Citizens Access Review 2020: Is It the Right Online Bank for You?

Citizens Access is focused on delivering high APYs and no fees.

Citizens Access is the online bank backed by Citizens Bank, N.A., which was founded over 190 years ago and currently maintains over $150 billion in customer assets. The online-only Citizens Access Bank is dedicated to low costs, high rates and outstanding customer service. As an online-only bank, Citizens Access has a relatively limited product line compared with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. But the bank excels where it focuses, which is on rates and fees.

Here’s what this Citizens Access bank review will cover:

Who Is Citizens Access Best For?

Citizens Access is best for customers who are comfortable with a totally online banking experience, with all of its pros and cons. Those looking for the highest rates and the lowest fees available on products like savings and CD accounts will find Citizens Access to be a competitive option. The bank’s offerings help Citizens Access stand out as one of GOBankingRates’ Best Online Banks of 2020.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of Citizens Access to help you determine if the bank might be a good fit for you.

Pros and Cons of Citizens Access
ProsCons
High APYs on savings and CD accountsHigh minimum balances required
No monthly fees No checking account
No service feesNo branch locations
No mobile app

Compare: Citizens Bank Review — Regional Services With Online Convenience

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Who May Want To Skip Citizens Access?

Citizens Access is clearly tailored to online banking customers seeking nothing more than high rates and low fees. For a broad product line — or even a simple checking account — Citizens Access might not be what you’re looking for. As an online-only bank, Citizens Access also has no branch network or ATM access — to retrieve your funds, you’ll need to do an online transfer to a linked bank or call and request a check. Anyone who needs to talk to someone in person or feels more comfortable making transactions at an actual bank might want to skip Citizens Access.

Who Is Citizens Access Suitable For?
Best ForWorst For
High APYsATM access
Streamlined product lineBroad product line
Low feesIn-branch banking

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Types of Accounts Available

Citizens Access offers a very limited range of financial products, but its focus on zero fees and high APYs still make it an attractive option for many customers. Here’s an overview of the available product line at Citizens Access.

Citizens Access Accounts
AccountMinimum DepositAPYMonthly Fees
Online Savings Account$5,000 1.70% $0
Online CD Account$5,000 1.50%1.65% $0
11-Month Liquid CD$5,000 1.35%$0

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Checking Accounts

At the present time, Citizens Access does not offer a checking account. Consumers looking for a checking account might consider the bank’s parent institution, Citizens Bank.

Related: Best Checking Accounts of 2020

Savings Accounts

Citizens Access offers a single savings account, dubbed the Online Savings account. As with all Citizens Access accounts, the Online Savings account has no fees and a high APY. But there is a high $5,000 minimum required to open the account, and no ATM access is provided.

The national average rate for a savings account is 0.09% APY as of Jan 13, 2020. The Citizens Access savings pays 1.70% APY. For those familiar with online banks, the account-opening process is simple, straightforward and fee-free, although it does carry that high $5,000 minimum opening balance requirement.

As with all savings accounts at legitimate banks, the Online Savings account at Citizens Access carries FDIC insurance. This is the same insurance you’ll find at any bricks-and-mortar bank, so the online-only nature of Citizens Access shouldn’t deter you in this respect. Accounts are covered for up to $250,000.

The drawback of most online savings accounts, including this one from Citizens Access, comes in the form of withdrawals. As Citizens Access doesn’t offer an ATM card, you’ll have to either make an online transfer to an outside financial institution or request a check if you want to access your funds.

Compare With Parent Bank: Citizens Bank Savings Account Review — Easy Savings To Meet Your Goals

Pros

  • 1.70% APY
  • No fee for a savings account

Cons

  • Only one type of savings account available
  • No ATM access

Here’s how the Citizens Access Savings account stacks up to some of its well-known competitors:

How Savings Accounts at Citizens Access and Other Banks Compare
BankAccountAPYMinimum Deposit
Citizens AccessOnline Savings Account1.70%$5,000
Marcus by Goldman SachsOnline Savings Account1.70%$0
Ally BankOnline Savings Account1.50%$0
BarclaysBarclays Online Savings Account1.60%$0
CIT BankPremier High Yield Savings1.75%$1,000
DiscoverOnline Savings Account1.50%$0

Related: Best Savings Accounts of 2020

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Money Market Account

At the present time, Citizens Access doesn’t offer any money market accounts. Consider one of GOBankingRates’ Best Banks to find a suitable offering.

CDs

Citizens Access offers two types of CDs — an Online CD account and a Liquid CD account. The primary CD account is the Online CD account, but it offers just five maturities, ranging from one year to five years. Rates are tightly clustered but run between 1.50% APY and 1.65% APY. According to the St. Louis Fed, the national average rate for a 12-month CD currently stands at just 0.48% as of Jan. 13, 2020.

The bank’s second CD product is known as the Liquid CD. This CD comes in a single, 11-month maturity, and it also pays an outstanding 1.35%. That rate stands out even more when you consider the liquidity offered by the Liquid CD. As long as you’ve held the Liquid CD for at least seven days, you can sell it at any time and incur no early-withdrawal penalty.

Here’s an overview of the different CD term lengths and rates currently offered by Citizens Access:

Citizens Access CD Rates
TermAPY
11 month (Liquid CD)1.35%
1 year1.50%
2 year1.50%
3 year1.55%
4 year1.60%
5 year1.65%

Citizens Access, like most financial institutions, does charge an early-withdrawal penalty if you take out your money before your CD matures. Here’s the fee you’ll pay for an early CD withdrawal:

Citizens Access Early CD Withdrawal Penalties
TermEarly-Withdrawal Penalty (Days of Dividends Lost)
11 monthNo penalty for one-time withdrawal of entire balance as soon as 7 days after funding
1 year90 days’ interest
2 year180 days’ interest
3 year180 days’ interest
4 year180 days’ interest
5 year180 days’ interest

Pros

  • High APYs across all maturities
  • No fee to open
  • Liquid CD option available

Cons

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  • Relatively high $5,000 minimum
  • Early-withdrawal penalties on Online CD accounts
  • No short-term or long-term CDs

Related: Citizens Bank CD Rates Review — Better With Checking Account

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Individual Retirement Accounts

At the present time, Citizens Access doesn’t offer any individual retirement accounts.

See: Best IRA Providers of 2020

Investment (Nonbank) Options

At the present time, Citizens Access doesn’t offer any non-bank investment options.

Loans

At the present time, Citizens Access doesn’t offer any loan products.

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How To Bank With Citizens Access

Unlike credit unions or banks with membership restrictions, anyone can open an account online with Citizens Access. The application has five easy steps that should take five minutes or less to complete. Here’s the account-opening process:

  1. Select a product and deposit amount.
  2. Enter your personal information.
  3. Accept the account terms.
  4. Create a username and password.
  5. Fund the account.

To open an account, you must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years of age. You can fund your account via online funds transfer or by depositing a check. Cash deposits are not accepted. As Citizens Access has no physical branches, once your account is open, you’ll have to conduct all of your banking transactions via the Citizens Access website.

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Technology

Despite being a completely online bank, Citizens Access has no mobile apps for either Android or iOS. The website provides some basic educational information about savings, including a savings calculator, liquid CD comparison and CD rate comparison calculators, and information on building a CD ladder. You can access all of your account information on the website anytime you use your Citizens Access online login.

Customer Service

You can contact Citizens Access customer service via secure online message or at (888) 201-6505. The bank responds to secure online messages within 24 hours. Telephone service lines are open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. ET on M-F, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on Sunday. No live chat is available at the present time.

Fees

Citizens Access succeeds in its mission to offer its customers a no-fee experience. Citizens Access proudly advertises that it charges zero fees, and that includes no account fees, no maintenance fees and no ancillary service fees. As there is no ATM access, there also are no overdraft fees or ATM usage fees.

Availability of Funds

Access to funds is limited at Citizens Access compared with many other banks. In addition to having no physical branches, Citizens Access doesn’t provide ATM access. Additionally, there is no checking account option. This means that the only way to access the funds in your account is to link an outside bank account and perform an online transfer or call and request a check. Considering these transfers can take a few business days, there’s effectively no way to get instant access to your cash.

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See: Best Online Banks of 2020

The Takeaway on Citizens Access

Citizens Access gets very high marks for certain features. Specifically, you won’t pay any fees banking with Citizens Access, and you’ll earn some of the highest APYs available on savings and CD accounts.

But Citizens Access doesn’t offer a checking account or ATM access, and there are no additional account options beyond the bank’s CDs and savings account. You won’t find any Citizens Access branches, either, and the bank doesn’t offer a mobile app.

The bottom line is that what Citizens Access does, it does very well. Beyond that, you’ll likely want to work with another financial institution. Citizens Access doesn’t have the features and capabilities most customers require in a primary bank. That said, in the event that you’re just looking for a no-cost place to stash some extra cash and earn high yields, Citizens Access fits that bill to a tee. Although Citizens Access won’t suffice as a primary bank account for most customers, it can be a good option as a secondary institution paying high yields and charging no fees.

Benefits

  • High APYs on savings and CD accounts
  • Liquid CD option available
  • No fees

Citizens Access pays some of the highest rates available on its savings and CD accounts. It also offers a Liquid CD option for those who want the higher yields that CDs can pay without the restrictions of committing to a multi-year maturity. All of these products are wrapped up in a no-fee package.

Drawbacks

  • Limited access to cash
  • No account types beyond savings and CD accounts
  • No ATM access, mobile app or physical branches

There’s a lot to recommend about Citizens Access, but it’s not without its shortcomings. As an online-only bank, Citizens Access doesn’t have any physical branches. This means you can’t walk into a local building and speak with a banker or teller, and you can’t make any cash deposits.

Citizens Access could stand to broaden its product line and offer additional services. Unlike many of its competitors, including online banks, Citizens Access still doesn’t offer a checking account, ATM access or even a mobile app. These drawbacks keep Citizens Access from being an elite online bank.

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    Information is accurate as of Jan. 6, 2020; rates are accurate as of Jan. 17, 2020. Rates, fees, terms and conditions are subject to change. This content is not provided by Citizens Access. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by Citizens Access. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

    About the Author

    After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.