Reposting this because we’ve gotten a lot of questions relating to this recently.
Banks and credit unions don’t have the best reputation for customer service, especially when it comes to paying consumers money. Recently there have been a few examples of financial institutions not honoring bank account bonuses, most notably Wells Fargo has dragged their feet on this $100 bonus and Alliant claims that this $150 offer was targeted, even though they accepted applications and the fine print never stated it was a targeted promotion.
In cases like this, the financial institution is legally required to pay you the bonus. The onus is on them to ensure that the fine print states whether the promotion is targeted or not, furthermore they should be using unique invitational codes so that consumers can’t sign up for offers they aren’t eligible for.
[Read: Best bank account bonuses]
In the event that this bait and switch happens to you, here is what you should do:
- Re-read the fine print carefully. You should always take a screenshot of any offers you sign up for. This way you have evidence of what the offer was like when you signed up. In some cases there might be a reason as to why you haven’t received your bonus (e.g sometimes bonuses take 120 days after the requirements are met to post). In the case of the Wells Fargo bonus, Wells Fargo requires consumers to have their W9 on file for the bonus to post.
- Contact the banks customer support. Usually you can send a secured message or e-mail. If you call, make sure you get the customer service representatives name or employee ID and also get a reference code for the call. If you don’t get an adequate response (e.g they pay out the bonus) then it’s time to escalate.
- File a complaint with the CFPB. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online here. Make sure to include as much information as possible, here is what I recommend including:
- Screenshot of the offer at the time of your application (if you forgot or lost your screenshot, we take and post these on our site as well)
- Any correspondence you’ve made with the bank and any outcomes of this correspondence. E.g, “Called bank on 11/11/2013 customer service rep employee ID 129513, phone call reference number 028457. Representative stated that the bonus would post to my account within two weeks. It has been three weeks, bonus has still not posted)
The CFPB is extremely pro-active about these complaints. They’ll forward your complaint to the financial institution, in every instance I’ve seen a valid complaint made in regards to bank bonuses the financial institution has responded within 5 working days and a satisfactory outcome (e.g the bonus being paid) has been achieved.
You should not worry about ruining your banking relationship by using this complaint process, adverse action taken on this basis is extremely illegal and no financial institution in their right mind would take this risk. Financial institutions are required to play by rules and if they fail to do so, making a CFPB complaint is the easiest way to get a positive outcome.