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First Citizens Bank Review

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by Javier Simon Updated
First Citizens Bank

With more than 500 branches spread across several states, First Citizens Bank has been servicing local communities since the 1800s. Today, it offers a range of services including checking, savings and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts along with loans, as well as investment and leasing options. It also supports small businesses.

As long as you maintain certain minimum daily balances or meet other requirements, First Citizens will waive its monthly service fees. The standard e.Savings account appeals to tech-savvy consumers, but despite its attractive wide array of offerings, the bank doesn't have the strongest interest rates on its savings accounts compared to online banks and other brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Products Offered

Key Features Details
Savings Accounts
  • Two savings accounts including one with no monthly service fee
  • Low minimum deposits
Certificate of Deposit 
  • Several offers with various term ranges 
Money Market Account
  • One account
  • Monthly service charge can be waived
Checking Accounts
  • Four accounts including two that earn interest and one with no monthly service charge
  • Access to reloadable deposit account designed for college students
Retirement Planning Solutions
  • IRA CDs 
  • Terms stretch from 7 days to 60 months

 

First Citizens Bank Interest Rate Comparison

First Citizen Bank Overview

First Citizens bank first opened its doors in 1898 as the Bank of Smithfield in Johnston County, North Carolina. Today, it runs more than 500 branches throughout more than a dozen states. In addition to personal banking products spanning from checking accounts to CDs and IRAs, the bank also offers a variety of investment, insurance and leasing options. First Citizens Bank also provides business services to companies of varying sizes. 

The bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Citizens BancShares, Inc. This Delaware financial holding company is also based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

First Citizens Bank Account Features

First Citizens Bank offers a variety of checking and savings accounts. Across the board, monthly service fees are low or waivable as long as you maintain certain minimum daily balances or meet other requirements to have them cleared. The bank also offers easy access to your money. For example, the standard e.Savings account, which is great for tech-savvy customers, comes with a free Visa debit card. However, the bank’s savings options don’t offer the strongest interest rates compared to some online banks and even some of their brick-and-mortar counterparts. 

e.Savings

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $25
Access to Your Savings Account Online, mobile, over the phone and at physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed by law
Fees No monthly service charge
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset: 0.03% APY

The e.Savings option would suit someone looking for a simple savings account that’s light on fees. This account won’t charge a monthly service charge and you can open one with as little as $25. You also get a Visa debit card linked to this savings account. This is a solid perk as most savings accounts don’t come with a debit card. And while federal law generally limits savings account tranfers and withdrawals to six per month, you can make unlimited withdrawals from this account through an ATM without penalty. 

This account also offers free digital, mobile and tablet banking. Interest is compounded daily and credited monthly. Overall, it doesn't offer the strongest annual percentage yield (APY) in the savings account arena. However, the bank doesn't charge monthly service fees for this account which could otherwise deplete your savings over time. 

Regular Savings

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Savings Account Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law.
Fees $5 monthly service charge unless you maintain a minimum daily ledger balance of $2,500.
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset: 0.03% APY

The Regular Savings account doesn’t offer too many benefits beyond what the less expensive e.Savings account already offers. You also have to maintain a much larger minimum daily balance of $300 to avoid the $5 monthly service charge. 

Withdrawals and transfers are free as long as you maintain a large minimum daily ledger balance of $2,500. Otherwise, it’s $3 per withdrawal or transfer after your second one. This is an unusual fee, as many banks don’t charge you to move money in and out of your savings account. 

If you go beyond the federal withdrawal limit, the bank will charge you a $15 excessive transaction fee. 

Overall, there are not many great benefits to mention about this account. The minimum deposit is low, but you can compare savings accounts for better rates.

Money Market Savings

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $500
Access to Your Account Online, by phone or at a branch
Security FDIC insurance up to $250,000
Fees $10 monthly service charge and $0.30 per PIN-based transaction unless you maintain a minimum daily ledger balance of $1,000. 
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset: 0.05% APY

The First Citizens Bank Money Market savings account carries a slightly higher interest rate. The bank will also waive the $10 monthly service fee if you maintain a minimum daily ledger balance of $1,000. This will also clear you of the $0.30 PIN-based transaction fee. And while it may seem low, the fee itself is not seen at many other banks. However, you get the benefits the other savings options offer including free online and mobile banking

First Citizens Bank Certificate of Deposit (CD) Accounts

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $500
Access to Your CD Online, by phone or at a branch.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees No monthly service fee, but you’ll face an early withdrawal penalty.
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset.
  • 7 days - 12 months: 0.05% APY
  • 12 - 17 months: 0.10% APY
  • 18 - 23 months: 0.10% APY
  • 24 - 35 months: 0.20% APY
  • 36 - 47 months: 0.25% APY
  • 48 - 59 months: 0.30% APY
  • 60 months: 0.35% APY

First Citizens Bank allows you to open CD accounts with terms stretching from 7 days to 60 months. The term length with the highest APY is 60 months. However, it’s still relatively low compared to similar CDs at other banks. Before you decide to open an account, be sure to compare CD rates

And remember, you can’t take your money out before the term ends without facing an early withdrawal penalty.

Free Checking

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $50
Access to Your Account Online, by phone or at a branch.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed by law.
Fees No monthly service fee as long as you sign up for e.Statements within 60 days of opening an account.

The First Citizens Bank Free Checking account is a great option for the tech-savvy individual seeking a basic checking account. It’s inexpensive to manage as long as you meet some simple requirements. Most importantly, you need to sign up for electronic statements (e.Statements) within 60-days of opening an account to get monthly service fees waived. Otherwise, the bank would convert your account to its Select Checking option without notice and you’d be responsible for any applicable fees. 

But once you do that, the account becomes rewarding. First of all, you won’t need to maintain a minimum balance to keep it open or avoid penalties—a perk not seen at many banks. And as with all First Citizens Bank checking accounts, you get free access to digital, mobile and tablet banking. 

By signing up, you get a free Visa debit card that you can use at more than 475 ATMs throughout the country. With the Free Checking account, you also have the option to get a First Citizen Together Card for $3 a month.

This is basically a reloadable debit card designed for college students. You can easily transfer money from any First Citizen checking account or deposit money into it at a branch. You can also set up alerts and monitor the Together Card account online or through your mobile device. You can only spend money in the card, so it won’t take on any overdraft fees or insufficient fund fees. 

The Together Card is a standalone-deposit account. Though you can get it for $3 a month by signing up for a Free Checking account, you can receive it free of monthly service charges if you sign up for a Premier or Prestige checking account. Otherwise, it will carry an $8 monthly service charge.

Select Checking 

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $50
Access to Your Account Online, by phone or at a branch
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed by law.
Fees No monthly service fee if you meet the following requirements
  • Maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500
  • Set up an ACH direct deposit of at least $250

The Select Checking account doesn’t offer much in addition to First Citizen Bank Free Checking option other than the option to choose free paper statements. So it may work for you if you prefer to do some or most of your banking offline. You need the same minimum deposit of $50. 

However, you need to maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or set up an ACH direct deposit transfer of at least $250 a month to avoid the monthly service charge of $12. 

Overall, it’s not as easy to manage as the Free Checking account, and it doesn't offer many additional features. Some customers might feel better off with the Free option. In addition, you can compare checking accounts at several banks if First Citizen doesn't offer one that meets your unique needs. 

Premier Checking

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Account Online, by phone or at a branch.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed by law
Fees $18 monthly service charge unless you meet one of the following requirements
  • Maintain a combined minimum daily balance of $5,000 in all First Citizens bank accounts including IRAs and Investor Services Accounts.
  • Set up ACH direct deposit transfers of at least $4,000 per month
  • Maintain an Equity Line of at least $25,000
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset: 0.01% APY

The Premier Checking Account offers some additional features such as access to preferred CD rates and equity Lines. The bank will also waive its own fees on the first five out-of-network ATMs you use per month. This doesn’t cover fees that another bank or ATM owner may charge for using their machines. 

In addition, you also get five free cashier’s checks, money orders and traveler’s checks per month. The bank will also provide you with a First Citizens Bank Together card and waive the monthly service charge. 

However, waiving the monthly service fee for the account itself is a bit less manageable with this option. You can maintain a combined minimum balance of $5,000 in all your First Citizens Bank accounts or set up ACH direct deposit transfers of at least $4,000 per month, for example. 

By signing up for the Premier Checking account, you also get the option of enrolling in the bank’s Your Family First program. This package will give you access to a specialist who will review your insurance plans with competitive rates at providers nationally and regionally. You also get the following bonuses: 

  • $200 toward closing costs on a First Citizens Bank mortgage for a primary home. 
  • $25 credit toward a Coverdell Education Savings Account

Prestige Checking 

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Account Online, by phone or at a branch.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed by law
Fees $25 monthly service charge unless you meet the following requirements
  • Maintain a combined minimum daily balance of $25,000 in all First Citizens Bank accounts
  • Set up ACH Direct Deposits of at least $6,500 or more into your Prestige checking account
  • Hold an Equity Line of at least $100,000
  • Have a consumer loan with original loan amount of at least $25,000
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset: 0.01% APY

The interest-bearing Prestige Checking account offers the same benefits as the Premier Checking account in addition to some more bonuses. For example, the bank will waive all non-network ATM fees. These don’t include fees charged by other ATM owners, but it can substantially pile up the savings if you’re prone to using ATMs outside of First Citizen Bank’s network. The bank will also waive its overdraft protection transfer fee. Furthermore, you get free access to an available 3’’ X 5’’ safety deposit box. You also get free specially-designed checks. 

Furthermore, you also have several options to waive the monthly service charge. Like the Premier option, this account is best for more affluent customers who want to do all their banking with First Citizens Bank and get the most out of their products.

First Citizens Bank IRA CDs

Key Features Details
Access to Your IRA CD Online, by phone or at branch
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum allowed y law. 
Fees No monthly service fee, but you will face an early withdrawal penalty
Current Terms and Rates Call the bank to find out the most accurate rates for your area. Rates based on a phonecall with SmartAsset.
  • 18 - 23 months: 0.10% APY
  • 24 - 35 months: 0.20% APY
  • 36 - 47 months: 0.25% APY
  • 48 - 59 months: 0.30% APY
  • 60 months: 0.35% APY 

First Citizens Bank’s Individual Retirement Account (IRA) CDs function much like their regular CD offerings. However, these offer the tax advantages that come with IRAs. You can open a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA or a SEP IRA. 

The traditional options is tax-deferred, meaning your contributions go in pre-tax and won’t get taxed until you make qualified withdrawals when you’re at least age 59.5. A Roth option allows you to take out earnings tax-free at that age. A SEP IRA is designed for self-employed individuals or small-business owners, and it comes with higher contribution limits than traditional IRAs. These options are also tax-deferred. 

The fixed interest rates on First Citizens Bank IRA CDs, regardless of type, are currently the same as their corresponding standard CDs. In addition, you can comapre CD rates across the market to find the one that's right for you. 

Where Can I Find First Citizens Bank?

First Citizen Bank operates more than 500 full-service branches throughout the country. You can find them in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. 

You can also find a bank-owned ATM by visiting the company's website and entering your zip code.

What Can You Do Online With First Citizens Bank?

First Citizens Bank offers a variety of features through its website. You can check your balances and search for transaction information based on date, amount or type. You can also pay bills, send money to other people’s bank account using only their phone numbers and email addresses and transfer money to your other bank accounts. However, a $2.99 fee would apply when you send money to your accounts with other financial institutions. In addition, you can set up various text and/or email alerts. 

Everything you can do online, you can do through the First Citizen mobile banking app on your smartphone or tablet. You can also deposit money by snapping a photo of a check with either device. 

How Do I Access My Money?

You can access your money at more than 500 branches throughout 18 states. You can also find ATM locations by visiting the bank’s website and entering your zip code in the “ATM and Locations” section. In addition, you can reach customer service by dialing 1-888-323-4732. You can also visit the bank’s website to set up a call request or send customer service a message.

How Can I Save More Money With First Citizens Bank?

First Citizens Bank doesn’t hit too many home runs with interest rates on its savings options, but it does give you plenty of opportunity to waive fees, which could otherwise eat away at your savings over time. As far as APYs go, your best options are either long-term CDs or its tiered-savings accounts. You can also compare the best money market accounts out there to maximize savings within your arsenal of banking products. 

What’s the Process for Opening an Account With First Citizens Bank?

The easiest way to open an account with First Citizens Bank is online. You’d need your government-issued ID or driver’s license, Social Security number and basic contact information. You can open an account if you’re a legal resident of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. You also have to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or resident alien. 

In addition, you can finish an account application at any of the bank’s more than 500 branches.  

What’s the Catch?

First Citizens Bank doesn’t deliver too robustly when it comes to interest rates on savings accounts, but it does clear up some unwanted fees and gives you the chance to waive them by meeting some requirements. And while you may find stronger savings accounts with online banks, First Citizens Bank gives you the peace of mind of having access to physical branches and real people in your community to talk to when a problem arises. 

Bottom Line

First Citizens Bank is the right option for someone who wants one bank with close ties to the local community to handle all of his or her banking needs. You can find everything from basic checking accounts to insurance and investment options. The bank also offers a variety of small-business services. 

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