$100 Bonus from Suze Orman and TD Ameritrade

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While skimming my new Suze Orman eBook, I ran across her SaveYourself promotion that I blogged about almost a year ago, but is still going on for a little while longer.

You can get a $100 bonus after one year (expired) if you open an account at Ameritrade by March 31, 2008 and set up an automatic deposit of at least $50 per month for 12 consecutive months. This deal isn’t bad as a mandatory cash savings vehicle if you don’t need to withdraw the money. They even offer a special money market rate much higher than their usual piddly 0.05% rate:

Get started on Suze’s Save Yourself Plan by opening a new account with TD AMERITRADE, featuring a special high-yield deposit account with a 2.78% Annual Percentage Yield (as of February 1, 2008). Your cash is held in an FDIC-insured Money Market Deposit Account (MMDA) at TD Bank USA, N.A.

There are no maintenance fees on the account, plus you receive the $100 offer for making 12 monthly automatic deposits of at least $50 each to help you build up your account balance. […] Should you need to withdraw the money prior to the twelve-month commitment, you may withdraw all of your deposits, plus the interest earned. However, you will forfeit the $100 bonus.

Doing the math
Looked at one way, if you just put in the minimum $50 in each month, at the end of a year you will effectively have earned 35% interest on your money. If you are truly starting out on a savings plan, this is a pretty nice guaranteed return. $50 a month isn’t too painful, and at the end of the year you’ll end up with over $700 tucked away for your emergency fund, Roth IRA contribution, or whatever. It’s a good incentive to get in the habit of saving.

Alternatively, if you’re already saving all you want in high-yield savings accounts, you’ll still be ahead by about $90 in extra interest.

I wouldn’t necessarily stay and invest with TD Ameritrade, though. They are alright, but at $10 per trade with potentially small balances, here are a few alternatives that I suggest exploring. Note that TD Ameritrade has a $75 fee for transferring out your account directly to another broker. Keep your money in cash, and then simply withdraw it and close your account with no fee when you wish to leave.

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  1. There are also reports that they’ve had a compromise in their system for the last several years, and they’ve known about it but not been able to solve the problem. I can believe it. It was just after I contacted them about an account that my email address went from “off the spam radar” to “deluged with spam.” That seems to be the pattern I’ve read about online.

    I recommend a Google search for “Ameritrade” and “spam” before you decide to go with them.

  2. My last of the 12 automated payments went through a week ago, and I haven’t seen my $100 yet.

    I’ll give it a couple weeks, and then I’ll start calling. For some reason, I think getting that $100 will not be easy.

    If this was the first I’d heard of this account, I would wait to open this account until the early adopters (me) actually get paid.

  3. Hard pull?

  4. not worth the effort.

    Suze can keep her few millions from Ameritrade for pushing their product.

  5. $100 is nice, but I will wait to see if Dogatemyfiances gets paid.

    Not trying to change the subject:
    Is anyone having problems with HSBC internet banking? In the last 4 days, when I go to HSBC internet banking (USA), all I get is “internet explorer can not display the webpage”
    “Most likely causes:
    You are not connected to the Internet.
    The website is encountering problems.
    There might be a typing error in the address”
    HSBC.com loads fine. But the tab for USA does not. Is it just me?

  6. dogatemyfinances: Did you read the T & Cs from Jonathan’s link?

    “If deposit requirements have been met, please allow 4 weeks for $100 cash deposit to post to account.”

    And also, is there a hard pull?

  7. StartingtoSave1mil says

    So this being the case and with T-Bills being as low as they are (essentially making my t-bill ladder as low as 2-3%) what do you think is the best investment an online savings account ?

  8. Sorry, my bad. I figured out my problem (cookies). HSBC works.

  9. I’m doing this program already too – but my last payment isn’t until March. I 100% expect to get paid once its done. Actually I was at a book signing with SO about a year ago (the same book she launched this program with – ok, so not a great book, but a good program).

    At the signing she said she’s not making a dime from Ameritrade… they bought a bunch of books at cost but that’s it. She said she came up with this idea originally – and then approached several companies to find somebody to impliment it. Her original plan was to, literally, pay people for saving. Her hope is that the segment of society who doesn’t save at all because they don’t think they can afford to will start the program for the $100 but after 12 months not miss the money anymore and, in theory, keep saving. That’s part of the reason they made the automatic deposit criteria mandatory.

    Now of course once you finish your 12 months and get your $100 – Ameritrade is obviously hoping you’ll use it to buy some stocks, but that doesn’t have anything to do with her. At least what she told the group in NYC that night, but I believe her – and I think I have a decent BS meter. 🙂

  10. I’ve had both an Ameritrade and Ameritrade I-Zone account in the past, with no hard pulls.

  11. Thanks Jonathon, I was actually going to open a new account with them since my current TD account is a single but I need a joint acct and figured I’d transfer my funds internally once it was opened. I’ve been procrastinating and this is a good incentive to get going on that. I really won’t do much trading with this account since I get free trades with Wells Trade but their user interface is definitely much friendlier and gives you more tools than WT (not that I use any of those tools).

  12. I just opened my account. I shouldn’t miss the $50 per month, and I love the return on investment. Thanks, Jonathan!

  13. Great find, I actually think I am going to do this. Its a supplemental to my other accounts, but its hard to turn down a 35% return on investment.

  14. As a financial planner I know the hardest thing for anyone is just to get started. As you point out, there are MUCH better paying accounts out there, but if this gets someone to actually open the account and start putting money in it, then great. Truth be told the difference between the 2 and change % they are offering and a 5% rate is just pennies if we are talking about people who are just getting started on a savings plan. After all, 5% on $500 is $25 while the 2.78% is around $14 (yes, I’m aware that compounding changes the math, but for these purposes, the estimate is fine.) I’ll tell you for a fact that opening the account now versus waiting another 12, 18, 24, or more months will pay back way over the $11. Besides, once you hit $1000 you can use one of the free mutual fund money market accounts that are paying higher.

  15. Are you sure about the 2.78% yield? I just signed up and was looking around the site, and I don’t see any mention of that. Do you have to do anything special to get that rate on your cash?

  16. @dogatemyfinances:
    On http://www.tdameritrade.com/saveyourself/ it says:
    “If deposit requirements have been met, please allow 4 weeks for $100 cash deposit to post to account.”

  17. One of the reasons why I like this blog is the constant influx of account bonuses I could get online. I like free money. 🙂

  18. I opened the account, although I don’t understand–is the $50/month automatic deposit setup for us, or do I have to do it myself?

  19. Am I missing something or is it actually more like 20% interest rather than 35%? If you do the minimum of $50 a month for 12 months, that’s a $600 investment. $100 interest on that would be 16.7%. Add in the 2.78% they give you normally, you would have about 19.5%. I mean 20% is still good, but not quite as impressive as 35%.

  20. It’s not automatic. After verifying your external account, it’s really easy to set up the automatic deposit, just follow the “Deposit/Withdraw” link under the “Portfolio & Accounts” tab.

    Thanks for the post Jonathan, since reading your site I’ve put a lot of “free money” and even an IPod in my pocket. Can’t wait to see what’s next…

  21. Andy, I have the same question but when I opened it asked for funding bank account therefore it seems to be automatic.
    My account at TD already shows $50 balance available for trade.

  22. Yeah, but that seems to be a one time thing–it doesn’t seem like it will keep doing it every month?

  23. not worth the effort

  24. Thanks again for a great lead! I had wanted to open an account with them just for the research tools and such but was put off by the minimums. This give quite a workaround and a nice incentive to boot.

    One question if anyone knows, is this offer good for multiple accounts? ie: Regular brokerage account, IRA, and a joint account all together?

  25. @Oliver – I think Jonathan’s calculation is taking into account that because you’re making deposits over the course of a year and then get the bonus at the end of the year, on average, the money is in the account for only six months. That results in a higher effective APY.

    For example, if you earn $5 in a month on $100, the annualized yield is much more than 5%.

  26. I started this plan with a Roth IRA in April 07 and is going to have my final deposit of $50 on Mar 08. I haven’t bought a single stock yet because of the $75 account transfer fee so I’m glad to hear Jonathan said that I can simply close the account, get the cash and put it somewhere else without paying the fee.

    One thing that makes me upset is that my automatic transfer set the contribution year to 2008 when the year starts, even though I want everything through Mar 08 to be contributed towards 2007. I called them and they said to send them a form every month to change the contribution year afterwards, but when I sent them the first form in Jan 08, they called me and told me they changed their policy and they could not change the contribution year for me.

  27. Jonathan, I’m also confused how you reached 35% interest. The APY already takes into account any intra-year compounding. I could be way off here but I’m thinking that 600*2.78% = 16.68. Add that with the $100 bonus and my interest rate is 100+16.68 / 600 = 19.45%. Interest rates confuse me so my calculations may be wrong but 35% seems high.

  28. Try any interest calculator where you start with $0, contributed $50 per month for 12 months, and yet end up with $700. You should require an annualized return of about 32%.

    Now, add in the 2.78% APY.

  29. I am not saying this can’t happen to any of the other online brokerages…


  30. Jonathan, I did the calculation and it’s actually about 30.2% (including the 2.78%) because you have to wait 4 more weeks to get the money (I assumed that to transfer it takes no time after that, but it’ll probably lower it slightly).

  31. Andy – You’re right, it will be slighltly lower than 32% if it takes another month to get the $100 bonus. as well as other smaller variables.

    But the 16% number being thrown around is too low because I think that assumes you put in $600 in the very beginning, when in fact you only need $50 per month. For example, halfway through you’ve only put in $300.

  32. Oh yeah, I get it now. Thanks. Geez, I hate math.

  33. I have been informed by email that I have to setup the ACH monthly transfers on my own since they do not save original funding bank information. It may be any number of deposits as long as the total for a month is $50.

  34. Thanks, Anne and Jonathan, for pointing out how you get to the 32%. You’re right, I had overlooked the fact that you contribute the money over time. My bad.

  35. The tiny print say that: Rates may change after the account is opened. The Save Yourself account earns the 2.78% apy; but TD Ameritrade’s website discloses the MMDA rates for cash sweep vehicles interest rates at 0.05%. Are these 2 different deposit accounts at TD Ameritrade? How do we know they will just change it to the 0.05%. Either way, I guess, for ~13 months of keeping account open and continually putting $50/month into account for the 12 months required will be a nice way to earn $100 (minus fed/state tax on this interest income?).
    I’ve heard people get hard inquiry pulls if you allow account to have margin capabilities.

  36. Wow thanks for posting this great offer! I just signed up today. Great blog too – I’m a fairly recent reader.

  37. My last payment cleared January 29, 2008. I guess it will take them four weeks to figure that out.

    I don’t trust this account because even inside it, you have no idea what your interest rate is. That’s why I am dubious my $100 will ever show up.

  38. Nathaniel Collins says

    The interest rate is available by clicking the account description link under “Balances and Positions”.

    2.75000% 2.78%

  39. Hey dogatemyfinances – any report on the bonus?

  40. 3/19/08 – Just an update… I got my $100! I noticed it enter my Ameritrade account a week or two ago, and today I got an email from Suze/Ameritrade annoucing the deposit:

    “I’m pleased to announce that your $100 bonus has been deposited to your Save Yourself account. As a part of Suze’s Save Yourself movement, you made a commitment and have successfully accomplished your 12-month goal. You should feel proud knowing that you’ve taken the initiative to control your finances. TD AMERITRADE and Suze hope that you continue on the path of investing in your future.”

  41. Hi Kathy – thanks for the update! I now feel that much better about signing up 🙂

    (only 10 more months to go…)

  42. hi, all! newbie here, jumping in.

    did you need a code to set up your account? supposedly suze’s books each contain a different code that can be used only once. were you prompted for this code?

  43. guys, just wanted to point this out


    this is where i joined- it does not mention an ‘offer code’


    Here, you have to enter an offer code….

    i joined with the first link (No offer code) it never asked me for one. But then on the other page it says i have to enter one…i hope this doesn’t mean that it skipped the $100 bonus for me

  44. Just wanted to let everybody know that this deal is still going on. I called Ameritrade and they confirmed the signup was extended until May 31. Some of the links above were dead but I was told to use http://www.saveyourself.com/ – it did NOT ask for any offer code but it definitely is offering the $100 signup after 12 months of deposits.

  45. Thanks, Ryan! I missed the March cut-off date and never even thought to check for a possible extension. Great news, good of you to share it…

  46. I got my $100 bonus between 3 or 4 weeks after my final $50 transfer. The big hit then came when I tried to withdraw all my money last week.

    They told me that the $100 bonus must stay in the account for an addition 9 MONTHS before it’s available for withdrawal!

  47. I got my $100 today, I wrote them an email last week asking about it, and got the Save Yourself: Good News About Your Bonus email informing me that I had recieved my $100 bonus.

  48. I had no problem withdrawing all my money (even after the bonus) right away. I was going through my online statements and my March one still says I’m earning 4.59% apy like I was when I opened the account back in March ’07. I guess I shall have to wait until my April statement comes to verify. But do you guys think that is just a typo?

  49. After reading Earl’s comment, I tried to withdraw my $100 for a second time, and it went through!

    Thanks, Earl. I guess that customer service representative did not know what she was talking about.

  50. I signed up for the Ameritrade deal a couple months ago and found this site because I am trying to figure out what to do with the money. I know it’s not much (I’m just doing the minimum $50 deposits), but I thought I would try to put it into a mutual fund or something. This is pretty much my first attempt at investing (other than an IRA that I opened a little over a year ago), so this is all new to me. Should I just leave it in cash, or is it worthwhile to figure out a different investment?
    Any suggestions?

  51. http://www.saveyourself.com/ does not mention anything about a $100 bonus. Has anyone received written confirmation that the promotion is still going on?

  52. Greetings all…

    Just wanted to pass on the word that I opened a Save Yourself account last May, I’ve been contributing at least 50 bucks a month, and earlier this week I received a $100 credit. I was surprised that it showed up that quickly, I was expecting something maybe 1-4 weeks from now, but it was deposited right away.

    Take care everyone!

  53. I just made the last of the required $50 deposits today and I am looking forward to receiving the addtional $100.

    I was hoping some of you could help me decide what to do with the money. I don’t need it and I would like to take it and put it in another Savings Account, Mutual Fund, or IRA that will grow, but I don’t know which would be the best for me. I already contribute 10% of my pay to my 401k. Any recommendations?

  54. I would recommend taking that nice chunk of change and using it to open an IRA. Great time to do it if you don’t have one already.

  55. Thanks for the advice!

  56. Just got an e-mail that indicated this is still going on albeit with different terms (still at http://www.saveyourself.com). From a quick glance, the big difference I saw is that you now would have to put in $100 a month for twelve months to get a $100 bonus. So not as great a return, but jic anyone would be interested.

  57. I opened an account back in March and I have been depositing $50 a month via electronic transfer. I didn’t set up am automatic transfer because I wanted control of when I deposit the $50. Does anyone know if I still get the $100 if it’s not automatically deposited every month?

  58. The Oprah magazine dated Jan,2009 still promoting $100.00 when you open an account for 12 months. Is this still the case? Will anyone with good experience have a recommandation?

    Thank you , Mary

  59. The link: http://www.tdameritrade.com/saveyourself/ gives me a 404 error (page not found). I am finding a different offer when I google–must deposit $100 each month for 12 months, not $50 🙁

  60. I just wanted to drop a follow-up comment here: This week I got my $100 deposited (opened up my account in Feb of 2008) so it’s a no-BS great offer! Looks like they are still offering a version of it this year, although it’s $100/mo.

  61. How do you withdraw/close your account out once $100 deposit is made and without incurring any fees/charges for doing so? Thanks for your help/info.

  62. I just wanted to let you all know that I deposited my 12th monthly payment in January and I received my $100 bonus in February. I sent an email requesting it when I made my last deposit so that might have had something to do with the quick turn around. I think that this was a great deal!

  63. @Susan: Just withdraw as normal. No fees or charges.

  64. Philippe Laperle says

    The service at TD Ameritrade is awful. Once TD Ameritrade receives your check they freeze your trading account for six business days. The deposit was made to my account, and I made a trade (8/10/09). However the trade never appeared when I checked my positions. When I called a customer service representative, the lady informed me that she would make the trade for me over the telephone. Three hours later the next check up on my positions revelaed no trades pending nor executed. Another telephone call to a customer service representative revealed that the trade had not been executed because it takes six business days for the funds to clear. Whatever happened to three days for a check to clear? My complaint about this point was ignored and then I was chastised for not making a transfer from my bank to TD Ameritrade and for not dealing with a broker. Well, if the lady said she was making the trade for me then I could only assume she was a broker. Had my trade gone through I would have realized a $317 gain in just four hours.
    Also, if a customer has more than one account, then you must link them to get them to appear on the same page. Trying to do this with two customer service representatives was very difficult. Of course the tone was beligerent, and the second customer service representative did not even write a complete sentence. It was very encouraging to realize that TD Ameritrade hires people who were socially promoted in English 101. I reccommended the employee read Warriner’s “English Grammar and Composition.”

    Unlike finance.yahoo.com, there is no basic data and charting tools available at TD Ameritrade when a symbol is summoned. I am beginning the process of transferring my assets to another brokerage firm.

    Suze, your association with a company with such poor customer service invalidates your desire to assist people financially. And you sounded so professional on Oprah! Sometimes it is better to give up a few dollars to promote a wolf in a sheep’s clothing than it is to soil one’s reputation by association.


  65. Isn’t it common for new Arch payments to be delayed 5 or six days? My Etrade and Tradeking accounts did the same.

    Anyway, Isn’t anyone actually purchasing any stock through this account. I suppose I can understand that if you will be pulling your money out after a year, but you get free trades over the year so there’s no cost in buying a broad index ETF. Buying 10 $50 shares in 10 trades during the year you can sell the 10 shares at no cost, transfer the funds to another account and close the account with no fees, or just leave the account open with a $0 balance until they close it.

  66. I made my last $100.00 installment on the Susie Orman Save Yourself deal and have not yet received the $100.00 bonus. I did however receive an email telling me they were about to withdraw the 13th installment on 16th Jan.2010. When I called this morning the rep said it would appear four weeks after 12th installment and then it would have to remain in the account for three months to maintain it. I told him there was no mention of this when I opened the account and he said it was in the fine print. Has anyone else noticed that they are dragging their feet on their part of the deal. I had no intention of withdrawing the money prior to this conversation and possibly intended to add a considerable amount to purchase a large number of shares. This situation however has made me feel a bit wary of this company.

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