In summary, the deal is:
If we deposit $100 into a debit card account, and keep the account open for 6 months, Chase will give us $100. The "free" $100 will show up 10 business days after we've made our $100 deposit.
As usual, we combed through the details. Unlike previous offers from other institutions, this one seems like one we can live with and not have it affect our spending behaviors.
To avoid monthly service fees on the account (which would eat away at that generous $100), we have to either have direct deposit OR make 5 debit card purchases in a month. In any given month, we use our debit card more than 5 times (like rending $1 movies from RedBox, buying gas, buying groceries, etc.). So the latter criteria, 5 buys, is doable.
For the $100 we have to pony up, well that can simply be moved over from our usual checking account. No biggie there.
If we close the account before the 6 month mark, then Chase will extract the $100 we put in. I'm okay with that.
We've decided to go for it. Val will get the account started online, and we will put in $100. We will put on our calendar that in 7 months we need to withdraw any money left in the account and close it.
If we do this, deposit $100, then in 6 months we will have effectively earned another $100.
Obviously Chase isn't really going to give us the $100 of their money if they can help it. They are gambling that our 5 purchases in a given month will result in enough merchant fees to cover the $100 we are getting. They are also gambling that we will stay as long term customers which will result in fee charges to us over time and/or more merchant fees that result from our purchases.
Lastly, banks need to have a certain amount of cash within customers accounts to keep within various regulations around how much money they, Chase, can lend out. This gimmick will allow them to show more money in customer accounts to regulators. Very slick.
Go Chase! Go $100 into our sailing fund!