This investment platform is offering $20,000 (yes, you read that right) simply to transfer your money over to them. Here’s the catch.
Bank account sign-up bonuses are nothing new to the world of financial services. A couple hundred here, $50 there — you get the idea. But a $20,000 bonus? That’s the level of sign-up bonus we don’t see much of.
At Chicago-based investment platform M1, users can get $20,000 added to their accounts for simply making a transfer. But it comes with a big catch: Multi-millionaires are the only ones getting this chunk of change. M1 requires you to transfer $7 million or more from another brokerage account before the promotional March 31 deadline to earn that $20,000. (Scroll down for more details on the M1 offer.)
So why such a hefty bonus? “Among many reasons, M1 wants to launch 2024 on a positive note and encourage self-directed investors to take advantage of M1 benefits,” says M1 personal finance expert Brett Holzhauer, adding that the online institution has seen large transfers from “other brokerages, and we want to continue to encourage this behavior and reward clients accordingly.”
If you aren’t one of those clients getting rewarded accordingly, don’t fret: We have a list of the most accessible bank sign-up bonuses here. But first, here’s what to know before you get any sign-up bonus and why sign-up bonuses are high at other banks right now too.
Is a bank sign-up bonus worth it?
With any bonus, experts say knowing what’s in the details is critical. “Make sure you understand all of the fine print and requirements for the offer,” says Bankrate consumer banking reporter Matthew Goldberg. While some banks require that you simply roll a minimum amount of assets over to the account, others require that you make a specific number of direct deposits or maintain a certain balance threshold for a certain number of days to qualify.
”There are almost always terms and conditions as you look under the hood at these offers,” says Jordan Gilberti, senior lead planner at Facet — adding that because many “require you to hold your money with them for a certain period, and some are simply institutions that you may not enjoy working with and will cost you in the long run,” it’s key to “focus on the goal of your dollars, and whether the sign-up bonus will help or hurt your overall financial plan.”
The bonus also might not be worth the effort. “Not wanting to move your direct deposit over to the new bank could be a reason you choose not to pursue,” says Goldberg. Indeed, in most cases, banking relationships are long term in nature. The average checking account customer, for instance, has been with their current financial institution for 17 years, according to a Bankrate report.
That’s one reason why, bonuses aside, Goldberg says anyone deciding where to park their hard-earned savings should consider somewhere they plan on staying for a considerable amount of time. “Personally, a sign-up bonus at a bank that I want to bank at is the best situation for me,” he says. “But I generally wouldn’t choose a bank just for a bonus.”
What’s behind the large bank sign-up bonuses these days?
With interest rates continuing to rise as a result of persistent national inflation, many financial institutions have been increasingly motivated to find new ways to attract and retain customers and their investable assets. By rolling over their assets and luring them to their various product lines, firms can both balance their books and pay down their own debt balances, which too have become more expensive to cover as a result of rising rates.
While many banks and credit unions promise higher savings rates and various other promotional offers to rake in these new customers, others do so by adding large sign-up bonuses to their offerings. Last year, M1’s bonus promotion topped $5,000 for transfers of $1 million or more.
Simply put, sign-up bonuses like the one offered at M1 are just one of several ways for financial institutions to both retain and attract new customers, says Gilberti. “In our current economy, with the competition of new fintech companies, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out. You could go to pretty much any of the current robo-advisor websites today and see some sort of sign-up bonus.”
And although the bonus at M1 is indeed one of the largest bonuses available right now — and also for a limited class of high-net-worth investors — its rules are fairly simple: transfer $7 million or more from another brokerage account before the promotional March 31 deadline. That said, M1 also offers bonuses for smaller transfers as well. For account transfers of $100,000 to $250,000, M1 will add a $250 bonus to your account. Bonuses from $1 million to $1,999,999, meanwhile, earn $4,000. The larger the transfer, the bigger the bonus.
How to get the M1 deal
If you’re one of the few who have this kind of cash available to transfer into a new brokerage account, and you’re looking to earn some extra cash on the top, here’s what else you need to know before making the move to M1.
For starters, you’ll need to gather a copy of a recent account statement from your brokerage and ensure M1 has a corresponding account type: if it’s a joint brokerage account, you’ll need to ensure M1 also has the same account type available. You’ll then need to submit a transfer request during the promotional period that ends on March 31 and create an automated customer transfer account in that window. Internal transfers, ACH deposits, wire transfers or direct 401(k) rollovers are deemed ineligible and will not qualify for the bonus.
If you follow the steps and qualify, M1 will make a one-time deposit into your M1 taxable investment account on Dec. 5. Retirement accounts, custodial or trust accounts, however, are not eligible.
Something else to consider is that taxable M1 investment accounts are only insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) with the standard $500,000 protection.