A recent study from finance company Northwestern Mutual shows the average American now has $38,000 in debt, not including mortgages. Buzz60’s Sean Dowling has more.
Perks and rewards normally associated with credit cards, such as VIP treatment at big events, are now available in a checking account offered by the nation’s largest bank.
JPMorgan Chase is doubling down on its popular Sapphire credit-card rewards program by launching a premium checking account, dubbed Sapphire Banking.
The new checking account gives customers with a minimum balance of $75,000 access to Sapphire lounges at concerts and sporting events, as well as an early crack at tickets before they go on sale to the general public and the opportunity to purchase premium seats.
Customers also benefit from waived fees and get commission-free online trades of U.S.-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds on JPMorgan’s new digital investment platform You Invest.
It’s not unusual for banks to try to lure new checking customers with things such as fee waivers, cash-back offers, fee-free ATMs, airline miles and sign-up bonuses. But it is uncommon for them to offer perks such as VIP treatment at events to customers other than premium credit-card holders.
“The new aspect is attaching nonbanking perks to the relationship outside of credit cards,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at BankRate.com. “Access to concerts and lounges – that’s the new part.”
Driving the trend is banks needing to build a deeper, multiproduct relationship with their customers, especially millennials who are moving into their main earning years when they will need to tap financial services offered by banks, such as loans, investments and credit cards, says Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards.com.
“The rewards are about keeping the customer with the bank,” he says.
Toward that end, JPMorgan Chase said existing Sapphire credit-card holders will be able in October to earn 60,000 Ultimate Reward points, which CNBC says has a value of roughly $900, if they bring in $75,000 in deposits and investments and open or upgrade to a Sapphire Banking account.
The high minimum balance must be maintained for 90 days for clients to earn the reward points. The bank made a big splash in 2016 when it introduced its Sapphire Reserve card with a 100,000-point reward-point bonus.
“We believe we can drive the same fierce loyalty we built with the Sapphire card to a Sapphire bank account,” Thasunda Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, said in a statement.
Still, some personal finance pros warn that bank customers should pay more attention to making sure their cash is earning a competitive return rather than simply sitting idle for the chance to save on an ATM fee or boost their chances of getting a ticket to the big game.
“It’s easy to get distracted with offers of seemingly glamorous perks,” says Kimberly Palmer, banking and credit-card expert at NerdWallet, an online personal finance site.
She points out that if you don’t really need $75,000 sitting in an account that gives you easy access to your cash, you would likely “benefit from putting at least a portion of that amount into the stock market, either through a retirement account or brokerage account.”
Investments in stocks, of course, offer a chance to earn bigger returns.
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