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Citizens Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Citizens Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0

 

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Citizens Bank’s overdraft fees are on the high side and its savings returns on the low side. But the bank can be a convenient, cost-effective choice for basic checking and savings if you live in its core coverage area in the Northeast.

The bottom line

  • Easy to avoid monthly fees on basic checking and savings accounts
  • Convenient brick-and-mortar bank in an area that stretches from Michigan to New Hampshire
  • Decent online and mobile experience with savings goal programs
  • Low savings rates; overdraft fees can add up

» MORE: See our full list of bank and credit union reviews

Our ratings
Checking accounts
Savings and money market accounts
Certificates of deposit
Customer experience
Overdraft fees
Overall

Read on for more details about Citizens Bank’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.

Citizens Bank checking


3.5 / 5.0
Citizens Bank offers three checking accounts: basic One Deposit Checking and two accounts for customers with high average balances. To waive One Deposit’s $9.99 monthly fee, you just need to make one deposit — of any amount — per month, as the account’s name suggests.

The ATM network includes more than 3,100 ATMs, mostly in the Northeast; you’ll fork over $3 in out-of-network ATM fees plus any ATM operator fees if you’re using a non-Citizens ATM.

ProsCons
  • No minimum or opening balance required for One Deposit Checking
  • Monthly fee on One Deposit Checking is easy to waive; you need to make only one deposit of any amount per month
  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee is high compared with some other banks
Account reviewed for rating: One Deposit Checking

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Citizens Bank savings


3.0 / 5.0
Interest rates on the basic Green Savings and premium accounts are low, but Citizens Bank has some useful savings programs. If you’re focused on saving for a home or for your kid’s college, there are specific accounts for these goals with a one-time bonus upon completing goals and fulfilling requirements.

You can track other savings goals over months or years with a feature called GoalTrack Savings and potentially earn a gift card after reaching each goal.

ProsCons
  • No opening deposit requirement for Green Savings
  • First four monthly fees waived
  • GoalTrack Savings program lets you create goals and track progress
  • 0.01% annual percentage yield on basic savings account

  • Must have minimum daily balance of $200 to avoid $4.99 monthly fee on Green Savings
Account reviewed for rating: Green Savings

» MORE: Find a savings account with an APY higher than 1%

Citizens Bank CDs


2.5 / 5.0
Citizens Bank features three main certificates of deposit online: 14-month, 48-month and a “breakable” 12-month CD. The breakable CD lets you make one withdrawal during the term without incurring a penalty, but that CD has the lowest yield of the three CDs. All three have relatively high minimum deposit requirements.

The highest rates for these CDs are available to customers who have a high-end checking account with Citizens, but those accounts have a $25 monthly fee and steep minimum balance to waive that fee. Citizens offers more CD terms, from one to 120 months, but they’re not available online.

ProsCons
  • 14-month CD earns 0.50% APY as its standard rate, which is higher than the national average for similar CD terms
  • Few CD terms offered online
  • $1,000 minimum deposit for a 14-month CD isn't unusually high, but you could get a better APY for your money elsewhere
  • High $10,000 minimum for 12-month breakable CD
  • 12-month breakable CD and 48-month CD have much lower APY than 14-month option
Accounts reviewed for rating: 14-month and 48-month CDs and “breakable” 12-month CD

Customer experience


4.0 / 5.0

Citizens Bank has a considerable presence mainly in the Northeast with more than 1,100 branches in 11 states. The bank rounds off its customer support with a 24/7 call center, online chat and an active Twitter account.

The online experience includes a savings goal program and the ability to compare product offerings. The mobile app receives high ratings on both the iOS and Android app stores.

But Citizens Bank paid $20.5 million in federal penalties and $11 million in consumer refunds in 2015 for withholding money from customers: If there were discrepancies between the amount customers actually deposited and what was shown on their receipts, Citizens Bank kept the difference.

Overdraft fees


2.0 / 5.0
Citizens Bank charges relatively high overdraft fees: $35 per occurrence and up to seven fees per day. This brings the daily maximum to $245, which is higher than at other big banks. There’s also a $30 sustained overdraft fee if you leave your account overdrawn for four or more days.

To avoid overdrafts, you can link a savings account or line of credit to your checking account. But the fee is $12 per day that a transfer occurs, and the line of credit also has a flat $30 annual fee and interest.

» MORE: Best banks and credit unions in the Northeast

Citizens+Bank
Learn more
at Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank could make sense if you’re in the bank’s main coverage area and want an easy way to avoid checking fees. The savings goal programs can be helpful, but savings rates are higher at online institutions. For the most part, you can do better elsewhere.

Updated June 8, 2017.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, customer experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.