For the first time in a long time, we are beginning to see signs that major banks with extensive branch networks may be willing to offer incentives to compete with the leading online banks.
The current sign comes in the form of a promotional rate of 1.25% from Capital One on balances between $10,000 and $1 million. The rate comes with several catches. First, it is only available at branches in three major marketplaces (NY/NJ, the DC area, and Texas). Second, after six months you will receive the current branch rate (which is currently not competitive). Third, you will need to visit a branch to open an account - a time consuming exercise when compared with opening an online account..
A separate branch savings account opportunity for consumers in the New York area is to wait to receive a postcard in the mail from Chase offering a cash incentive to open a new account at your local Chase branch. The cash incentives this year are generally more attractive than previous years, and are now ranging between $450 to $800. The incentives ordinarily require a $15,000 minimum deposit and are clawed back in their entirety according to the terms and conditions if the account does not remain open for at least 6 months. Those in the New York who receive these postcards will often find the Chase bonus more lucrative offer than the current Capital One offer but unfortunately there is no way to be certain that you will receive one.
While the above offers may be attractive, many people might find the higher rates and cash bonus not to be worth the time needed to open an account in a branch and then to close it after the promotional period has passed. A far less taxing proposition is to identify and open an online savings account with a bank offering a competitive rate. The most comprehensive list of online savings accounts and rates for US consumers nationally is found here. These accounts are all easy to open and maintain, and the rates are more likely to remain competitive after six months than those at Capital One or Chase branches.