As big banks lose their allure with consumers, some are fighting back by offering new customers generous bonuses for opening a checking account.
Millennials in particular are fed up with the high fees and poor customer loyalty programs associated with big banks.
In fact, 16% ditched big banks, a survey late last year by Accenture found. Credit unions and community banks cashed in, with community banks gaining 5% more customers between the ages of 18 and 34, while credit unions gained 3%.
It no doubt doesn’t help that only 37% of financial institutions surveyed by Bankrate in 2015 still offer free checking accounts. Most banks now have requirements, such as keeping a minimum amount in a checking account or receiving a certain amount in direct deposits each month, in order to have monthly maintenance fees waived.
The Bankrate survey found the average monthly maintenance fee is now nearly $6, and the most common fee is $12 a month.
But some of the big banks are sweetening the pot by offering checking account bonuses of $200 or more for new account holders.
Here are a few of the current checking account offers:
If you live in one of the 12 states where Key Bank operates, you can snag a $300 bonus, but you have to act fast. The offer expires April 29.
Key Bank has some of the easiest terms to score the extra cash. Open the checking account using the code EDGT0316, receive a direct deposit of $500 or more of a payroll, Social Security, pension or government benefit check, and get $300 deposited into your account.
The Cleveland-based bank has four accounts to choose from, but the best bet is a Key Express account, which has a $7 monthly service fee. The fee is waived if you receive a direct deposit of at least $500 or you make eight transactions per month. You only need to deposit $50 to open the Key Express account.
You can earn a $200 bonus by opening a Select Checking account by May 5 and receiving at least $2,000 in direct deposits. You need to use the code Q2CHKONLINE200 when opening the account with a minimum deposit of $100.
SunTrust charges a steep $15 monthly maintenance fee unless you receive at least $2,000 in direct deposits or keep at least $2,000 in your account each month. The Atlanta-based bank has operations in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Fifth Third Bank
You can get $200 by opening a Fifth Third Essential Checking account, setting up direct deposit and making three online bill payments. You need to email Fifth Third, and the bank will email a code to use when you go to a branch and open your account. The account must be open by July 23 and requires a minimum deposit of $50.
The Fifth Third Essential checking account has the lowest monthly fee, $11, which is waived if you have at least $1,500 in deposit account balances or spend at least $500 on a Fifth Third credit card. If you have at least $500 in direct deposits, the monthly fee is reduced to $8. Fifth Third is based in Cincinnati and has locations in a dozen states.
The bank will pay you $200 if you open a checking account and have at least $300 in direct deposits. Email BMO Harris to get a promotion code sent to you and open an account with a deposit of at least $100.
The BMO Harris Everyday Checking account has the lowest monthly service fee, $12. That’s waived if you get at least $500 in direct deposits or have a minimum balance of at least $1,000 in the account. BMO Harris is based in Chicago and has operations in eight states.
If you decide to open a checking account at one of these banks to take advantage of a bonus, be sure to read all of the fine print.
You’ll have to pay a monthly service fee on your account unless meet the bank’s requirements to have the fee waived. You’ll also have to pay tax on the bonus you receive.