HOUSTON - Many banks are ready to hand you hundreds of dollars just to open a new account with them. They're competing for business as some people have been saving more money than ever during the economic crisis.
Personal savings in the U.S. went from people saving an average of 8% of their income in January of this year, to a record 32% in April and 19% in June, according to Federal Reserve data.
"We are in a unique opportunity right now that we're able to stay home and not be outside as much which means saving more money," said Jamila Souffrant, budgeting expert and speaking in partnership with Digital Federal Credit Union.
Interest rates are low right now, so banks are offering big bonuses to get you to stash your cash with them.
Bankrate.com compiled some of the best bonuses for opening a checking account in October:
Associated Bank: $500 bonus
HSBC Bank: $200 or $450 bonus
TD Bank: $150 or $300 bonus
PNC Bank: $50, $200 or $300 bonus
Huntington National Bank: $150, $200, $500, $400 or $750 bonus
Bank of America: $100 bonus
Budgeting expert Jamila Souffrant says if saving money seems impossible to you right now, there are ways to save. First, make it automatic.
"That can be setting up a direct deposit from your paycheck to your savings account. Or if your employer does not allow you to do that, you can directly schedule transferring money from a savings account to a checking account or vice versa," said Souffrant.
She suggests refinancing high-interest debt.
"If you have a high-interest rate car loan or credit card, there are lots of opportunities right now to refinance different things. You can look at maybe your credit union or bank about the rates they have," said Souffrant.
And Souffrant says ask cell phone, cable, and internet, or insurance providers for discounts.
"You can just ask, 'Are there any discounts that possibly I can qualify for that are not on my account? What can you offer me for being a valued customer?" suggested Souffrant.
Be sure to check credit unions and online banks for rates, too. And know how the account works before you open it so that fees don't eat up your bonus if you don't maintain the required balance.