First Citizens Bank Review: Full-Service Bank With Relationship Rates
Breadth of Products
- Wide variety of banking products
- CD relationship rates for customers with Premier or Prestige checking accounts
- Free checking and savings options
- Some monthly service fees are difficult to waive
- Limited branch availability
About First Citizens Bank
First Citizens Bank was founded in North Carolina in 1898 as the Bank of Smithfield. By the early 1990s, it began expanding outside of North Carolina and now has branches in 19 states. The bank’s recent merger with CIT was a milestone move that established First Citizens Bank as a top 20 U.S. bank based on assets. Even so, the bank supports the communities where it operates by partnering with medical centers to improve the outcomes of teens and young adults with cancer.
First Citizens Bank has three checking account options. Here are the details for each.
The bank’s Free Checking account requires a $50 minimum opening deposit and has no minimum balance requirements. However, account holders must sign up for paperless statements within the first 60 days of account opening as a condition of no monthly service charge. Additionally, this account allows you to choose your level of overdraft protection.
First Citizens Bank’s Premier Checking account requires a $100 minimum opening deposit and pays 0.01% APY on balances. Like the Free Checking account, you can choose your level of overdraft protection. Although the account does have an $18 monthly service charge, it can be waived with one of the following: a $5,000 combined daily balance on select accounts, at least $4,000 in monthly ACH direct deposits, an equity line of at least $25,000 or a consumer loan that’s a minimum of $10,000. Featured perks of the account include preferred rates on CDs and home equity lines of credit, free checks and a free Together Card account.
The bank’s Prestige Checking account pays 0.01% APY on your account balance and has a $100 minimum opening deposit and a $25 monthly service charge. However, you can waive the charge with one of the following: a $25,000 combined daily balance on any of the bank’s deposit accounts, at least $6,500 in monthly ACH direct deposits, an equity line of at least $100,000 or a consumer loan of at least $25,000. Other perks of this account include no overdraft transfer fees, higher purchase and ATM limits, fee-free use of out-of-network ATMs, preferred rates, free checks and a free Together Card account.
First Citizens Bank offers three savings accounts. Here’s a look at each option.
Online Savings Account
First Citizens Bank’s Online Savings account requires a minimum opening deposit of $25, but it doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement or a monthly service charge. And no monthly service charge means your savings balance will increase faster. You’ll earn 0.03% APY on your account balance, and interest is compounded daily and credited monthly. With this account, your first two transfers or withdrawals per month are free, then a $3 charge per transaction applies, which is different from other banks that allow up to six free transactions. This account also qualifies for overdraft protection.
529 Education Savings Account
First Citizens Bank offers a 529 savings account for educational expenses. Anyone can contribute, and earnings and withdrawals for qualified educational expenses, such as tuition, room and board and books, are tax-free. There’s no annual contribution limit attached to this type of account. However, your state may impose a lifetime limit.
Coverdell Education Savings Account
A Coverdell education savings account is like a Roth IRA for secondary and post-secondary educational expenses. You can contribute $2,000 per child, per year, and earnings and withdrawals for qualified educational expenses are tax-free. Plus, First Citizens Bank will contribute $25 to a Coverdell ESA for Your Family First customers, which is a complimentary enrollment for those who have a Premier or Prestige checking account.
Money Market Accounts
First Citizens Bank offers one money market account. Here’s what you need to know.
Money Market Account
A $500 minimum opening deposit is required when you open this account. A $10 monthly maintenance fee does apply, but you can avoid it by maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,000. The account pays 0.01% to 0.03% APY depending on your balance. However, the top rate requires at least a $100,000 balance. Unlimited withdrawals and transfers (in person or at a First Citizens ATM) are included.
First Citizens Bank allows you to choose the minimum opening deposit on some of its certificates of deposit — as long as it’s at least $500. You can earn up to 0.15% APY depending on the term you select. Here’s a look at the terms and rates offered:
- Six- and 12-month CDs: 0.01% APY
- 18-month CDs: 0.02% APY
- Two- and three-year CDs: 0.05% APY
- Four- and five-year CDs: 0.15% APY
The bank also offers a six-month automatic saver CD, which pays 0.01% APY, and a one-year convertible CD, which pays 0.01% APY for balances equal to or under $49,000 and 0.02% APY for balances of $50,000 or more. Additionally, there’s the Premier CD with a 12-plus month term, which is available to Premier Checking account holders and requires a much larger $5,000 minimum opening deposit but pays 0.10% APY. On all CDs with terms longer than 181 days, the bank allows additional deposits of $50 each.
First Citizens Bank received a 4.4 overall score from GOBanking Rates based on the following categories. Here are the details.
First Citizens Bank’s digital banking experience is the same whether you log in from a computer or from your phone. And if you add all of your accounts to the bank’s Manage My Money feature, you can get a big picture of all of your finances — even if you have accounts at other banks. The bank’s mobile app is highly rated by both iOS and Android users. The app has a 4.6-star rating on the App Store from over 15,000 users and a 4.3-star rating on the Google Play store from over 11,000 users, which means the user experience with the bank’s app is largely positive.
First Citizens Bank gives account holders a break from monthly service fees with its Free Checking account and Online Savings account, which is helpful if you’re on a strict budget. Plus, the bank gives options for users to have the fees waived on its other deposit accounts. The only drawback is that it can sometimes be difficult to meet the requirements to have those fees waived.
Breadth of Products
First Citizens Bank is a full-service bank, offering everything from checking accounts to insurance, plus small business, commercial and wealth services. You can conveniently do all of your banking in one place, which will save you the trouble of trying to open and manage accounts at other institutions.
First Citizens Bank offers competitive rates that are on par (or even somewhat better) than what comparable banks might offer. For example, you can earn 0.15% APY on a four or five-year CD with a $500 minimum opening deposit. Plus, you can make additional deposits of $50 each. It’s true that you may be able to find better rates at an online-only institution or a brick-and-mortar bank that offers fewer products and services. However, with those higher rates comes the loss of in-person banking or being able to bank all in one place.
First Citizens Digital Banking includes Manage My Money, a feature that lets you see all of your accounts, even those at other financial institutions. You can even include non-bank assets, like the equity in your home. This gives you a clear picture of your financial circumstances — right from your phone.
First Citizens Bank vs. Competitors
It’s always a good idea to look at a few different options when you’re deciding which bank to choose. Here’s how First Citizens Bank stacks up to the competition.
First Citizens Bank vs. Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank offers a Citizens Peace of Mind feature that allows you until 10 p.m. ET on the day you overdraw your account to reset your balance to $0 or more without an overdraft fee, whereas First Citizens Bank does not offer that particular feature. Where First Citizens Bank shines is with its robust mobile app that lets you manage all your accounts — even those at other financial institutions, which is not a feature that Citizens Bank offers at this time.
First Citizens Bank vs. Bank of America
Bank of America offers a checking account specifically targeted at students, with no monthly maintenance for students under 25 and checkless banking to help students avoid overdraft fees, whereas First Citizens Bank does not offer an account to students. However, First Citizens Bank’s Free Checking account has only a $50 minimum opening deposit and no monthly maintenance fee if you enroll in paperless statements, which makes it a good choice for student account holders.
First Citizens Bank vs. Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank offers a wider range of terms on its CDs than First Citizens Bank does, with terms up to seven years as compared to First Citizens Bank’s five-year term. However, First Citizens Bank offers a 12-month promotional CD with a rate of 0.10% APY, whereas Fifth Third Bank’s promotional rate for a 12-month CD is only 0.05% APY.
First Citizens Bank offers all the banking and investment products and services most people need, serving as a one-stop shop for managing your finances. First Citizens Bank offers incentives to have multiple accounts at the bank, and the interest rates, while not groundbreaking, are reasonable for a brick-and-mortar bank. From a technical perspective, the robust online and mobile banking tools make it competitive with online banks.
First Citizens Bank FAQHere are the answers to some commonly asked questions about First Citizens Bank.
- Is Citizens Bank the same as First Citizens Bank?
- No. Citizens Bank is part of Citizens Financial Group (NYSE: CFG), with locations concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest. First Citizens Bank is a subsidiary of First Citizens BancShares Inc. (Nasdaq: FCNCA), based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- What time does direct deposit hit First Citizens Bank?
- The exact time can vary, but most direct deposits are available in your account the same day First Citizens Bank receives them.
- How long do mobile deposits take First Citizens Bank?
- Funds from mobile deposits are generally available within three business days from the day of the deposit. When you deposit a check using mobile deposit, the screen should display the date the deposit will be available.
Karen Doyle contributed to the reporting for this article.
Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Apr. 25, 2022.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by First Citizens Bank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by First Citizens Bank.