Welcome back to the freelancer’s guide to harvesting bank bonuses. In part one, we showed freelancers are optimized to reap bank bonuses via payments from multiple clients. Today I’ll run down all the reasons you might balk at opening multiple bank accounts, and then show the answers that resolve your concerns, valid though they may be. It’s a little long, so I’ve divided it into three pages to preserve your eyeballs.
To recap part one: Bank bonuses are zero-risk, have better returns than most investments, compound in a few months rather than annually, and keep funds liquid — all while requiring very little work on your part beyond what you’re already doing: getting paid by direct deposit. But some people are uncomfortable managing multiple bank accounts — after all, why make finances more complicated?
Below, I’ll prove it’s neither complicated nor arduous to earn bank bonuses. What little time and effort is required pays off hundreds of dollars, an unbeatable hourly rate. Let’s look at the arguments against multiple bank accounts so that we may slay them and drink mead from their skulls.
Why you wouldn’t have multiple bank accounts to harvest bonuses
Oh shnerk, it turns out people have some great reasons for not wanting to do this. Fortunately, they come with implicit solutions. It turns out the answers to most of these objections collectively form a guide to harvesting bonuses properly. Other methods may work better for your personal situation, but here’s how I tackle each stumbling block to churn bank bonuses.
Objection 1: You want all your money in one place
Hey, you won’t hear me argue against consolidated savings: less to track, and more to spend, all in one place. Freelancing is often lean, and you don’t want to incur a $35 fee for insufficient funds on a $350 credit card bill despite having $3500 in cash spread across multiple banks. If bills were horses, it’d be better to let all eat their fill from the same tough than measure out individual feed bags and risk leaving one hungry.
The solution: Use a high-yield account as your main savings and bill pay
For this reason I use a high-yield account as my automated bill pay account and funnel direct deposits into it as soon as they post. That concentrated pool will ensure your bills are always covered while also putting your savings where they can earn the most interest. (If you’re not saving more than you’re spending, that’s a different blog post, but you can still try for bonuses this way, albeit with extra careful funds management. Just takes a little more juggling.)
One caveat: If the originating bank has a minimum daily or average balance, you will want to be mindful of that.
So where to put the money? I’m a big fan of the 3% interest on up to $15k at Lake Michigan Credit Union Max Checking — it has very easy requirements to satisfy. That’s an additional $450 year if you keep it topped up (I only keep a few thousand in there and invest the rest for a higher yield, but my costs aren’t yours). That’s better than any CD rate I’ve seen, with the benefit of being able to pull money out whenever you like.
Want an even higher annual percentage yield? Orion FCU will give you 4% APY on up to $30k with a even fewer debit transactions required, but I’ve found the LMCU site easier to use and the Lake Michigan customer service utterly impeccable: no wait time, online chat help, and real, friendly people instead of bots or someone reading from a script. (Disclaimer: I haven’t really compared the customer service at Orion, just the site functionality.) That said, Orion’s 1% bump plus higher ceiling means an additional $1350/year guaranteed if you’re someone who can keep $30k on hand and doesn’t want to invest. That’s a lot of ramen
You may be able to beat these rates elsewhere with Consumers, Northpointe, or others (local credit unions sometimes go this high), but the requirements get more stringent, and this isn’t exactly a post on churning or trying to hack 6% out of a Mango card. It’s about how to get paid without a lot of work or research. Speaking of which: Page two.