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

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

None

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Easy to waive $2 monthly service fee
    • Unlimited check writing
    • Overdraft protection available by linking to a Broadway Federal checking or savings account, or by setting up a line of credit
    • No out-of-network ATM fees
    Cons
    • $50 minimum opening deposit
    • $2 monthly service fee
    • $35 overdraft fee
    • Doesn’t reimburse any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers
    • Branches in DC and the Los Angeles area
    • Free withdrawals at 20,000 MoneyPass ATMs (deposits are not available)
    • Waive $2 monthly service fee by enrolling in online banking and e-statements
    • FDIC insured

    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.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • Easy to waive $3 monthly service fee
    Cons
    • $50 minimum opening deposit
    • $3 monthly service fee
    • Branches in DC and the Los Angeles area
    • To waive $3 monthly service fee, maintain average daily balance of $200 or more
    • Interest compounded daily
    • FDIC insured

    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.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.30% to 0.50% APY

    Min Deposit

    $500 to $2,500

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • $500 minimum deposit for 12-month terms
    Cons
    • $2,500 minimum deposit for 91-day and 6-month terms
    • No early withdrawal penalty information
    • Limited term options
    • Branches in DC and the Los Angeles area
    • Choose from 91-day, 6-month, or 12-month term
    • Must inquire about early withdrawal penalties at a branch
    • Interest compounded daily
    • FDIC insured

    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.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.10% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Includes a debit card and paper checks
    • No out-of-network ATM fees
    Cons
    • Low APY
    • $5,000 minimum opening deposit
    • $12 monthly service fee
    • Doesn’t reimburse any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers
    • Branches in DC and the Los Angeles area
    • Free withdrawals at 20,000 MoneyPass ATMs (deposits are not available)
    • Includes a debit card and paper checks
    • Waive $12 monthly service fee by maintaining $5,000 average daily balance
    • Interest compounded daily
    • FDIC insured

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 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.

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