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Citibank's Accelerate Savings Account Review 2020

| Money Rates Columnist.

citi-savings-accountCitibank is a national, full-service bank with a strong online presence as well as a nationwide chain of brick-and-mortar branches.

Even though its coverage is national, many of the banking rules that govern how it operates are dictated by state laws. So the terms of its offerings, even its online offerings, vary from state to state.


Citi Accelerate Savings Account Essentials

Citibank offers two levels of savings accounts - the basic Citi Savings and the Citi Accelerate Savings account - featuring the following:

  • No minimum amount required to open an account and earn interest
  • The Citi Accelerate Savings account offers one of the most competitive APY interest rates available for all balances
  • Balances up to $250,000 are FDIC-insured
  • Customers can choose different savings account packages that include other banking products like interest-bearing checking accounts
  • Free and easy transfers between all Citibank accounts
  • Access to more than 2,500 branches worldwide and an even greater number of free ATMs
  • Free mobile app to conduct banking on your mobile device

MoneyRates Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

Pros

  • One of the largest networks of branches and ATMs in the world
  • Interest rates are among the highest in the industry
  • Convenient access to your money when traveling overseas
  • Your Accelerate Savings account can be linked to your checking account as overdraft protection

Cons

  • Un-linked savings accounts carry monthly fees

Citi Accelerate Savings Account Interest Rates

One of the main purposes behind having a savings account is to grow your money by earning interest. Obviously, the higher the interest rate a savings account offers, the better.

This is where the Citi Accelerate Savings account shines. It consistently offers some of the highest interest rates in the country, which is unusual for a bank that offers the benefit of both online banking and brick-and-mortar branches.

Plus, you earn a high rate regardless of the balance you maintain. There are tiers of packages, and at times the interest rate may vary between them; but in the current environment, there is no difference.

In addition, when paired as part of a package of banking products, the Accelerate Savings account almost always includes a debit card, giving you enhanced access to your money (within the limits the Federal Reserve's Regulation D imposes on all banks).


Citi Accelerate Savings Account Monthly Service Fees

Citibank offers two kinds of savings accounts, stand-alone and Accelerate. As the name implies, a stand-alone savings account is not coupled to any other Citibank banking product.

The stand-alone savings account carries a $4.50 monthly fee. That fee can be waived on your basic savings account if you maintain an average balance of at least $500 a month.

The Accelerate Savings account carries a monthly fee of $10, which can be waived with any one of the following:

  • Minimum balance of $1,500 across all the accounts in the package
  • At least one direct deposit per month
  • At least one bill-pay per month

In addition, all qualifying transactions in any of the Citibank package accounts earn rewards in their Citi ThankYou Points program.


Other Savings Account Fees

There is one other fee in addition to the monthly service fee - the Regulation D fee.

Regulation D is a rule imposed by the Federal Reserve which restricts savers by limiting the number of withdrawals they can make to six transactions per month. Banks can charge a fee on all transactions over that limit.

Citibank complies with Reg D by charging a $20 fee for each transaction over the limit. There is no limit on the number of withdrawals or transfers which would be subject to that fee.

Citibank's fee for withdrawals over the Reg D limit of six per month is one of the highest in the banking industry, but is easily avoided by using your savings account for its intended purpose: to save money. After all, fees can wipe out any interest you earn.


More Citi Accelerate Savings Account Features and Benefits

While you're considering opening a savings account at Citibank, there are a few other things to consider:

Overdraft protection

You can use an Accelerate Savings account as a means of overdraft protection.

Should a transaction put your checking account into overdraft, Citibank will cover that from your savings account. This feature requires the savings account to be linked to the checking account being protected, so it's not available on the basic (i.e., unconnected) savings account.

Citibank's fee for overdraft protection is $10 per day, regardless of how many overdraft items get protected.

Auto Save program

Citibank tries to make saving easy with their Auto Save program, which allows you to put your savings on autopilot. It's free and can be customized according to your circumstances and goals.

The Auto Save program allows you to select the amount, the frequency, dates, and duration of the program.

A good feature of the Auto Save program is that it isn't confined to drawing from only Citi accounts. Citibank also has an inter-institution transfer service, which allows you to make transfers from accounts at other institutions. This applies to transfers to and from banking accounts at other banks and credit unions.

Accessing your account

The idea behind savings accounts is to make it easy to put money in, not take it out. Therefore, it's not surprising that getting access to money in your savings account is not as easy as accessing your checking account.

Getting money from a basic (i.e., unconnected) savings account is most commonly done by a visit to a branch and making a teller withdrawal. Fortunately, Citibank has several hundred branches throughout the country, making that easier to do than most banks. The other way to get access to the money you saved is making a transfer to another account.

Accessing your Citi Accelerate Savings account, on the other hand, is much easier. There are a number of ways to access your money:

  • Online transfer from your savings account to your linked Citibank checking account or another account in your Citibank package of products and services. When using your savings account to purchase that item you have been saving for, this is the most common option.
  • ATM withdrawal at thousands of ATMs worldwide, using the debit card which came with your checking account. It gives you direct access to your Accelerate Savings account.
    Citibank and certain other ATMs can be used for free; but in an emergency, almost any ATM can be used, for which Citibank does impose a small fee.
  • As with the basic savings account, a teller withdrawal at any Citibank branch will also give you direct access to your Accelerate Savings account.

Are There Other Ways To Save With Citibank?

Citibank offers certificates of deposit (CDs). Should you own a small business (even a home-based business would qualify) Citibank also offers a money market account.

One of the benefits of banking with Citibank is that they are part of Citigroup, which has other account offerings. The first one is a savings account set up as part an IRA (Individual Retirement Agreement). Given their competitive interest rates and FDIC insurance, an account like this could be a worthwhile part of your retirement investment portfolio.

In addition to banking products, Citigroup also offers investment opportunities. If you opt for the Accelerate Savings account, several investment options open up depending on the account package you choose, some including a personal investment adviser.


How To Open A Citi Accelerate Savings Account

Citi makes it easy to open an account in person at a branch, by phone or online. All you need are your drivers license and (if applicable) your employment information - and, of course, the money with which you plan to open the account. If the account is to be a joint account, you will need the same information for the other account holder(s).

If you're already a Citibank customer, they automatically populate the information they have about you into the new account. And you could simply use a transfer from another account as the opening deposit.


Is A Citi Accelerate Savings Account Right for You?

It's rare that almost all the details point to a positive conclusion, but this is one of them. Citibank is a stable bank with many branches and a strong online presence - not to mention that their savings account interest rates are consistently among the highest in the nation (plus it's relatively easy to avoid the monthly service fees).

Therefore, growing your savings by opening a Citi Accelerate Savings account is an easy recommendation.

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