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CIT Bank Review – High-Yield Savings Accounts & CDs

By David Bakke

cit bankAmericans have begun to express a growing dissatisfaction with traditional banks. In just the last three months of 2011, more than 600,000 people abandoned their bank to go with an alternative option, such as an online bank. If you’re currently dissatisfied with your bank, consider CIT Bank. It offers both high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposits.

A high-yield savings account earns a rate of interest significantly higher than that of a traditional savings account, and allows you full access to your money at all times. However, with a certificate of deposit, you commit to leaving your funds in the account for a predetermined amount of time. For example, CIT Bank offers a certificate of deposit with a term of one year that allows you to earn 1.06% APY for a $1,000 investment. The longer the term, the higher the rate of interest. While you can still access your money, penalties apply for early withdrawals.

Application

The application process is identical for either product. Enter your personal information, including your name, address, contact information, Social Security number, and driver’s license number. You may also add a beneficiary, if you’d like. Then you choose how much you would like to transfer into your CIT savings account from your current bank account.

In order to fund your account, you’ll need your checking account number and bank routing number. You can also fund your account by mailing a check to the bank. Once that’s done, review your information and click submit.

CIT Bank then verifies your bank account by making two small deposits, which you must confirm. You can then log into your account and review statements and monitor recent activity. CIT Bank does not mail paper statements, but you can print yours out from the website if you require a paper copy.

open savings accountopen cd account

Savings Account

The minimum opening deposit for a savings account is $100. Keep in mind that you’re limited to six withdrawals per month with a CIT savings account, which is standard on all savings accounts. If you go over this amount, CIT Bank has the right to close your account. The savings account comes with a 0.90% APY on balances less than $25,000. If you maintain a daily balance of $25,000 or more, the interest rate goes up to 1.05%.

Certificate of Deposit

If you choose a certificate of deposit, CIT will send an email notification roughly 30 days before the maturity date. If you do not contact them at least 10 days in advance, your CD renews automatically. You also have a 10-day grace period starting on the maturity date when you can withdraw funds penalty-free if the CD automatically renews.

CIT Bank currently offers the following CDs:

Term CD (Minimum $1,000 Investment) 

  • 6 months: 0.45% APY
  • 1 year: 1.06% APY
  • 2 years: 1.20% APY
  • 3 years: 1.42% APY
  • 5 years: 1.85% APY

Achiever CD (Minimum $25,000 Investment)

  • 1 year: 1.10% APY
  • 2 years: 1.25% APY

Jumbo CD (Minimum $100,000 Investment)

  • 2 years: 1.25% APY
  • 3 years: 1.44% APY
  • 5 years: 1.90% APY

Key Features

  • Security. The website uses 128-bit SSL encryption, so all your personal information is safe and secure.
  • Solid Customer Service. You can contact CIT Bank via email or telephone. Phone support hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8am to 9pm EST, Saturdays from 9am to 5pm EST, and Sundays from 11am to 4pm EST. The customer service representatives are polite and helpful, and you don’t need to go through a series of menus to reach someone. Dial the bank’s toll-free number, press two, and a representative normally picks up within a minute.
  • Convenience. If you have your Social Security number, driver’s license, and checking account info handy, you can get your account started in less than ten minutes.
  • Easy to Understand Withdrawal Penalties. Although this is commonplace for CDs, there are early withdrawal penalties. Fortunately, with CIT Bank, they’re easier to understand than what you might find at other banks. If your account has an original maturity date of one year or less, you’re penalized three months’ interest on the amount withdrawn. For maturity dates from one to three years, the penalty is six months’ interest. If it’s more than three years, you’re charged 12 months’ interest. While this is easy to understand, make sure you fully grasp what this means. If you open a CD and then need the money shortly thereafter, it’s very possible that you could lose money.

cit bank

Advantages

  1. No Fees. There are no fees, hidden or otherwise, with either CIT Bank account option.
  2. Competitive and Progressive Interest Rates. CIT Bank has some of the best interest rates available for certificates of deposit. The only one that fell a little short was the six-month CD. And for both the savings account and the CD, the more you invest, the higher the interest rate.
  3. Experience. CIT Bank has been in business since 1908, is a member of the Fortune 500 list, and has more than $34 billion in assets.
  4. Easy Transfers. You can set up a recurring transfer from your checking account or through direct deposit to add funds to your account.
  5. FDIC Insured. Each depositor is insured for up to $250,000.

Disadvantages

  1. High Minimum Investment for CDs. The lowest amount you can invest in a CD is $1,000.
  2. Delayed Availability of Funds. Your funds won’t be available until 5-10 business days from the date of deposit, and all funds deposited are automatically held for ten days during the first month your account is open. This is slightly longer than the hold times of other banks.
  3. Withdrawal Penalties for CDs. All certificates of deposit have early withdrawal penalties, and while it’s great that those at CIT Bank are so easy to understand, they are also on the excessive side.

Final Word

CIT Bank offers competitive interest rates on CDs, and if you can handle the minimum investment requirements, it may be right for you. Just be sure that you won’t need any of the money you invest in a CD until it matures. Otherwise, the penalties can be brutal.

The interest rate on the CIT savings account is competitive as well. However, be aware of the transaction limitation in place. With either product, the customer service offered is guaranteed to be excellent.

Have you had any personal experience with CIT Bank?

cit bank

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • Liz

    Hi David, I have used ING Direct for online savings accounts for a while now, However I was recently notified from them that Capital One is taking over, who I am not a fan of…will check out CIT after reading your article. Funny, I found it after following a link to your finance column after reading your article in Happen Mag! Who knew organic food and Sunday services could be so fruitful? And may i mention that as an artist on the side, its cute when a guy wants to know about a painting in a gallery. It shows he’s open to new stuff. Anyway, its cool to read about a guy who’s so versatile.

    • David Bakke

      Liz

      Thanks for commenting. It was quite an interesting week that I wrote about…glad you liked it.

  • Jennifer

    I like CIT, however they recently lowered their savings interest rate to .85%. I also have a small amount in Ally. I’ve used AMEX and the old ING and they all lowered their rates without notification, so be sure and keep an eye out for that. Check out one of the money sites that is up to date at least once a month.

    CIT used to be closed weekends, however they are now open limited hours Sat and Sun weekends which is helpful. Ally is open 24/7 as is AMEX so if that is important to you, keep it in mind. The CIT reps have always been pleasant, but then I could say that for all the services.

    A word of advice is to find out how to set up beneficiaries. It’s not a pleasant thought, to be sure, but you never know.

    One more thing which may or may not matter to you. My husband is a technophobe and refuses to learn anything about computers (no wonder he doesn’t want to get a new car), so I like the fact that you can still get paper statements from some (like Ally), but CIT doesn’t offer them.

    I’m all for going “green” as possible, but sometimes it just isn’t practical. I finally decided that if something should happen to me (and unfortunately I am in poor health), a phone call would do. I made sure to list all the pertinent info to keep with our “important papers.”

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