Over the years, I've collected my share of free gifts from banks and brokerage firms. These include T-shirts, mouse pads, flash drives, and the most unusual flashlight toolkit. But what is the best gift that you've ever received from a bank or brokerage? To be clear, financial institutions reserve the best gifts for their customers who take a specific action like opening a new account, or making a substantial deposit to an existing account. These gifts are generally much more valuable than a T-shirt or flashlight.
Some of the presents that I've claimed in the past include free airline miles, cash bonuses, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and an HDTV set. I have a few PDAs (Palm Tungsten 3, Palm VIIx, and Handspring Visor) that I've received from banks and brokers. Some brokerages like Fidelity offer customers airline miles for opening a new account. I've also opened a couple of credit cards that were offered in conjunction airline mileage programs. These usually offer generous bonuses for signing up.
Some banks and brokers offer a cash bonus for signing up. For example, right now optionsXpress brokerage is giving away $100 to new customers who deposit at least $500 and make 3 trades. Some credit cards such as Discover Card offer a cash back bonus for opening a new credit card account. I already had a Discover Card, but I found that they allow individuals (with good credit) to have two Discover Cards. So I went ahead and took advantage of their offer by opening a second account. I will note that some banks will report a bonus that you receive on a 1099 form. So, keep that fact in mind when you open a new account.
Lastly, another deal that I might take advantage of is the OptionsHouse.com offer of a new Dell computer monitor for a deposit of $5,000 or more. According to their website, you have to keep the account open for at least 180 days. I did some checking, and found that the 24 inch Dell monitor (ST2420L) they are giving away retails for about $220, so it is a pretty generous gift. For a deposit of $100k, they are offering a 27 inch Dell U2711 which is worth $1100. Lastly, if you have $250k to reach the highest tier, they will give you a 30 inch Dell U3011, which costs $1500.
These last two tiers are pretty steep, but I think most readers could afford to deposit $5k if they want a new monitor. Also note that you have to enter promo codes DELL24, DELL27, or DELL30 as appropriate when applying.
So there you have it. What do you think the best bonus gift from a bank or brokerage is?