuten gives rebates on online purchases. It’s often considered the best cashback site and this little bonus might tempt you to jump on board.
If you sign up for a new Rakuten account and make at least $30 in purchases within the first 90 days, you’ll get a $30 bonus.
In addition, you receive a $30 bonus credit via your referral link for each person who signs up for a Rakuten account using that link and spends $30 or more within the first 90 days of joining. For joining and spending the required amount, your referrals will also receive a bonus. Even better, there’s no limit on how many referrals you can earn.
9. Ibotta ($20 sign-up bonus)
With Ibotta, you get cashback rewards every time you make a purchase. By buying groceries, shopping online, eating out, and more, you can earn money. But, when you’ll also land a $20 bonus when you redeem featured offers on the app after signing up.
But, I’ve got another tip for you. If you do a little digging, you might be able to find referral links from Ibotta partners. These codes can get you an additional ten bucks for signing up.
Stock Brokerage Sign Bonuses
In today’s world, a variety of apps allow free commission-free trading with additional perks to make investing enjoyable and accessible. Sign-up bonuses are also available with these apps to encourage you to start investing.
10. Ally Invest (up to $3,500)
Investors of varying levels of experience can invest their money on Ally Invest’s website. Better yet, opening a new account with them and making a qualifying deposit will earn you a bonus of up to $3,500.
You will receive a bonus based on the deposit amount you make. Specifically, you will receive:
- $50 bonus: Deposit between $10,000 and $24,999
- $200 bonus: Deposit between $25,000 and $99,999
- $300 bonus: Deposit between $100,000 and $249,999
- $600 bonus: Deposit between $250,000 and $499,999
- $1,200 bonus: Deposit between $500,000 and $999,999
- $2,500 bonus: Deposit between $1,000,000 and $1,999,999
- $3,500 bonus: Deposit $2,000,000 or more
Ally Invest will review your account 60 days after you open the account in order to determine whether you are eligible for the bonus. Within ten business days of reviewing your account, you will receive the bonus.
As a final point, Ally Investments does not charge a minimum balance, does not charge maintenance fees, and does not charge commissions on trading stocks, ETFs, and options. They will also reimburse you the ACAT fee whereas other brokerages will charge you $150 for this.
11. Webull (free stock worth up to $1,400)
Webull is a relatively new stock trading platform that is available on IOS and Google Play. This platform enables users to trade in all stocks in one place. What’s more, there are no deposit or platform fees. And, Webull doesn’t charge commissions.
After signing up and making an initial deposit of $100 or more within 30 days, the free stock you get from the promotion will be randomly selected. Webull states the value of these stocks is between $8-$1000.
It’s more likely to get a cheaper stock than a more expensive one. Specifically, you have a 1:1.02 chance of getting a stock worth between $5 and $10. A share worth $300 to $1,000 would have a 1:10,00 chance of being worth that much. Fortunately, free stock can increase in value.
12. Robinhood (free stock worth up to $250)
With Robinhood, you can invest in stocks, funds, options, and crypto without paying a commission. If you don’t have a lot to invest, you can buy fractional shares to build a more balanced investment portfolio.
When you sign-up, you’ll be the recipient of free stock. How much? Well, Robinhood states, that the “shares of free stock are chosen randomly from our inventory of settled shares. Because the shares are chosen randomly, you may not receive the same stock as others.”
“The value of the share at the time of purchase may be anywhere between $3 and $225, and fluctuates based on market movements. We choose companies based on the price of each share, from the most popular and highest total value (market capitalization) companies on Robinhood. Keep in mind there is an approximately 98% chance of the stock bonus having a value of $2.50-$10.00.”
You can also invite friends to Robinhood so that you can maximize the promotion. Your eligibility for free stock can increase to $500 per calendar year when you do this. You must claim free stock within 60 days after receiving it.
For your information, any free stock received will appear in the 1099-Misc as Other Income. The difference will be reported as a capital gain if you sell the stock for a profit. In the event of a loss, you will report it under Capital Losses.
Other Sign Up Bonuses
13. Lyft (new driver bonus up to $2,000)
Looking for a side hustle? Then the flexibility of ride-sharing might be the ticket. To incentivize you, however, Lyft is offering a promotion where you’ll get a lucrative new driver bonus of up to $2,000.
There is a catch though. You have to complete 170 rides within your first 30 days.
14. BlockFi ($250 in Bitcoin)
Wanted to get into the crypto game? Then you might want to consider opening a BlockFi cryptocurrency wallet. I know that they’ve had some trouble as of late. But, if you do, you’ll get up to $250 in Bitcoin.
15. Verde Energy ( $150 in prepaid cards for signing up)
The company offers green energy with no deposit fees, cancellation fees, or long-term contracts. As part of their signup bonus, they are also offering a $150 bonus – $100 when you switch to their energy plan, and $50 when you sign up for their Natural Gas plan.
Within one month, you’ll receive half of the rebate and after six months, you’ll receive the other half. VerdeEnergyUSA expects you to remain with them for more than six months in order to receive the full amount.
A form is available on their website that you need to download and complete. Your VerdeEnergyUSA bill needs to be included with this form. After six months, you will need to repeat this process to receive the second half of the sign-up bonus. After four to six weeks, a prepaid card is mailed to the record holder of the account.
Honorable mention: SoFi
SoFi can best be described as your one-stop for your finances. The reason? The app literally offers everything we need. This includes checking, savings, credit cards, personal loans, investing, and student loan refinancing.
To entice you to switch over, SoFi has some juicy promotions that rotate throughout the year. Currently, you could get up to $610. For example, you’ll get $300 if you open a checking or savings account, as well as $100 for student loan refinancing, trading crypto, and opening a line of credit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sign-Up Bonuses
What is a sign-up bonus?
Most likely you have come across an advertisement for a credit card welcome bonus on a website or in mail offers. The language promises “bonus points” or a certain amount of cashback when you sign up for a credit card and use it. Sign-up bonuses, which are also known as welcome bonuses, are meant to entice you into applying for and using a credit card immediately.
While often associated with credit cards, other companies including banks, brokerage firms, energy companies, and cash back apps offer sign-up bonuses.
How do sign-up bonuses work?
Most of the best companies offer attractive bonuses that can return hundreds of dollars to your wallet, but you need to spend money to receive them.
This has the advantage of making the bonuses you receive non-taxable income when you do your taxes since they were earned through spending money. Rebates are not considered income, but bonuses are.
Welcome bonuses come with both a minimum spend and a time requirement, in addition to a minimum spend. Most credit cards, for example, require a minimum of $500 to $5,000 in spending within the first three months after the account is opened (or within 90 days).
Your card issuer determines how quickly your points or miles post to your account after meeting the minimum spending requirement to earn a welcome bonus.
How much money can I make from sign-up bonuses?
You will have a limit on how much you can earn from each promotion, but technically, you can sign up for as many promotions as you like. Generally, sign-up bonus promotions have spending requirements that you must meet. As such, it’s possible that you cannot sign up for all promotions due to the spending requirements.
In addition to making money from bonuses, you can also save money on things like traveling. With many new credit cards, sign-up bonuses include travel rewards or travel credit, which means you do not have to spend any of your own money on airfare or hotels.
Can I exchange my sign-up bonus for cash?
Honestly, it depends.
In some cases, companies will offer a direct cash deposit. Others will offer points or something in the middle. The terms and conditions for every sign-up bonus promotion will be different as well. They explain how you can and cannot use the sign-up bonus.