Friday, November 11, 2005

How I got $160 FREE - part 1

I mentioned in the Debt Snowball Article that I had found some easy ways to make $160 (that I used to pay down my credit card balance). Here's how I did it.

The banks in my area are in a competition war. Well, it seems like a war, because every day something else arrives in the mail to tempt you to change banks. So far, the local county bank has offered to give away free digital cameras, free cordless screwdriver sets, and free online billpay. They also offer to buy your left over checks and debit cards from other banks (up to $25).

I was seriously considering changing to this bank, even though it was going to be a hassle. Having to order new checks, change direct deposit destination (which can take up to 3 weeks), and leaving a good relationship with the local credit union wasn't my idea of fun, but it was beginning to look like a good deal.

As much as I like the credit union, I can't say much for their website or their hours, and the branches were a bit inconvenient to get to. I also wanted the billpay feature that the county bank was offering free. There was a $4.95 a month charge for online billpay at the credit union.

So, I was nearly convinced to change banks for the convenience of better banking hours, free online billpay, and a free screwdriver set when I received a promotional offer from Bank of America in the mail.

Bank of America was offering $100 for opening a checking account and $25 for opening a savings account. Now this was a deal! My eyeballs bulged as I read the fine print searching for restrictions or bait and switch tricks. There didn't seem to be any, but I'm suspicious of banks giving away free money, so I went to their website to sleuth out any fees or catches.

Aha! they do have fees, and none of the banks in this area have fees anymore. This wasn't looking too good until I saw that there were ways to avoid the fees. Monthly direct deposit (which we use anyway) waived the fee for the checking account and a monthly transfer to savings (or a balance of $300) waived the fee for the savings account.

Now I can't say that Bank of America has much better hours than the credit union, but they are open on Saturday for half a day, and they do offer free online billpay plus a very good website. So, I would be getting most of what I wanted plus $125. I can't turn down free money, so we now have new accounts with Bank of America and we're $125 richer!

Bank of America has a referral program in which both the referrer and the referred receive $25 if a new account is opened on a referral. If you are interested in opening a new account with Bank of America and want $25 free please contact me with your name and email address.

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