Instead of simply giving us higher interest rates on savings account, it seems that the big banks are relying on gimmicks to spur account openings. Here are a few. Most involve some convoluted scheme, but they still include the potential for some profit.
Bank of America: Keep The Change
You’ll need a checking account, a savings account, and a check debit card. If you charge say $4.05 on your debit card, $5 is taken from your checking account, but $0.95 is placed in your savings account. During the first three months, they match 100%, which means another 95 cents will be thrown in by BofA at the end of the year, max $250.
Best case scenario, you get 99 cents for charging $1.01 (or even 1 cent). This has led to many people trying various techniques to max out the $250 bonus. Examples: Pumping $1.01 or $2.01 of gas at a time, buying individual stamps from an automated postal machine, paying $1.01 towards your cell phone bill, or using the self-checkout lane at the supermarket and paying for small items you’d buy anyway. You definitely need to be committed to get $250. 🙂
Wachovia Bank: Way2Save
Again, you have a checking account, a special Way2Save savings account, and a check card. For each check card purchase or electronic payment (online billpay or automatic debit), $1 of your own money is moved to the Way2Save account. In addition, you can transfer up to $100 a month from checking to Way2Save. So the amount of money that can be placed into this account is greatly limited.
The special Way2Save account pay 5% APY over the first year, plus an additional 5% bonus at the end of the year. They even have a handy Way2Save calculator to estimate your earnings. (Be sure to compare against a regular 4% savings account.) People might try gaming this by opening multiple accounts, or making lots of electronic transfers.
Washington Mutual Bank: Savings For Success
You’ll need a checking account and a special Savings for Success account. You can open with up to $500. Then set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking to savings (up to $500 per month) for the rest of the year (11 transfers). You cannot make withdrawals during the first year. Your account with earn from 5.50% to 6.50% APY for a year, depending on your state. People also might try opening multiple accounts for this one.
Biggest catch: This program is limited currently to Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and Washington. The rest of us will have to be satisfied with their online-only 4.25% APY savings + checking account combination.