Gone are the days when banking required a trip to a bank and a visit with a teller. Today, banks, lenders, and other financial-based businesses are fulfilling a variety of monetary needs digitally, creating a direct-to-consumer experience that can take place anywhere at any time.
In July of 2018, Citizens Bank, a long-standing and well-known banking institution, made the leap from the physical to the digital world by launching Citizens Access, a bank that operates as an online-only entity.
What Citizens Access Online Bank Offers
Citizens Access takes a no-frills approach to banking, promising customers a fee-free, 100 percent digital experience with rates that are highly competitive. Citizens Access currently offers the following three products, each backed by FDIC insurance.
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- No monthly or overdraft fees
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|Savings Account Rate|
The Citizens Access online savings account boasts a market-leading rate at 2.00%, which beats out some of the most competitive savings account rates, including Discover (1.75%), American Express (1.75%), and Barclays (1.85%). To open a savings account, customers must be able to make a minimum deposit of $5,000.
Certificate of Deposit
Citizens Access offers seven online certificate of deposit (CD) account options with varying rates. Currently, customers can invest in a six-month (2.05%), 12-month (2.50%), 18-month (2.60%), two-year (2.75%), three-year (3.00%), four-year (3.05%), or five-year (3.10%) CD. As with savings accounts, deposits must be $5,000 or more.
A CD ladder helps customers mitigate risk and take advantage of long-term rates without the strain of being locked in. Ladder CDs divide a total investment across multiple CDs, each with different maturity rates. As each CD matures, the earnings can be reinvested in the CD with the longest term. The rates and minimums for CD ladders are the same as though associated with the basic CD product, though since each CD will require a minimum $5,000 investment, a ladder CD will require a higher upfront investment.
How to Join Citizens Access Online Bank
If you’re interested in becoming a member of Citizens Access Online Bank, you can do so in five minutes by completing the online application form. To do that, you must select at least one product (Savings, CD, or CD latter) and the amount you’d like to invest in the product(s). Once selected, you’ll be asked to provide basic account information including your name, address, contact information, social security number, etc.
Accounts can be funded via online transfer using the routing number and account number of any U.S. financial institution, or you can deposit a check (via photo), made payable to you, by logging into your account on the Citizens Access website and using the “Deposit a Check” feature.
As a comprehensive banking option, many may find that Citizens Access falls short, since the company does not offer a checking account product at this time. Additionally, you’ll never be able to walk into a branch, so if you’re not comfortable with an overwhelmingly digital experience (they do offer customer service by phone), this may not be for you.
As an investment option, Citizens Access offers online convenience and highly competitive rates—something that leaves many consumers satisfied. However, with a minimum investment of $5,000, Citizens Access may be inaccessible for first-time investors or those who simply can’t part with that amount.
Finally, though it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, Citizens Access doesn’t currently offer an online banking app, which means all account interaction and transactions must take place from the bank’s website. That said, the site is very mobile-friendly, and users may find that the lack of an app goes unnoticed.
Is It Worth It?
If you’re looking to invest $5,000 or more and you want to secure industry-leading interest rates, then Citizens Access can be a good fit. As a fully digital option, customers have the convenience of banking anywhere at any time, and their site offers a transparent path to investment. In this case, a no-frills approach seems to pay off.
If, however, you’re not quite ready to part with $5,000, you like the option to walk into a branch office, or you simply want all your banking needs in one place (e.g., a checking account), then you may not want to dive into Citizens Access just yet.