Columbia Bank Review [2024]: Is It A Good Bank?

BANKING - BANK REVIEWS
Columbia Bank primarily offers its services to customers in the New Jersey area.
Updated March 13, 2024
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We think Columbia Bank could make sense if you live in its service area in and around New Jersey. Columbia offers various account types and financial products, including interest-bearing accounts with competitive annual percentage yield (APY) rates.

However, if you don’t live in New Jersey, Columbia Bank may not be a viable or competitive option. In this case, we recommend considering one of the best online banks or best brick-and-mortar banks.

Let’s explore our Columbia Bank review to see if this is the right bank for you.

In this Columbia Bank review

Key takeaways

  • We think that Columbia Bank, a brick-and-mortar bank based out of New Jersey, makes sense for people who live in its service area. You can open an account online, but you need to live in New Jersey or an eligible nearby state.
  • Columbia Bank offers checking and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgage loans, home equity loans, student lending, and more.
  • Since Columbia Bank has a relatively small service area compared to national banks, we don’t recommend it for most people. However, people who live near one of its branches may prefer banking with it.
  • While Columbia Bank offers checking and savings accounts that earn interest, the APY rates they offer aren’t as good as what some of the best neobanks offer.
  • Columbia Bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which provides insurance of up to $250,000 on your balance for qualified accounts.

Columbia Bank overview

Pros
  • Provides checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards, and more
  • Has bank accounts for kids
  • Has highly rated mobile apps
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer competitive APY rates
  • Requires you to reside in and around New Jersey to open an account

Columbia Bank is based out of New Jersey and has been around since 1927, providing a wide range of banking services to customers in and around The Garden State. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more.

Some of its checking and savings accounts allow you to earn interest. However, while its APY rates are higher than the national average, they lag behind some of its competitors.

Additionally, as a community bank, Columbia primarily serves people in its regional footprint. So if you don’t live near a Columbia Bank branch, it’s likely not the right bank for you.

Columbia Bank checking accounts

Checking account Description Monthly maintenance fee APY
Yield Plus Checking Interest-bearing checking $20 ($0 with a $1,000 daily minimum balance) 0.05%-2.15% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)1, depending on your balance
Cash Back Checking Checking with cashback rewards $10 ($0 if you’re 22 or younger, by performing 10 eligible debit card transactions, or by receiving $1,000 or more in direct deposits per statement cycle) Not an interest-bearing account
Ideal Checking Checking with low requirements $10 ($0 with a $50 daily minimum balance) Not an interest-bearing account
Forward Checking Checking with little to no fees $0 Not an interest-bearing account

Columbia Bank provides four checking account options, including one that earns interest and another that earns cashback rewards on qualified transactions. In general, we think that Columbia Bank offers a variety of accounts to choose from depending on your situation and personal finance goals.

However, we don’t think Columbia Bank checking accounts are too competitive with other available options from large banks and credit unions. Check out our recommendations for the best checking accounts.

Yield Plus Checking

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.05%-2.15% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)1, depending on your balance
Minimum deposit requirement $0.01
Monthly maintenance fees $20 ($0 with a $1,000 daily minimum balance)
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

For a checking account, Columbia’s Yield Plus Checking has a decent APY. We also like that this account provides nationwide rebates for ATM fees up to six times or $20 per month if you use any non-Columbia Bank ATM.

But you’ll need to keep a minimum balance of at least $1,000 if you want to avoid the $20 monthly maintenance fee. Additionally, if you’re after an interest-bearing account, you may prefer to keep your money in a savings account since savings accounts tend to provide better APY rates.

Cash Back Checking

Annual percentage yield (APY) Not an interest-bearing account
Minimum deposit requirement $0.01
Monthly maintenance fees $10 ($0 if you’re 22 or younger, by performing 10 eligible debit card transactions, or by receiving $1,000 or more in direct deposits per statement cycle)
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

The Cash Back Checking account has a waivable $10 monthly maintenance fee and provides the opportunity to earn cash back with your debit card at a rate of 0.25% for every $1 spent with a minimum of $2 per transaction.

You can also receive ATM rebates nationwide up to four times or $15 per month if you use any non-Columbia ATM.

We think it’s nice to be able to earn cash back, but don’t expect to make much with this small of a rate. For better cashback rates, use one of the best cash back credit cards.

Ideal Checking

Annual percentage yield (APY) Not an interest-bearing account
Minimum deposit requirement No account minimum stated
Monthly maintenance fees $10 ($0 with a $50 daily minimum balance)
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

The Ideal Checking account doesn’t have many requirements. You only need to maintain a $50 daily minimum balance to waive the $10 monthly maintenance service charge. You can also open one of these accounts if you’re at least 13 (accounts for minors must be opened in person with a parent or guardian).

We think this type of account could be great for getting kids started with their own checking accounts to help them learn about money management.

Forward Checking

Annual percentage yield (APY) Not an interest-bearing account
Minimum deposit requirement No account minimum stated
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

If you want a bare-bones checking account with little to no fees, look no further than Forward Checking. This account doesn’t charge overdraft fees or monthly maintenance fees. There’s also no minimum balance requirement.

We think this account makes sense if you want a simple checking account for yourself or one of your kids. Note that you must be at least 13 to open a Forward Checking account, and the account must be opened in person with a parent or guardian.

Columbia Bank savings accounts

Savings account Description Monthly maintenance fee APY
Statement Savings Basic savings with low requirements $4 ($0 with a $50 daily minimum balance) 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)
Kids Count Savings Savings for kids $0 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)
Yield Money Market Money market with high APY $10 ($0 with a $1,500 daily minimum balance) 0.05%-4.00% (as of Feb. 6, 2024), depending on your balance
Personal Money Market Money market with low requirements $0 0.00%-1.00% (as of Feb. 6, 2024), depending on your balance

Columbia Bank provides multiple savings account options, including an account for kids under 18 and an account to earn above-average rates of interest. Note that the available APY rates could vary by location.

We like the available savings accounts from Columbia Bank, but we think there are better options out there, especially if you want to earn more interest. Check out our recommendations for the best savings accounts.

Statement Savings

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)
Minimum deposit requirement No account minimum stated
Monthly maintenance fees $4 ($0 with a $50 daily minimum balance)
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

Statement Savings is a basic savings account with low requirements. To avoid the $4 monthly maintenance fee, you only need to keep a $50 daily minimum balance. And to earn any APY of 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024), you only need a $10 daily minimum balance.

If you simply need a low-cost place to store your money, Statement Savings is a good option. However, Columbia Bank has better products for earning interest.

Kids Count Savings

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024)
Minimum deposit requirement $1
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

Kids Count Savings accounts are designed for children under 18, making these useful options for teaching kids how to save and manage their money. You don’t have to worry about any monthly maintenance fees or daily minimum balance requirements.

Plus, funds kept in this account grow over time thanks to its APY rate of 0.75% (as of Feb. 6, 2024). Many kids accounts have no APY at all, so while this isn’t a competitive rate, it’s still better than none. You can explore more options in our list of the best savings accounts for kids.

With these benefits, we think a Kids Count Savings account could make a lot of sense for showing your kids the financial ropes of money management.

Yield Money Market

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.05%-4.00% (as of Feb. 6, 2024), depending on your balance
Minimum deposit requirement $1,500
Monthly maintenance fees $10 ($0 with a $1,500 daily minimum balance)
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

We like that you can earn more interest with the Yield Money Market account, but we don’t think it beats the competition. For the highest APY rate, you need to keep a minimum balance of at least $500,000 in your account. Unfortunately, that’s not attainable for a lot of people.

Another downside of this account is its $10 monthly maintenance fee. You can get this fee waived by keeping $1,500 daily minimum balance in the account. But there are many savings accounts with simpler requirements. Check out our list of the best online savings accounts.

Personal Money Market

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.00%-1.00% (as of Feb. 6, 2024), depending on your balance
Minimum deposit requirement $100
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access Yes, free access at Columbia Bank ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

The Personal Money Market account provides slightly better APY rates compared to Statement Savings accounts, plus you get the added bonus of no monthly maintenance fees. However, note that you need a minimum balance of at least $2,500 to obtain the highest APY rate for this account.

Additional Columbia Bank products

Columbia Bank provides these products and services in addition to its checking, savings, and money market accounts:

  • Credit cards: Columbia Bank offers different types of credit cards in partnership with Mastercard.
  • Loans: Columbia Bank offers mortgage loans, home equity loans, and student lending options through Columbia.
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs): Columbia Bank provides multiple CD options. Columbia Bank’s CDs have competitive rates and various terms.
  • Business products: For your business needs, use Columbia for business checking and savings accounts, business credit cards, commercial loans, and more.
  • Expanded services: Some of Columbia’s additional services include extended FDIC coverage, wealth management, and title services.

What we like about Columbia Bank

  • Multiple financial products and services: With Columbia, you can open checking and savings accounts, CDs, and credit cards. You can also take advantage of multiple other financial services, such as taking out a mortgage loan or opening a business checking account.
  • Highly rated mobile apps: The Columbia Bank mobile app has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on the App Store and a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Google Play. These are well above average ratings.
  • In-person locations: You can visit many in-person branch locations in and around the New Jersey area if you want to talk to a bank representative.
  • Member FDIC: Columbia Bank provides FDIC insurance, which provides coverage and security for your deposited funds. FDIC insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor.

What Columbia Bank could improve

  • APY rates: Overall, Columbia Bank doesn’t offer competitive APY. This is primarily because its APY rates lag behind some of its competitors, but also because you need large balances to obtain the highest rates. For better options, check out these bank accounts that pay an APY of 5% or more.
  • Local service area: Columbia is a community bank, so it’s not meant for nationwide customers. It mainly serves customers in and around New Jersey, so if you live elsewhere, you might not be able to open a bank account with Columbia Bank.

Who is Columbia Bank best for?

Columbia Bank is best for people who live in or around New Jersey. This is where Columbia is headquartered and where all of its in-person branches are located. You can’t open a bank account online with Columbia Bank unless you live in its local service area.

If you live in Columbia’s service area, we would still recommend comparing other banks and their products because Columbia doesn’t have as many features and benefits as you can find with popular nationwide banks.

So unless you’ve been a Columbia Bank customer for years or their in-person branches are convenient for you, we suggest looking into other banking options.

How to open an account with Columbia Bank

To open a Columbia Bank account, visit an in-person branch or navigate to the applicable page on the Columbia Bank website. Here’s how to open a personal bank account with Columbia online:

  1. Select the “Personal Banking” option on the Columbia Bank homepage and then select the type of account you want to open. For example, select “Personal Checking” if you want to open a checking account.


  1. Select the “Open An Account” option.


  1. Choose the appropriate option. If you’re new to Columbia Bank, select “Open My First Account.”


  1. Enter your ZIP Code. Note that you can’t open an account online unless you live within Columbia Bank’s service area.


  1. Select the type of account you want to open.


  1. Finish the application by filling out your personal information, agreeing to the terms and conditions, and funding your account.


Alternatives to Columbia Bank

SoFi

SoFi Checking and Savings2 accounts are online only, making it easy to sign up and manage your funds from anywhere. SoFi provides up to 4.60% APY3 with direct deposit4 and up to $2 million in FDIC insurance5. You also don’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees or a minimum required initial deposit to open an account.

Visit SoFi

…or read our full SoFi review.

Discover

The Discover® Cashback Debit Account is an online-only account with no minimum balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees. Opening one of these accounts doesn’t impact your credit score. Discover® Cashback Debit Accounts are FDIC insured and provide cash back of 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.

Visit Discover

…or read our full Discover Bank review.

Columbia Bank FAQ

Does Columbia Bank work with Raisin?

Columbia Bank partners with Raisin to offer certain financial products and services. For example, you might be able to open a high-yield savings account with Columbia Bank through the Raisin website. In some cases, Columbia Bank might not have anything available on its Raisin page.

What happened to Columbia Bank?

The Columbia Bank held by Columbia Banking Systems, Inc. merged with Umpqua Bank on March 1, 2023. That Columbia Bank no longer exists with the same name.

However, this review is about Columbia Bank, held by Columbia Financial, Inc. This Columbia Bank still exists and is headquartered in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

Where can I find a Columbia Bank branch?

Columbia Bank branches are primarily located in and around the state of New Jersey. There are a few branches close to Philadelphia and at least one branch in the state of Pennsylvania.

Columbia Bank review: bottom line

We generally don’t recommend Columbia Bank because of its small regional footprint in and around New Jersey. You can’t open an account online if you don’t live within Columbia’s service area, so it doesn’t make sense for most people.

We also think there are better banking options available if you want to earn high interest rates or take advantage of useful benefits, such as low fees or cashback rewards.

For our top recommendations, check out our list of the best banks.

Discover®️ Cashback Checking Benefits

  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month6
  • No minimum deposit, no minimum balance, and no account fees
  • Access your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay
  • 60K+ fee-free ATMs and make cash deposits at Walmart stores nationwide

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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