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Bank bonuses are a commonly used companion to credit card signup bonuses. The value of bank bonuses can range from $100 to $600 or more if you meet certain criteria. Usually these include either making direct deposits, or keeping a certain amount of money in the account for a few months. If you have the money to float, it can be a good way of getting more than the pittance of interest that is found in most bank accounts.
HSBC’s $600 Bank Bonus Offer
A few months ago, HSBC had a bonus available where you could get $600 for opening a new bank account via a referral and making a direct deposit transfer of $5,000 into the account. You had to open the account over the phone, which was annoying, but you could also get a $100 referral bonus if you referred someone else. I figured I could open the account and refer both my wife and my son for new accounts, and between the 3 of us we could clear $2,000 (3 bonuses plus 2 referral bonuses).
Breaking down the opportunity cost, keeping $5,000 in this account for say, 3 months, earns $600. That’s 12% interest but even better, it’s 12% over only 3 months. Depending on how you calculate it or compound it, the annualized interest rate is much higher than that. No matter how you calculate it, it’s way better than the 0.5% or 1% you might see in other bank accounts. It is even better or at least comparable to average returns in the stock market or other investments. This is another reason to do bank bonuses — we try to keep as much of our emergency fund / liquid cash doing these types of deals. That way it’s liquid and easily available if we need it but can also be earning a good return.
Setting Up an Account With HSBC
I set up my account back in September 2020. It took a 30-minute phone call to do it, but overall it was fairly painless. I made my $5,000 transfer and then waited. A few months later, my $600 bonus had posted. All was going well.
Stacking and Referring to Take It to the Next Level
I had decided to wait and make sure there weren’t any issues with getting the bonus before deciding to bother referring my son and my wife. (Those of you who operate in 2-player mode can understand the joy that my wife feels when she has to call banks or credit card companies.) And this was going to be like a 30-minute conversation. I helped my son open his account first. It went fine with a few hiccups because he’s only 18 and so doesn’t have much of a credit report. My wife’s phone call went fine as well, and the two of them had their accounts opened, and their $5,000 transferred over.
A few months later, I also had the 2 referral bonuses of $100 in my account.
And Then … the Trouble
Then it started going south…. Nothing has happened so far that is irretrievable, but I can’t say that it has gone smoothly, either. My wife is still waiting for her $600 bonus, even though it’s been several months. My son’s account has had even more problems, again I think due to his young age / limited credit report. Opening the account was fine, but then a few days later he got a random email purporting to be from HSBC Fraud team wanting me to call them. I looked up the number and I wasn’t sure it was HSBC. I emailed our HSBC banker and he didn’t know. I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t phishing so I ignored it.
Fast forward a few months and his bonus came in. I went to transfer his money back out to our other accounts, and that locked my son’s account. I called customer service, who eventually transferred me to the fraud department. They wanted a form filled out basically allowing the government to verify his Social Security number. Again, I assume this is due to his limited credit profile.
We emailed them the form and waited… nothing.
We called back a week or so later, got transferred a few times to the right department before they’re like “uhh what form? We never got a form.” So we sent them the form AGAIN.
We called back a couple of days later because his account was still locked. The fraud team said they were unlocking the account now and to wait a few days.
We wait a few days, it’s still locked. Another phone call, and some other department had it locked. They clear that and finally we can log back in again! Transfer all his money back out.
So my son and I both have all of our money from the bonus. We are still waiting on the $600 bonus from my wife’s account. Then we can finally call this deal done and be on to the next one. It has not been easy, but for $2,000, I would still classify it as “worth it.”
What about you? Did you do this deal or any other bank bonus deal? Leave your experience in the comments.
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