City First Bank review: Black-owned bank in Los Angeles and DC with high interest rates

  • City First Bank (Member FDIC) is a Black-owned bank in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
  • It pays higher rates than most brick-and-mortar banks, and it’s easy to waive monthly fees.
  • The checking accounts, savings accounts, and CDs are strong; the money market account is just so-so.
  • See Business Insider’s picks for the best high-yield savings accounts »

This post was last reviewed and updated on April 30, 2021.

Should I use City First Bank?

You might like City First if you …  You might not like City First if you … 
  • Live in Los Angeles or DC AND want to bank in person
  • Would like to bank with a Black-owned business
  • Want to earn high interest rates
  • Are looking for low-fee accounts
  • Don’t live in Los Angeles or DC OR you prefer online banking
  • Want more CD term length options
  • Are searching for a strong money market account
  • Value a strong mobile app

The bottom line: City First Bank has strong checking accounts, savings accounts, and CDs, but the money market account is its weak spot.

Checking

City First Bank Basic Checking Account

City First Bank City First Bank Basic Checking Account

City First Basic Checking is a good checking account, as long as you have $50 to open the account. There’s a $2 monthly service fee, but it’s easy to waive it — you just need to enroll in online banking and e-statements.

City First also has an interest-bearing checking account, but you’ll need $2,500 to get started.

Savings

City First Bank Statement Savings Account

City First Bank City First Bank Statement Savings Account

City First Statement Savings pays a competitive interest rate. You can still earn more with online high-yield savings accounts, but its rate is much better than what most brick-and-mortar banks pay. It’s also easy to waive the $3 monthly service fee.

If you have at least $5,000 to open an account, you may prefer the City First Regular Savings Account. It pays an even higher rate, and there’s no monthly maintenance fee.

Popular Articles

Average 401(k) balance

CD

City First Bank Certificate of Deposit

City First Bank City First Bank Certificate of Deposit

You’ll earn a high rate on a 91-day, 6-month, or 12-month CD with City First. But you’ll need to look elsewhere for other term lengths. The bank doesn’t post early withdrawal penalties online, and a customer support agent told Insider you’ll need to visit the branch to withdraw funds early and find out what you’ll pay in penalties.

Money market

City First Bank ONLINE Platinum Money Market Account

City First Bank City First Bank ONLINE Platinum Money Market Account

The City First Money Market Account isn’t as competitive as the bank’s other accounts. The interest rate is relatively low, you’ll need a $5,000 minimum opening deposit, and there’s a $12 monthly service fee. On the plus side, the account comes with a debit card and paper checks, making it easy to tap into your savings. This is especially useful if you have a financial emergency and need to access money quickly.

How does City First Bank work?

In April 2021, Broadway Federal Bank in California and City First Bank in DC merged into City First Bank. City First Bank is a Black-owned bank with branches in Washington, DC and the Los Angeles area.

Each branch has an ATM where you can make free withdrawals and deposits. You can also withdraw money for free at 20,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide, but you can’t deposit money there.

The bank’s mobile app only has a few online reviews. If banking with a strong mobile app is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere.

You can call a live customer support agent Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PT. Or call Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PT.

Your bank accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000, or $500,000 for joint accounts.

Is City First trustworthy?

The Better Business Bureau gives both City First and Broadway Federal an A+ in trustworthiness. A good BBB rating signifies a company responds effectively to customer complaints, has honest advertising practices, and is transparent in how it handles business.

City First doesn’t have any recent public scandals. You may decide you’re more comfortable using a Black-owned bank with a clear history than some other banks in Los Angeles. Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America are prevalent in these cities, but each faces accusations of racial discrimination.

How City First compares to similar banks

We’ve compared City First Bank to two other Black-owned banks you can access in the Los Angeles area. OneUnited (Member FDIC) has branches in LA. Citizens Trust Bank (Member FDIC) doesn’t have nearby branches, but you can bank online.

 
City First Bank
OneUnited Bank
Citizens Trust Bank

Savings APY

0.25% APY 0.10% APY 0.05% APY

Standout feature

High interest rates

Early direct deposit

Variety of checking accounts

Next steps

Open an account Open an account Open an account

City First Bank vs. OneUnited Bank

You’ll probably prefer City First if interest rates are important to you. City First pays higher rates than OneUnited. It also compounds interest daily, whereas OneUnited only compounds interest monthly or annually, depending on the account. The more often interest compounds, the more you’ll earn.

But OneUnited lets you receive paychecks up to two days early, which could useful if you often find yourself worrying about making payments on time.

City First Bank vs. Citizens Trust Bank

Citizens Trust has branches in other parts of the US, but not in Los Angeles or DC. You may like Citizens Trust if you prefer online banking, but you’ll want to go with City First if you like banking in person.

City First pays higher rates. But Citizens Trust has multiple checking accounts to choose from, so you may find one that best suits your needs.

Laura Grace Tarpley is the editor of banking and mortgages at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her four years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to save, invest, and navigate loans.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

A picture of a switch and lightbulb
Source: Read Full Article