How to Make Bank with Brokerage and IRA Bonuses

These monster comparison posts might just have you asking, how can I benefit from a brokerage or IRA account bonus?

Lately, I have spent a lot of time researching brokerage and IRA bonuses.  These are more rare, and typically less lucrative than bank bonuses and credit card bonuses.  So, you might wonder, why is it worth bothering?

For IRA brokerages, you are looking at either opening a new IRA, traditional or Roth, or transferring your existing IRA.  This is money that you likely have tied up for some time and will not be tapping until retirement.  So, why not consider earning a little extra on that money?  The bonuses start at $50 if you are just starting out and go to $70,000 (NOT a typo) if you already have a large nest egg.  That is nothing to sneeze at!

Brokerage bonuses also can be tax advantaged.  Some of these bonuses post directly into your retirement account.  If you have a traditional IRA, you will not pay taxes on these bonuses until you withdraw the funds so the bonus will have years to grow tax deferred.  If you happen to receive a bonus in your Roth IRA, your bonus will never be taxed.  Some of the bonuses pay into a taxable brokerage so be sure to check the charts in my posts and also read the fine print of the offers.

Many of these offers apply to IRAs as well as taxable brokerage accounts.  That means any investments you hold in a brokerage account can be moved over to trigger a bonus.  So, if you have investments at a brokerage like Vanguard, you could move them to one of these new accounts to add to your stash.


But wait, won’t I be taxed if I move my investments? NO!  You will not be taxed – as long as you move your investments in kind via an ACAT transfer.  You will not sell your investments, which is a taxable event, but transfer them to the new brokerage.

Are there fees to transfer my investments?  Maybe.  Check with your brokerage.  If so, look for a new account that will reimburse these fees.  This information is also included in the comparison charts.

What if I don’t really have much in the way of investments, is this something I could do with my savings or emergency fund?  Yes!  These accounts can be a great way to generate some additional yield.  You can invest in something like a short-term treasury fund and it will pay similar to a high yield savings account, but your gains will be state-tax free, plus you’ll earn a bonus! What’ll you’ll want to look for is a bonus that does NOT require a long hold.  The chart will let you know how long your money needs to be locked up.  This can range from one month to five years, so be sure to look closely!

What if I have a short-term goal, like purchasing a house in a year, is this something I could do? Yes. Make sure you pick an investment with no to very low risk like a money market fund or a Short-term treasury fund.  Be sure to look at the required hold time.  Choose something a year or less just in case that perfect house pops up sooner than you planned.

What if I need to withdraw my funds early?  Again, check the fine print closely.  It’s typically a no harm, no bonus situation.  There are not penalties for withdrawing from non-retirement funds.  Some of these accounts do charge ACAT transfer fees so be sure to transfer somewhere that reimburses fees or sell investments and then withdraw cash.

I have personally opened many of these accounts so feel free to reach out with any questions.  Two of them that I am doing at this moment are the Chase Self Invest – this is a great but small bonus and can be done once a year.  So, why not take that extra cash?  I’m also working on the Etrade bonus (just $100 – but it’s 20% APY!).  Don’t be fooled by some of the smaller bonuses – some of them offer exceptional returns.  Plus, remember, this is just on the amount you have in there, your investments will also, hopefully, go up!