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Citizens Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

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Citizens Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0
3.0 stars out of 5

Learn more
at Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank’s basic checking and savings accounts make banking convenient. But Citizens’ high overdraft fees and low returns on savings might dampen your excitement for this regional bank.

The bottom line

  • Citizens can be a convenient brick-and-mortar bank and ATM network if you live in its core coverage area, which stretches from Michigan to New Hampshire. It also provides a decent online and mobile experience.
  • It’s easy to avoid monthly fees on the bank’s basic checking and savings accounts, but its savings rates aren’t competitive.

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

Our Ratings
Checking accounts3.5 stars out of 5
Savings & money market accounts3.0 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit (CDs)2.5 stars out of 5
Customer experience3.5 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees2.0 stars out of 5
Overall3.0 stars out of 5

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

Checking accounts

3.5 stars out of 5
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 per month, as the account’s name suggests. The ATM network includes 3,200 ATMs in 11 states, mostly in the Northeast; you’ll fork over $3 in out-of-network ATM fees plus ATM operator fees if you’re outside of the coverage area.

  • No minimum or opening balance required for One Deposit Checking.
  • It's easy to get the monthly fee waived on One Deposit Checking. You only need to make one deposit of any amount per month.
  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee is on the higher end compared with other regional and national banks. This could add up if you live outside of the Northeast.
Account reviewed for rating: One Deposit Checking

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Savings and money market accounts

3.0 stars out of 5
3.0 / 5.0
Citizens Bank provides basic savings and money market accounts as well as at least two premium versions of each. Annual percentage yields are consistently below the national average. The basic Green Savings and Personal Money Market accounts earn 0.01% APY, and premium accounts earn only slightly more. The basic money market account lets you write up to three checks per month.

You can save with specified goals in mind through two savings programs that involve automatic transfers between accounts. There are also two savings accounts that specifically target long-term goals: the College Saver and HomeBuyer Savings accounts. You can earn a $1,000 bonus after meeting program requirements, but locking your money away at a 0.05% APY isn’t necessarily the best you can do.

  • No opening deposit requirements for Green Savings; first four monthly fees waived.
  • Two savings programs available to set up automatic transfers to savings and track goals.
  • Must have minimum daily balance of $200 to avoid $4.99 monthly fee on Green Savings.
  • Must have $2,500 minimum daily balance to avoid $10 monthly fee on basic money market.
  • APY of 0.01% for basic savings and money market accounts; not much better for other accounts.
Account reviewed for rating: Green Savings

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

Certificates of deposit

2.5 stars out of 5
2.5 / 5.0
Citizens Bank features three main CDs 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 a much lower yield than the other two. All three have high minimum deposit requirements. Citizens offers more CD terms, between one and 120 months, but they’re not advertised online.

  • Online-only 14-month CD earns 0.50% APY, which is higher than the national average for similar CD terms.
  • Few term options for the high-yield CDs featured online.
  • Steep minimum deposit requirements: $1,000 for 14- and 48-month CDs and $10,000 for 12-month breakable CD.
  • The 12-month breakable CD earns a standard rate of 0.05% APY and the 48-month CD earns 0.10% APY, below the national average.
Accounts reviewed for rating: 14-month and 48-month CDs and “breakable” 12-month CD

Customer experience

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

Citizens Bank has a considerable presence mainly in the Northeast with 1,200 branches in 11 states. The bank rounds off its customer support with a 24/7 call center and online chat. The bank’s website makes it easy to find and compare the main offerings for checking, savings and other accounts. Online banking features include a branch and ATM locator tool.

The bank’s mobile app receives four out of five stars on both the iTunes app store and Google Play store, and it has a standard set of features, including bill pay, money transfers and mobile check deposits. There have been complaints on the app stores about recent updates, though.

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 stars out of 5
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 a transfer occurs, and the line of credit also has a flat $30 annual fee.

» MORE: Best banks and credit unions in the Northeast

Learn more
at Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank might make sense if you’re in the bank’s main coverage area and want an easy way to avoid checking fees. But the online and mobile features don’t stand out compared with other big banks, and savings rates are higher at online institutions. For the most part, you can do better elsewhere.

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

Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each category: checking, savings, CDs, 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 tech and customer service. Several Nerds contribute to each financial institution’s ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.

What the ratings mean:
5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best
4.5 stars out of 5 — Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
4 stars out of 5 — Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
3.5 stars out of 5 — Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
3 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution
2.5 stars out of 5 (or below) — Best to avoid