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Citibank’s $400 Bonus Could Cost You

You'll need to maintain hundreds of thousands of dollars in accounts to keep free checking.Banks and credit unions have been busy lately tempting savers with offers to switch their checking accounts.

Many of the offers we’ve seen have come from small institutions and were fueled by Bank Transfer Day and the furor over Bank of America’s debit card fee debacle.

But some of the big banks are handing out big money to switch as well.

Take Citibank, which is offering a nice bonus for opening one of its premium checking accounts. Free checking this isn’t, however.

You’ll need to read the fine print, or you’ll be shelling out for huge monthly fees.

The biggest reward comes when you open a Citigold Account by Dec. 31.

If you make one direct deposit and one online bill pay for two consecutive months, you’ll earn 40,000 in ThankYou points, redeemable for $400 worth of gift cards.

Or you can earn 20,000 in ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for $200 in gift cards, by opening a Citibank Account and making a direct deposit and an online bill pay two months in a row.

But the accounts come with a price.

If you don’t already have a relationship with Citi, or plan on establishing one, you should be cautious with the Citigold account, which charges a $30 monthly fee unless you jump through some big hoops and requires a $500 minimum deposit to open an account.

To avoid the monthly fee with Citigold checking, you’ll need to have tens of thousands of dollars invested in the bank through deposit, retirement or investment accounts, or hold a Citibank mortgage.

For most customers, your better bet is the Citibank Account, which has more reasonable terms. You need a $100 minimum deposit to open the account. To avoid the $20 monthly fee you just need to keep a $6,000 balance in your linked accounts.

While the rewards can be great, you need to be sure you can meet the minimum balance requirements, or the value of the gift cards you received can quickly be eaten away by monthly fees.

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Comments (2)
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  1. Stephen said:
    on November 23rd at 11:45 am

    I got the best Idea of all. Switch to a credit union. I have been a credit union member for over 10 years. $1.00 a month fee. People that actually know you if you need help. Free online banking, bill pay, great loan rates. How can you loose? And you know that your money is being used locally too, not helping to fund outrageous bonuses for executives that could care less about you.

  2. CalT said:
    on November 29th at 10:10 am

    Interesting point about people knowing you at a bank. I recently had to get a cashier’s check and didn’t realize I’d left my ID at home. The cashier said: Does anyone here know you? I had to admit that no one did. I rarely go inside any more. Just use the ATM.