Seven months ago, I blogged about the $175 bonus promotion from E*Trade Bank. The offer does require some little patience and a couple of hours of work, but it hands you $75 for opening a checking account, $25 for setting up bill payment, and $75 for direct depositing for three months, for a total of $175.
In the last several months, I completed the offer requirements for both my own account and another account under the name for my wife. $350 received with no surprise, and it contribute almost 20% of my 2004 smart savings of $1,545.
To E*Trade's credit, their checking account is great -- except for the $10/month charge if you cannot maintain the $1,000 minimal balance after the six-month grace period for new customers. Especially, its online ETF transfer is faster than most other services I used. I also love the neat design of its web site.
To be honest, I was not diligent in closing accounts so I did pay out $20 as banking charges. As I hate any recurring charges whatsoever, I closed both accounts between December and January. To my surprise, it is very easy to close an account. All it takes is a phone call to 1-800-ETRADE1 (1-800-387-2331), a 8-15 minutes wait on the line until you can talk to a CSR, and a 1-minute talk in which she verifies where to send your remaining balance as a check.
Why it surprises me is because there seems to be no retention mechanism in E*Trade. In both calls, CSRs from E*Trade asked no question about why I want to leave and made no efforts to keep me as a customer.
E*Trade is paying big money incentives for people to open accounts, and it just lets existing customers leave so easily. For many businesses, it is much easier to retain current customers than to recruit new ones (one recent PFBlog example: $240 discount from Comcast). Will E*Trade learn this?
Bonus: if you haven't taken advantage of E*Trade yet, the $175 offer is still available. Apply today at http://www.etrade.com/175. (Disclosure: I don't personally benefit from this recommendation, but you can reward me by coming back to PFBlog.com frequently.)