How to get over $500 in bonuses when switching banks

Hyder Owainati
by Hyder Owainati August 1, 2020 / No Comments

This post is sponsored by CIBC.

You don’t have to be a personal finance aficionado or an over-optimizer juggling multiple accounts to rack up huge rewards. Just keeping things simple and making the switch to a single bank can add up to several hundreds of dollars in bonuses and long-term savings.

I know. I did it myself by opening a premium chequing account.

After years of sticking with the same bank, I knew I was missing out on savings and it was time to look elsewhere. I compared my options and moved to a new bank that offered a better credit card and a premium chequing account – each of which had their own sign-up promotions netting me a total of over $500 in bonuses. Plus, I got some perks to boot including unlimited debit transactions and an ongoing credit card annual fee rebate.

While it’s not for everyone, bundling with a premium chequing account and stacking welcome offers can add a big boost to your wallet. And it can make a decision you’ve likely been holding off for a while (switching banks) a whole lot more compelling.

Step 1: Search for bank account sign-up bonuses 

Aside from getting access to better services, online tools and perks, switching banks can also pay. Quite literally. Banks are competing for your loyalty with many looking to drum up business through new account bonus offers.

Case in point: the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account is offering a $300 cash bonus for new accountholders.

CIBC Smart™ Plus Account

Apply Now Button-small

    • Get a $300 bonus when you open your first chequing account1
    • Get a $120 annual fee rebate on a premium CIBC credit card and up to $50 each for 3 additional cardholders1
    • Unlimited transactions including Interac e-Transfer® service1
    • Unlimited ATM withdrawals in Canada, the U.S. and internationally1
    • $29.95 monthly fee (automatically rebated when you maintain a minimum daily balance of $6,000 in your account or $100,000 in savings and investments)
    • Terms and conditions apply

Premium accounts, like the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, function like any other bank account – you can use them to make debit transactions, hold money, deposit cash or cheques, and send money online with Interac e-Transfers®. But they also provide additional perks like annual fee rebates on a credit card (more on that below).

Step 2: Find an account that offers long-term value

Don’t let your new bank account benefits stop at the size of its sign-up bonus. If you plan on using the account every day, you want to ensure it delivers long-term value.

While every account is different, the biggest advantage of premium chequing accounts is they offer annual fee rebates on a credit card from the same bank – not just for the first year but on an ongoing basis. Depending on the card, that can add up to over $120 in savings every year while also letting you pocket more rewards and access premium card perks.

Credit card annual fee rebate

In the case of the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, you’ll get an annual fee rebate for any one of CIBC’s seven premium credit cards including:

CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card

  • 4% on groceries and gas – a combined earn rate no other cash back card can beat
  • 2% on Telus and Tim Hortons
  • 1% on everything else
  • $99 annual fee and $30 for authorized users – 100% rebated with the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account

CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card

  • 2 Aventura® points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • 1.5 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and at drug stores
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • $120 annual fees and $50 for authorized users – 100% rebated with the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account

Plus, you’ll get the $30-$50 annual fee rebated for up to three authorized users as well. So, if you plan on sharing a credit card account with your partner or another family member, you can save on fees and pool your spending to rack up rewards faster together.

Everyday banking benefits

Premium accounts, like the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, come with perks that can seriously upgrade your everyday banking experience for a monthly fee, which can be rebated if you meet certain conditions each month. Premium accounts offer unlimited debit transactions, free unlimited Interac e-Transfers®, as well as free bank drafts, personalized cheques, and money orders. Considering that ordering a cheque book alone can set you back $50, and money orders can cost around $7.50 each, the savings can add up.

The CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, in particular, also has built-in overdraft protection that lets you avoid having to pay the $45 fee for non-sufficient funds. With the new CIBC Balance Alert feature, you’ll even get a heads up if you’re low on funds for an upcoming pre-authorized payment that may have slipped your mind, so you can transfer money and pay it on time.

Additionally, you’ll have the advantage of unlimited withdrawals from a huge network of ATMs (CIBC alone has over 4,000 ATMs across the country). That makes it easy to take out cash on the spot. You can even save when using ATMs from other banks in Canada or internationally. While you’ll still be on the hook for fees from other institutions, CIBC won’t charge you the additional $2 withdrawal fee. Those withdrawal fees can add up. I regularly withdraw from ATMs outside of my own bank’s network more times than I care to admit.

Bundle more and save

The benefit of bundling with the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account doesn’t stop at just credit cards and chequing accounts.

If you make the full switch to CIBC and hold at least $100,000 across a mix of CIBC investment accounts – think any combination of mutual funds, ETFs, self-directed portfolios, GICs, TFSAs, RRSPs, or savings accounts – you won’t have to pay any monthly fee for your CIBC Smart™ Plus Account. That means you’ll earn on your investments, get premium bank account perks, and rebates on a top-earning credit card all at the same time. CIBC is the only major bank to offer this advantage. If you don’t have $100,000 to invest, you can still have the monthly account fee rebated for maintaining a daily bank account balance of $6,000.

Step 3: Make the full switch by opening a credit card and stack sign-up bonuses 

Arguably, one of the most valuable steps is making the complete switch over to a new bank and opening both a chequing and credit card at the same time to stack sign-up bonuses and earn more.

For instance, if you open the CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card, you can earn up to 20,000 bonus Aventura® points as a new cardholder. That works out to roughly $230 in rewards towards a future flight ticket or $140 in free gift cards. And by simultaneously opening the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, you’ll earn another $300 cash bonus. Together, that’s over $500 extra in offers just for switching banks.

Don’t forget, you also get the card’s $120 annual fee rebated every year because you have a CIBC Smart™ Plus Account. The CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* is one of the top earning points credit cards in Canada, with side perks like mobile device insurance and airport lounge access.

CIBC Smart™ Plus Account

Apply Now Button-small

    • Get a $300 bonus when you open your first chequing account1
    • Get a $120 annual fee rebate on a premium CIBC credit card and up to $50 each for 3 additional cardholders1
    • Unlimited transactions including Interac e-Transfer® service1
    • Unlimited ATM withdrawals in Canada, the U.S. and internationally1
    • $29.95 monthly fee (automatically rebated when you maintain a minimum daily balance of $6,000 in your account or $100,000 in savings and investments)
    • Terms and conditions apply

Step 4: Understand sign-up offer terms

In most cases, you won’t get a sign-up bonus instantly the moment you open the account but will need to meet some terms and conditions first. So, understand how to qualify for the bonus otherwise it could slip from your hands because you didn’t tick all the boxes fast enough.

To get the $300 bonus on the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account, for instance, you’ll need to set up either one of the following within the first three months of opening your account:

  • 1 recurring direct deposit payment (i.e. have you monthly paycheck automatically deposit into your account; or
  • 2 recurring pre-authorized debit transactions (i.e. your cell phone and cable bills automatically debited from your account).

Both are easy enough to achieve and are things you’d likely be doing anyway when creating a new account.

Credit cards sign-up bonuses have their own terms and minimum spend requirements. The CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite*’s 20,000 point bonus is broken up in two phases – 5,000 points after making your first purchase and another 15,000 points when you spend at least $3,000 on the card within your first 4 months.

Step 5: Read up on bank account details and fees 

Beyond the welcome offer, there’s value in knowing the characteristics of the bank account to determine if it’s the perfect fit.

Are there monthly fees? Does it have a minimum balance requirement (and can you maintain it)? Will you owe a fee if you pass a certain number of transactions per month?

With the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account for instance, there are unlimited debit transactions and a monthly account fee of $29.95 – but it’s free as long as you keep a daily chequing account balance of $6,000 or hold a daily balance of at least $100,000 in investments across any multiple CIBC accounts.

This is where the CIBC Smart™ Plus Account really stands out: CIBC is the only major bank to offer a free premium bank account for holding investments. And remember, if you don’t have $100,000 to invest, you can still have the account fee rebated for maintaining a $6,000 daily bank account balance. CIBC will even rebate the $29.95 monthly fee for the first three months regardless of your balance to give you a free window of time as you set up your account.

Personally, I keep a significant portion of my emergency fund in my account to meet the minimum balance to avoid the monthly fee. I’m also prepared to pay the $29.95 fee if I do need to withdraw the money at any point since I know I’m still saving by having the annual fee rebated on my credit card as well as my authorized user.

The CIBC Smart™ Plus Account also comes with CIBC Balance Alert and built-in overdraft protection to keep you in the know about when your account is low on funds and to save on non-sufficient fund fees.

The bottom line

There are many reasons to switch banks. Whether it’s accessing the ATMs in your neighborhood, saving on fees, or switching credit cards to keep all your accounts with a single bank. Regardless of the reason, by doing it right and scoping out welcome promotions, you’ll save in the long-term, and get a significant short-term boost to your wallet at the same time.

CIBC Smart™ Plus Account

Apply Now Button-small

    • Get a $300 bonus when you open your first chequing account1
    • Get a $120 annual fee rebate on a premium CIBC credit card and up to $50 each for 3 additional cardholders1
    • Unlimited transactions including Interac e-Transfer® service1
    • Unlimited ATM withdrawals in Canada, the U.S. and internationally1
    • $29.95 monthly fee (automatically rebated when you maintain a minimum daily balance of $6,000 in your account or $100,000 in savings and investments)
    • Terms and conditions apply

 This post was sponsored by CIBC. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely our own.

1CIBC is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. Welcome offer, eligibility, prices, and discounts are subject to terms, conditions, and qualification requirements, and can change without notice. Please see terms and conditions on CIBC.com


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