Posted by William Charles on December 29, 2014
Bank Account Bonuses

Published on December 29th, 2014 | by William Charles


[IL, MI, OH, PA, WI only] First Merit Bank $150 Checking Bonus

Offer at a glance

  • Maximum bonus amount: $150
  • Availability: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin only
  • Direct deposit required: Optional 
  • Additional requirements: See below
  • Hard/soft pull: Soft
  • Credit card funding: Yes, up to $10,000
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Early account termination fee: $25 if closed within 90 days. Need to keep account open for a full year to get bonus.
  • Expiration date: None listed

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Earn up to $150 for participating in select services with First Merit. You also need to enroll in the FirstMerit Shop and Earn program ($1 per month but can be cancelled when requirements are met). Services are as follows:
    • Bill Pay. Pay three bills per month for the first three months
    • Direct Deposit. Make two direct deposits of $250 or more per month for two consecutive months
    • Paperless statements. Sign up for paperless statements and receive them for two consecutive months
  • The amount you’ll earn depends on how many of the above services you enroll in and complete the requirements.
    • One service: $25
    • Two services: $75
    • Three services: $150

The Fine Print

  • Bonus is payable 30 days after your account anniversary date 
  • You must enroll in the qualifying services within 90 days of account opening
  • This offer is available on all the checking accounts
  • All bank account bonuses are treated as income/interest and as such you have to pay taxes on them

Referral Bonus

You’ll receive $10 for everybody you refer to First Merit bank. It looks like you can combine that with this $150 checking promotion, but make sure you double check. More information here.

Avoiding Fees

The easiest way to avoid monthly fees is to open a Reality checking account which does not come with any. There is an early account termination fee of $25 if you close the account within 90 days, but you’d need to keep it open for at least that long to avoid any early account termination fees according to this fee schedule.

If your account does not have any activity on it for 90 days or more, you’ll be charged a $25 fee. So it’s important you have some activity on the account to avoid this.

Our Verdict

The worst part of this bonus is that it requires you to keep the account open for a year + 30 days to actually get the bonus. If we had some data points on what triggered the direct deposit requirement, it might be worth it but at the moment I’d put this into the too hard basket.

This is especially true when you consider the other better bonuses out there. The only redeeming feature for this account is the credit card funding, but we’re not sure how much you can actually fund and whether it will be coded as a cash advance or not. If you have any experience with this bank, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

In the meantime we’ve added this to our list of state specific checking promotions.

Direct link to offer

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My application was declined. Tried to open with 10K. Got an email today that my application has been cancelled and I need to go in branch if I need more information.


i opened an acct 3/3/2014. made 2 direct dep. for 2 consecutive mos. of $250
paperless statements
3 bill payed for 4 consecutive mos.
thought i had met all requirements. expected $150 on 3/3/2015 wrong
i was given $75 when i inquired why i was told that i have to have two direct dep. of $250 each month
in other words a total of 4 dep in two consecutive mos. which would be 2x$250 for two consecutive mos.
the wording is intentionally misleading. and when i tried to close the acct they said it would be a $25
fee because it hasnt been a yr. what? mar3 2014 to mar3 2015 isnt a yr.? go figure. obviously i dint pay the fee, i withdrew all my money . i called them and gave them a piece of my mind


Thank you very much for the verification. I thought the same as you. I re-read the terms in this light and yes, now that you brought it to our attention it DOES say EACH month, but worded badly.


Just something for people to be aware of. When you are opening the Reality Checking account, you need to enroll in the MeritRewards Shop and Earn program in order to be eligible for the $150 account bonus. This service costs $1 per month, but I called in and inquired, and you can cancel the service after meeting all account requirements within the first 90 days, and that will avoid the $1/month while keeping you eligible for the signup bonus.

Don L

I was charged a cash advance fee for using Chase Freedom to fund the account – will attempt to get this corrected – my cash advance limit was set to the minimum of $20.

Would have posted this on the thread, but it doesn’t look like comments can be added anymore.


I’m planning to open an account. May I know how much you funded with Freedom? Thank you.

Don L

Looks like First Merit will be going away – merged into Huntington Bank

J Flag
J Flag

Has anyone opened an account recently? I am interested in the account solely for the CC funding so any info on that would be very helpful!


Possibly due to the above mentioned merger, the FirstMerit Shop and Earn program has been terminated and they paid my bonus early. The bonuses were not to be paid until 1 year + 30 days after opening, which would have put me into March of next year. I was happy I could get rid of another account, until I heard the horn playing “wuh wuh waaaaaa”. Then I remembered 2 things:

There is still an account closing fee of $25 if closed within ONE YEAR of account opening.
While waiting that out, there is still an inactivity fee of $25 for 90 days of inactivity.

So beware if you are in a similar position.

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