First Citizens Bank Review

First Citizens Bank logo

First Citizens Bank

8.0

BankBonus.com rating

Bottom Line

First Citizens Bank offers an impressive selection of banking, wealth management, and investment services to its customers across 22 US states.

Pros

  • Wide Selection of Accounts
  • Great Mobile App
  • Several Rewards Credit Cards

Cons

  • Not Available in All States
  • No Sign-up Bonus

First Citizens Bank logo

Are you looking for a full-service bank with plenty of digital tools? With everyday banking basics like checking accounts and credit cards, plus small business and commercial solutions, First Citizens Bank may have just what you need.

In this review, you will learn everything there is to know about First Citizens Bank. From its best products and features to the pros and cons of being a customer, you should walk away with a good idea of whether or not it’s the right bank for you.

First Citizens Banking Features

Since its founding in 1898, First Citizens Bank has grown steadily through consistent mergers and acquisitions. Most recently, First Citizens merged with the online-only CIT Bank, further expanding its ever-growing network.

Today, First Citizens offers an impressive selection of personal banking, business banking, wealth management, and investment services. To give you a better idea of what you can get as a client, let’s take a closer look at its array of banking features.

600+ Locations

First Citizens operates more than 600 locations in 22 states, with the majority of its branches in North Carolina and South Carolina. Check out the state locations below to see if there’s a branch near you:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Online Banking

First Citizens Bank also offers a full-service online banking platform. There, you can keep track of all your accounts in one place, quickly move money around, and manage your financial life no matter where you are.

Better yet, First Citizens digital banking is completely free to opt-in to, so no matter which accounts you go with, you can count on full online access.

Mobile App

The First Citizens Bank mobile banking app has earned a 4.5-star rating (out of 5) in both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Products

First Citizens offers a wide variety of deposit account options, along with credit cards and other financial services. Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of accounts First Citizen has to offer:

Checking Accounts

First Citizens checking accounts come with a Visa debit card and free ATM withdrawals at any First Citizens location. You can easily set up direct deposit, send money with Zelle®, and pay your bills online.

Now, let’s check out each of its checking account options a little more closely.

Free Checking Account

With First Citizens’ Free Checking account, there’s no monthly fee if you enroll in paperless statements within your first 60 days after opening.

A minimum opening deposit of $50 is required, but there is no minimum balance requirement after that. Overall, First Citizens Free Checking account is well-designed to suit most everyday checking needs.

Premier Checking Account

If you’re a multiple account holder with First Citizens Bank then consider upgrading to a Premier account.  A Premier account hooks you up with preferred rates on CDs and home equity lines of credit when you enroll.

To avoid an $18 monthly fee, all you need is a $5,000 average daily balance across all accounts or $4,000 or more in monthly direct deposits.

The account has an annual percentage yield (APY) of only 0.01%. If you need more growth, then look at the Prestige Checking Account.

Prestige Checking Account

Prestige is First Citizens’ highest tier checking account. Along with its best CD and home equity rates, Prestige members get free cashier’s checks, money orders, and unlimited ATM reimbursements.

Avoid the monthly fee of $25  by keeping a $25,000 combined balance between accounts or $6,500 in direct deposits coming in every month.

Savings Accounts

Online Savings Account

First Citizens Online Savings has no monthly fee. With as little as $50, you can open a savings account with no minimum balance requirement that easily links with your First Citizens checking account.

This account is convenient if you already have a First Citizens checking account, but with an APY of only 0.03%, there are other online savings accounts that offer more if you have the funds to grow.

Money Market Account

First Citizens’ Money Market account offers a tiered interest rate based on your balance. Although, the highest tier is the same meager 0.03% you’ll find in Online Savings.

There is, however, better flexibility on withdrawals and transfers than with a savings account. An Online Savings account offers only two free funds transfers per month, but with Online Savings, free transfers are unlimited.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

The CD rates are the highest savings rates First Citizens offers. CD terms range from 6 months to 5 years. The longer you commit your funds, the higher your savings rate can be. Each option requires a minimum deposit of $500. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • 6 or 12-month term: 0.01% APY
  • 18-month term: 0.02% APY
  • 2 or 3-year term: 0.05% APY
  • 4 or 5-year term: 0.15% APY

First Citizens Credit Cards

First Citizens offers a full suite of solid credit cards to fit a variety of needs, though they don’t offer welcome bonuses.

Travel Rewards Credit Card

The First Citizens Travel Rewards card is designed for people on the move. It comes with $100 per year in travel credits, plus you earn triple points on travel purchases, double on dining, and 1.5X on everything else. There’s a $95 annual fee, and you get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers in your first year.

Rewards Credit Card

For everyday purchases, the Rewards card should fit the bill. Cardholders get double points at grocery and drug stores and triple points on streaming services and gas. Better yet, there’s no annual fee.

Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Cash Rewards card works best if you’d rather avoid spending categories. You can enjoy unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee, and you can easily transfer your cashback to your First Citizens bank account.

Smart Option Credit Card

The Smart Option credit card may be for you if you’re looking for a low interest rate. There’s a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first year, not to mention it offers the lowest variable rate of any First Citizens credit card. Overall, it’s your best option for a balance transfer card with no annual fee.

Secured Cash Back Credit Card

Unlike most secured credit cards, First Citizens Secured Cash Back credit card allows you to earn cash while building your credit. After the $500 deposit required to establish your credit line, you earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases.

Pricing & Fees

Like most banks, First Citizens Bank has a list of fees for certain services, but they aren’t the worst you’ll find. You can avoid many of these by adhering to some basic minimum standards.

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect should you choose First Citizens as your banking partner.

Monthly Service Fees

All First Citizens’ checking accounts come with a monthly service charge, with the exception of Free Checking*; however, there are options to have these waived (for example, meeting minimum daily balance or direct deposit requirements).

*Note: if you do not enroll in paperless statements within 60 days, your account will be converted into an account that comes with a service charge).

ATM Fees

If you use your First Citizens debit card at an out-of-network ATM be prepared to pay a fee*, with the exception of the Prestige Checking Account, which comes with unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

So, if you opt for any other account, make sure there’s a First Citizens ATM nearby. *Out-of-network fees vary by state.

Wire Transfer Fees

There’s a $15 charge for domestic wire transfers at First Citizens Bank – much lower than you’ll find with most other banking options.

Overdraft fees

Like most banks, First Citizens charges overdraft fees, but the cost of overdrawing your account has been significantly lowered and is now down to $10.

First Citizens also offers overdraft protection on all of its accounts. It’s optional for members to either link a savings account to cover any charges or set up a line of credit.

Signing Up and Getting Started

To get started with a First Citizens account, head to your local branch or enroll online. All you need is some basic personal information. Also, opening a new account will not affect your credit score.

First Citizens Bank Promotions, Bonuses, & Coupons

Unfortunately, First Citizens falls a bit short when it comes to sign-up perks. While it has been known to offer bonuses in the past, there are no current promotions for new account holders. This currently applies to both bank accounts and credit cards. I’ll keep you updated if any new offers pop up.

Security

First Citizens is a member-FDIC bank, so all of your deposits are protected for up to $250,000. For digital banking security, First Citizens employs Transport Layer encryption, secure firewalls, and automatic lock-outs for unauthorized users. The bank also provides a bunch of useful tips to help keep your account secure, which you can find on the website.

Customer Service and Support

If you need assistance with your accounts, you can call the First Citizens customer service phone number (888-FC-DIRECT). An automated system is available 24/7, and you can reach an actual person from 7 am to 11 pm Eastern Time daily.

Otherwise, take advantage of the FAQ section on the website or stop by your local branch. You can easily find the nearest branch on the website, along with local hours and availability.

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Plenty of account options
  • 600 branches in 22 states
  • Several rewards credit cards
  • Great mobile app
Cons:
  • Low savings rates
  • Lots of fees
  • No sign-up bonuses
  • Not available everywhere

Alternatives to First Citizens Bank

If you like the sound of First Citizens but aren’t ready to commit, there are plenty of other banks and credit unions worth looking into. Here are some comparable alternatives:

CIT Bank

If you’d rather go with a bank that operates entirely online, you should check out CIT Bank. The bank was recently acquired by First Citizens, so it falls under the same umbrella. Plus, since CIT doesn’t have any branches, it’s able to offer a truly fee-free platform.

On top of that, it also comes with high-end savings rates that you can expect from any good digital bank.

Capital One

If you like the idea of a bank with a strong online presence in addition to its brick-and-mortar branches, you might want to look into Capital One. It’s one of the biggest banks in the US and operates on a hybrid model to serve both traditional and digital banking customers.

Bank of America

The majority of First Citizens branches are located in the Carolinas. If you’re a resident of either North or South Carolina and want a bank with a significant presence in your state, you could also go with Bank of America.

Bank of America is one of the four largest banks in the US and stands as the most popular bank in North Carolina and the second most popular in South Carolina.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is First Citizens Bank a good bank?

Yes, First Citizens is a good option, especially if you live in North or South Carolina. While it doesn’t stand above the rest of the pack in any single category, it’s a solid choice across the board with plenty of account options.

Is First Citizens Bank FDIC-insured?

Yes. Its parent company, First Citizens Bancorp, is an FDIC-insured institution.

Is Citizens Bank the same as First Citizens Bank?

No. While it can be easy to confuse the two, First Citizens Bank and Citizens Bank are entirely different financial institutions.

So, Is First Citizens Bank Right For You?

First Citizens is a bank that offers a little bit of everything. It has the physical presence of a big bank but also offers plenty of modern online functionality.

However, the reality is that no matter what you’re looking for, there’s probably a better overall option. For example, First Citizens can’t match the massive brick-and-mortar presence of a Big Four bank like Bank of America or Wells Fargo. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the same fee avoidance or savings rates as online-only options like Ally or Chime.

Of course, personal finance comes down to preference. If First Citizens has a presence in your area and you like what they have to offer, it can serve you well.

Here’s to finding the right bank that meets your daily financial needs and doesn’t nickel and dime you with fees.