The bottom line:
First Citizens Bank’s business checking accounts get the job done but lack any true standout features. Consider Basic Business Checking, which is free if you opt for electronic statements, but expect to pay extra for any bells and whistles.
Pros & Cons
- Monthly fee waived if you sign up for electronic statements.
- Optional online business banking that goes beyond the basics.
- High opening deposit ($100).
- Restrictive transaction limits.
- Lack of transparency: A full schedule of fees is not available on the bank’s website.
- Multiple complaints relating to customer service in recent years.
First Citizens Bank has three primary business checking accounts: Basic, Premier and Professional Business Checking.
While this review includes information on all three accounts, the star rating indicated above is specific to First Citizens Basic Business Checking account.
First Citizens Bank business checking is best for small-business owners who:
Want a free business checking account and can work within the account’s transaction limits.
Live in a state where First Citizens has a strong branch presence — mainly the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
First Citizens Bank business checking at a glance
Basic Business Checking
Premier Business Checking
Professional Business Checking
$0 (if you opt for paperless statements).
$35 (two ways to waive).
$55 (multiple ways to waive).
Minimum opening deposit requirement:
175 free transactions per month; 50 cents for each additional transaction.
500 free transactions per month; 50 cents for each additional transaction.
1,000 free transactions per month; 50 cents for each additional transaction.
How First Citizens Bank business checking works
Account options: First Citizens Bank has three primary business checking accounts: Basic, Premier and Professional Business Checking. The bank also offers an analyzed checking account and an option for religious organizations and nonprofits.
All of the business checking accounts carry limits on cash deposits and transactions. Exceed your limit and you’ll pay 20 cents per $100 for currency deposits and 50 cents per transaction (any debit or credit on your account, including transfers, electronic withdrawals, deposits and paper checks).
Basic Business Checking: Up to $5,000 and up to 175 transactions.
Premier Business Checking: Up to $10,000 and up to 500 transactions.
Professional Business Checking: Up to $12,500 and up to 1,000 transactions.
Location availability: First Citizens Bank is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has more than 500 branches. The bulk of those locations are in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. First Citizens also has a presence in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
How to apply: Existing First Citizens business customers can open a business checking account online, provided they run a sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation. All other business owners need to visit a branch to set up an account.
Required information: Basic personal information, such as name, address and Social Security number, for anyone with at least a 25% stake in the business.
Required documentation: A driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification, along with any relevant business documents, such as a business license, articles of incorporation and/or a partnership agreement.
Where First Citizens Bank business checking stands out
Basically free Basic Business Checking: First Citizens Basic Business Checking does not carry a monthly fee, provided you opt for paperless statements. That’s an easy bar for small-business owners to clear to avoid monthly checking fees. If you want a paper statement, you’ll pay $5 per month to have it mailed to you.
Enhanced online banking: First Citizens offers basic digital banking — transfers, bill pay, mobile deposit and the like — for free. The bank also offers Business Online Banking Advantage, a beefed up online banking platform, for a fee ($15 per month). With the upgraded option, small-business owners can generate and export reports and set approval processes for online activity. You can also download your transaction history directly into Intuit QuickBooks and Quicken.
Where First Citizen Bank business checking falls short
Expensive opening deposit: You need to bring Ben Franklin to the party if you want to get in the door at First Citizens. The bank requires a $100 minimum opening deposit on all business checking accounts, which may be a steep ask for cash-strapped business owners.
If the minimum deposit is a turnoff, consider the following free business checking accounts, which do not have a minimum deposit requirement: Mercury Business Bank Account and Oxygen Business Account.
Low transaction allowance: Transaction limits are commonplace among business checking accounts, but the threshold set by First Citizens Bank is on the low end of the spectrum. Basic Business Checking customers are allowed 175 fee-free transactions per month, and all debits and credits count toward that number, including transfers, electronic withdrawals, deposits and paper checks.
Lack of transparency: First Citizens Bank’s website gives limited information about account fees and limits, instead pointing to its fee disclosure for full details. But this disclosure is not available on the bank’s website, making it difficult for existing and prospective customers to gauge the full cost of an account.
Customer complaints: More than 100 complaints against First Citizens have been filed with the Better Business Bureau in recent years, with many referencing customer service issues, surprise fees and issues with closed accounts.
NerdWallet's business checking reviews look at multiple factors, including monthly fee, APY, ATM access, transaction limits, cash deposit allowance, customer service, additional features and incidental fees, such as overdraft, NSF and stop payment charges.