This post contains affiliate links.
When was the last time you used your debit card?
For me, it was several months ago, when I found myself with some cash and I needed to use the ATM to deposit it.
This is because I don’t buy ANYTHING with my debit card. I use a credit card instead. Specifically one that offers cash back.
It doesn’t take a lot of work to make a little extra money “churning” credit cards. I said “churning” because there are varying degrees to which you can participate. Some people go after the travel cards with huge sign up bonuses and, open up several cards a year, and sometimes manufacture spend (buying gift cards or other non-cash forms of money that can be converted and used to pay off the balance – so not buying stuff, just “manufacturing” spending on the card that translates into points at little or no cost).
Then there’s someone like me. I open up maybe 2-3 cards a year, aligned with upcoming big purchases that I was planning on anyways. If there’s a fee, I cancel the card a year later. I use a budget and only spend money that I have in my checking account – I just put it on the credit card. I’ll explain why this is important later.
Banks Offer Bonuses, Too!
Last year, I made an extra $2000 from signup bonuses and cash rewards. Most of these were from credit cards (3-4 carefully selected and planned). But one or two was from opening a new checking account.
Banks often have bonuses for new checking accounts that can range from $100-$500. The requirements typically include direct deposit minimums, sometimes a specific number of transactions on the debit card shortly after opening, and minimum deposit amounts over the first month-3 months after opening the account.
It can sound like a lot when you type it all out like that. But let’s break it down and see how easy it can really be.
Typically you have to keep the account open for a minimum of 6 months to a year. Thus, it’s probably too much work to do more than one or two a year. But the amount of effort to do one makes the bonus almost free money.
A couple of things that make it easier:
- Getting paid through direct deposit
- Having access to an employee HR self-service website, where you can do things like view paystubs and change direct deposit preferences.
- Using a budget
- A budget acts as a visual record of your income and spending. It makes it really easy to quickly see what bills come out of what accounts and when. This makes it easy to make a list of what automatic transactions you’ll have to change account and routing numbers on (to your new account). A budget also usually has dates.
- Doing as much of your spending on a credit card as possible
- Whether or not you realize it you probably spend money almost every day. Whether it’s physical spending or automatic transfers, bill and loan payments, or scheduled transactions, your money is constantly moving around. Putting all of your spending on a credit card means that when you change your checking account, you only have to change the payment information for that card, instead of every bill on the card.
It’s also important to remember that if you have a mortgage and get an interest reduction by having a checking account with the same bank, it’s probably not worth it to switch.
Also make sure to consider what your needs are. I only need an ATM to deposit cash in the rare times that I have it and do all my banking online. Still, I prefer to stick to banks with locations either near where I live or where I work.
I’m willing to bet you have at least a few different banks in your area to choose from, perhaps closer to work instead of closer to home or something like that.
Finally, one more way to think about checking accounts:
You use a checking account to send money places. You put money in, you take money out. Everyone accomplishes this differently. But if you can do it in a way that minimizes how much you use your checking account, you have the freedom to explore other, potentially more lucrative, options.
I recommend “checking” (baha!) out hustlermoneyblog.com for researching new bank and credit card bonuses. They even give you options for national and state-specific banks! This site has netted me a few thousand dollars in the couple of years I’ve been reading.