Many banks use account opening bonuses to draw in new customers, but many require you to make a specific kind of direct deposit to qualify. In other words, a certain bank may require customers have a direct deposit of at least $500 made into their account every month in order to receive the bonus and avoid monthly fees. MyBankTracker looks at what direct deposit methods are accepted at top banks.
Not too many people would say no to free cash and that's one thing banks count on when running new account promotions. The catch is that you typically have to jump through a hoop or two in order to get the money.
Establishing a direct deposit into your account is one of the easiest ways to snag a bonus but if your employer doesn't offer that option, you're not out of luck. There's more than one type of transaction that meets the direct deposit guidelines and while not all of them will work at every bank, it's worth it to know what the alternatives are.
1. ACH transfer
Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers are an easy way to transfer money from financial institution to another, without all the extra fees or longer hold times that go along with a wire transfer. To set up an ACH deposit into your new checking account, you'll have to link it to your current bank information.
Depending on where you bank, you may be able to add the new account number through the bank's website; otherwise, you'll have to call to get it set up.
In most cases, the bank will make one or two small trial deposits to verify the new account. Once that's done, you should be able to initiate a transfer from your old account to the new one. Typically, ACH transfers take a couple of business days to complete but if you're making a larger deposit, you may have to wait a little longer to see the money credited to the new account.
If you have money in a brokerage account that's not a part of your retirement savings, you can also use some of that cash to fund your new checking account for a bonus. You'd have to go through the same process to link the two accounts and initiate an ACH transfer from one to the other. E-Trade, Fidelity and Ameritrade and just a few of the different brokerage firms that allow you to make ACH transfers from your investment account to an outside bank.
Tip: Check with your bank or brokerage to see if you'll be charged a fee for making ACH transfers.
2. Amazon payments
Many banks have stopped accepting PayPal as an acceptable form of direct deposit, but if you buy or sell things online, you may still qualify if you've got a payment account with Amazon. There are two ways you can use an Amazon Payments account to make a direct deposit into a new checking account.
First, you can sell something through the site and have the buyer deposit the money into your Amazon Payments account. Then, you link your payments account to the new bank account and initiate a transfer of the funds.
The other option is to deposit money into your Amazon Payments account from your current bank and then transfer it over to the new one. As long as the new bank accepts funds from Amazon Payments as a direct deposit, either method should work.
3. Prepaid card deposit
If you don't have another bank or brokerage account that you can make an ACH transfer from, or the bank you're opening a new account with doesn't count these transfers as a direct deposit, you may be able to get around that obstacle by using a prepaid debit card instead. Once you've loaded money onto the card, you'll just need to link it to your new account and then schedule a transfer.
Going the prepaid route is a little easier if you use one of the major card providers. American Express, for example, offers Serve and Bluebird, which both allow for transfers directly to another bank account. Depending on the bank, either one of these could be considered acceptable for direct deposit purposes.
Tip: Keep in mind that any account bonuses you earn are reported as interest to the IRS, which means you'll need to include them in your filing at tax time.
4. Person-to-person payments
Getting your money back when someone owes you a few bucks can be a hassle, but apps like Venmo relieve the stress of trying to track them down. The app allows you to send and receive money to other users and any time a payment hits your Venmo account, you can transfer it over to your bank. If you've recently set up a new account, that's a no-hassle way to get credit for making a direct deposit.
If you have an account with Capital One 360, you can also use the Person2Person payment system to transfer money into your new account. To set it up, you'd log in to your Capital One account, click the "Payments" tab and click "Person2Person Payment."
Then, you'd need to enter your name and email, the name of the bank and the last four digits of your new account number. From there, you'd just enter how much money you want to send.
You'll get an email with a secure link that you'll use to accept the payment. Once you enter your account number to confirm, the payment is sent. Deposits made using Person2Person payment take two business days to post at banks other than Capital One.
Each of the direct deposit methods we've covered has its own merits but it's important to keep in mind that they may not work for every account. Before you attempt to use one of these options to qualify for a new account bonus, be sure that you've read the fine print thoroughly to ensure that you get the credit you deserve once your deposit is received.