[Update 1/31/21: Reposting this from prior years. Also worth doing a search in the comments if you are trying to find out about a particular bank.]
A reader asked us to compile a database of which banks send out Form 1099s for bank bonuses. This is fairly simple: just about all banks send out a Form 1099INT for cash earned from a bank account bonus, as well as for any interest earned on the account. Keep in mind even if no 1099 form is sent out, you are still required to pay taxes and self report.
There may be a few banks who send it out as a Form 1099MISC instead – I recall getting that from one bank bonus – but you should assume any bank bonus will be reported on a tax form and require a tax payment. And, yes, that means bank bonuses aren’t worth their full value, just like any other income, since part goes to the government.
There are a few notes and exceptions to add here:
- Some readers in the comments here mention that PNC, TD, and Regions don’t send out 1099s. Others did get for those.
- There was once some Wells Fargo bonuses which were not sending out 1099s. Not sure if that’s still the case on more recent Wells bonuses. One theory there was that a bonus which required debit card usage, Wells does not send a 1099. (There was a similar thing mentioned by one small bank who didn’t send out a 1099 for legit interest earned since it had requirements to earn the interest.)
- Reader Veronica points out that there have been a few rebate bank bonuses from Slickdeals. Those probably won’t be reported anywhere. There are occasionally rebate bonuses from banks, e.g. get a $100 Visa gift card or toaster. Those might not get a 1099 either. This year, we had the $100 Amazon gift card bonus from Fidelity for spending/investment accounts, and no 1099 is being issued on that.
- Credit card signup bonuses never get a Form 1099. The reason being that there’s always a minimum spend requirement, and the bonus is considered to be offsetting the purchase.
- Citibank sends out a 1099 MISC on bank bonuses that come in the form of ThankYou points since they consider that a cash value, but only if they value your points earnings at $600+. (Even Citi does not send a 1099 on any credit card bonus.)
- Chase is sending out a Form 1099INT for Ultimate Rewards bonuses received for opening a bank account. Even earnings less than $600 will get the form since they file it as 1099INT which is reportable as little as $10. There were a couple of points checking bonuses offered this year, including the current 60,000 points Sapphire Banking bonus and the expired Chase Ultimate Rewards 30,000 points business checking bonus.
- For brokerage bonuses, they’ll sometimes send out a 1099MISC, especially for bonuses $600+. My understanding is that most brokerages do not send for less than $600. Technically, it may have to be self-reported, regardless, but I assume most people don’t. A banker once mentioned to me that the brokerage bonus is meant to offset the costs of switching brokerages, so maybe that’s a reason it doesn’t need to be reported.
- As far as referral bonuses go, generally, banks will send out a 1099MISC if the following two conditions are both met: 1) the bonus is in cash, not points, 2) you got $600+ in bonuses throughout the calendar year. So your standard Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards referral bonus will probably not get a 1099. We wrote some more detail on this in this dedicated post on referral bonuses. UPDATE 1/31/19: Amex is sending out 1099s for bonuses earned on credit card referrals during 2018, even on points bonuses. And now Chase is doing the same.
- Tangentially, it’s worth noting that many other businesses offer referral programs, and typically they’ll send out a Form 1099MISC for cash bonuses of $600+ in a single calendar year. Think shopping programs like Ebates and Ibotta. Most people don’t get anywhere near $600 in referrals, but if you do, you’ll likely get an email asking you to fill out a Form W-9 so they can send you a 1099 on the earnings.
- If anyone is aware of other interesting exceptions to the 1099 rule, let us know and we’ll add it in.
Most banks have an opt-in to get the forms electronically, it might even be the default option during signup. 1099 forms are usually required to be sent out to the consumer by January 31st. Keep a lookout in your inbox by that date for those who do receive electronic 1099s, or check your mailbox for snailmail documents.
Please consult with your tax advisor for tax advice. This article is for informational purposes only.