bank rates

Sovereign Bank Offers Good Checking Bonuses But Plenty Of Hassles, Too

Sovereign Bank Offers Good Checking Bonuses, But Plenty Of Hassles, TooIf you’re hunting for both a checking account and a money market account, you can receive a bonus of up to $125 with Sovereign Bank.

The offer by the Boston-based bank is good until Sept. 30 and open to anyone nationwide.

But if you want to score the bonus deal, be prepared to jump through a bunch of hoops and answer a bunch of questions to get information that’s not on the bank’s website (www.sovereignbank.com).

And even the best MMA rate falls well short of the top nationally available deal.

You’ll get the biggest bonus with the Sovereign Premier Checking package, but it also has the highest fees unless you’ve got a strong financial relationship with the bank.

For the $125 bonus, you need to open a Premier Checking Account as well as a Premier Money Market Savings Account.

The MMA isn’t terrible, with tiered rates that range from 0.35% APY on balances to $9,999 up to 0.80% APY on balances of $100,000 or more.

But the checking account rates are almost nonexistent — 0.01% APY on balances to $75,000 and 0.10% APY on balances above that amount.

It takes a $25 minimum deposit to open a checking account and a $10 minimum deposit to open a savings account.

While the Premier MMA has no fees or minimum balance requirement if you have a Premier Checking Account, you’ll pay a whopping $30 monthly fee for the checking account unless you have at least $20,000 in combined balances in checking, savings, MMAs, CDs, IRAs, investments or loans.

Once you’ve opened a Sovereign Premier Checking package — or any of the others that offer a bonus — you must enroll in online banking and make at least five debit card purchases or receive at least one direct deposit by Nov. 30.

Once you do that, the bonus will be credited to your checking account by Dec. 15.

To get a $75 bonus, open a Preferred Checking Account and a Preferred Money Market Savings Account.

The Preferred MMA pays 0.15% APY for balances below $10,000 and 0.35% APY for balances above $75,000 — quite low compared to the 1.25% APY paid by our MMA leader EverBank (www.everbank.com).

There’s no information on Preferred Checking Account rates on the website, and you can only get it from the bank if you call about rates and then are prepared to answer questions about how much money you plan to keep on hand, how you plan to divvy it up among accounts and other questions that are impossible to answer if you’re simply exploring your account options.

The Preferred Checking Account has a $15 monthly fee unless you keep a $2,500 average daily balance in the account or a combined $7,500 in checking, savings and MMAs, or receive a direct deposit.

You’ll receive $50 for a Sovereign Classic Banking package, which includes a Classic Checking Account and Classic Savings Account, but there’s no information on the website as to what a Classic Savings Account entails. Or if it’s there, it’s very well hidden.

A Classic Checking Account has a $5 monthly fee unless you keep $500 in your checking account.

The bank has more than 700 branches in the Northeast. Its parent company is Banco Santander in Madrid, Spain.

Maybe the bonus is worth it for you, but there are far more banks that are far more transparent if you’re shopping for accounts.

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