TCF Gives $100 for Opening a Checking Account

The Wayzata-based bank holding company is giving the incentive to new customers after they complete 10 checking account transactions.

How do you get people to open a checking account? Pay them $100.

TCF Financial Corporation is betting on that equation. The Wayzata-based company said Monday that it's offering the incentive to qualifying customers.

Individuals can qualify by opening a checking account and using it to complete 10 transactions-thus demonstrating that it's an “active account,” said spokesman Jason Korstange.

“We're trying to have a very convenient, customer-friendly account,” he said. Free checking accounts are another important part of that. TCF charges no monthly fee to customers who deposit at least $500, make at least 10 qualifying withdrawals from their checking account, or have a $2,500 balance between all of their accounts. No minimum balance is required.

“We think we've got a really good account out there for people to use,” Korstange said, adding that offering the $100 incentive will get people to see that.

A $50 cash incentive has been a standard offering for a number of years. This isn't the first time that TCF has offered the $100 cash incentive, but unlike previous times when it's been offered, this promotion has an open-ended time frame.

“If it really works well [and gets people to open accounts], we'll continue on with it,” Korstange said.

TCF has tested numerous incentives previously. The most popular items it's given away in the past are cash, Cub Foods gift cards and gas cards-although blankets and toasters have also been offered as new customer gifts.

TCF has undertaken considerable efforts to make its offerings attractive to customers. Earlier this year, it started experimenting with its policies surrounding overdraft fees. In January, the company launched a pilot program under which customers who have a negative balance at the end of the day are charged a fee of $10 to $25, depending on the amount overdrawn. The new structure could replace a program under which customers are charged for each transaction made without sufficient funds.

TCF is also leading the fight against another regulatory change that places limits on fees that banks can collect for debit-card transactions. The company sued the Federal Reserve in October, alleging that the provisions are unconstitutional. Last month, a federal judge opted not to throw out the suit as requested by the Federal Reserve-but he also denied TCF's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the limits from being enforced.

With approximately $18.7 billion in total assets, TCF Financial Corporation-which operates subsidiary TCF National Bank-is Minnesota's second-largest bank holding company. It has 442 branches in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, and South Dakota.