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Is there any hidden catch in offers like this sample offer? I just can't understand what is the idea behind this offer --- What's the benefit for PNC if they give 100$?

Sorry if it is a dumb question, I am a new international student and this is my first encounter with banking system in the U.S.

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There's no catch.

Banks need to acquire customers just like any other business. One common way to acquire new customers is by advertising on the radio, TV, print, etc. Another common way to acquire new customers is by offering incentives like the one you linked to.

Basically, PNC is confident that they will make more than $100 in profit over the entire lifetime of a customer. This is a very reasonable assumption, considering that:

  • In the second quarter of 2010, PNC Financial reported $851M in net income.
  • According to Wikipedia, they have approximately 5M customers.
  • Therefore, net income per customer was $172 for just April through June 2010.
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    That said, do read the fine print to find out about fees and minimum balance requirements. An account maintenance fee of only $10/mo would eat up your initial $100 within 10 months (obviously). – dbkk Sep 5 '10 at 17:33
  • @dbkk The only fee I see there is 10$ annual fee for linking checking account with a debit card. However, I don't quite understand if they charge anything for on-line debit card payments. – Grigory Yaroslavtsev Sep 5 '10 at 18:22
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To add in a brief expansion to Portman's complete answer. The payment can also be thought of as compensation for your "switching cost". Obviously it is inconvenient to transfer your account from one bank to another (changing static payments, stationery, that sort of thing). The cash is offered as payment towards that inconvenience.

Given the profits that banks make you can think of the $100 in much the same way as a store offering you a 5% discount on your next shopping trip.

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