Citizens Bank Loans Review: Options for Just About Every Need

Citizens Bank offers student, home, and personal loans for customers just like you.
Last updated Mar 10, 2020 | By Robin Kavanagh
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Whether you’re looking to refinance your home, buy your first one, or get funding for school, you want to go with a reputable lender that will offer you a good rate and repayment terms. This means shopping around and doing your homework to see which lender can provide the best possible financing.

Founded in 1828, Citizens Bank is one of many traditional banks you may have in your own backyard. You’ll find locations mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. However, you can borrow from this bank if you live anywhere in the U.S. Here is what this bank is all about and everything you need to know before deciding to apply for a loan with Citizens.

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An overview of Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank dates back to 1828, making it one of the oldest financial institutions in the U.S. It has since undergone substantial change and growth, and is now a part of Citizens Financial Group, which is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. It currently has working branches in 11 states throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the Midwest.

The bank’s guiding vision is to help customers succeed because that’s the only way Citizens Bank will succeed. The financial crisis of the late 2010s helped it refocus this mission to become stronger for its commercial and consumer banking customers. This involved divesting from some areas and investing in others to streamline the business for better efficiency and service.

Which loan products does Citizens Bank offer?

Citizens Bank offers several types of loans, including flexible personal loans. It also offers student loans for graduate and undergraduate coursework, parent loans, and refinancing options for existing student loans.

If you’re looking to buy a home, Citizens offers mortgages as well. And for those who already have a home, it offers home equity lines of credit, loans, and refinancing of existing mortgages. Here is a closer look at each of these types of products.

Personal loans with Citizens Bank

Personal loans are very popular right now, and Citizens Bank offers them for specific purposes, such as debt consolidation, home improvements/renovations, weddings and other major events, engagement rings and recreational vehicles financing, and some other options. The bank offers personal loans between $5,000 and $50,000 for three- to seven-year terms. Interest rates vary between 6.79% and 20.89%.*

A personal loan from this bank may be right for you if you have what Citizens Bank defines as a “reasonably strong” credit rating and make at least $24,000 a year. You don’t have to live in one of the 11 states Citizens Bank does business in to qualify for a personal loan, as it will be issued through Citizens One, the lending business for Citizens Financial Group. Other eligibility requirements include being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident living within one of the 50 states; having a Social Security number; and having reached the age of majority for the state in which you live.

There are no fees associated with a Citizens Bank personal loan, including late, application, or prepayment fees. You can request a rate check before submitting an application. This will result in a soft inquiry on your credit reports, which won’t impact your score. Taking this step will give you an idea of what kind of loan offer you could get if you submit a full application.

Student loans/refinancing with Citizens Bank

If you need a student loan for undergraduate or graduate work, are a parent who wants to take out a student loan for a dependent, or have existing loans you want to refinance, Citizens Bank has some options for you.

Undergraduate loans

Citizens Bank offers private student loans for undergraduate study at both fixed and variable rates. Fixed rates range from 4.75% to 12.04% APR, and variable rates range from 2.72% to 10.83%.* You can apply for a one-time loan or one that will cover your education costs over several years and up to the maximum amount you qualify for.

Undergraduate loans range between $1,000 and $150,000, depending on eligibility, and can be paid back over five-, 10-, or 15-year terms. Repayment options include paying on the interest while in school or deferring payments until after graduation.

Students may apply with or without a cosigner, at least one of which must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Citizens Bank looks for applicants with good credit and who will be enrolled at least half time at an eligible school.

Parent loans

Parent loans are designed to help pay for a dependent’s education, but not put the loan in a student’s name or repayment on their shoulders. These loans look very similar to the student loans detailed above. You can choose from fixed or variable rates for funding one or multiple years of school. Fixed rates are offered between 5.48% to 8.52% APR, and variable rates are offered between 4.27% and 7.41% APR.*

Loans can be approved for as little as $1,000 and as much as $350,000, with repayment terms of five or 10 years. Interest-only payments are available while the student is in school. To be eligible for a parent loan, the applicant must be a parent or sponsor who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a student who is enrolled in an eligible school at least half time.

Graduate loans

If you’re looking for help paying for graduate school programs, such as law or medical school, business school programs, medical residencies, or help while studying for the bar, a Citizens Bank graduate student loan may be able to help. As with undergraduate loans, you can choose from fixed or variable rate options and apply for one or multiple years-worth of funding. APRs as of March 9, 2020, are between 4.40% and 11.35% for fixed rates, and 2.65% and 9.99% are offered for variable plans.*

There are different borrowing maximums for different programs, but all have a minimum of $1,000. Maximums include $225,000 for MBA and law degrees; $180,000 to $350,000 for medical or healthcare degrees; and up to $150,000 for other graduate degrees. Repayment terms are offered for five, 10, or 15 years. You can make interest-only payments while in school or defer payments until after graduation. The same eligibility requirements for undergraduate loans apply here, plus you should have no student-loan defaults on your credit report.

Refinancing

Both parents and students can apply to refinance existing student loans through Citizens Bank. Whether you have one or many government or private loans, want to move an existing loan into your name only, are looking to get your loans into a single monthly payment, lower your payments, or even get a lower interest rate, there are solutions here to look into.

Again, Citizens Bank offers fixed and variable rate options: 3.08% to 8.75% APR for fixed loans and 2.09% to 8.57% for variable-rate loans.* The rate options are even lower when parents apply for refinancing. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have a Social Security number, and be refinancing at least $10,000.

For students looking to refinance, you have to have earned a degree of bachelor’s or above. If you have an associate degree or no degree, you will have to show you’ve made at least 12 payments on your loans after leaving school. The maximum amount you can refinance is $300,000 for undergraduate and $500,000 for graduate programs.

Parents who want to refinance have to be the primary borrower or cosigner on the existing loans. The maximum amount you can refinance is $500,000 regardless of degree type. For both types of borrowers, repayment terms can be for five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years.

Home loans and refinancing with Citizens Bank

Existing and prospective homeowners can find financing and refinancing solutions with Citizens Bank. Both fixed and adjustable-rate options are available to applicants. The Citizens Bank website offers a handy rate check tool that gives you estimates for both types of rates for several types of terms. However, these rates are based on someone who has an excellent credit score and history, so make sure to check where you’re at before evaluating the numbers.

If you’re looking to get a mortgage for the purchase of a home, Citizens Bank recommends applying for a prequalification. This allows you to shop within a realistic budget and make an offer knowing that you have the money you need available to you. After your offer is accepted, you can move forward with your full loan application and closing.

For those who want to refinance an existing mortgage, the bank recommends speaking directly with a loan officer to go through the specifics of the situation and what they’re looking to accomplish by refinancing. Generally, refinancing is a good idea if you want to remove someone’s name from your mortgage, want to lower your interest or monthly payments, get some money based on your home’s equity, or change your repayment terms.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with the refinance, Citizens Bank will walk you through the remaining steps and through closing.

Home equity lines of credit and loans with Citizens Bank

Got equity? Want to cash it out? You can do just that with either a Citizens Bank home equity line of credit (HELOC) or home equity loan. A HELOC is a line of credit that is based on the equity in your home and available for you to tap into as needed during a 10-year draw period. This means you can borrow money from that line during the draw period for emergency expenses, renovations, financing education, debt consolidation, and many other purposes.

During the draw period, you can pay on the interest only or both the interest and principal. After the draw period, you have a 15-year repayment period that will require payments to both interest and principle. Citizens Bank HELOCs have variable interest rates that start at 4.25% APR.* The website provides a tool to help you calculate how much you may be able to get with a HELOC and recommends “strong creditworthiness” to get the best rate.

If you’re looking for a home equity loan, you can apply to borrow a lump sum up to the value of the equity in your home. Interest for these loans is at a fixed rate that varies depending on how much you borrow. The lowest APR is 4.99%.* Repayment terms can be 10, 15, or 20 years.

Funds from a home equity loan can be used for the same purposes as a HELOC, such as debt consolidation or a large purchase. You can get a home equity loan if you have an existing mortgage, HELOC, or lien on your property, but can’t use the loan to pay them off. Citizens Bank doesn’t offer any information about what kind of credit score is needed for a home equity loan. However, Experian recommends at least a 700 FICO score and 20% or more equity in your home for the best chance at approval.

What Citizens Bank customers are saying

Online customer reviews of Citizens Bank are overwhelmingly negative, though many sources have a small number of comments to draw from.

The bank’s profile with the Better Business Bureau is listed under the parent company, Citizens Financial Group. An average of 125 customer reviews leaves this profile with one star out of five. Negative comments focus mostly on mistakes with checking or savings accounts, customer service, and too much time to fix errors. There are also 761 customer complaints filed, most unrelated to lending products and mostly with some kind of resolution.

Trustpilot gives Citizens Bank a TrustScore of 2.8 out of 5, but the three customer reviews on the site have to do with personal account issues. ConsumerAffairs.com shows 72 customer reviews within the past year that average out to a score of one star out of five. Most of the negative comments focus on customer service experiences, issues getting documentation after a loan is paid off, and additional fees being charged.

Credit Karma is the only site I found that had mostly positive reviews for Citizens Bank. They give the bank five out of five stars overall, 4.5 stars for the application process, and 4.5 stars for customer service.

FAQs about Citizens Bank

Where is Citizens Bank located?

Citizens Bank is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. It has branches and provides services to customers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, Vermont, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Can I get a loan from Citizens Bank?

Citizens Bank offers many types of loans to people within the states it services. If you live in a state outside of its service area, you may be able to get a loan through Citizens One, which is the lending business of Citizens Financial Group. Citizens One provides loan products outside of the regions in which Citizens Bank does business. You don’t have to be an existing customer or account holder to borrow from Citizens Bank.

How do I pay my Citizens Bank student loan?

Citizens Bank services its student loans using Firstmark Services. Through the Firstmark Services tools, you can make payments to your loan, set up automatic payments, access loan details and account information, find receipts for payments made, and locate detailed instructions for making payments.

You can also request payments be automatically drawn from your checking or savings account; make payments by phone at 888-538-7378; or mail payments to this address:

Citizens Bank
Firstmark Services
PO Box 2977
Omaha, Nebraska 68103-2977

Is Citizens One the same as Citizens Bank?

Citizens One and Citizens Bank are both owned by Citizens Financial Group. Citizens One is the bank’s lending business that operates outside of the 11 states that Citizens Bank services. You’ll find Citizens Bank branches and services in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, Vermont, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The final word on Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank has a decent profile if you have good credit and make a modest annual income. However, there is nothing striking that stands out for this lender as particularly noteworthy or advantageous for you, the borrower. And despite the negative reviews that can be found online, the bank appears to have a solid history of financial performance and customer service.

Submitting your information for a rate check won’t cost you anything, so it’s at least worth going that far to see whether Citizens can offer you a good deal for a loan. Then check out other lenders that can also provide a rate check that won’t impact your credit score before making any decisions. If Citizens Bank comes back as the best, then you may have found a winner.

*Disclaimer - All rates and fees are accurate as of March 9, 2020.