Citizens Access is an online-only banking platform which debuted in May of 2018. It provides individuals with an opportunity to take advantage of high-yield savings products.
The new online banking platform is the latest venture of Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group, Inc., the 13th-largest retail bank in the country by assets. The parent bank serves nearly every market sector including individuals, small businesses and corporations.
Citizens Access offers two products: Savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
The APY offered on the savings accounts is one of the highest you’ll find on the market, whether you’re looking at brick-and-mortar or online-only financial institutions. However, you have to have a substantial, $5,000 initial deposit to open an account. If you can meet that minimum, though, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best rates around. Just make sure you keep at least $5,000 in your account as time wears on; if you don’t, your APY will go down dramatically.
The CDs offered by Citizens Access have some of the best rates around. While there are financial institutions offering the same rates with a lower minimum deposit, many others are offering identical or lower rates but with a higher minimum deposit. Depending on how much you are looking to put into your CD, Citizens Access could be a very good option.
Bear in mind that when you open a CD, you’re committing to keeping your money in there for the full length of the CD term. If you make any withdrawals prior to the CD’s maturation date, you will be charged a penalty and the account will be closed. When this penalty is applied, it will be 90 days’ worth of interest for CDs with terms of one year or less. For CDs with terms of more than one year, the early withdrawal penalty will be 180 days’ worth of interest. The bottom line is that you cannot make partial withdrawals and let the remaining balance continue to earn interest.
That CD withdrawal penalty aside, Citizens Access is attractive because it charges almost zero fees. That means no maintenance fees and no account opening fees (or anything like them). There’s also no ATM fees, but that is because the savings account is not accessible via an ATM. You also won’t have access to check writing capabilities. Instead, you need to make an electronic transfer from your Citizens Access savings account into one of your accounts at another financial institution. Alternatively, you can request a written check to you by phone. Such accessibility restrictions are not unusual for online-only financial institutions.
Also, be aware that, per Federal Reserve regulation, you will only be able to make six withdrawals per month from your savings account. Should you make more than six withdrawals in three months of any 12-month period, Citizens Access will shut down your savings account.
Setting up an account with Citizens Access is incredibly quick and simple thanks to its easily navigable website. You will need to provide a funding source for your new account — such as an existing checking or savings account — along with personal information like your name, address, birth date, phone number, Social Security number and email address.
You can also fund your account by depositing checks directly via the remote deposit capture feature on Citizens Access’ mobile-responsive website. (That is, the website automatically changes to fit the device you're reading it on, such as your phone or tablet.) If you’re not comfortable using remote deposit capture, you can also mail in your check for deposit via snail mail. At the current time, there is no app which can be used with these accounts.
While Citizens Access products offer high rates, it should be noted that Citizens Financial Group has had a spotted history at points. Operating under the Royal Bank of Scotland since 1988, it was one of many financial organizations which received government bailouts following the financial crisis of 2008 after participating in some of the practices that led to said crisis.
This did not sit well with the British public, as it was their tax dollars which funded the bailout, and popular opinion led the Royal Bank of Scotland to take Citizens Financial Group public by selling off its shares in the company in 2014. It used the $3 billion in profit from the initial public offering to pay down a part of its £45 billion (then about $73 billion) debt to the British government.
In 2015, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) came down on Citizens for errors on consumer deposits. The agency found that for five years, if there was an error on a deposit slip, Citizens would not correct it unless the discrepancy was greater than $50. That resulted in some consumers being rewarded with more money than they had actually deposited, but more worryingly, it meant that many consumers did not see their full funds deposited into their accounts. Citizens kept the money for itself to the tune of $11 million. The CFPB mandated that they return the money to consumers, and socked Citizens with a $7.5 million fine.
All of these controversies occurred before the creation of Citizens Access, and applied to either the parent or sister companies of the new online platform.
I've had their savings account for several years. Their rates were competitive when I signed up, and they've remained competitive since. There are no 'promotional' or bait and switch style intro rates. Long time customers are treated to the same competitive rates. Rates have decreased--as they have at all banks due to these economic times--and they've transparently alerted me to each rate decrease. Despite decreasing, though, they've stayed competitive. They've consistently been in the top 5 banks, with rates between these banks typically insignificant and the top bank typically offering a 'promotional' rate to entice new customers, and no longer remaining in the top banks after some time. I have no doubt they'll raise them again once times improve.
We both gained from my savings when economic times were good--which we hopefully both appreciate. During the pandemic, when I needed to withdraw my savings, it was easy. When times improved, and I wanted to transfer money into my savings account, it too was easy. The one time I called customer service--to set up my account and just to speak with a real person prior--it was easy.
Their online tools and summary are also easy, simple, and clear. They do what they do exceptionally well. They don't do everything (ie checking account), but they're transparent about that, too.
I recently opened a Citizens Access Deposit Account. I took my time entering my info, but I had to re-enter the info 3 times before my info was accepted. There was no indication of a "time-out" or a "time-out" message. The account application then failed to complete, referring me, in an email, to their customer service phone number. This was in the early am on a Sunday morning. I called a helpful representative later that Sunday morning, with no wait time, and the application was completed without further complication. It took 2 days to verify the link between my local savings account and the Citizens Access online savings account by sending 2 small test transfers from Citizens Access to my local account. It then took less than 2 days more to transfer the amount to fully fund my new Citizens Access savings account. Everything now is good, so far.
If you open a Citizens Access Deposit Account, make sure you carefully read the Citizens Access Deposit Account Agreement. See: https://www.citizensaccess.com/important-documents/overview.html
Pay especially close attention to the Arbitration Agreement. Unless you opt out within 45 days of opening your deposit account, the Arbitration Agreement severely limits your legal rights and bars you from participation in a class action lawsuit or joining in a claim with others to lower or eliminate your legal costs in any possible legal dispute. If most account owners fail to opt out of the Arbitration Agreement, then Citizens Access has effectively blocked and shut down class action lawsuits as a means of resolving any disputes and potential harm caused by negligent Citizens Access activities. Exercise your legal rights!!!
Note: Citizens Access business records, NOT your records, determine if you opted out. Send your opt out request via Certified US Mail with Return Receipt to verify and prove Citizens Access received your opt out request!!!
"If you do not opt out, for a dispute subject to arbitration, neither you nor we will have the right, subject to the limited exceptions set forth below, to: (1) have a court or a jury decide the dispute; (2) engage in information-gathering (i.e., discovery) to the same extent as in court; (3) participate in a class action in court or in arbitration; or (4) join or consolidate a claim with claims of any other persons."
Right to Cancel or Opt Out of This Arbitration Agreement
"You may opt out of this Arbitration Agreement to resolve any claim or dispute by arbitration. To opt out of this Arbitration Agreement, you must send us written notice of your decision within forty-five (45) days of the opening of your account. Such notice must clearly state that you wish to cancel or opt out of the Arbitration Agreement section of this Account Agreement. It also must include your name, address, account name, account number and your signature and must be mailed to Citizens Access, PO Box 2005, Cranberry TWP., PA 16066."
"This is the sole and only method by which you can opt out of this Arbitration Agreement. Your exercise of the right to opt-out will not affect any remaining terms of this Account Agreement and will not result in any adverse consequence to you or your account. You agree that our business records will be final and conclusive evidence with respect to whether you cancelled or opted out of this arbitration agreement in a timely and proper fashion."
Hopefully, there will never be a need for any legal action with Citizens Access.
Update 9/5/2018: Citizens Access phoned me to confirm that they received the opt-out request about 3 weeks after receiving my opt-out request and signing for the Certified US Mail .
Per phone response from Citizen, cannot add beneficiary online or via mail. Only by giving person answering phone, name + social security number + address. In my experience with several phone calls over 2 months, I do not feel comfortable giving that information via phone re a 3rd party to anyone I have spoken with. The people I have spoken to are very courteous but not very knowledgeable - seems like an outsourced service. May be wrong and just not well trained yet. Citizens needs to at least be able to have information mailed in even if software not able to handle this addition.
|FDIC Certificate #||57957|
|Return on Assets - YTD||0.6%|
|Return on Equity - YTD||4.85%|
|Annual Interest Income||$5.36B|
|Assets and Liabilities|
|Assets||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$183.4B$165.7B|
|Loans||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$125.6B$121B|
|Deposits||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$150.3B$127.2B|
|Equity Capital||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$22.16B$21.97B|
|Loan Loss Allowance||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$2.44B$1.25B|
|Unbacked Noncurrent Loans||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$1.09B$697.9MM|
|Real Estate Owned||Q4 2020vs Q4 2019||$15.8MM$38.1MM|
Always verify rates and promotions with the bank or credit union. We are not Citizens Access; we are a rate comparison website and cannot provide official rates or promotions.
* The APY shown varies based on the deposit amount. Expand the listing to see APYs for other deposit amounts.
|APY||MIN||MAX||ACCOUNT NAME||VIEW DETAILS|
|0.40%*||$5k*||-||Online Savings Account|
|OTHER TIERS: 0.10% → Up to $5k|
|APY||MIN||MAX||ACCOUNT NAME||VIEW DETAILS|
|0.25%||$5k||-||Online 5 Year CD|
|0.20%||$5k||-||Online 4 Year CD|
|0.15%||$5k||-||Online 3 Year CD|
|0.10%||$5k||-||Online 1 Year CD|
|0.10%||$5k||-||Online 2 Year CD|
|0.05%||$5k||-||11 Month Liquid CD|
Citizens Access is an Internet only bank and does not have branch locations. Its headquarters is located at One Citizens Plaza - Providence, RI 02903