Citizens Access Online Savings Account Review: Fee-Free and a High APY

If you’re looking for a low-cost, high-interest savings account, look no further.
9/6/19 | By Sarah Li Cain
Citizens Access Online Savings Account

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Backed by Citizens Bank, an institution that’s been around for 190 years, Citizens Access is an online-only bank whose mission is to help consumers have a more seamless banking experience.

Considering many traditional banks pay a pittance of an interest rate on savings accounts — we’re talking an average of 0.09%, so mere pennies — the Citizens Access Online Savings Account looks pretty attractive, considering its high APY (annual percentage yield) and low-fee structure.

But is opening an account worth it? You’re in luck because we’ve done the homework for you — keep reading to learn about account features and the pros and cons before you decide whether this is the right account for you.

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Citizens Access Online Savings Account basics

APY 2.20% as of Aug. 28, 2019
Minimum balance for APY $5,000
Minimum deposit to open account $5,000
Monthly maintenance fees None
ATM access None
Transactions per month Up to six transactions per month
FDIC insured Yes

What we like about the Citizens Access Online Savings Account

  • High APY: As of Aug. 28, 2019, you can earn up to 2.20% APY for balances above $5,000. That’s more than 20 times the national average!
  • No fees: Yup, you read that right. Citizens Access claims that customers won’t be charged fees for its online savings account.
  • FDIC insured: Your deposit could be insured for up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), so rest assured knowing your funds are safe.
  • Ease of use: According to the Citizens Access website, you can open an account in as little as five minutes. It also boasts a straightforward and simple way to deposit and withdraw money.
  • Mobile deposit: Citizens Access offers customers mobile deposit when you log into your account online using your smartphone. Once you’re in, follow the on-screen prompts to do so.

What the Citizens Access Online Savings Account could improve

  • No ATM access: The only way to make deposits and withdrawals is through online transfers (or by mailing in a check or making a mobile deposit). In other words, if you need fast access to your cash, you’re out of luck.
  • Can’t deposit cash: The only way to add money to your online savings account is to transfer funds from an outside account or deposit a check. If you regularly need to make cash deposits, you’ll have to first deposit it into a secondary account, then transfer the funds to Citizens Access online.
  • Limited account options: If you’re the kind of person who wants to do all your banking in one place, Citizens Access may not be for you. That’s because Citizens Access only offers savings accounts and Certificates of Deposit (CDs) — no checking accounts as of yet.
  • High minimum balance: Opening a bank account with $5,000 might be out of reach for some. And if your daily balance falls below that threshold, you’ll earn a lower interest rate. If your balance is less than $5,000 for an extended period of time, Citizens Access could even close your account.

Compare earnings with the Citizens Access Online Savings Account vs. a traditional savings account

A Citizens Access Online Savings Account can nab you more than 20 times the interest you’d earn with a traditional savings account. That’s a pretty big difference.

Let’s take a look at what that rate looks like in the real world. For example, say you make a $5,000 deposit, and you don’t make any additional deposits afterward. You can earn a 2.20% APY from Citizens Access (as of Aug. 28, 2019), or a 0.09% APY from a traditional bank.

Citizens Access Online Savings Account Traditional savings account
Balance after one year $5,110 $5,004.50
Balance after three years $5,337.31 $5,013.51
Balance after five years $5,574.74 $5,022.54

In one year, the balance in a traditional savings account would grow to $5,004.50, whereas the Citizens Access Online Savings Account would be $5,110. In three years, the balance in your Citizens Access account will be $5,337 versus $5,014 with a traditional account. In five years, you’re looking at $5,023 for the traditional account. Get this — your Citizens Access account will grow to $5,575!

Over five years, you’d earn about $550 more with the Citizens Access Online Savings Account — no small amount of change.

How to open a Citizens Access Online Savings Account

To open a Citizens Access Online savings account, start by heading to its online application form.

First, select which type of account you want and the amount you want to deposit. After entering your personal details — such as your name, address, and Social Security number — you’ll need to accept the account terms. Then finalize your login information by creating a username and password.

At this point, you can fund your account. To do so, you can make an online funds transfer from an account with another U.S. financial institution, deposit a check using Citizens Access’ mobile website, or mail a check to the correct address.

How to withdraw money from a Citizens Access Online Savings Account

You can withdraw funds by conducting an online transfer. Once you log into your account, head to the transfer funds option, select the amount you want transferred, and confirm the details. It can take up to three business days for the funds to arrive in your external account.

Alternately, you can call customer service at 1-888-201-6505 to ask for a check to be mailed to you. Federal regulations limit you to six withdrawals a month, so be mindful of how many withdrawals you intend to regularly make.

Other Citizens Access Online Savings Account fees

Overdraft fee None
Stop payment fee N/A
ACH transfers None
Incoming wire N/A
Outgoing wire N/A

Citizens Access Online Savings Account customer service

Since this is an online-only bank, you can’t go to a physical branch to speak to customer service or get help.

However, you can contact Citizens Access by calling 1-888-201-6505. Customer service is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

You can also contact Citizens Access by sending a secure message once you’re logged into your account. You should receive a reply within 24 to 48 business hours.

Common questions about the Citizens Access Online Savings Account

Is the Citizens Access Online Savings Account safe?

Citizens Access has taken proactive measures to ensure the security of its website and your private information. It offers the same protections you’d see with a traditional bank account. For example, the Citizens Access website sends and receives information with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and offers two-factor authentication to protect your passwords.

It also provides 24/7 fraud monitoring — it could freeze your account or alert you of suspicious activity if Citizens Access thinks there’s any irregular, illegal, or fraudulent activities going on. Your deposits are also FDIC insured (see below), so there’s little risk you’ll lose your funds.

Can I open a Citizens Bank savings account online?

Yes, that’s the only way to do so. Citizens Access claims it makes the process simple and fast and that you can complete the application process in as little as five minutes. All you do is select the product you want, enter your personal information, agree to the terms and conditions, create an online account, and fund your new savings account.

Is there a minimum balance?

You’ll need to open the Citizens Access Online Savings Account with a minimum of $5,000.

Is Citizens Access FDIC insured?

Of course! Citizens Access accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000, as required by law. Something to keep in mind is that both Citizens Bank and Citizens Access count as the same entity when it comes to calculating FDIC insurance deposits and insurance. That means if you already have an account at Citizens Bank, you’ll want to make sure how much you’ll be insured with Citizens Access when you open an account.

How can I access my money?

All you need to do is log into your account online to access your money. Once there, you can see your account balance and make transfers, withdrawals, and deposits. If you want to deposit a check, log into your account via your smartphone to do so. Otherwise, you can do almost anything via your desktop.

Another option is to call customer service at 1-888-201-6505 to have a check mailed to you for the amount requested.

What if my account balance falls under $5,000?

Sometimes this can happen, especially when you’re making a bunch of withdrawals. If your daily balance amount is less than $5,000, then you’ll earn a lower APY (as of Jan. 14, 2019, that APY was 0.25%). Citizens Access may close your account if the balance is less than $5,000 for an extended period of time.

Final thoughts

The Citizens Access Online Savings Account offers a lot of perks — namely, no fees and a high APY. If you’re looking to boost your savings rate or need a low-fee online savings account, this is a great choice. Since Citizens Access is an online-only bank, you can make deposits and withdrawals 24/7 from the convenience of your own home.

However, the high minimum deposits and lack of ATM access might be off-putting to some. But if that’s not concerning to you, then give this savings account a try.

Want to compare other options? Check out the best high-interest savings accounts of 2019.

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