Citibank Bank Review: Best for High Balances and Citi Customers

Citibank Bank Review: Best for High Balances and Citi Customers

Citibank's fees and interest rates are below average, but you may find it a convenient choice if you already have credit cards, loans or investments with Citi.

Good for

  • People with regular direct deposit
  • Citi credit card customers earning ThankYou Points
  • Citigroup customers with investment accounts

Bad for

  • People with low monthly balances
  • Shoppers looking for basic banking
  • Savers who want higher depost interest rates

Editor's Rating

4.0/5.0

For consumers in the US, Citibank's deposit accounts fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. While the bank is fairly accessible thanks to branches and ATMs in the country's biggest urban areas, only people with substantial investment, loan or credit card accounts at Citi will get outstanding value from this bank. People with higher balances may also be interested in Citibank's current bonus offers: until June 30, new customers who deposit $15,000 or $50,000 can qualify for $300 and $500 bonuses, depending on the account package they choose.

Review: Should You Open a Citibank Account?

Citibank Account Package
Citibank Account Package

Citibank is the consumer banking division of Citigroup, a multinational corporation that provides a wide range of financial services. Compared to other major banking options, the fees and rates on Citibank's deposit accounts are slightly below average. Still, you may find it convenient to bank here if you're planning on taking advantage of Citigroup's investment or credit accounts.

Good For...Bad For...
  • People receiving regular monthly direct deposits
  • Citigroup customers with investment accounts
  • Credit cardholders enrolled in Citi ThankYou Points
  • People with low month-to-month balances
  • Shoppers only looking for basic banking services
  • Savers interested in higher interest rates
map of Citibank branches in the US, by county

Unlike most of its competitors, Citibank markets its deposit accounts as banking "packages", with different interest rates awarded to different balance levels. There are a few unique perks involved in Citibank checking, such as the ability to waive your account fee with just a single monthly direct deposit. Banking here can also earn you a limited number of Citi ThankYou Points, part of Citi's credit card rewards program. These are worth .5 to 1 cent apiece depending on how you redeem them.

With most of the Citibank checking packages, you can earn up to 1,000 ThankYou points each month —a $5 to $10 value — for fulfilling different activity requirements. These include recurring direct deposits, bill payments and active accounts in other areas, like savings or mortgages. Obviously, this perk means little if you aren't planning on getting a Citi credit card as well as some of the bank's other products, but it can be an added benefit for those who want to keep all of their finances at a single bank.

Currently, Citibank is also offering a few competitive sign-up bonuses for people with high balances. First-time customers can earn a $300 cash bonus for depositing $15,000 into a new Citibank Account Package, or $500 for putting $50,000 into a new Citi Priority Account Package. These promotions essentially represent a 1% to 2% bonus on your existing balance, which compares well with bonuses that have been offered by similar banks in the past.

In addition, people who have Citi credit cards can choose to receive 50,000 Thank You Points instead of the $500 bonus for the Citi Priority Account Package. Citibank's bonuses are set to expire September 30, 2017, but the bank has already extended the deadline twice this year, most recently in June.

Citibank Checking Packages

Relative to other banks, Citibank checking is best described as a mixed bag with marginal benefits for specific types of customers. To get the most out of Citibank's checking packages, you'll need either consistent direct deposits or consistently high monthly balances. Most people will be interested in the Basic Banking and Access Account, both of which may be kept as free checking accounts if you can make one direct deposit and one bill payment through Citibank's phone or web services.

Banking PackageMonthly FeeMonthly Fee WaiverChecking APY
Access Account$101 direct deposit OR 1 bill payment OR $1,500 combined balance-
Basic Banking$121 direct deposit and 1 bill payment OR $1,500 combined balance-
Citibank Account$25$10,000 combined balance0.01%
Citi Priority$30$50,000 combined balance0.03%
Citigold$0$200,000 combined balance to open0.03%

Obtaining free checking at Citibank is easiest when you arrange direct deposits to your checking account, either from your employer, government benefits or a pension program. With the Basic Banking Package, you'll also need to arrange at least one bill payment to avoid the $12 fee. Seniors age 62 and up enjoy free checking with no requirements through Basic Banking, which serves as Citibank's equivalent to senior options at other banks. Unless you're confident of meeting one of these specific loopholes, we can only recommend Citibank as a backup choice for the typical checking account shopper.

The interest rates on checking balances at Citibank are very low, but consistent with the rates at the largest brick-and-mortar banks. All told, the best way to use these accounts is in conjunction with your Citigroup investments, loans and credit cards. If your finances are already tied into Citigroup accounts, opening a checking account at Citibank will make it far easier to manage everything in one glance, thanks to the bank's robust mobile app and web banking service.

Citibank Savings Accounts

Although Citibank's two savings accounts earn different rates based on the banking package you select, you won't gain much advantage regardless of your final choice. Savings rates at this bank range from 0.01% APY to 0.10% APY, which is average for a traditional bank but low compared with deposit rates in general.

Account NameKey Stats
Citibank Savings
  • APY: 0.04% on all balances
  • Monthly Fee: $4.50
  • Monthly Fee Waivers: $500 daily minimum OR linked Citibank checking account
  • Minimum to Open: $100
Citibank Savings Plus
  • APY: 0.01%, 0.04% OR 0.08%
  • Balance to Earn APY: $0, $10,000 OR $500,000
  • Monthly Fee: $4.50
  • Monthly Fee Waivers: $500 daily minimum OR linked Citibank checking account
  • Minimum to Open: $100

Citibank savings rates tend to underwhelm: most of its interest-bearing deposit accounts hover around 0.01% APY, tied for the lowest rate among all banks. The highest rate of 0.10% APY requires a deposit of at least $500,000 or more, in the Citigold or Citi Priority Package. This situation isn't much different from the poor rates you'll find at other large banks like Chase or Wells Fargo, so we recommend that savers looking for better returns start with online savings accounts, which can yield as much as 1.00% APY and often come without maintenance fees or balance minimums.

How Does Citibank Compare to Other Banks?

We matched Citibank against several other banks that operate in its footprint. These comparisons should help if you're looking for ways to tell the difference between two similar banking options.

Citibank vs. Chase Bank

With deposit interest rates and account fees more or less identical between these two national brands, choosing between Citibank and Chase Bank comes down to the question of credit cards. The Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card program, which outperforms Citibank's ThankYou points in almost every way.

map of Chase branches in the US, by county

While Citibank does a better job of integrating ThankYou points into its standard banking products, its underlying program doesn't quite match the value and flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you're a credit card user of any description, there are better cards, better rewards partners and better points-to-dollar ratios to be found at Chase. However, people comparing the lower balance options at these two banks will have an easier time obtaining free checking with Citibank. Its Access Account comes free each month you make a direct deposit of any amount, while Chase requires a direct deposit of at least $500 for the same feature.

Citibank vs. Bank of America

Bank of America Core Checking
Bank of America Core Checking

Another of the country's largest banks, Bank of America's main advantage over Citibank comes in its much larger network of branch locations and ATMs. However, people who have direct deposits might prefer Citibank for its more lenient fee waiver on basic checking.

map of Bank of America branches in the US, by county

While Citibank's Access Account is free for customers with just a single direct deposit of any amount, avoiding the $12 fee on Bank of America's Core Checking account requires at least $500 in direct deposits each month. This makes Citibank a better choice for anyone whose direct deposit income falls below that number. For everyone else, however, the ease of access provided by Bank of America's many ATMs and branches might be a more important factor in choosing where to bank. Otherwise, Citibank and Bank of America end up looking very similar, with below-average interest rates and a nearly identical array of account fees in overdrafts and wire transfers.

Citibank vs. Capital One

Capital One 360 Checking
Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One doesn't provide as much physical coverage as Citibank, but it makes up for this disadvantage with more lenient account fees and a much higher savings rate. While its brick-and-mortar accounts are only marginally better than those at Citibank, the benefits of the Capital One 360 online accounts give this bank a clear edge.

map of Capital One branches in the US, by county

Capital One 360 Savings awards a rate of 0.75% APY on all balances, a far better deal than the typical 0.01% APY that most customers will earn with Citibank. In addition, neither Capital One 360 Savings nor the 360 Checking Account costs any monthly fees to keep open. In addition, the 360 Checking Account earns interest of its own, starting from 0.20% APY up to 0.90% on balances of at least $100,000. Of course, these boosted rates and lowered fees come at a cost: Capital One 360 is primarily accessed through the bank's online services and ATMs, which means that your brick-and-mortar options are much more limited than with Citibank.

Citibank vs. HSBC

HSBC Choice Checking
HSBC Choice Checking

In the context of consumer banking in the US, Citibank's branches offer better geographic coverage than HSBC, but if you happen to live near both banks, their fee structure and rates are so similar as to make almost no difference, regardless of how much money you're depositing. Your decision will mostly depend on which bank offers you the better deal in terms of credit cards, investments and other financial products.

map of HSBC branches in the US, by county

Both HSBC and Citibank offer standard checking account customers the same easy way to avoid fees. You can avoid paying maintenance charges at both banks with a single direct deposit of any amount. For customers who don't have any direct deposits, the Citibank Access Account will come free when you make just a single monthly bill payment through the bank's phone or online portals. This gives Citibank a slight advantage in low-balance free checking, but otherwise, we see little difference between HSBC and Citibank.

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