Doubling Freelance Income, Part 2: Why You Don’t (but Really Do) Want Multiple Bank Accounts

churn bank bonuses

Objection 5: My bank makes transfers difficult

Not every bank (especially high-yield accounts) makes transfers fast, easy, or even available. Some let you pull money in but won’t send it out. Others charge a fee to do so. Nertz to them all!

If you’re just doing direct deposits via client payment, this probably won’t be a concern. However, as you get proficient, you may be tempted by a bonus offer that you can meet without a client payment. Sometimes it’s easily triggered by a deposit of any type, or by ten debit purchases. Other times a transfer from certain other banks is categorized as a direct deposit. Whatever the case, you can earn a bonus just by shuffling your money around — if your bank lets you.

But why wait for them? If your bank doesn’t do what you want, add one that does.

The solution: A dedicated transfer account

For this, there’s nothing more convenient than Ally Bank or Alliant Credit Union. Both make unlimited transfers easy while providing a high rate of return. Just initiate a transfer from the bonus account to one of those two, and then schedule the same amount to go out to your high-yield account the day after the first transfer is scheduled to complete. You can do both at the same time and then forget about it. Since you’re adhering to their schedule and only moving the same amounts, there’s no risk of overdrawing.

But the real benefit of Ally or Alliant is that many of their ACH deposits count as direct deposits elsewhere. So you can very often meet direct deposit requirements for bank bonuses simply by transferring the money from your dedicated transfer account. This means you can stack bank bonuses from a single payment.

For example, that $500 payment from a client not only earns you a bonus at Bank A, but it can be transferred to Ally, then to Bank B, then back to Ally, then into Bank C. That’s three bank bonus requirements met in a single month at the push of a few buttons!

how to organize bank accounts for bonus churning
In the ideal setup, a High-Yield Savings Account and Dedicated Transfer Account work together to harvest bonuses from Banks A, B, C, and D in tandem with client direct deposits. Banks A and D, which can transfer directly to the High-Yield Savings Account, do so for no-cost speed. Banks B and C, which cannot transfer to HYSA without a fee, go through the Dedicated Transfer Account. HYSA is kept at or near the optimum savings level, which may or may not be the full savings capacity of the account, depending on your needs.

Additionally, doing this means you won’t bother your existing clients’ Accounts Payable teams to change banks very often — if ever. You can save such normally occurring changes for bank bonuses that require a true direct deposit, and rotate through your client list to avoid repeating requests. Time is on your side…usually.

Objection 6: Using a transfer account adds time to the transfer process and online accounts don’t take cash deposits

This is objection links two problems that stem from a common core: No doubt about it, an intermediary bank adds a couple days to your schedule when bills are due in one account but bonuses are on deadline in the other. Sometimes you run afoul of the fact that you can’t just deposit cash into online accounts via the ATM.

The simplest way to make a quick deposit is to write yourself a check and snap a picture of it on the bank’s mobile app. But you’re probably not ordering checks for these accounts that you intend to close after the bonus posts. Or you may not have that much time. If you accidentally play the game this tight, there’s one thing you can do.

The solution: Payment apps

Payment apps like Zelle/Venmo/Paypal are (mostly) blockchain-based payment systems used for instantaneous transfers between friends. You can also use them to cover your butt if you realize that you need to move money around in the short couple days before a bill comes due or a bonus window expires.

The easiest way to do this is transfer money to a family member, significant other, or trustworthy friend, then have them send it to you at a different account. (Funding Paypal from your own bank, for example, takes a few days but getting paid instantaneously reduces the wait time to a day’s deposit.) But you might understandably not want to send a ton of money into other hands or drag loved ones into your churning mistakes. If that happens, there is one more thing you can do via Zelle, though it’s best done as a failsafe you configure beforehand.

Bank bonus blockchain app
Photo: Katie Harp
unsplash-logoKatie Harp – Pinterest Manager

While you can’t technically send money between your own bank accounts via Zelle for some reason, if you have a couple of email addresses, e.g. one for work and one personal, you can configure it to send your own funds to yourself with an alternate email address.

The hitch of it is new email addresses and bank accounts take a little bit to confirm, so you’d have to do some prep work beforehand or even open each bank account with a committed address, like DaveBofA@email.com for Bank of America, DaveHSBC@email.com for HSBC, etc. For this reason, it’s pretty much only to be done as an emergency move. I’ve only had to do it once when a credit card company would have taken too long to verify my payment account. You’re really best off just making sure your bill payments are all linked up to your perpetuity accounts: the big savings and the edicated transfer accounts should keep you covered 99.9% of the time.


So there you have it. Bank bonuses, to me, are always worthwhile to do. You can’t get a job that pays $100/hour without a half decade of experience and education, let alone as a side hustle, but you can get paid up to two or three times that for a half hour’s work filing for bank accounts. Your clients are going to need you to fill in some payment info anyway, so why not take the short amount of time to add a new bank, and double your payday?

Of course if you really want to cash in, a little work is required to stack income, but it’s very much worth it. That’s what we’ll look at in the third and final installment: How to stack bonuses and turn a couple of transactions into lucrative paydays.