Daily Financial Challenge #4

earn online bank bonus money

While I’m sure that many of you have already taken these steps, for those that are just beginning to get their finances in order or for those who happen to join us late, getting in the habit of grabbing free money when available is always a good idea. Right now the place to get free money is with online banks. An added bonus is that they are paying much higher interest rates than regular brick and mortar banks.

ING Direct Orange Account

While I recommend opening accounts wherever they are going to give you free money, we will begin with ING. While they don’t currently have the highest rates, they are the bank to start with because of how easy it is to set up the account. I don’t want to get you all frustrated from the beginning since there is a lot of money to be had with these promotions and ING is the bank that is least likely to have problems with sign-up.

To qualify for the $25 bonus that ING provides, you have to make a deposit of $250. Here are a couple of scenarios and how you should approach it depending on which one applies to you.

1. You have credit card debt and no savings: If you currently have credit card debt and don’t have the $250 to open the account, you should not open an account right now, but make an adjustment to the “highest interest snowball” plan we created in Financial Challenge #2. At the very top of your list – before the beginning to pay extra on the highest interest card – place “ING account.” Why place ING ahead of a high interest rate? On the surface it may not look like it makes sense since $25 is only a 10% return on the $250 deposit and your top credit card could easily be charging 20%+. The difference comes in that your credit card is a yearly rate and the $25 from ING is an instant return (you don’t have to wait an entire year to get it – it deposits into your account right away).

Assuming the same scenario we put forth in Financial Challenge #2, you would save $100 for month 1 and month 2 while paying the minimum amount to all the credit cards. In month three, you would take $50 to make the $250 you need to open the ING account to get the bonus (and place the other $50 extra toward the first credit card above the minimum payment). Since there is no minimum requirement in the ING account, as soon as you receive your $25 bonus, you take out $274 (you want to leave $1 in the account to keep it open) and then put the $274 also toward the outstanding balance of the first credit card on the list. That gives you an extra $24 toward your debt for about 15 minutes of work plus a quality account to keep your emergency money in once you have paid off all your debt.

2. You have credit card debt, but currently have $250 in savings: Immediately open an ING account to get the bonus and pay the the bonus toward your credit card debt.

3. You’re debt free: Open the ING account and use it to begin or expand your emergency fund.

While you may or may not use the ING account for your emergency savings since there are other online banks that pay a higher interest rate, it is still a good account to have open because of promotions they run from time to time.

Emigrant Direct American Dream Savings Account

At the same time that you open up your ING account, you should also begin the process to open up an Emigrant Direct account. While Emigrant doesn’t offer an “official” bonus, they do have an affiliate program where websites can earn $20 for referring people to open an account with them. There are a number of websites that offer “unofficial bonuses” of $10. Basically if you open an account using their affiliate link, they receive $20 from Emigrant and then they give you $10 as a “thank you” thus splitting the affiliate bonus.

Nate and I also offer this bonus for using our link, but also offer a $20 bonus by converting 2 of your ING referrals (when you open your ING account, you will receive 25 friend referrals. If you send one of these to a friend and your friend signs up, your friend gets $25 and you get $10. Since Nate and I long ago used up our own and all our family member’s ING friend referrals, we currently use other people’s referrals and split the $10 bonus ($5 for us and $5 for the person who gave us the referral to use). Thus for us converting 2 ING friend referrals for you for $20 is the same as us paying you $10).

Thus you can open up an Emigrant Direct account for $1 and get another $20 to use toward debt or to add to your savings. Emigrant Direct is currently paying 4.0%, but has been an interest leader in the past so it is a good account to have open. The Emigrant Direct account is more complicated to open and takes about 2 weeks in total to complete, but it’s still worth having for special promotions (when Hurricane Katrina hit, Emigrant Direct deposited $1000 into every account of people who were living within the disaster zone as part of their relief effort (you can listen about it by clicking on this link and listening to the Bill O’Reilly Radio clip)

HSBC Online savings Account

The third online account you want to open is with HSBC. Again, you only need $1 to open the account and they are currently offering a $25 bonus for opening an account (this promotion has expired). Like Emigrant Direct, it takes a bit longer to open an account with HSBC than with ING, but they are currently paying 4.25% (a promotion is going on where they are paying 4.80% through April 2006).

By opening these three online banking accounts, you can earn $70 in bonuses. You will also have three online bank accounts that pay high interest and when you begin your emergency savings, can switch money around between them to get the highest interest rate possible for your money.

In the time you have allotted today for the Financial Challenge, you should begin the process of opening accounts with these three online banks.

1. Open an ING Account with $25 Bonus

2. Open an Emigrant Direct Account and get a $20 Bonus

3. Open a HSBC Account with a $25 Bonus – Use Promo Code: start

You should be able to complete the ING application without a problem and get the process started for both Emigrant Direct and HSBC in the time we have for today. As more online banking bonus promotions become available this year we will let you know during the Financial Challenges so that you can continue to add this free money to your debt reduction / savings & investments.

To read more about ING and Emigrant Direct
To read more about HSBC Direct

Special Note To Parents: If you have a child, you can also set up an account for him or her and earn 10% interest on the first $500 through a special account at Affinity Bank

NOTE: The entire challenge series is what I would do with my money and is merely my opinion. You should do thorough research and seek professional advice and decide to do what is best for you. My Disclaimer

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11 Responses to Daily Financial Challenge #4

  1. mjrube94 says:

    Great challenge, Jeffrey. I’ve already taken advantage of all of these bonuses. With Affinity Bank, if you open a free checking account with Direct Deposit for yourself ($100 min) while opening the accounts for the kids, you can also get a $75 bonus. Be sure to ask the rep about it…

  2. Gloria says:

    This is too many banks for me. I already have 3. I would rather not do this. Thank you though.

  3. savvy saver says:

    whatever happened the the big bonuses… the $100 and $200 account opening bonuses earlier this year?

    I’ve decided that it just isn’t worth it for $25.

  4. Becki in Indiana says:

    Ok, this is probably a dumb question — but how do you make the opening deposit to these online accounts? An online transfer from an existing account? I don’t know if I want all these banks knowing my other banking account numbers.

  5. pfadvice says:

    “Ok, this is probably a dumb question — but how do you make the opening deposit to these online accounts? An online transfer from an existing account? I don’t know if I want all these banks knowing my other banking account numbers.”

    You will need to hook them up with an existing checking account. This allows you to transfer money back and forth between the two since these banks are online.

  6. Pattie says:

    This sounds more like a promotion than advice. What are you getting out of this, Jeffrey?

  7. pfadvice says:

    “This sounds more like a promotion than advice. What are you getting out of this, Jeffrey?”

    Not nearly enough to make it worth the time and effort under normal circumstances!

    Please do your own research…these are the online banks paying the most without a huge deposit required – except for ING, but as I explained they are by the most user friendly of the online banks and there is a $25 bonus. Would I recommend these banks if I didn’t receive anything? Absolutely. There are a lot more that I could recommend and earn more money but they don’t provide a bonus to the person signing up – and that is the key here – free money.

    So, onto your question of what I’m getting out of this.

    ING pays $10 per referral from a friend. Both Nate and I long ago used up our referrals and had stopped, but new members can’t get the $25 unless they have the referral. If you go straight to the ING site you get nothing when you sign up so I would not recommend ING unless you can get a referral. Now we split the $10 fee with those that want to get rid of their referrals in our 100 post club. For the time it takes me to go through the referrals, place them up, coordinate everything, get payment form the members, etc I would say it is worth the time, but not by a whole lot. The main benefit is we can reward the members that have help build our main site with a little bit of extra money with little effort on their part (the main reason) and it drives traffic to the site. We will likely stop offering the bonus links once all the 100 post members have had thier used – while I get a lot of offers from other people wanting to split the fee, I don’t think it will be worth the time or effort at that point. Even when we stop however, I will still recommend signing up for ING to get the $25 bonus – it’s an instant 10% return and just makes sense for how easy it is.

    Emigrant doesn’t offer a bonus at all for people signing up. There are several people offering to split the affiliate fee which is $20 with people that sign up through them. We are the only site that I know of that is offering $20 (through conversions of ING invites). This is most definitely NOT worth the time and effort just for the money (sign up for their affiliate program and see what an absolute mess it is). So why do we do it? Promotion for our main site. We actually view the Emigrant program as cheap advertising to introduce our website to new people. Offering $20 when nobody else does has brought a lot of new people to the site to see what we offer at no cost.

    HSBS has a $25 bonus program that uses different codes from time to time like the current “start” code. We do not receive anything from them – we recommended them because at the time I wrote this they offered a bonus and were paying the highest interest rate (Emigrant is now also paying 4.25%).

    So is there some promotion in there. Yes, but only because it benefits the person signing up. There is no promotion there that gives us more than what the person signing up receives.

  8. Angelpix24 says:

    Why do I need to open up 3 savings accounts? I’d be splitting up all my savings between 3 accounts. And go through the hassle of depositing 20 dollars here…30 dollars there. Wouldn’t it be best for one to just open the one with the highest interest rate, and less hassle. And getting 25 dollars doesn’t encourage me to open an account. 100 dollars. That’s better. I have an ING account. It was quick and easy and even though its the lowest of the 3, I believe in this company.

  9. pfadvice says:

    “Why do I need to open up 3 savings accounts? I’d be splitting up all my savings between 3 accounts. And go through the hassle of depositing 20 dollars here…30 dollars there. Wouldn’t it be best for one to just open the one with the highest interest rate, and less hassle. And getting 25 dollars doesn’t encourage me to open an account. 100 dollars. That’s better. I have an ING account. It was quick and easy and even though its the lowest of the 3, I believe in this company.”

    As is true in all my challenges, you need to do what is best for you. I have provided three because each of them offers a bonus for signing up and every little bit counts for those currently in debt. These three also tend to switch among who is the interest leader (except for ING recently) so it sometimes makes sense to switch your funds between them to get the best interest rate.

  10. anna says:

    I’ve tried the HSBC, and had bad luck working with them, but at the same time opened accounts for all three of my kids at ING with no hassle at all (I was going HSBC for myself). Thinking now I’ll just do mine at ING, too. The rates can’t be beaten locally.

    I just stumbled on your series today, and it’s fantastic that you’re doing this. I might even have to send my readers over here. ((wink!)) I’m very into trying to dig out of the hole my husband tends to unintentionally deepen. It’s one of my New Years goals, and this is going to be a good tool to catch what I might’ve missed.

    ((I’m a little behind, so here’s to hoping you cover IRAs/CDs and best investment ideas. I’m a stay-home mom with a 401K rolled into mutuals that just aren’t a comfortable fit, but I have no idea what else to do with that very piddly amount.))

    Thanks.

  11. poundwise says:

    Emigrant Direct and ING are good sources, the former being a bit better than the latter in terms of interest paid. HSBC may prove to be as good or better than Emigrant, but it doesn’t have the track record.

    It should be noted that Captial One offers a DirectBanking Money Market Savings with a solid rate as well. It is one of the few that makes it easy to add (link) more than one account to it. Also, be wary of offers such as Citi’s new online savings which require you to have another or other account(s) with them to utilize the account or realize the highest interest offered.

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