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First Citizens Bank Free Checking review

Track your finances, but it’s only available in 19 states.

First Citizens Bank Free Checking stands out for its built-in finance tracking tool, Manage My Money. But the account is only available in 19 states, and there’s no nationwide ATM network. But if you don’t opt in to electronic statements within 60 days of opening the account, it will convert into a First Citizens Bank Select Checking account, which has a $12 monthly fee.

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$0 per month

Fee

$50

Minimum deposit to open

Details

APYN/A
Fee$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open$50
ATMs1,100+ First Citizens Bank ATMs
Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50
Foreign transaction fee2%
Overdraft fee$10
Learn moreApply now

Review by


Michael Benninger is lead editor of banking at Forbes Advisor and a former writer at Finder, specializing in banking. His work and analysis has been featured in Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates and the Los Angeles Times, among other top media. He holds a B.A. in business administration and marketing from Rowan University in New Jersey.

Expert review

First Citizens Bank Free Checking stands out for its Manage My Money tool, which allows you to connect and manage all your finances within one platform. But the account comes with more potential disadvantages than there are benefits.

If you don’t opt in to electronic statements within 60 days of opening, the account will convert to a First Citizen Bank’s Select Checking account, which comes with a $12 monthly fee. This is a rare penalty. Most banks don’t penalize you by converting your account to another one for not going paperless. Typically banks will charge you a separate fee or a monthly maintenance fee until you sign up for electronic statements.

Also, eligibility to open the account is limited to residents of 19 states. Plus, its ATM network is small as there are only 1,100+ ATMs in the network. If you want a checking account that is free and gives you more in rewards, look at other free checking accounts like Ally Bank Interest Checking, which gives you up to 0.25% APY, comes with free checks, 24/7 customer service, no monthly opening deposit, ATM reimbursements and a network of 55,000 ATMs.

How do I open a First Citizens Bank Free Checking account?

It takes about 10 minutes to open a First Citizens Bank Free Checking account.

  1. Select Apply now.
  2. Select Personal, then Checking. Under the description of the Free account, select Open now.
  3. Log in if you’re an existing member. Otherwise, elect to open a First Citizens Bank Free Checking account and select Get started.
  4. Enter your full name, email address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name and home address.
  5. Answer questions about your citizenship and association with foreign governments. Then state whether you’ve lived at your current address for more than two years and select Next.
  6. Enter your occupation and details from a driver’s license, state ID or military ID.
  7. Review and agree to the tax information and select Next. Then link a funding source to make a deposit.

Eligibility

Open a First Citizens Bank Free Checking account when you meet these requirements.

  • At least 18 years old
  • US citizen or resident alien
  • Resident of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
  • $50 minimum deposit

Required information

Provide the following information when applying for an account.

  • Full name
  • Physical address
  • Contact details
  • Details from a government-issued ID
  • Social Security number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Citizenship
  • Affiliations with foreign governments

1 benefit of First Citizens Bank Free Checking

Like most checking accounts, the First Citizens Bank Free Checking account comes with a built-in bill pay and offers these benefits.

  • Manage My Money. Get a holistic view of your overall finances by connecting all your loans, credit cards, investments and other accounts to the bank’s Manage My Money tool.

4 things to look out for

This account also has a few drawbacks to consider before you apply.

  • Monthly fee. If you don’t sign up for paperless statements within 60 days of opening your account, it’ll automatically convert into a First Citizens Bank Select Checking account. That account has a $0 monthly fee, which can only be avoided by maintaining a daily balance of at least $1,500 or receiving $250 in direct deposits per statement cycle.
  • Minimum deposit required. You’ll need at least $50 to open the account. Many other checking accounts, including Ally Bank Interest Checking, Capital One 360 Checking and Discover Cashback Debit, don’t require any opening deposit.
  • Not available nationwide. You can only open this account if you live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia or Wisconsin.
  • Small ATM network. Withdraw cash for free at 1,100 First Citizens Bank ATMs. This is much lower compared to other banks that have a network of 50,000 or more.

First Citizens Bank’s ATM network and fees

The First Citizens Bank Free Checking account comes with a debit card you can use for free at any of the 1,100+ First Citizens Bank branches and ATMs throughout its 19-state footprint. But if you use an ATM that First Citizens Bank doesn’t own, you’ll pay a $2.50 fee in addition to whatever the owner of the ATM charges.

First Citizens Bank’s reviews and complaints

First Citizens Bank is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which gives the bank an A rating based on its handling of 100 customer complaints filed during the past three years. However, the bank also has 17 customer reviews on the BBB’s website, and every review gives the bank just one out of five stars.

On Trustpilot, First Citizens Bank has seven reviews with an average rating of 3.3 out of five. On both Trustpilot and the BBB’s website, most negative reviews relate to fees and in-branch customer service issues. None of the reviews are specifically about the bank’s Free Checking account.

Compare First Citizens Bank’s with other checking accounts

Use this table to see how other checking accounts stack up based on their fees, minimum deposits and ATM networks.

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
Chime Checking account
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Checking account
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Save easily and access your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit. Pay $0 monthly fees, and no minimum balance is required. Access 24/7 support and get daily balance and transaction alerts. FDIC insured.
BMO Harris Smart Advantage™ Account
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
BMO Harris Smart Advantage™ Account
$0 per month
$25
N/A
Get a $300 bonus when you open a new Smart Advantage account and have a cumulative total of $4,000 or more in qualifying direct deposits in the first 90 days.
Earn a $300 cash bonus after $4,000 deposits in the first 90 days. Pay $0 monthly fees and no minimum balance. Access a large nationwide network of free ATMs. Member FDIC.
Chase Total Checking®
Finder Rating: 3 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Chase Total Checking®
$12 per month
(can be waived)
$0
N/A
New Chase checking customers enjoy a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.
Chase Total Checking® is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches. It offers a $200 signup bonus to new Chase customers. Member FDIC.
PSECU checking account
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
PSECU checking account
$0 per month
$0
0.20%
Earn up to $300: $100 when you get a savings and checking account and activate your debit card with digital banking within 30 days. $100 with monthly payroll direct deposit of $200+ within 90 days. $100 when you maintain direct deposits for an additional 90 days.
Earn a bonus and 5 or 10 cents in rewards on all eligible purchases. Pay $0 in monthly fees, no overdraft fees and get ATM fee reimbursements. NCUA insured.
US Bank Smartly Checking
Finder Rating: 3.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
US Bank Smartly Checking
$6.95 per month
(can be waived)
$25
N/A
Earn up to $400 when you open a new U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking account and a Standard Savings account and complete qualifying activities. Subject to certain terms and limitations. Offer valid through June 20, 2023. Member FDIC.
Take control of your spending with integrated tools such as automated budgeting, upcoming due date alerts, low balance alerts and more, available in the US Bank Smartly Checking mobile app. Easily send and receive funds via Zelle. Waive overdraft fees by depositing money before the forgiveness deadline. Member FDIC.
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How do I deposit or withdraw my money?

You can move money into and out of your account in the following ways.

Funding options

  • Branch deposit. Deposit cash, checks or money orders at any First Citizens Bank branch.
  • ATM deposit. Use your card to deposit cash at any First Citizens Bank ATM.
  • Incoming ACH transfer. Transfer funds into this account from a linked checking or savings account.
  • Incoming wire transfer. Accept domestic and international wire transfers for $16 each.
  • Incoming Zelle transfer. Receive funds in minutes from other Zelle users.
  • Mobile deposits. Use your smartphone and the First Citizens Bank app to deposit paper checks.

Withdrawal options

  • Branch withdrawals. Take funds out of your account at any First Citizens Bank branch.
  • ATM withdrawals. Use First Citizens Bank ATMs for free.
  • Write checks. Write checks from your account, but checks aren’t free.
  • Outgoing ACH transfers. Transfer funds to external banks, but only the first two transfers each billing cycle are free. Additional transfers are $3 each.
  • Outgoing wires. Domestic wire transfers are $30 domestic, and international wires are $45.
  • Outgoing Zelle transfers. Send peer-to-peer transfers to other Zelle users.

How to contact First Citizens Bank about my checking account?

Contact First Citizens Bank in two ways.

  • Call 877-532-2669 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for help opening a new account. For help with an existing account, call 888-323-4732 daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.
  • Visit one of First Citizens Bank’s branches across its 19-state footprint.

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