Banks offer perks, bonuses as interest rates remain less than ideal

180px-National_Bank_OamaruBanks across the nation are offering bonuses and perks to attract customers as interest rates remain less than attractive.

J.D. Power and Associates recently found that eight percent of Americans who switched banks named promotions as the primary reason, The Boston Globe reports.

“You can earn a lot more with the bonuses than you can in interest,” Ken Tumin, the co-founder of, a website that tracks the best perks and bonuses, said, according to The Boston Globe.

Sovereign Bank is offering up to $125 to new checking customers, Washington Savings Bank is issuing $150 Coach gift certificates, and East Boston Savings Bank is offering $100 and a digital food scale. JPMorgan Chase is offering up to $350 in bonuses to new savings and checking customers.

Interest rates have failed to attract customers. If a customer placed $10,000 in a savings account earning 0.01 percent interest, the rate offered by some banks, the account would yield only $1 in interest in one year, The Boston Globe reports.

Perk and bonus offerings may also come with a catch. Some banks require customers to set up online bill-pay, use a debit card or deposit a certain amount of money in order to receive the bonuses.

“Sometimes customers come with the hope of getting that money, but they are not physically able to meet all the requirements—and that gets frustrating,” Leader Bank Vice President Jay Tuli said, according to The Boston Globe.

Additionally, checking accounts may also be accompanied by monthly fees that can quickly add up.

In order for customers to receive the maximum bonus at Sovereign Bank, they must sign up for its Premier Checking Package, which carries a $10 monthly fee if the customer’s average balance falls below $10,000. Customers unable to meet the requirement would pay $120 in yearly fees.

“Customers have to be careful to make sure they read the small print,” Tumin said, The Boston Globe reports.

Some banks will also only issue the bonus to customers if they request it or fill out a special application to receive the promotion.  Other banks, however, do not find promotional attractions worthwhile.

Cambridge Savings Bank used to offer free iPods to new customers but now focuses on offering better interest rates and other perks to keep and attract new customers, according to The Boston Globe.

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