Citizens Bank Loans Review

Citizens Bank is one of America’s oldest and largest traditional banks. Founded in 1828 in Providence, Rhode Island, the bank expanded throughout the state in the mid-1800s and eventually formed the Citizens Financial Group to drive further diversification and growth. In 2016 the bank officially joined the “Fortune 500” group and is typically listed among the top 20 banks in the country.

Primarily serving the Northeastern United States, Citizens Bank offers a variety of loan products including personal loans, mortgages, mortgage refinancing and HELOCs, but does not offer any car loan services. Both existing customers and new borrowers can apply for a loan, and Citizens Bank typically offers lower-than-average interest rates to qualified clients. This personal loan provider also prioritizes good credit scores and a steady income, however, making their loan approval process more difficult than many online lenders. Funds use is also restricted; borrowers can’t use personal loans for education or business purposes.

If you’re already a Citizens Bank customer or have solid credit and are looking for a good loan rate, Citizens Bank has multiple options to suit your needs. If you need greater loan flexibility or live outside the bank’s primary service area, you may be better served elsewhere.

Citizens Bank at a glance

Pros
  • Good loan rates for qualified borrowers
  • Premium interest rates for high-balance customers
  • Rate discounts if you have existing Citizens Bank accounts
Cons
  • Personal loans can’t be used for other purposes
  • No auto loans available
  • Low CD and MMA rates for non-existing customers

 

What’s interesting about Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers a variety of lending products to qualified borrowers. If you’re already a client with this bank, you can access interest rate discounts up to 0.5% and the bank’s typical rates are lower than average for brick-and-mortar banks. Interested borrowers can obtain a rate quote with no risk to their credit score, and the bank charges no fees on personal loans.

Things to consider

Good-to-great credit scores and steady income are essential to obtain any loan from Citizens Bank. While this reduces the chance of loan defaults or late payments, it also restricts the number of successful loan applicants. In addition, this bank limits what you can do with personal loan funds — they cannot be used for educational or business purposes, although the bank does offer specific student loan options and refinancing.

Checking and savings accounts

Citizens Bank has a wide variety of checking accounts that customers can choose from and all have great perks and benefits. Customers can stick with Citizens Bank throughout their banking life, starting with the student checking account, which comes with no fees for out-of-network ATMs and a monthly maintenance fee waived if under 25 years old. Then, the simple, no-frills account, One Deposit Checking, waives the monthly fee as long as you make a deposit each billing cycle. The Platinum and Platinum Plus accounts offer interest rates on the checking account, but high account minimums. All of these accounts can be used in tandem with mobile and online banking, and are good for someone who wants to stick with one bank for their entire life.

The savings accounts that Citizens Bank offers are set up similar to its checking accounts. The tiered system offers increasingly better benefits and perks, but the Platinum and Platinum Plus savings accounts have to be connected to the checking accounts of the same tier.

Money market accounts

To access the Citizens Bank Platinum and Platinum Plus money market accounts, customers must have the checking accounts of the same name. Once these accounts are available, customers enjoy interest rates of 0.60% with the Platinum account and 1.10% with Platinum Plus. However, these rates only kick in with balances of at least $25,000. Less than that, the interest rate is only 0.10%.

The standard money market account that Citizens Bank offers comes with a $10 monthly fee waived with a minimum balance of $2,500 and has an interest rate of only 0.01%.

CDs

Citizens Bank only has three CD products: online-only 14-month, 11-month and 24-month certificates of deposit. The online-only 14-month has a minimum deposit of $1,000 attached with a 1% interest rate. While the 11-month and 24-month CDs also have $1,000 minimum deposits, these two CDs only have 0.10% interest rate. The higher, more attractive interest rates are only available with Platinum and Platinum Plus accounts.

Unless you have either of these premium accounts with Citizens Bank, the 14-month online-only CD is the best option for the everyday banking customer. However, much better CD rates can be found with online challenger banks elsewhere.

Credit cards

There are two credit cards offered by Citizens Bank, through Mastercard. The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard® and Citizens Bank Clear Value® Mastercard®. Both of these cards offer no annual fee and an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers. The Clear Value Mastercard is meant for simple credit card banking and comes with one of three APRs for purchases: 14.99%, 18.99% or 22.99%, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness. This is a good card for people who normally carry a balance on their credit cards, but it doesn’t offer any cash bank rewards or points-gathering economy. On the other hand, the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World offers a higher range of APR — 16.99%, 20.99% or 24.99%, depending on creditworthiness — but comes with unlimited 1.8% cash back on all eligible purchases. If you like rewards cards, then the Cash Back Plus® is the best option for you.

Personal loans

Citizens bank offers personal loans from $5,000 to $50,000 for approved borrowers. Loans can be used for home remodeling, debt consolidation, weddings, vacations, or recreational vehicles but not business or education. Personal loans require no collateral, have no application, annual or late fees, and clients typically have access to funds within two business days.

Existing customers may receive a 0.25% Loyalty Discount and if you choose an automatic loan payment option, you’ll be eligible for another 0.25%. This option becomes void if funds cannot be successfully withdrawn from your account for monthly payments three or more times in a 12-month period.

Mortgage loans

Homebuyers can choose to apply for a Citizens Bank mortgage online or by phone. The bank is committed to simplicity and transparency, providing access to dedicated loan officers if you have questions, secure online document exchange to speed up the closing process, and clear communication with buyers so they know what comes next.

The bank offers three basic mortgage options: A 7/1 fully amortizing ARM, a 15-year fixed rate and a 30-year fixed rate. All rates are on par with similar lending institutions, with the 15-year fixed being slightly lower than average. To clarify, fully amortizing ARMs are designed so that homebuyers can stay on track with their pay-off schedule, meaning the beginning of the loan term is dedicated to paying off the interest but by the end of the loan term, their monthly payments are going mostly toward the principal amount.

Homebuyers can also get a 0.125% discount rate by setting up automatic mortgage payments from their Citizens Bank checking account.

Mortgage refinancing

Citizens bank offers mortgage refinancing options to help lower your interest rate, change your loan type, alter your repayment term or cash out existing equity. To access these refinancing services, you’ll typically need between 5% and 20% equity in your home. If you have less than 20% equity, you may still need to pay mortgage insurance.

Rates for mortgage refinancing through Citizens Bank are slightly lower than average, and the bank offers the same three mortgage term options. Again, the 15-year rate provides the biggest discount.

Home equity loans and HELOCs

Citizens Bank provides both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit to qualified clients. Home equity loans by Citizens Bank include a fixed interest rate, lump-sum funds disbursement and are available for “second lien positions” — meaning you already have a mortgage or credit line on your property and don’t intend to pay it off using this loan.

HELOCs from Citizens Bank offer a variable interest rate that varies with the prime rate and is currently lower than average. You can also choose to make interest-only payments during the 10-year draw period to reduce your monthly payments, or repay and borrow funds again until your draw period expires. Funds are accessible via online and mobile banking or can be withdrawn using physical checks.

Car loans

Citizens Bank does not offer vehicle loans directly, but does offer this product online through Citizens One. The loan service partners with dealerships across the country to deliver competitive rates for new or used vehicle purchases. Borrowers can use Citizens’ “Pay My Loan” solution to set up recurring monthly payments or make direct payments to the loan principal online.

The final word

Citizens Bank stands out from the crowd with lower-than-average interest rates on their personal loans, mortgage products and home equity solutions. The bank also offers discounts for existing clients and further rate reductions for loans paid monthly via automatic withdrawals. With a focus on high credit scores and by limiting the scope of personal loan use, however, there are some drawbacks for Citizens Bank borrowers; other personal loan options may offer a better combination of accessibility and unrestricted use. Citizens Bank offers attractive and useful accounts for customers that have high income and cash flow; the Platinum and Platinum Plus accounts are extremely helpful for money management and high interest rates on savings and CDs. If you want perks and benefits but don’t have high account balances, then it’ll be better to find a different bank.

If you’re already a Citizens Bank client or have great credit and need a loan, mortgage or HELOC with better-than-average interest rates, this bank may fit the bill. If loan flexibility is your top priority, however, Citizens Bank isn’t your best option.