City First Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

City First Bank, one of the largest Black-led banks in the country, offers checking, savings and CDs with low yields but easy-to-waive monthly fees.
May 13, 2022

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Overall bank rating

City First Bank, N.A.
  • Checking

  • Savings

  • CD rates

  • Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

City First Bank is a community-focused institution with bank accounts that offer access to a large network of ATMs. Monthly service fees are easy to waive, but overdraft fees can add up and savings rates are low.

City First Bank is one of the largest Black-led banks in the country. It is a for-profit bank with a focus on empowering underserved people and communities. The bank is a Certified B Corporation and Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI. These are common designations for socially responsible banks.

Best for: Customers who want to bank at a socially responsible bank with broad ATM access, easy ways to avoid monthly fees and who are unlikely to overdraft.

Pros

  • Broad ATM access.
  • Easy to waive monthly fees.
  • CDFI and Certified B Corp.

Cons

  • Low savings and CD rates.
  • High overdraft fees.

Full review

City First Regular Personal Checking Account
City First Regular Personal Checking Account

Checking

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$7.00
Waived with direct deposit or $100 minimum balance

City First’s Regular Personal Checking Account gives customers access to more than 55,000 ATMs nationwide. It has a $7 monthly fee, but that’s easy to waive. You only need to do one of the following to avoid the fee: Enroll in eStatements, keep a minimum average balance of $100, receive one direct deposit per month or make 10 debit card transactions per month.

You’ll need $100 to open the checking account.

City First Personal Savings
City First Personal Savings

Savings

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.05%
With $100 min. balance for APY

City First's Personal Savings Account has a $2 monthly fee, but it’s waived if you keep a minimum monthly average balance of $100. That’s also the minimum amount to open an account. The interest rate is low at 0.05% APY, however. To compare, some of the best online savings accounts earn rates that are 10 times higher, if not more.

» Looking for top online savings rates? Read NerdWallet’s list of the best high-yield online savings accounts.

City First CD
City First CD

CD

Member FDIC

2.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
0.10%
3-year APY
0.15%
5-year APY
0.20%
Minimum deposit
$500

City First Bank offers CDs with terms ranging from three months to five years, though rates are not particularly high. You will need at least $500 to open a CD. That’s a common minimum deposit amount for banks, but there are other institutions that offer CDs with lower minimums and higher yields.

» Want to dig deeper? Learn more about certificates of deposit

Banking experience

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

City First Bank offers customer service by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The bank also offers online banking and mobile apps to let customers access account balances, transfer money and make mobile check deposits. Be aware, however, that if you sign up for online bill pay but don’t make a bill payment within the month, the bank will charge a fee of $5.95.

The bank is relatively new in its current iteration. It was formed from a 2021 merger of Washington, D.C.-based City First Bank and Los Angeles-based Broadway Federal Bank. The two banks on their own, though, had been around for a long time: Broadway Federal Bank was established in 1947, while City First Bank opened in 1998. City First Bank currently operates three branches, two in Los Angeles and one at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Overdraft fees

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

Overdraft fees for City First checking accounts can add up quickly. There is a $25 charge for each overdraft item. In addition, if your account remains overdrawn, there’s an additional $5 negative balance fee charged every five days. You can avoid fees by linking a backup account, such as a savings account, to transfer money to the checking account should an overdraft occur. According to the bank, there is no charge for overdraft transfers.

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, banking 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. How we rate banks, credit unions and other financial service providers.