Citibank Checking and Savings Account Review
Finding the right checking and savings account is really important if you’re trying to take control of your personal finances. I’ve found that finding a bank you can stick with long-term offers peace of mind and a sense of security as you begin to grow your finances and streamline bill paying.
Citibank — also known as Citi — is one of the top banks across the country, and offers some great perks that don’t compare to competitors. But, before you rush out to open a new checking account or savings account, let’s take a closer look at what Citibank has to offer customers.
What is Citibank?
Founded in 1812, Citibank is one of the oldest banks in the country. A member FDIC, Citibank started after the First Bank of the United States lost its charter and became known as City Bank of New York. It was one of the first banks to open a central location on Wall Street before the area became a major financial district.
Today, Citibank is the fourth largest bank in the United States, with a mix of brick-and-mortar locations, Citibank fee-free ATMs across the country, and online services. CitiBank branches can be found primarily throughout California, but are also scattered across New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Houston.
Citibank provides key financial services to customers, including basic banking accounts (checking and savings), business banking, CDs, loans, mortgages, home equity services, and even investing. Although CitiBank may not have a location near you, you can still sign up for checking and savings accounts online.
Citibank checking and savings accounts
Citibank offers a wide variety of checking and savings accounts — more than most banks — which can help you find the right fit for your personal finances. You can open an account by visiting one of their brick-and-mortar branches or by visiting Citi.com.
You’ll need to provide some standard personal information when opening your bank account with Citi, be subjected to a credit score check, and often will receive access to a savings account when you sign up for checking.
Citibank checking accounts
Citibank's Basic Banking package provides unlimited check writing, online bill payment, and waived monthly service fees after qualifying. But you have to maintain an average monthly balance of $1,500 or make a qualifying direct deposit and bill payment from your Basic Banking checking account to waive your service fee. Still, there is no minimum balance required in the Citibank account package.
Here is the variety of Citi checking accounts:
- Citi Basic Checking Account Package – Ideal for anyone seeking standard checking services who want an in-person banking experience or need to cash paper checks.
- Citi Access Account Package - Best for anyone looking for standard service online rather than in-branch service.
- CitiElevate Account Package - Great for anyone who can maintain an average monthly checking account balance of $5,000 and only need online access.
- The CitiBank Account - Best for anyone who will carry an average balance of $10,000 or more and who would also like to earn CitiBank rewards points.
- CitiPriority Account Package - Ideal for account owners who carries a high balance (around $50,000) and is looking for access to investing tools and Citibank ThankYou points. (Citibank does offer investment accounts, as well.)
- CitiGold Account Package - Designed for high wealth individuals carrying a balance of $200,000 or more, with travel benefits, Citibank points, and investing tools and advisement. There is also an international version of this account.
- CitiGold Private Account Package - Best for anyone needing to withdrawal large amounts of money daily (up to $5,000 from ATMs) who carry an average balance of $1 million.
Citibank savings accounts
Some of Citibank’s best features can be found in the Citi savings accounts, although you likely won’t be able to choose your account. Your account type will be decided by zip code with your only other option coming into play if you’re a Citibank credit card member. Eligible linked accounts do not have a minimum opening deposit required.
Here are the various Citibank savings accounts available:
- Citi Accelerate - Depending on your zip code, you might be eligible for Citi’s high-yield savings account — a major benefit over national competitors. This savings account yields 0.70% annual percentage yield (APY) on average (specific rates vary).
- Citi Savings - If you’re not eligible for Citi Accelerate based on your zip code, Citi Savings is a basic savings plan that will earn you between 0.04% and 0.13% savings rates.
- Citi Miles Ahead - This account is invitation-only and reserved for CitiBank credit card members. You won’t yield APY, but you will gain 25% miles on everyday purchases.
I was particularly impressed with Citibank’s high APY attached to their Accelerate savings account. While you can find higher interest rates at some local banks and credit unions, it’s a national high across major banks.
Citibank does not have a true free checking or savings account, which feels like a missed opportunity. There are many national and local banks you can go to for free checking and savings accounts, and while CitiBank does make it easy to waive these fees, it’s still a bit disappointing that they have them at all.
The good news is Citibank does not require a minimum deposit to open any of their checking or savings accounts. However, they do have pretty strict guidelines about the balance requirements you'll need to maintain to avoid paying monthly fees.
Citibank ATM fees are free and non Citi ATM fees are $2.50 per withdrawal.
Each checking and savings plan has its own set of monthly maintenance fees, features, and regulations. Here’s a quick breakdown of the CitiBank fees per account:
|Checking Account Type||Monthly Fee||Waiver Criteria||Minimum Deposit Amount|
|Basic||$10 ($4.50 if savings account is not linked)||$1,500/mo or 1 direct deposit and 1 bill payment||$0|
|Access||$12 ($4.50 if savings account is not linked)||$1,500/mo or 1 direct deposit and 1 bill payment||$0|
|The CitiBank Account||$25||$10,000/mo combined||$0|
Citibank includes many features in their checking and savings account packages, which I think are worth exploring before committing to a new bank. Here are some of the top features that stand out:
Sign up bonuses
One of the best perks Citibank offers is its generous signup bonuses. Citibank often has new signup bonuses posted throughout the year, but currently, here’s how you can earn extra money when signing up:
- Earn $200 cash bonus if you open the basic checking account, you deposit $5,000 within 30 days of opening your account. Maintain this balance for 60 calendar days to obtain your bonus.
- Earn $400 cash bonus if you open the basic checking account, you deposit $15,000 within 30 days of opening your account. Maintain this balance for 60 calendar days to obtain your bonus.
- Earn $700 cash bonus if you open the basic checking account, you deposit $50,000 within 30 days of opening your account. Maintain this balance for 60 calendar days to obtain your bonus.
Quick access to customer service
Another feature I love about Citibank is that they’ve invested a tremendous amount of effort building out their customer service system. Since Citibank does not have physical locations in every state, having access to customer service via the phone and internet is crucial.
Citibank makes it easy to get in touch with a qualified customer service representative by calling their helpline, connecting customers via live chat, or by reaching out on Twitter. There’s a great option for anyone, which is very refreshing to find.
Excellent mobile and digital features
Again, since Citibank is mostly a digital bank, I’d be unimpressed if they didn’t have a large selection of digital tools in their arsenal. Luckily, they do deliver on mobile and online features, with an intuitive web interface, easy-to-use mobile app, and an array of online and mobile investing tools.
What I like about Citibank’s mobile app over other similar banks is that it’s easy to access all of the tools and features you need. Some banks limit the features available over mobile apps, but since Citibank customers are primarily digital, Citibank offers comprehensive services on its app.
While Citibank doesn’t offer a huge variety of accounts for anyone just starting out, they do provide many higher-tiered checking accounts, which can be useful as you begin earning more, saving more, and investing your money.
Who is Citibank best for?
Anyone looking for a high yield APY
If you live in a qualifying zip code, taking advantage of Citibank’s high yield savings account is almost a no-brainer. While this APY won’t benefit everyone — only those holding high savings account balances and making regular contributions — it will earn you more money in interest than traditional savings accounts.
Since Citibank offers the most locations in this state, California residents can take advantage of many deals, promotions, and account types that digital-only members are excluded from. I definitely recommend checking out local options, too, but Citibank might provide you with the best features in your area.
Anyone with regular direct deposits
Although Citibank charges for basic checking services, you can avoid this fee if you have a qualifying direct deposit transaction posted each month (and in some cases if you also make a bill payment). Since many individuals rely on direct deposit to get paid, you might be able to snag free checking and get access to Citibank benefits this way.
Who shouldn’t use Citibank?
Anyone with non-traditional income
If you’re a freelancer, contractor, restaurant server/bartender, or someone else with fluctuating income, Citibank is probably not the best place to open a checking or savings account. Since their monthly fees can only be waived by keeping an average balance or by receiving direct deposit payments every month, you might not always meet these criteria.
There’s no reason to pay for basic checking if you don’t need to, so I would recommend finding a free checking option instead.
Anyone requiring in-person service
Yes, Citibank does have locations in some major cities and California, but if you’re not close to one of these locations (many states, in fact, have no Citibank branches), you’ll miss out on in-person service.
I do love that Citibank has a solid digital and phone customer support team available 24/7, but some people simply prefer banking in person. If you’re one of those people and there are no Citibank branches near you, I’d look for a different place to handle my checking and savings accounts.
Citibank pros and cons
Are you still on the fence when it comes to banking at Citibank? I’ll walk you through some of the top pros and cons to consider before making your decision.
Bonuses and rewards
We’ve already touched upon the many signup bonuses Citibank offers, but this bank also provides rewards points and travel miles with certain accounts, known as Citi ThankYou rewards. This can be extremely helpful for anyone who already has a Citibank credit card (or is considering opening one) and for individuals who travel often.
No standalone savings account
Sure, most people with savings accounts also have a checking account, but there are some people who are only interested in savings. I don’t like that Citibank requires opening a checking account in order to take advantage of their savings account features.
No minimum deposit required
One pro that stands out to me is the $0 deposit requirement that accompanies all Citibank accounts. While some banks require a deposit amount in order to open a new account, Citibank does not.
If you ever accidentally spend more money than what’s in your checking account, Citibank’s overdraft fees are quite steep. Not only does Citibank charge $34 per transaction — this fee can be charged up to four times a day. This means you could end up with $136 in overdraft fees, daily, before you realize what’s happened.
They do often overdraft protection to move fees from savings to checking, but this paid option is slightly underwhelming, since you’ll be paying the bank to cover your charges with your own money.
Some higher-tier accounts do have overdraft protection, but many of the basic accounts do not.
Easy access to ATMs
As mainly online banking for the majority of the country, you might not have access to Citibank locations near you. It provides you with Citibank ATM access across the country and will even pay you back on in-network ATMs that charge you a service fee.
I’m not a fan of Citibank’s monthly fees to hold a checking or savings account, even though you can avoid them by carrying a particular balance, signing up for monthly bill pay, or receiving direct deposits. These terms aren’t on par with major competitors and are disappointing to see, particularly for the standard checking and savings accounts.
Citibank vs. competitors
How does Citibank stand up to competitors? Let’s take a look.
Citibank vs. Bank of America
Both Citibank and Bank of America are top nationwide financial institutions in the U.S. On paper, both of their options seem fairly comparable, but there are some notable differences to consider.
For starters, Bank of America also charges a monthly fee, but offers more ways to waive this fee for both checking and savings accounts. On the other hand, Bank of America also requires a minimum deposit of $100 to open a basic checking or savings account.
Lastly, Bank of America has access to more in-person branches across the country than Citibank, with approximately 4,400 locations compared to Citibank’s 700.
Citibank vs. Wells Fargo
Another top name in the banking industry, Wells Fargo, also offers similar options to Citibank. This banking giant, however, has a few pros and cons that set it apart from Citibank.
Wells Fargo does have monthly fees, but they are lower (on average) than Citibank’s and have more ways to waive them. In addition, Wells Fargo waives monthly fees for college students and some college faculty members.
Wells Fargo also has more branches than Citibank (5,400) and charges you for fewer overdraft transactions per day. They do require a minimum deposit amount, unlike Citibank, though the amount is fairly small.
|Minimum Deposit||Monthly Fee||Savings APY||Overdraft Fee||Number of Branches|
|Citibank||$0||$4.50 - $30||0.04% - 0.70%||$34 per transaction (4 transactions per day)||700|
|Bank of America||$100||$8||0.03%||$35 per transaction (4 transactions per day)||4,400|
|Wells Fargo||$25||$10||0.01%||$35 per transaction (3 transactions per day)||5,400|
Does Citibank offer a savings account?
Yes, Citibank does offer a savings account, however you’ll need to sign up for a checking account to receive access. You cannot sign up for a Citibank standalone savings account.
How do I avoid Citibank monthly fees?
You can avoid Citibank’s monthly checking and savings account fees in three ways.
- Maintaining an average balance (ranging from $1,500 - $50,000 for most accounts)
- Receiving an eligible direct deposit payment
- Making an eligible bill payment
Specific requirements vary depending on your account.
Is Citibank’s savings account good?
Citibank’s high yield savings account offers 0.70% APY, which are much higher rates than national competitors. However, you will need to sign up for a checking account and live in a qualifying zip code to enroll. In addition, you may be able to find similar or higher APY savings accounts at local banks and credit unions.
Can I open a Citibank account online?
Yes. Since Citibank is not present throughout most states, opening an account online is quick and easy. You can do so directly on their website.
Citibank is one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States and still remains in the top five rankings of nationwide banks. Although branch locations are limited throughout the country, Citibank does a great job of connecting to customers online and offering all the services you might need through digital apps.
If you’re looking for a strong, national bank with access to digital tools and a high yield savings account, Citibank might be the right choice for you. If you require a more personal touch or want to opt-out of monthly fees, you might want to look locally or at other online banks.
You can learn more information at onlineciti.com.