Pretty much every aspect of my life changed when I moved to New York in early June. Some of them — like no more driving and higher prices — were obvious. But others, namely the lack of my current banks, went under the radar until my parents suggested I look into it.
I grew up in Wisconsin and went to school at the University of Missouri, and I banked with Town Bank and US Bank, but neither are in New York City. I also have a savings and IRA with Wells Fargo, but the money in those accounts stays untouched on a day-to-day basis.
I did my research and noticed Wells Fargo and Chase Bank seemed to be very prominent in Manhattan. Already having a Wells Fargo account, I wouldn’t have been eligible for new customer bonuses. So I closed my accounts with Town and US Bank and opened new accounts with Chase.
Conveniently, Chase had some pretty significant promotions going on, and the switch netted me $US950 from the bank. Here’s the breakdown.
It started with a coupon my mum had found. Part of the deal was a $US300 bonus for opening a new Chase checking account and setting up direct deposit. I signed up for the promotion, and when my first paycheck was automatically deposited, the $US300 from Chase went right into my checking account.
The other half of the coupon was a $US200 bonus for new Chase savings customers. This one came with a couple terms and conditions, however. First, I had to deposit a total of $US15,000 or more into the savings account. And second, the balance had to stay at or above that amount for the first 90 days. I deposited roughly $US20,000 into the account from the accounts that I closed, and all of my paychecks are sent directly into it so I could ensure the account wouldn’t diminish.
Chase is currently running a similar promotion, but the amounts are $US150 and $US100, respectively, and the required savings value is $US10,000.
At this point, my earnings from Chase Bank, which were basically free money, totaled $US500. But I received some more bonuses, too.
Once my accounts were opened, I received a debit card and applied for a new credit card. The card I applied for, and ultimately gained approval for, was the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It offers great rewards points benefits, especially for travel and dining, and it’s metal, which I think is pretty cool. There is an annual $US95 fee, but not for the first year.
Along with that, it came with some nice bonus offers. The first was simple: I made my mum an authorised user, so she also received a Sapphire card that is directly linked to my account. (She doesn’t use the card.) When the two cards came, I received 5,000 rewards points, equivalent to $US50 if redeemed for cash.
The other bonus, which is much larger, is directly related to spending. I had to spend $US4,000 within the first three months, and I would receive 40,000 rewards points ($US400). Normally, I wouldn’t spend that much in three months, but I paid upfront for my rent through the end of August and was more than halfway there. The rest can be largely attributed to New York prices.
I haven’t yet redeemed my points, but 45,000 ($US450) of the points I have came directly from the Chase bonus offer, not my spending. The Sapphire card also offers one point per dollar spent, plus double points for money spent on travel or at restaurants, which I’ve accumulated and saved.
It’s worth noting, though, that redeeming points for cash isn’t necessarily the best option with a Chase Sapphire card. In terms of getting the most value out of your points, travel is the way to go, because it comes with a 20% discount. So the 40,000 points I received are worth $US400 if redeemed through my bank account, but it would be enough to cover a $US500 flight.
I’ve yet to make any specific plans for my points, but I have given it some thought. Using them for a flight home to Wisconsin or to a Missouri football game are two of my top options at the moment. I also grew up a huge New York sports fan and love collecting memorabilia, so I’m debating cashing the points in and buying a signed jersey, most likely Eli Manning or Derek Jeter.