Free Fully-Funded IRA 2022 Q3 Update: $6,227 in Bonuses So Far!

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3rd Quarter 2022 update. Each year, I have a side goal of earning the equivalent of the maximum annual IRA contribution limit ($6,000 for 2022) using the profits from various finance promotions alone. In 2021, I reached $5,592 in bonuses and $2,500+ in extra interest. If you had put $6,000 into your IRA every year for the recent 10 year period (2011-2020) and invested in a simple Target Date retirement fund, you would have turned small, weekly deals into a $100,000+ nest egg.

That’s worth repeating: An extra hundred grand has been the real-world result of regularly investing $500 a month for 10 years! A couple could double these numbers.

Ground rules: Real-world results for one real person only. Following with My Money Blog tradition, this will track my personal, real-world results. It would be quite easy to list a bunch of random promotions that add up to $6,000, but these will be promotions that I personally sign up for and complete the requirements (even though I’ve already opened so many bank accounts, credit cards, and brokerage accounts over the years). I will track my individual results only, although my partner does also participate on a more selective basis. Nearly all of them have been documented in real-time in the Deals and Offers category, Top 10 credit cards list, and brokerage bonus list.

The 💵 symbol means I have received and/or cashed out the bonus successfully. The ⌛ symbol means the promo is still in progress.

2022 bonuses and promotions (so far)

The total tally is currently $6,227 in cashed-out bonuses, which is 104% of the $6,000 annual IRA contribution limit. There are still another $2,000 in pending bonuses that are in progress but haven’t posted yet. If you remove the ACAT transfer bonuses and deposit bonuses, the tally is $4,727 (including pending) which is 79% of the goal with 82% of the year elapsed.

This is a personal challenge to motivate myself. I look for the best payoff/effort ratio for my situation; your choices won’t look like my choices. For those new to this hobby, I would first grab the low-hanging fruit like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and build up a nice stash of flexible Ultimate Rewards points. After that, the Citi Premier and Capital Venture X are probably the juiciest low-hanging fruit. Most of the big banks and big brokerage firms also have a sign-up bonus as well.

These numbers included fixed bonuses for short-term asset transfers, but ignore higher interest rates overall from buying US Treasury bonds or savings bonds. They also ignore ongoing credit card purchase rewards like 2% to 2.6% cash back on all credit purchases (or airline miles or hotel points) and 5% cash back on specific categories.

This is an enjoyable and profitable hobby for me, but I don’t like to waste my time either. I look for a solid return based on the time commitment required. I tend to avoid speculative bets, bonuses that are hard to convert to real value, and anything that requires driving to stores where things may or may not be in stock. The deals that I post usually last at least a few days, but it’s a bit like value investing where you have to be ready to get off your butt and take decisive action when an opportunity shows up, because they won’t last forever.

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Comments

  1. Jason Boxman says

    That’s pretty amazing. If I hit $100/mo, that’s a success; I don’t spend enough for most of the credit card bonuses to be viable. I generally only chase offers over $200 to ensure best use of time, and with a fraud alert on my credit, new bank accounts are generally rejected unless I show up in person. Am doing the BoA rewards card bonus this year.

  2. speak mind says

    Yeah credit card bonuses are the way to go because it takes less effort, but they clamp down if u open too many accounts

  3. Johnathan,

    That sounds like a fun game; “IRA stacking “ I think I’m going to play even though I’m starting late.

  4. Justjoeguy says

    Great stuff, Johnathan. Compare. 90% of the people who put their money in common stocks wind up losing.

  5. Thanks for all your informative articles! Can you address how u manage all the new credit cards or banks? Do you leave them open after you satisfy the promo period? (I hear your credit score goes down if you close them).

  6. I do a lot that is not nearly as passive as just checking/savings account bonuses and credit card bonuses, but did some math myself on my “extra” online earnings this year. Was pleasantly surprised to find out it was ~$3,572.

    Checking & Savings Account Bonuses ($900 pre-tax)
    – Marcus Savings $100
    – SoFi Checking & Savings $475 ($300 from SoFi, expired $175 deal from Swagbucks)
    – SoFi Personal Loan Rate Check $20
    – SoFi Rewards for Direct Deposit & Logging In ($4.60)
    – Chime Checking $300 (via Swagbucks)

    Credit Card Bonuses ($1,485)
    – $830 AmEx Gold (conservative valuation of Membership Rewards at 1 cents each gives me $900 for the bonus, $180 in dining credits, less $250 in fee, still have time to earn more dining credits, I assume points beyond what I received from the bonus to be comparable to what I otherwise would have gotten another card)
    – $75 AmEx Gold Google Fi Offer ($25 off $50 Google Fi purchase, up to 3x)
    – $100 AmEx Google Fi Offer (from parents who don’t use the service)
    – $500 Bank of America Premium Rewards
    – $100 Bank of America Premium Rewards Travel Delay Insurance Payout (I had a flight delay that paid out more than $400, but if I didn’t have the card, I probably would’ve booked a hostel or something instead for less)

    Surveys & User Research ($743 pre-tax)
    – Forthright $20
    – Prolific $195
    – UserTesting $60
    – dScout $365
    – CrowdTap $60 (as a Target credit)
    – Fetch Rewards $35
    – Swagbucks $8

    Games ($444 pre-tax, all via Swagbucks, and most of them such a grind they really weren’t worth it)
    – King of Avalon $119 ($130, $11 in costs)
    – Rise of Kingdoms $100
    – Mafia City $113 ($130, $17 in costs)
    – Raid Shadow Legends $63 ($95, $32 in costs)
    – Bermuda Adventures $50

    I’m hoping to open one more credit card and earn some more via surveys this year. I think that will likely net me another $1,200. Doubt that I’ll get to $6k because I’m going to be traveling or moving for a few months this year, but who knows!

  7. So transferring 100k in assets to get a 2k brokerage bonus counts towards this challenge? Next up airbnb my million dollar home while on vacation! Anyone can do it and a couple can double it too! Imagine yourself reading this ridiculousness at the same age you started this blog.

    • Straw Man Fallacy: A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.

      https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-and-critical-thinking/logical-fallacies/logical-fallacies-straw-man/

      I understand what you are trying to say. I did think about it, but in the end if someone out there has saved up $100,000, I do hope that they read this and realize that it is an option to move assets, make an extra $2,000, and invest that into additional assets. (Note that I am not taking into the account the dividends and capital gains earned from the $100,000 in ETFs, as your straw man argument implies. This is extra money on top.)

      Even if one does not have $100k, perhaps by reading the linked post, they may realize that they have $25,000 and make $250, or $5,000 and make $150.

      • No one implied you were including the dividends and Capital gains from 100k counting towards the 6k threshold. They did point out the absurdity of the higher asset amount you are starting with the relative ease with which you could achieve any larger bonus. They also pointed out that if you were a reader of the same age at which you started this blog you likely wouldn’t have 100k and would find this ridiculous. Etrade will give you $3500 for parking 1.5mil, how far do you want to take this ridiculousness?

  8. Jonathan, do you also deduct the annual fee of the credit cards from your earnings? (I noticed at least one CC that is a $95 per year). Or perhaps you are cancelling the card early? Would love to also see an analysis of time spent versus money earned. Thank you

    • When talking about first-year value, yes I subtract out any annual fee paid.

      • Hi Jonathan, thanks for your reply. I actually wasn’t talking about first-year value, …often annual fees paid don’t start until 2nd year, or you get a first-year free option. I’m only asking as I have backed away from some of these promotions because of the ongoing fees that cancel out the advantages, and the additional credit score hits that occur when you churn cards too fast.

        Regardless, thank you for highlighting the topic, though, I think it’s an awesome way to gamify what can be a tedious process. I learned new tactics from your blog post which is a big thumbs up!

  9. I currently sit at $3600 for the year, with $250 pending. I’m sure my total would be higher, but I only count CC and Bank signup bonuses. I don’t include the Target/Amazon bonuses, but do account for any annual fees.

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