First Citizens Bank Review: Full-Service Bank With Relationship Rates

GOBankingRates Score

First Citizens Bank
4.3
SCORE
GOBankingRates Best Banks 2023 scores and rankings are objectively determined by our research/editorial team. Our scoring formula weighs several factors that differ from category to category depending on what consumers want from varying products and banks.
badge
Quick Take: First Citizens Bank is a full-service bank and has all the products most people need, including checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, credit cards, mortgages and other loans, investment accounts and insurance. If you're looking for one place to have all your accounts, First Citizens may be the place for you.
  • Checking Accounts
    4.3
  • Savings Accounts
    4.3
  • CD Accounts
    4.0
  • Banking Experience
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Wide variety of banking products
  • CD relationship rates for customers with Premier or Prestige checking accounts
  • Free checking and savings options

Cons

  • Some monthly service fees are difficult to waive
  • Limited branch availability

First Citizens Bank Overview

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 approximately 586 branches in 21 states. The bank’s 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.

Read on to find out why GOBankingRates has named First Citizens Bank one of its Top Banks finalists in its annual Best Banks rankings for 2023.

Key Features

Here’s a breakdown of First Citizens Bank’s key features.

Checking Accounts

First Citizens Bank has three checking account options.

Free Checking

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.

Premier Checking

First Citizens Bank’s Premier Checking account requires a $100 minimum opening deposit and also pays interest. 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.

Prestige Checking

The bank’s Prestige Checking account 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 and free cashier’s checks, money orders and traveler’s checks.

Savings Accounts

First Citizens Bank offers two savings accounts — an online savings and a money market account. The bank’s online savings account qualified as a GOBankingRates’ Best Savings Account finalist.

Online Savings

First Citizens Bank’s Online Savings account requires a minimum opening deposit of $50, 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 annual percentage yield 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.

Money Market

First Citizens Bank’s Money Market Account has a $500 minimum opening deposit. A $10 monthly maintenance fee does apply, but you can avoid it by maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,000. The account pays interest that depends on your balance. However, the top rate requires at least a $500,000 balance. Unlimited withdrawals and transfers — in person or at a First Citizens ATM — are included.

CD Accounts

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 APY depending on the term you select, but rates vary by location, so you will need to contact a local branch to be sure of the rate you’ll earn. Terms range from six months to five years.

The bank also offers a six-month automatic saver CD, a one-year convertible CD and a 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.

Banking Experience

The banking experience at First Citizens Bank is solid. First of all, the bank has customer service phone hours every day of the week. You can reach someone Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

First Citizens Bank is also 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.

Additionally, it has hundreds of branches in 21 states where you can discuss your financial needs with one of the bank’s associates or make a deposit or withdrawal.

The bank also has a wide range of accounts and loans and a digital app, so you can handle your banking tasks anytime, from anywhere.

Mobile App

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 4.5-star rating on the App Store and Google Play, which means the user experience with the bank’s app is largely positive.

Fees

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.

Comparable Bank Options

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.

However, First Citizens Bank shines 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, Member FDIC, 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 tailored 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.

Final Take

First Citizens Bank offers all the banking and investment products and services most people need, so it’s best for people who are seeking a brick-and-mortar bank that’s a one-stop-shop to help them manage their 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.

Compare to Other Banks

First Citizens Bank FAQ

Here 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?
  • How long do mobile deposits take with 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.
  • Who did First Citizens Bank merger with?
    • First Citizens Bank merged with CIT Group Inc.
  • Is Citizens Bank a black-owned bank?
    • Yes, Citizens Bank not First Citizens Bank is a black-owned bank.
  • Does First Citizens bank have Zelle?
    • Yes, First Citizens bank does have Zelle.

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 Dec. 14, 2022.

To discover the Top Banks, GOBankingRates looked at the top national institutions (excluding credit unions) with over $100 billion in total assets. To determine rankings, GOBankingRates looked at the following factors: (1) checking product minimum deposit; (2) monthly checking fee ratio (percentage based on the minimum to avoid the fee compared to the monthly fee itself); (3) savings product minimum deposit; (4) savings product APY; (5) Bauer rating (out of 5 stars); (6) products/services offered (auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, investment services and insurance); and (7) the average mobile app rating between the Android and Apple app stores. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being best. Factors (1) and (3) were weighted 0.5 times, factor (4) was weighted 2.5 times, and factor (6) was weighted 1.5 times.

To determine rankings for the Best Savings Accounts, GOBankingRates looked at the following factors from all banks (excluding online, neobanks and credit unions): (1) total assets as sourced from the FDIC; (2) number of branch locations as sourced from the FDIC; (3) minimum deposit to open an account; (4) monthly savings fee ratio (percentage based on the minimum to avoid the fee compared to the monthly fee itself); (5) minimum balance needed in account to earn APY; (6) savings APY; and (7) the average mobile app rating between the Android and Apple app stores. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being best. Factors (1) and (2) were weighted 0.5 times, factor (4) was weighed 1.5 times and factor (6) was weighted 3 times.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Is this your bank?

Stay Up to Date on the Latest From Your Bank

Keep a good thing going with top financial tips and advice from GOBankingRates.

Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

Thank You For Signing Up!

Get ready to receive top financial tips from the experts at GOBankingRates.

Take Advantage of our Best Offer(s)

BEFORE YOU GO

See Today's Best
Banking Offers