Citizens Bank Review - Everything You Need to Know

A full-service bank with branches on the East Coast, Ohio, and Michigan

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Citizens Bank is a large banking institution based primarily on the East Coast with additional locations in Ohio and Michigan. It offers full-service options including student loans, home and personal lending, and investment services. Founded in 1828, Citizens Bank has a long history of serving the communities where it’s located. In this review, we will take a closer look at some the highlights of Citizens Bank.

Who is Citizens Bank For?

should appeal to most banking consumers who want a traditional banking experience. It may be a good option for people who:

  • Want to bank at a traditional brick-and-mortar location
  • Need loan services such as student loans, home loans, or personal loans
  • Want wealth management and investment services
  • Own a small business

Pros

  • Large presence with 1,109 locations on the East Coast, Ohio, and Michigan

  • 2,900 ATMs for banking convenience

  • A full range of services including checking and savings accounts, loan services, wealth management services, and certificates of deposit

  • Easy-to-use online interface and app

Cons

  • Lower interest rates than online banks on checking accounts and savings accounts

  • Must have deposits of at least $25,000 to get the best interest rates

  • Many checking and savings accounts have fees that can only be waived under specific conditions

  • No branch locations outside of the East Coast, Ohio and Michigan

Types of Accounts

Citizens Bank offers the following types of accounts:

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Credit cards
  • IRA savings and CDs
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Money market accounts
  • Investment options
  • Loan options

Checking Accounts

All of Citizens Bank’s checking accounts carry a fee. And all these fees can be waived if you meet specific requirements. It’s a good idea to understand the fee structure for each account so that you don’t end up getting dinged with maintenance fees. After all, even a maintenance fee of just $3.99 a month can add up to $47.88 a year down the drain.

Checking Accounts
Type of Checking Account Monthly Fee Terms to Avoid Fee APY
Student Checking Account No fee before age 25; $3.99 after age 25 Be under age 25 No APY
One Deposit Checking $9.99 One deposit each statement period No APY
Citizens Bank Platinum Checking $25 $25,000 deposit across all accounts .02% APY
Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Checking $25 $25,000 deposit across all accounts and $5,000 deposits in your checking account, or an average balance in your checking accout of $10,000 .07% APY

Brick and mortar institutions like Citizens Bank have much lower or even nonexistent interest rates compared to their online-only competitors. They also tend to have higher fees. This is because there are a lot of overhead expenses in maintaining the building and staff for brick and mortar banks. 

It’s a tradeoff: you can either have a physical location and interaction with local staff, or you can have higher interest rates. You usually can't get both.

Savings Accounts

Citizens Bank offers four separate savings accounts, some of them have monthly maintenance fees while others don’t.

Savings Accounts
Type of Savings Account Monthly Fee Terms to Avoid Fee APY
Green Savings $4.99 4 months waived, then daily minimum of $200 .01% APY + potential reward (see below)
Citizens Platinum Savings No Fees $25,000 deposit across all accounts .02% APY
Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Savings No Fees $25,000 deposit across all accounts and $5000 deposits in your checking account, or an average balance in your checking account of $10,000 .07% APY
CollegeSaver No Fees N/A .05% APY + potential bonus (see below)
  • Green Savings Rewards – In the Green Savings account you can earn rewards including gift cards for up to $250 to merchants like Applebee’s, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Marriott and more. You can receive that $250 card by saving at least $400 a month for 36 months on top of your opening balance. You can also receive merchant discounts as a reward for saving between $25 and $49 a month for at least eight months.
  • CollegeSaver Bonus – Receive a $1000 bonus on your college savings when you open a CollegeSaver account before your child turns twelve. Then deposit at least $25 a year if your child is under six or $50 a year if your child is between six and twelve. The bonus is deposited into the account when the child turns 18. There is a $25 minimum opening deposit if your child is under age six and a $500 minimum deposit if your child is between six and twelve.

    Out of all these savings accounts, the CollegeSaver account is the best deal as long as you meet the terms. It’s a good idea to set up automatic transfers to the CollegeSaver account so that you are sure to qualify for the $1,000 payout when your child turns 18.

    If you are looking for a more competitive rate on your savings account, then you may want to consider putting your money into an online bank instead of a brick-and-mortar branch. Typically, online banks have much higher interest rates on their savings accounts.

    Credit Cards

    If you’re looking for a credit card with a good cashback program, then Citizens Bank has a card for you. They offer two separate cards, one that has a cashback program and one that has a slightly better interest rate. Neither card has an annual fee, but both have higher interest rates than more competitive cards.

    Credit Cards
    Credit Card Name Cash Back 0% Introductory Period Interest Rate After Intro Period
    Citizens Bank Cashback Plus World MasterCard 1.8% on all purchases First 15 cycles 16.49% to 24.49%
    Citizens Bank Clear Value MasterCard None First 18 cyles 14.49% to 22.49%

    If you are disciplined about paying off your credit cards every month, then the Citizens Bank Cashback Plus World Mastercard has a cashback program that is easy to understand and very competitive. At 1.8% cash back on every purchase, you can accrue a decent amount of extra money on your spending.

    However, both of these cards have high interest rates after the introductory period. If you tend to carry a balance, then you'll probably want to shop for a card with a better rate.

    To avoid paying high interest rates on your credit cards, pay off your balance each month.

    IRA Savings and CDs

    Citizens Bank offers both IRA savings accounts and IRA CD accounts. These accounts allow your money to grow for retirement.

    • IRA Savings is an account that you can automatically transfer money into from your checking account on a predetermined basis. This makes saving for retirement easy. To avoid the monthly maintenance fee of $4.99, you just need to maintain a minimum daily balance of $200. This account is FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor across all accounts. The interest rate is currently 0.75% APY and can vary with the market.
    • IRA CDs are FDIC-insured accounts (insured up to the federal maximum) that will grow your funds with a higher fixed rate that you can get in a savings account. These accounts can be opened with as little as $250 and have time frames of maturity between one and 120 months. Interest rates vary depending on the type of account you hold. Platinum Plus checking customers get the best rates at 2.75% APY.

      The biggest advantage to these accounts is the fact that they are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor per bank. And if you qualify for a Platinum Plus Checking account, the CD rates are relatively competitive — if you don't qualify for that option, then you may want to shop around. As of December 2018, Discover Bank is offering a 3.00% APY on a five-year IRA CD with a minimum deposit of $2,500. 

      Certificates of Deposit

      There are three different Certificates of Deposit available at Citizens Bank: an online-only 13-month CD, a 12-month CD, and a 36-month CD.

      Certificates of Deposit
      CD Type Mimum Balance to Open APY APY with Platinum Checking APY with Platinum Plus Checking
      Online-only 13-month $1,000 1.00% N/A N/A
      12-Month $1,000 .10% 1.70% 2.00%
      36-Month $1,000 .03% .04% .05%

      It’s strange that the 12-month CD at Citizens Bank outperforms the 36-month CD, because longer terms usually have higher yields. And with the exception of the 12-month CD with a Platinum Plus checking account, these CDs have rates that could be described as "anemic." If you want to earn more, do a quick online search and you’ll find many banks (particularly online-only banks) that are offering rates at 3% and up. That rate is 100 times better than the lowest .03% rate listed here.

      Money Market Accounts

      Like their other products, Citizens Bank gives the biggest perks to those who have Platinum and Platinum Plus checking accounts. But there is also a Personal Money Market Account which you can open without having a Platinum or Platinum Plus checking account.

      Money Market Accounts
      Type of Money Market Promotional APY Opening Balance for Promotional Rate Standard Rate Type of Account Required
      Personal Money Market N/A N/A .01% APY N/A
      Citizens Bank Platinum Money Market 1.24% APY $25,000 not currently on deposit with Citizens Bank .03% Platinum Checking or $25,000 of new deposits
      Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Money Market 1.64% $25,000 not currently on deposit with Citizens Bank .10% Platinum Checking or $25,000 of new deposits

      Money Market accounts held at Citizens Bank are FDIC insured up to the federal limits. If you open a money market account here, make sure you qualify for one of the promotional APYs on the Platinum or Platinum Plus Money Market account because the other interest rates are super low.

      Investment Options

      Citizens Bank offers three different investment options and an insurance option. These can be very helpful for safeguarding your wealth.

      • SpeciFi Digital Advisor is a digital platform that allows you to build a personalized portfolio specific to your needs.
      • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs and Managed Accounts are all options within the Citizens Bank investment division.
      • Citizens Advisory Solutions (managed accounts) are exactly what they sound like. This is where you have an account manager handling your investment decisions based on your specific needs.
      • Insurance Protection is offered for life, disability, and long-term care.

      These types of investments are generally not insured by the FDIC and are therefore riskier options, but they can produce higher returns than traditional savings accounts or CDs.

      Loan Options

      A full array of loan options are offered by Citizens Bank. From mortgage to refinancing, to personal loans, they probably have a loan to meet your needs. Citizens Bank is a prime lender, meaning they require a strong credit history to obtain a loan.

      The following is required for completing a loan application:

      • Social security number
      • Contact information (address, phone number, and email address)
      • Current income and employment information

      It’s always a good idea to shop around for the best possible deal on your loan. A small difference in the interest rate can make a big difference in how much you must pay back over time.

      How to Open a Citizens Bank Account

      You can open the Citizens Bank account at any or online at any of the specific account pages.

      Here’s what you’ll need to open the account.

      • Social Security number
      • Driver’s license or state ID number
      • A way to fund your deposit (check, credit card, or debit card)

      Credit cards and debit cards can be used to fund your deposit up to a maximum of $1,000. If you want to deposit more than that, then you need to use a check or cash.

      Customer Service

      Citizens Bank has several ways to reach customer service.

      • Call their 24/7 customer service line at 1-800-922-9999
      • Log into your online account and email them
      • Send them a letter
      • Visit a branch

      Disappointingly, Citizens doesn’t have a chat feature on their website that you can access on demand (although a chat box does sometimes pop up when you are browsing around). But when you call the customer service line, their agents are prompt and helpful and you don’t have to wade through tons of automated options to get to a real person.

      About Citizens Bank

      Citizens Bank holds $158.6 billion in assets and deposits of $117.1 billion. They have 1,109 branches and 2,900 ATMs as well as a 24/7 customer contact center and a robust online presence.

      Citizens Bank is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island and was established in 1828. It’s one of the nation’s oldest banks.

      They offer standard banking security procedures and have no history of data breaches.

      At Citizens Bank, all your accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

      The Bottom Line

      Benefits In our review, we found Citizens Bank to be a great choice for anyone who wants a personal and in-person banking experience. They offer all of the traditional banking services such as checking accounts, savings accounts, and loan services. With dedicated 24/7 customer service and an easy-to-navigate site and app, you’ll be able to find all the information you need easily.

      Drawbacks Compared to online-only banks, Citizens Bank’s interest rates are quite low. Most online banks pay close to 2% for savings accounts, while Citizens Bank’s best rate is .07% APY. If you want higher rates of return on your savings and checking accounts — and don't mind sacrificing the in-person service experience — then an online-only bank may be right for you.