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  • I love my online bank account, but my personal account was the best way to get European cash.
  • Chase was offering a $300 bonus at the time, so we opened an account in my husband’s name.
  • Since my name wasn’t on the account, I could qualify for another Chase bonus in the future.

Almost four years ago, I closed all my accounts at my national brick-and-mortar bank and instead moved to one of the best online banks. My spouse and I opened our first high-yield savings account and even opened a checking account at the same online bank so we could easily move money between accounts.

Online banking isn’t for everyone – if you earn cash or live in an area with a poor internet connection, it probably doesn’t make sense for you.

But for me it was the perfect solution and I will sing the praises of most online banks to anyone who will listen. No monthly service fees? The best high-yield savings rates? And at least my bank has 24/7 live customer support? What’s not to love, people?

For years I swore I would never need a bank with local branches. So imagine my surprise when my husband convinced me to open a Chase checking account (while still keeping our online bank accounts). And it turns out… he was right.

We had to exchange foreign currency

My husband and I had been planning a trip to Europe for a long time. We planned to use our Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card for most purchases since it didn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, but we still wanted to have cash on hand just in case. (This came in handy. We had card problems at a few small gas stations, and there were a few local stores that only accepted cash.)

Problem? Our online bank does not exchange foreign currencies.

There are plenty of banks that exchange currencies, but most of them are stationary banks. Oh, and for most of them you have to be a customer. We could try to withdraw euros or francs from the airport or a foreign ATM, but these are much more expensive options than using a bank.

My instinct was to call the local credit unions and see if any would let us exchange currency without opening an account. But my husband suggested that we could save time by simply opening an account with a large bank that we knew had a lot of experience with foreign exchange – in this case, Chase.

We received a cash bonus of $300

So why did we choose Chase over other well-known banks in our area? For a cash bonus.

We are long-time Chase credit card customers, so the banks regularly send offers to our home. We usually roll our eyes and throw them in the trash. But now that we were looking for a brick-and-mortar bank, an offer in our mailbox caught our attention: Chase Total Checking had extended its offer to earn a $300 bonus for a checking account.

The exact offer we received is no longer available, but other Chase offers usually have similar requirements. All we had to do was open an account using the coupon code and make direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 90 days of registering the coupon.

So we transferred $500 from our online account to Chase and the $300 was transferred to our account within 15 business days. And we got the foreign currency we needed.

Ultimately, we got the best of both worlds: We saved for the trip in our high-yield savings account and earned great interest on it for months. Then we got a cash bonus from Chase.

We have closed the account – for now

I’m someone who likes to keep all my bank accounts in one place, so when we got home from our trip, we closed our Chase account.

But what happens if one day we need to exchange currency again?

We can always open another brick-and-mortar bank account before our next trip, maybe even with Chase. The bank has a rule that cash bonuses are only for new customers, but the thing is that this time we opened an account only in my husband’s name. I wasn’t associated with the account at all. So next time maybe we’ll open an account in my name and try to get another cash bonus.

I’m still a big supporter of online banking, but no two people’s financial situations are the same. Sometimes it’s just worth turning to personal banking, even if you never thought you’d go back.


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