- Certificates of deposit
- Customer experience
- Overdraft fees
Overall institution rating
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.
- Large, free, nationwide ATM network.
- 24/7 customer service by phone.
- Low minimum opening deposits on savings accounts and CDs.
- Low rates.
- Monthly fees (though they are avoidable).
- Limited branch access.
4.0/5 NerdWallet rating
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.
3.5/5 NerdWallet rating
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.
Certificates of deposit
1.5/5 NerdWallet rating
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
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 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.
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.