CIT Bank Review: High Interest Savings Accounts With Low Fees

Piggy Bank Savings
Photo Credit: Kristina Paukshtite


If you are tired of paying high account fees at large banks while getting a pittance in interest for the money you’ve got deposited, you are not alone. That is why you should consider keeping your money in an account at an online bank like CIT Bank.

There are many reasons why you would want to have money in a bank account. For example, you are setting up an emergency fund, or saving up for a vacation or a down payment for a home. This money needs to be kept somewhere safe and not under your mattress without the risk of loss from stock market fluctuations or tied up in a certificate of deposit (CD). But you also don’t want to earn nothing while your money is sitting.

With a high-yield online savings or money market account such as CIT Savings Builder or Money Market account, you get much higher interest rates than your neighborhood bank, pay no monthly fees, and your money is always safe thanks to FDIC insurance.

I opened my Money Market account with CIT back a couple of years ago and followed that with their Savings Builder account a few months after that when that was announced. Here is my review of CIT Bank and their online savings accounts.

Who Is CIT Bank?

CIT Bank is a subsidiary of CIT Group Inc., a financial holding company that was founded in 1908. CIT Bank itself was founded in 2000. Their online banking platform was launched in October 2011 and they started offering online savings accounts in 2012.

As of March 2020, CIT Group is #45 on the list of the largest banks in the United States with over $58 billion in assets.

Don’t confuse CIT Group with Citigroup and their Citibank banking division. They are two different companies. They even have different ticker symbols, with CIT Group trading on the NYSE under CIT while Citigroup’s is C.

CIT Bank Fees

CIT Bank is one of the best banks for someone who doesn’t want to be nickel and dimed on fees. Keep more of your money so it will earn you more money.

With CIT Bank, there are:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No fees to electronically transfer money
  • No fees to mail in a check for deposit
  • No fees to receive an incoming wire transfer
  • No outgoing wire transfers fees if you have a current balance of $25,000 or more. Otherwise, outgoing wire transfers are only $10 each

That’s a lot of “No’s”!

There is a minimum initial deposit of $100 to open a checking, savings, or money market account. Once opened, there are no requirements to keep a minimum balance in the account and you don’t have to worry about paying a fee if your account drops below $100. I had 3 cents in my money market account for months and was never charged a minimum balance fee.

CIT Bank Savings Account

CIT Bank’s current savings account offering is the CIT Savings Builder. This account has a tiered interest rate depending on the balance in the account.

The base tier has an interest rate of 0.31% APY as of September 2020.

To receive the higher interest rate tier of 0.55% APY, you have two options:

  1. Have a monthly deposit of $100, or
  2. Have a minimum account balance of $25,000

The first option of depositing $100 a month is easier for many people to achieve. The Savings Builder savings account encourages people to save money regularly and rewards them for doing so.

My recommendation is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account or set up a $100 direct deposit of your paycheck so you don’t forget and will always get the highest rates.

According to the FDIC, the national average interest on savings accounts is currently 0.05% APY. Even if you do not meet the balance or deposit requirements to get the upper tier rate, CIT Bank’s base rate is still six times more than you’ll get from the average bank.

CIT Bank Money Market Account

CIT Bank offers one of the most competitive money market accounts among online banks.

Currently, the CIT Money Market account earns 0.60% APY.

Yes, their interest rate for their money market account currently beats that of their Savings Builder account and you don’t have to do anything special like keeping a minimum balance or depositing new funds monthly to get that rate.

Besides offering a high-interest rate, additional features that you get with the Money Money account include the ability to make person-to-person payments to friends and family using Paypal and Zelle, and pay bills using Bill Pay. A money market account is like a hybrid between a checking account and a savings account.

Read more: What is the difference between a savings account and a money market account

The downside with the money market account is you are still limited to 6 withdrawals each month due to federal regulations. Excessive withdrawals will result in CIT charging a transaction fee of $10 per transaction. Also, the additional ways to take money out from your account could encourage withdrawals over more deposits.

CIT eChecking Account

The latest banking product launched by CIT Bank is their eChecking account.

You might be saying to yourself that you already have a checking account and why would you want another. This online checking account is way better because it also pays interest on your balance. Compare that to my checking account at Well Fargo that pays zip in interest while charging me a maintenance fee if I don’t keep $1,500 in it.

Accounts with a minimum balance of $25,000 earn 0.25% APY and accounts under that earn 0.10%.

What distinguishes CIT’s checking account from those like my neighborhood bank besides paying you interest is there is no minimum balance besides the initial $100 opening deposit. There are no monthly fees either or monthly direct deposit requirements.

Because it is an online-only checking account with no local ATMs, CIT Bank will reimburse you up to $30 per month in ATM fees. You can deposit money using their iOS/Android mobile app to deposit checks in addition to ACH, free incoming wires, or mailing a check to CIT.

Since the interest rate on the CIT eChecking account is a lot less than their Money Market or Savings Builder accounts, my recommendation is to open one of those other accounts in addition to the checking account. Keep most of your funds in one of the other two accounts and transfer money to your checking account as needed up to 6 transactions per month.

If you are worried about not having enough funds available for a transaction, you can link your CIT saving or money market account for overdraft protection to automatically cover a withdrawal over what you have available in the eChecking account.

Is CIT Bank Trustworthy and Safe

Like many major banks in the United States, CIT Bank is FDIC insured (FDIC Certificate #58978). Money deposited into a CIT Bank checking, savings, or CD is insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Before depositing money into a new bank, especially an online bank, security is on everyone’s mind. CIT Bank’s security page details the steps the bank takes to keep your information and money safe.

This includes:

  • Monitoring transactions and activities
  • Using antivirus software on their computers to prevent malware and viruses
  • Firewalls to keep out unauthorized users and networks from accessing their systems
  • 128-bit SSL encryption so your login details and personal information is encrypted between your browser and their servers
  • Secure messaging through their portal for communications encryption
  • Automatic sign-out to prevent unauthorized access if you forget to logout

Does CIT Bank Have Local Branches

With the completion of the acquisition of Mutual of Omaha Bank on January 1, 2020, Mutual of Omaha Bank retail branch locations have been rebranded to CIT Bank.

CIT has branches in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and Texas.

However, CIT’s local bank branches offer different products and rates than their online bank. CIT Bank’s online savings and checking products such as Savings Builder, Money Market, and eChecking accounts are available only on the internet. You are not able to visit a CIT Bank retail location for banking services if you are an online customer.

How To Open A CIT Bank Account

Opening a new CIT Bank account is extremely easy. The entire process takes about 5-10 minutes.

All you need is your home address, a valid email, a phone number, and your social security number.

Once you select the type of account you want to open, created your account login, added your beneficiaries, and accepted the terms and conditions, all you need to do is fund your account.

The preferred way to fund your account is electronically by providing the routing and account number of your existing checking or savings account. Afterward, you will need to verify two small deposits. You can also fund your account by wire transfer or mail them a check.

CIT Bank Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Competitive rates on savings, money market, CDs, and checking accounts
  • FDIC insured
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Mobile app for account access and check deposits
  • Up to $30 per month in ATM fees refunded

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • $100 initial opening deposit
  • No 24/7 customer support
  • Limited account choices
  • Tiered interest rates with $25,000 account balance to earn the highest rate
  • No credit cards, personal or auto loans, or investment accounts

Closing $ense

If you are looking for bank accounts with competitive rates and ease of access, CIT Bank is a great choice.

The $100 initial deposit may be higher than some other banks that require $0, but all the fee-free features that come with the accounts make up for it. Not many banks offer options to receive and send wires for free, for instance.

Customers who prefer to go into a local bank branch for help or do their banking, CIT Bank won’t be a good option for you. CIT Bank does have local retail branches, but the fees and interest rates for the retail accounts reflect the higher overhead costs. If you are looking for the best rates and lowest fees, you will have to stick with online-only where they will pass the savings on to you.

If you are trying to decide between the CIT Savings Builder or the CIT Money Market account, my recommendation is to open whichever account has the highest interest rate currently. If the rates change, opening a second account at CIT Bank is extremely fast once you are an existing customer and transferring funds between accounts is quick and easy.

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