Climate First Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs
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Overall bank rating
- CD rates
- Banking experience
- Overdraft fees
Climate First Bank is a Florida-based community bank with deposit accounts that support the LGBTQ+ community as well as environmental causes. Established in 2021, the bank offers several checking accounts, most with no monthly maintenance fees, and savings accounts with low interest rates. Its regular certificates of deposit have a standard range of terms, and its offerings include a unique type of CD. The bank’s deposit accounts are available online and nationwide, but its solar and other loans are only for Florida residents.
As its name suggests, the bank is committed to doing its part to curb climate change. The bank is Fossil Free Certified, meaning that it doesn’t invest in or finance fossil fuels. Climate First Bank is in the process of being verified as a B Corp company, one of the most rigorous certifications that socially responsible banks can undertake.
Best for: Digital banking customers who want to support LGBTQ+ or environmental causes with their deposits, as well as Florida residents who can take advantage of in-person support and the bank’s full offerings.
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- No monthly fees on most checking accounts.
- Pride Checking and Regeneration Checking let you support certain causes.
- Access to more than 41,000 fee-free ATMs.
- Unique offering of a Flex CD, which allows extra withdrawals and deposits during a term.
- High fees for overdrafts and overdraft alternatives.
- Mostly low savings rates.
- Limited customer support hours and channels.
4.0/5 NerdWallet rating
Three options with no monthly fees: Checking, Pride Checking and Regeneration Checking don’t charge a maintenance fee, while Interest Checking does. However, for all accounts, if you want to receive paper statements instead of free electronic ones, there’s a $5 monthly fee. All accounts require $50 to open. We rated Pride Checking, which has features we deemed the most notable.
Big ATM network, interest rate and donation component: Customers have access to more than 41,000 fee-free ATMs in two third-party networks, MoneyPass and the much smaller Publix’s Presto! brand. Pride Checking customers can use their preferred name and pronouns, which can provide a more inclusive banking experience particularly for trans and non-binary customers. The bank makes a $100 donation to an LGBTQ-focused nonprofit if an account receives at least $750 in direct deposits within 90 days of opening. The interest rate is fairly low, though many checking accounts don’t earn any interest.
Notable mention: Regeneration Checking. For people inclined to support efforts to curb climate change, this account has a similar interest rate and similar $100 donation feature as Pride Checking but supports an environmental cause instead. The donation goes to Project Regeneration, a nonprofit whose mission inspired the bank’s CEO Ken LaRoe when opening Climate First Bank.
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3.5/5 NerdWallet rating
The account has a monthly fee and a low rate. The bank’s standard savings account has an incredibly low interest rate, on par with its Pride and Regeneration Checking accounts. In contrast, the national average rate for a regular savings account is 0.40% annual percentage yield. And there’s a $5 monthly fee, which can be waived by keeping a daily minimum balance of at least $200. The minimum to open the account is $50.
3.5/5 NerdWallet rating
Generally low rates with some exceptions. The one-year rate currently stands out as a competitive yield even among online banks, which can have the best CD rates. But other rates are far lower. The bank’s CD terms have a standard range from six months to five years, and the opening minimum of $500 is reasonably low.
A unique type of CD is available. Climate First offers a Flex CD, which has more flexibility than your standard CD, with features inspired by — but more limited than — add-on CDs, no-penalty CDs and bump-up CDs. (See more about types of CDs.) First, the Flex CD lets you add money in increments of $100 up to half of the original CD deposit during the CD term. Second, you can make one partial withdrawal up to half the original CD deposit without penalty. And third, you can request one rate increase if newly issued Flex CDs have a rate increase during your term. Flex CDs have a $1,000 minimum to open.
Rate and fee information isn’t upfront. Before applying, you aren’t able to view most account rates or fees on the bank’s website. Details on branches, ATMs and contact information are easy to find, though.
Limited access to support. The customer service phone line is only available during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Outside of that, you can message the bank, but there’s no live online chat or use of Twitter for support.
» Want to do good? Check our list of best socially responsible banks
High fees. Climate First has an overdraft policy on par with, if not slightly more expensive, than some national banks. A nonsufficient funds fee costs $38.45 per instance, up to a maximum of five per day. If you opt into an overdraft protection program, which provides transfers from savings to checking accounts when overdrafts occur, the fee is $10 per transfer. If you have an overdraft line of credit, the rate may be reasonable, but there’s also a fee. Some banks offer overdraft alternatives without fees.
There’s one small saving grace: If a purchase exceeds a checking balance by $5 or less, the bank doesn’t charge an overdraft fee.
» Tend to overdraw your account? See our list of best banks for overdrafts
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.