CIT Bank routinely appears on our best bank account promotions list, and for good reason.
CIT Bank is the online banking arm of CIT Group, a large financial company that has been around for more than 100 years. CIT Bank itself has existed since 2000, making it one of the oldest online banks in continuous operation. Like the majority of U.S.-based online banks, CIT Bank’s deposit accounts come with FDIC insurance up to $250,000 per account.
CIT Bank’s focus is firmly on savers. It doesn’t offer any high-yield checking accounts or credit cards. Rather, it specializes in a wide variety of flexible, attractive savings products, including savings accounts (with nice account opening bonuses) and CDs that can be structured as traditional and Roth IRAs – boosting their attractiveness to retirement savers. CIT Bank also offers custodial accounts for minors and young people under age 21, along with a variety of home loans for prospective homebuyers and current homeowners.
Though CIT Bank’s deposit accounts aren’t ideal for day-to-day use, they’re attractive for those looking to earn above-average yields on saved funds. With no management fees, account holders don’t have to worry that the bank will slowly eat away at the value of their savings. And, CIT’s RampUp and RampUp Plus CDs offer unusual flexibility, allowing holders to raise rates and make an additional deposit during the CD’s term. However, high minimum deposit amounts for some accounts (including RampUp) mean these are not suited for everyone.
- High-Yield Savings Account: This account requires a minimum opening deposit of $100 but no minimum balance after that. It yields 1.05% on all balances. There is no fee to open or maintain your account.
- High-Yield Savings Account Opening Bonus: When you open a high-yield savings account and keep an average monthly balance between $15,000 and $149,999 for the first 3 monthly statement cycles, you get a $100 bonus. If you keep an average monthly balance of $150,000 or over within the same time period, you get a $200 bonus.
- Term CDs: CIT Bank has six term (traditional) CDs, with term lengths ranging from 6 months (0.72% yield) to 60 months (1.70% yield). The 12-month CD, which yields 1.32%, is a particularly good deal in the current rate environment. All CIT term CDs come with a minimum opening deposit and balance of $1,000. Early withdrawal penalties are 90 days’ interest for terms less than 12 months, 180 days’ interest for terms between 12 and 36 months, and 360 days’ interest for terms longer than 36 months. These penalties apply to all CIT CDs, including RampUp, RampUp Plus, and Jumbo. On the bright side, CIT CDs (including the other variations described below) have no account opening or recurring maintenance fees.
- RampUp CDs: With a RampUp CD, you can raise your rate one time during the CD’s term if CIT raises rates for newly opened CDs. For instance, if your 3-year RampUp CD yields 1.20% at opening, but rates on new CDs of the same term length rise to 2.00% the following year, you can lock in the higher rate for the remainder of the term simply by notifying CIT. RampUp CDs come with terms of 36 months (1.20% initial yield) or 48 months (1.38% initial yield). Minimum opening deposits are on the high side: $25,000 for the 36-month, and $50,000 for the 48-month.
- RampUp Plus CDs: RampUp Plus CDs are even more flexible. As with regular RampUp CDs, you can raise your rate once during the CD’s term if prevailing rates go up. You can also make one additional deposit of any amount per term. RampUp CDs come with terms of 12 months (1.26% initial yield) or 24 months (1.27% initial yield). Both have a $25,000 minimum opening deposit.
- Jumbo CDs: CIT Bank’s Jumbo CDs have slightly better yields than their traditional counterparts – generally 0.05% to 0.20%. Jumbo CD terms range from 24 (1.40% yield) to 60 months (1.75% yield). All require a minimum opening deposit of $100,000.
- CD Ladders: CIT Bank makes it easy to create and customize a CD ladder for long-term and emergency savings. The most common configuration is a three-tiered ladder consisting of equal-sized 12-, 24-, and 36-month Term CDs. When your 12-month CD matures, you can withdraw any funds needed for short-term expenses and reinvest the rest into a 36-month CD. Repeat this process the following year, when your 24-month CD matures, and you’ll then have three 36-month CDs set to renew at 12-month intervals.
- IRA Options: Virtually all of CIT Bank’s accounts can be structured as traditional or Roth IRAs, the only exception being the 6-month CD. All IRA accounts come with the same terms, yields, and restrictions (minimum opening balances, for example) as their non-IRA counterparts.
- Custodial Accounts: Any CIT Bank account, except IRA products, can be structured as a custodial account. Custodial accounts are opened in both the adult custodian’s and child’s name, but remain under the control of the custodian until the child turns 21.
- Fixed-Rate Home Purchase Loans: CIT Bank offers a variety of fixed-rate home purchase loans (mortgages) for homebuyers. Terms range from 10 to 30 years. Jumbo fixed-rate loans are also available on 15- and 30-year terms.
- Adjustable-Rate Jumbo Home Purchase Loans: CIT Bank issues jumbo adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) with 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 configurations. Interest-only payments are available for all three configurations.
- HomeReady Purchase Loans: CIT Bank issues HomeReady purchase loans backed by Fannie Mae. HomeReady purchase loans are conventional loans (not FHA loans) that require down payments as low as 3%, bringing homeownership within reach to people of more modest means. However, HomeReady loans do necessitate private mortgage insurance (PMI) until LTV drops below 80%. Interest rates are set on a case-by-case basis, but are generally competitive with conventional fixed-rate purchase loans.
- Refinance Loans: CIT Bank issues a variety of different types and terms of refinance loans, including fixed-rate, adjustable-rate (traditional and interest only), jumbo, and cash-out refinance loans. APRs vary depending on creditworthiness and other factors.
- Mobile Banking: CIT Bank has Android and iOS mobile apps available for download. These apps have all the major features and functions of the desktop website. That said, CIT’s desktop website looks great on a smartphone and is easy to navigate on any device, so you may not even need the mobile app.
- Customer Support: CIT Bank’s customer support apparatus includes a call center with live representatives and an online contact form that typically produces a response within one business day. The call center’s hours are from 7am to 9pm weekdays, from 9am to 5pm Saturdays, and from 11am to 4pm Sundays (all times Eastern Standard Time).
1. High CD Yields
CIT Bank has some of the best CD yields in the online bank business. Its 36-month term CD yields 1.30%, for example, while its 60-month term CD yields 1.70%. By contrast, Salem Five Direct‘s 48-month CD (its longest term) yields 1.50% – already an above-average yield. Many traditional banks’ CDs are far less generous, with multi-year yields below 1.00%.
2. RampUp and RampUp Plus CDs Offer Additional Flexibility
The RampUp and RampUp Plus CDs are both more flexible than traditional CDs. The former allows you to raise your interest rate once during your CD’s term if prevailing rates rise, while the latter allows you to raise your rate once and make one additional deposit in any amount.
Being able to raise your rates mitigates the opportunity cost of a traditional CD – the fact that you’re locked into a rate for the duration of your term. Being able to make an additional deposit allows you to maximize the value of your savings by providing a yield higher than what’s available from a CIT savings account.
3. Above-Average Savings Yield
CIT Bank’s 1.05% savings yield on all balances is attractive to savers who want to earn interest on extra funds, but don’t want to commit to a lengthy CD term. Other online banks, including Capital One 360 (0.75% APY), have much less attractive savings yields.
4. Excellent Customer Service Availability
Though it’s not 24/7, CIT Bank’s customer service team has at least some availability every day of the week, including a 14-hour block every weekday. That’s significantly better than many smaller online banks. BankDirect’s human support team is only available for 10 hours each weekday, while iGoBanking‘s is only available eight hours per weekday, and four hours on Saturday.
5. IRA Options Are Better Than the Competition
CIT Bank’s IRA selection is better than the average online bank’s. In the first place, nearly every CIT account is available as an IRA, with only the six-month CD excluded. And IRA yields are identical to yields on equivalent non-IRA accounts.
By comparison, Bank of Internet USA only offers two IRA CDs, compared to seven regular CDs. Both have much lower yields than their non-IRA counterparts.
Yield-wise, BankDirect‘s IRA options are even worse. The maximum yield is 0.25%, regardless of term or balance, compared to 1.45% on a regular BankDirect CD.
6. Mobile-Friendly Site
With large text, effortless scrolling, and a clear color scheme that looks good on screens of any size, CIT Bank’s main website perfectly blends mobile responsiveness and desktop-friendliness. If you don’t have the mobile app but want to access your CIT accounts on your smartphone, visiting the bank’s main site is a seamless experience that’s virtually indistinguishable from using the app or accessing the website from a larger-screened device.
Some other online banks lean too far in one direction or the other. For instance, Salem Five Direct’s website feels a bit outdated and doesn’t look great on a mobile device, while Ally Bank’s 2014 redesign is tough to use on a desktop.
7. High Savings Account Opening Bonus
When you open a new high-yield savings account and keep an average monthly balance of at least $15,000 the first 3 months, you get a nice cash bonus of $100 for your trouble (or $200 if you keep a balance of at least $150,000 in the first 3 months). Think of that as a boost to your first year’s yield.
1. No Checking or Money Market Accounts
With no checking or money market accounts, CIT Bank isn’t a viable option for your day-to-day banking needs. Although a handful of other online banks – GE Capital Bank among them – also don’t offer checking accounts, many do. If you want to be able to tap your funds at will, opt for a checking-enabled online bank such as Ally Bank, Capital One 360, or FNBO Direct.
2. No Business Options
CIT Bank doesn’t provide any commercial accounts or credit options, so it’s not ideal for small business owners. Some online banks, including First Internet Bank of Indiana, do have commercial deposit accounts and financing departments.
3. No Loans or Credit Cards
You can’t get a loan, a line of credit, or a credit card from CIT Bank. If you prefer to borrow from the same bank you keep your deposits with, look to an alternative like First Internet Bank of Indiana, which offers credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and commercial credit products. Or, try Capital One 360, which offers mortgages and credit cards.
4. Required Disclosures Are Hard to Find
U.S.-based banks are required to make certain disclosures about account fees and terms. Websites for online banks often have clearly marked links to “Disclosures” or “Fees and Disclosures” at the bottom of each page or within account-specific pages.
CIT’s are not clearly visible anywhere on its website. There’s just a perfunctory fee schedule (which doesn’t even cover basic things like insufficient funds charges) for each account.
5. High Minimum Deposits for RampUp and RampUp Plus CDs
CIT’s RampUp and RampUp Plus CDs come with high minimum deposits – $25,000 to $50,000, depending on account type. That likely puts them out of reach for many ordinary savers. Though the flexibility that these CDs provide is certainly nice, Ally Bank’s Raise Your Rate CDs offer similar perks without any minimum deposit requirement.
6. No ATM Access or Ability to Make Purchases
None of CIT Bank’s accounts come with an ATM or debit card. To withdraw money from your account, you need to schedule an electronic funds transfer to a linked external account or execute a wire transfer.
Since CIT Bank doesn’t offer checking accounts, this isn’t as big a deal as it could be – due to federal restrictions, you can’t make more than 6 ATM withdrawals per statement cycle from a savings or money market account anyway. Still, many other online banks, including Synchrony Bank and Ally, offer the option of an ATM card with savings and money markets.
I’m always keen to find bank account promotions and temporary offers that boost the value of my hard-earned money. I still remember my first account opening bonus, a $100 bump from Chase, like it was yesterday.
CIT’s savings account opening bonus is even better than that – up to $200. And CIT doubles down on its “customer comes first” approach with excellent savings and CD yields. In my book, banks with above-average yields are always worth a closer look. Going forward, I’m thinking about using CIT Bank to hold my short- and medium-term savings.
Unfortunately, unless CIT Bank offers a checking account in the future, I’ll have to look to another online bank for my day-to-day spending needs. Good thing there are plenty of those around these days. Check out our top-rated free checking accounts for more options.