Teachers Federal Credit Union New Member Promotion (DO NOT TRY)

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Update 6/16/22: More than two weeks after joining and taking my deposit, they have finally refunded the deposit and officially declined my application due to vague reasons suggesting fraud. They have made no effort to contact me or to otherwise explain their actions. I’d never use this credit union, even if I lived in their region. 🙄

Update 6/13/22: Myself and many other readers report that this credit union has locked them out of online access and refunded the initial deposit, all without any further communication. All after approving the account, providing account numbers and routing numbers, and allowing us to set up direct deposits. Not a great look for them. I would not try for this bonus anymore if you have not already done so.

Original post as of 5/30/22:

Teachers Federal Credit Union has a new member offer worth up to $400 that consists of a $300 direct deposit bonus and $100 debit card spending bonus. The terms also state that you can stack this with the $50 refer-a-friend promotion. Teacher’s FCU has 32 physical branches in New York state, but membership is open to anyone applying online. Must enter promo code OFFER400 to participate in this offer. Hat tip to DepositAccounts. Offer ends 7/31/22.

$300 Direct Deposit bonus details.

  • Offer available to new members only.
  • Must enroll in Online Banking and eStatements.
  • Open a new Teachers checking account.
  • Have qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $2,500.00 within the first three monthly statement cycles after account opening.
  • Qualifying direct deposits include payroll or government benefits. Transactions that will not count toward direct deposits include external transfers, point of sale credits and in-person check or cash deposits, wire transfers, ATM transfers, and Online and Mobile Banking transfers.
  • For accounts opened online, you must use offer code OFFER400 to be eligible.
  • May be combined with the Refer-a-Friend promotion.

$100 Debit Card Spend bonus details.

  • Offer available to new members only.
  • Must enroll in Online Banking and eStatements.
  • Open a new Teachers checking account with a debit card.
  • Make $500 in eligible purchases using the Teachers debit card linked to that account.
  • The $500 must be spent within the first three monthly statement cycles in order to qualify. Qualifying debit card purchases do not include: ATM transactions, cash-back, Peer-to-Peer (“P2P”) payments, loan payments, account funding and disputed or unauthorized transactions.
  • For accounts opened online, you must use offer code OFFER400 to be eligible.
  • May be combined with the Refer-a-Friend promotion.

$50 Refer-a-Friend bonus details.

  • Referred person must keep account open for 60 days in good standing with a balance greater than $0.
  • Referred person must perform 10 qualifying transactions in 60 days – transactions include debit card purchases, direct deposits, mobile deposits, Teachers bill pay, in-branch deposits and ATM deposits
  • If these requirements are satisfied, both the referrer and referred person will each get a $50 bonus deposited into their Regular Savings account.
  • Here is my $50 refer-a-friend link. Enter your e-mail address to use. Thanks if you use it!

Smart Checking 1.00% APY details. There is a barebones Share Draft Checking with no minimum balance and no monthly fee, but also no interest paid. Alternatively, the high yield Smart Checking account earns 1.00% APY on balances up to $15,000 (and 0.10% APY on balances greater than $15,000) when you meet one of these qualifications:

  • Average monthly balance of $5,000 in your Smart Checking account
  • $20,000 in combined end of month deposit balances
  • Establish direct deposit(s) of $500 or more AND complete 10 debit card purchases each month

(Note that there is a inactivity fee if the Share Savings account balance falls below $100 AND there has been no account activity during the previous two years.)

Application and bonus qualification details. Here are some tips based on my account opening experience.

  • First, start by clicking on a $50 refer-a-friend link from a member and enter your e-mail address. This qualifies you for the $50 Refer-a-friend offer and you will move on to the application process. You can pick either the Share Draft Checking or Smart Checking (both have no monthly fee).
  • You will enter your personal information including name, address, drivers license/ID, Social Security number, and so on. They will ask you some identity verification questions. You will not have to join any special organizations to gain credit union membership, not even a $5 nominal fee. In fact, they will deposit $1 for you into a savings account to get you started.
  • Be sure to enter the promo code OFFER400 when prompted towards the end of the application.
  • Your initial deposit can be charged on a credit card, up to $5,000. I recommend using a 2% cash back card or similar to earn some rewards. If everything goes smoothly, you should receive an e-mail with your member number shortly, which allows you to sign up for online access. Otherwise, they may ask for some additional documentation.
  • They seem to be pretty good about frequent email communication. Once you get the account number (routing number is 221475786), you can use that for establishing direct deposit within the required timeframe. (Note the offer page says 60 days in some places, but the fine print clarifies it is within three monthly statement cycles.) Don’t forget to sign up for eStatements and make those 10 transactions as well to get the $50 referral bonus.

Altogether, this is a very attraction promotion on a pretty decent no-fee checking account. Teachers FCU also has competitive CD rates at times. They currently offer a unique 24 month “Smart CD” that pays 2.00% APY in Year 1 and 2.50% APY in Year 2 (as of 5/30/22).

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  1. Jonathan are you using a real DD (paycheck) ?According to another site Santander bank worked as a DD but that is the only datapoint.

  2. When you charge opening deposit on a credit card, is it not considered a cash advance? I bet it is.

    • That’s my experience too!

    • You have to research or test it. I’ve frequently used cards that code them as purchases and give cash back. I’ve never had one code as a cash advance.

    • My honest experience is that while I always read warnings about it being classified as a cash advance, I have never had that issue. I’m not saying it will never happen or didn’t happen to others, but it has never happened to me when using it as a deposit source when the credit union is consciously allowing it as a funding option for convenience purposes. I have used Citi Double Cash, Fidelity, Bank of America Travel, with no problems.

      Many people call their credit card and lower their cash advance limit to $100 or similar. Then if it does try to go through as a cash advance, the transaction should fail. I used to do that and it’s still a good idea to be safe, but have since stopped.

  3. Question during signup “Are you a citizen and a resident of United States” ?

    i am a resident but not a citizen ..
    The workflow is asking me to schedule an appointment

    Bah these banks and their rules ..

  4. Might be asking the obvious, but this doesn’t require that the person signing up nor a family member be a teacher, correct? Open to everyone in other words?

  5. Thank you, I used your referral link.

  6. Commenting again on direct deposit. Any datapoints besides Santander bank that work? Jonathan are you using paycheck deposit ?

  7. My account was declined! Never happened before anywhere! Did this happen to anyone else? They gave a phone number and email to contact them. What could be the reason for declining?

    • Jason Boxman says

      I’ve had this happen throughout life, and generally I’ve been given the opportunity to order a Chex report, if it was used in the determination. From that report, I can tell nothing. If I request the report via regular mail, I never hear from Chex Systems. (I’m surprised this isn’t illegal, but whatever.) If I use certified, I get a copy of the aforementioned report.

      In either case, I’ve never learned why.

      I’ve had a 7 year fraud alert on my credit file for years, so I think this plays a role, but I’ve been rejected for accounts before that as well.

  8. I used your referral link but I don’t see any option for funding with credit card. I see two options – Debit Card and Cash/Check

  9. Jason Boxman says

    This is perfect; I have a 1,500 spend on a new card I need to hit. It’s the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards.

    This has been an amazing year for rewards for me. Possibly the best ever.

  10. My account was declined for no reason. I contated them via the phone number and email, but no reply. Do you guys kow how can I appeal?


  11. Cynthia Dorminey says

    I applied June 1 and got an email saying I was approved. Even got an email with my new member number. I used my Citi double cash to fund it, and the charge has already gone through. BUT I have been unsuccessful at setting up an online account or getting into the app. I just get a message that my “account is on hold, please call to resolve.” When I did call, all the person could tell me is that she could see that my account numbers have been set up, but it is under review and taking longer than usual right now. Frustrating. I’ve never had anything like this happen before. I wonder if, in the end, they will just cancel my accounts? I guess they were flooded thanks to their generous offer.

    • I am in the same situation as you Cynthia. I was approved purchase made on my credit card cleared.
      I registered online with user name and password but unable to login in as of today (6/6).

  12. Looks like they are refunding everyone who made credit card deposits. I see a pending refund of $5k on my card. I was approved on 5/31 for an account, and briefly had online access that day. Now I haven’t been able to login since. What a mess!

    • I am in the same boat. Had online access when I wrote the post, started setting up direct deposit and everything and my verification transfers got rejected. Today see $5,000 refunded to credit card. We’ll see what they say next. I agree that they don’t appear ready to handle the influx of new applicants for their promotion.

  13. Yep, credit back on my cc!
    What a bummer!

    • Cynthia Dorminey says

      I have yet to see a refund on my credit card. At the rate it appeared to be happening to others, I expected it today. Not sure whether to be worried or pleasantly surprised.

  14. The still haven’t been able to access my account. I called and they said that they had a bunch of fraud over Memorial Day so they are manually reviewing all the new accounts. What a mess!

  15. – Auto-approved 6-1
    – Citi shows charge to card on 6-1
    – Locked out online banking from the start
    – No request for docs from TFCU
    – No survey received
    – Never received Debit card
    – A phone call on 6-13 to TFCU and was told account still in review
    – 6-14 – Refund to Citi posted, but shows a transaction date of 6-7
    – 6-16– Got a “ will be unable to maintain membership for you at this time” email this afternoon.

    Frustrating. I did fund with a credit card—guilty as charged—but I don’t open a lot of accounts. I opened a checking account in January to take advantage of a bonus at a bank where I already had a savings account, and I opened checking/savings accounts in January at a different bank to get their higher interest rate which I intend to keep long term. I have some other checking and savings accounts, but those are not recent; kept them for several years for various reasons. One example— opened a savings account for a bonus but found out that same bank had a killer low auto loan rate just as I was looking for a new vehicle. That’s a very good example of a bank enticing a customer with a shiny bonus, but keeping the customer with other incentives (and GREAT customer service, I might add).

    Sorry Teachers, you must not really want customers.

  16. Officially declined membership today as well. On to the next. Still got the Citi $800 and Axos $150 bonuses applied and approved this week.

  17. I’m a teacher so I tried to follow up on this. I finally got someone on the phone after 20 minutes on hold who said that they declined me because they couldn’t verify my identity. I could resolve this over a zoom call, but they could not schedule one for another week and a half. I scheduled the call for this week.

    However, the morning of the call, the invite was canceled and I received another email stating that I would have to come into a branch. They well know that I live over 1,000 miles from their branches in New York. When I suggested that they were misleading potential customers and that I would report them to the New York Department of Financial Services and NUCA, they threatened to report me to those agencies as well. I’m not sure that those agencies would take a report on me as an individual, but the response was enough that I filed the complaints. I hope you do too!


    • Yikes, this CU sounds worse by the day.

    • I also contacted the NCUA and they indicated I needed to contact the Regional Office who has oversight of Teachers CU. I know from other sites others complained but I can’t believe not ONCE did any of us receive feedback from this CU. I closed my account before they terminated me so I could get my deposit back sooner rather than later.

  18. Wow. ? Just that.
    Probably lucky we got declined. Not sure I would want to trust any money with them. So wishy washy on their approach to everything.

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