The Magic of Referral Bonuses

Referral programs: the perfect way to incentivize people to get their financial shit in order. I’ve written in the past on how I’ve made a hefty amount of money from Chase Sapphire Preferred referrals. Since writing that post, I’ve referred yet another co-worker to the card, increasing my total referral bonus earn on the card to $350. 

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The best referral programs are the ones that incentivize both parties. Sure, you may get some extra cash for each person you sign up for Bluehost, Share-A-Sale. or Awin, but if the person referred doesn’t get a little extra as well, what’s the likelihood they’re going to click?

Programs that reward everyone are win-win. It’s a huge part of why I’ve kept my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for so long, despite no longer having large travel-related expenditures. The card feels nice, I use it as my primary card, and the $100 referral bonus essentially covers my annual fee. Although referring someone to a Chase card doesn’t give them an additional bonus, I count it as a win-win because referred friends still get the full sign-up offer for the card that they’re referred to. That’s often not the case with American Express, who has highly tailored sign-up offers (more on that in a moment). It’s definitely not the case for every referral program out there.

Checking and Savings Referral Bonus

Capital One 360 gives you $20 for each person you refer. Anyone referred gets a $25 account opening bonus. Don’t have a 360 account, but interested in opening one? Here’s my referral link. I love my 360 savings accounts because of how much I can customize them. I’m well aware that the benefits of a Capital One 360 account aren’t significantly greater than other checking/savings accounts; that’s probably why I haven’t received any referral bonuses through this program.

Most banks have referral programs for checking/savings accounts. For example, TD Bank gives both the referee and the referrer $25. However, banks have very good incentives for new customers, often offering between $100-$300 to open a new account. Because of that, it’s no surprise that banking referrals offer such a small incentive.

Credit Card Referral Bonus

Chase has the most established credit card referral program. Have a Chase card? You can see what referrals you’re eligible for by checking out their dedicated referral site. The same goes for American Express, although their referral offers are less frequent. I wish I knew what bonuses AmEx offers. Chase now offers $100 bonuses for Freedom and Sapphire Preferred referrals. (It used to only be $50.)

Discover has an interesting referral program. While the bonus is only $50, whoever you refer is also eligible for a $50 bonus, so long as they use the card within the first 3 months. Even if Discover’s offer isn’t as rich as Chase’s, I have to imagine it’s far easier to get someone interested in signing up for a card if there’s an extra $50 in it for them.

Investment Referral Bonus

At the beginning of the year, I finally started investing outside of my retirement fund. After looking at and trying a couple different platforms (Robinhood, Betterment, Acorns, etc.), I went with Wealthfront, due to the appeal of robo-investing and lower fees. Wealthfront’s standard sign-up offer is that your first $10K managed free. I was referred by my boyfriend, giving us both an extra $5K in managed funds.

Wealthfront’s Referral Program

8 months and 2 referrals later, I now get $25K in no-fee managed funds.

Help your friends start investing, and help yourself, too

Although my Wealthfront account balance is well below $25K, it’s incredibly motivating to see that I’m getting a benefit out of helping others take big financial steps. It’s good for Wealthfront, too (obviously).

Betterment, another robo-advisor similar to Wealthfront, offers 30 days of no fees for every friend referred. Referred friends get 3 months free. The cherry on top? For every 3 friends referred, you get a whole year free. Use Betterment? I hope you’re taking advantage of this! Extra cash can be found almost anywhere. Robinhood will give you free stocks, and Acorns gives you $5 or $10 in cash. Seriously, most brokerages offer referral bonuses. This compiled list by Money’s My Life shows just how much free money is out there, waiting.


If you’re already a customer at any of these institutions, take a minute to look at referral program requirements. You never know when you’ll come across someone looking for a recommendation. And, if you’re on the other side, and you know you’re going to open a new account somewhere, ask around first and help a friend out. Chances are, someone can give you a referral, and you’ll both get a little extra for your trouble.

Did I miss any big referral programs? What types of referrals have you found to be the most successful?


  1. Wow – didn’t realize that Chase had a dedicated referral site. We do travel hack, but haven’t explored the referral aspect of this – didn’t realize there was one! Thank you 🙂

    1. Author

      Yep! Might as well get extra incentives for sharing the love, especially if you travel hack with Chase cards.

  2. Chase cards for the win! After cashing out a round of bonus points, between Amex Barclaycard and Chase, Chase Ultimate Rewards were the best value AND the easiest to use. They really are the cream of the crop in rewards points.

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