Whether you’ve been using your parents’ bank since you were a teenager or have simply outgrown your current institution, shopping around for a new bank can be confusing. This is especially true if you are looking at online banks like Citizens Access or Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
Both of these — as with most online banks — offer a much higher interest rate on savings than you are likely to find elsewhere. The trade-off, however, is that online banks typically don’t have local brick-and-mortar branch locations. This means that all account management is done online, over the phone, or through a mobile app. But considering how advanced these online platforms have become (in addition to those enviable rates!), it’s typically a worthy trade.
Let’s take a look at both Citizens Access and Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and how each bank can meet your financial needs. We will discuss the products and features that each one offers, in addition to their competitive rates and the things you’ll need to keep in mind before choosing. While both might be great options, one is likely to be a “better” choice for your money in particular.
Why Choose an Online Bank?
Beyond asking yourself which of these two banks is right for your savings, you might be wondering why you’d want an online bank in the first place. And if you’ve only ever banked with traditional institutions, the entire concept can seem unsettling.
However, there’s a reason that online banks have become so popular in recent years: their accounts are even easier to manage than brick-and-mortar banks, in addition to giving customers significantly more in interest. The switch might be a bit of an adjustment, but you’re likely to wonder in a few short weeks why you ever thought you needed a local branch.
In today’s world, everything is technology-based. We manage everything from our utilities to our thermostats, security systems, and even our robot vacuums from our phones. Few of us have stepped foot in a bank branch in months, if not years, managing our funds through a mixture of direct deposit, ACH transfers, and money apps like Venmo.
Online banks simply take those same conveniences and habits, and use them to everyone’s benefit. Rather than offering local brick-and-mortar branches, these institutions save money by operating online only. Many also go paperless and cashless, cutting costs that can instead be redirected toward things like no-fee accounts and higher interest rates.
No matter the technology available, some customers might still want a local branch for specific transactions or opening new accounts. And that’s absolutely fine. There are some online banks that actually provide in-branch services for their customers!
These branch locations are often limited, but not impossible to find. For the rest of us, online banking apps can provide everything we need in a feature-rich package.
There’s also one more thing that you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to online banks: you might be limited in the types of financial products you’ll be able to get from each institution. While many traditional banks will offer a variety of account types to meet every need, online banks have a tendency to cherry-pick the products they provide. This means that you’ll just need to do some comparison shopping — such as reading this article — to see if the bank you’re considering has everything you need, or if you’ll need to choose more than one bank (often an even better idea!).
The typical banking products you may need include:
- Checking accounts
- High-yield savings accounts
Depending on how you like to keep track of your accounts, you might also want a variety of services and features. These might include:
- A mobile app for on-the-go account management
- ATM and/or check access
- Mobile check deposit
- FDIC-insured protection
- Brick-and-mortar locations (which select online banks will offer, though they’re very limited)
Both Marcus and Citizens Access offer a mix of savings account types, services, and features. This makes them both good options for anyone considering a new online bank, especially for their savings.
|Checking Account||High-Yield Savings Account||Money Market Accounts (MMAs)||Certificates of Deposit (CDs)||No-Penalty CDs|
If you spend money, a checking account is a pretty basic need. This account type allows you to deposit earnings from your job, manage your spending, and keep your cash safe throughout the money.
Checking accounts typically offer a combination of paper checks, ATM debit cards, credit-debit cards, and online bill pay services. This makes it easy to access our funds no matter where we are in the world, while still keeping them secure in the interim.
While a checking account is a basic financial need, though, not every bank offers them… especially if you’re considering an online institution. In fact, neither Citizens Access nor Marcus by Goldman Sachs has checking accounts available for their customers. But while this means that you’ll need to choose another bank for your checking account needs, it doesn’t mean that either online bank isn’t still an excellent choice for your savings.
Many financial experts recommend keeping your checking and savings accounts separate anyway. This is especially true if you are prone to overspending or if you respond well to an “out of sight, out of mind” saving mentality. Moving your future funds (savings) away from your everyday spending (checking) could be the fail-safe that you need to keep on track with your financial goals.
|Checking Account Offered?||Monthly Fees||Minimum deposit||ATM debit card||Checks||Mobile deposit||Local branch access||Interest bearing?|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Summary: It’s a tie, since neither bank offers a checking account for customers.
High-Yield Savings Accounts
If you’re considering an online bank, you already know: high-yield savings accounts are typically their shining star of product offerings.
These accounts are not only great places for tucking aside a variety of savings — everything from an emergency fund to the down payment on your next car or even family vacation funds — but if you choose an online bank, you’ll usually earn an interest rate that’s well above the national average. This is, after all, why they’re called “high yield” savings.
Both Citizens Access and Marcus by Goldman Sachs offer excellent high-yield savings account options for banking customers. Each bank offers rates that are quite enviable, maximize the earnings that your savings can bring in each year.
|High-Yield Savings Offered?||Monthly Fees||Minimum deposit||ATM debit card||Above-average interest rate?||Mobile deposit||Local branch access|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs||Yes||None||None||No||Yes||No||No|
Citizens Access: High-Yield Savings Accounts
The higher the interest rate you can earn on your savings, the more free cash you’ll bring in, without having to lift a finger. And by choosing a high-yield savings account from Citizens Access, you’ll be snagging one of the highest rates offered on the market today.
This bank currently offers a rate of 0.40% on savings account balances (rate current as of October 11, 2021). That’s a whopping 7x the current national average (~0.06%, according to the FDIC), meaning that you’ll earn 7 times as much in interest in a given year than you would by putting your money at an average old brick-and-mortar institution.
Citizens Access has a $5,000 minimum deposit in order to open a new high-yield savings account. They don’t charge any fees on these accounts — that means no monthly maintenance fees, no fees to open your new account, no charges for basic banking services, and no penalties for dropping below a minimum balance requirement.
Take a look at what you’ll get with a Citizens Access savings account:
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balances
- Minimum deposit of $5,000 to open
- APY well above national average (and even above most online bank competitors!)
- Flat interest rate, regardless of balance held
- Mobile app with check deposit
Citizens Access is branchless, cashless, and paperless. This helps the bank keep expenses low, which it can pass on to customers in the form of market-topping interest rates. Of course, this means that you won’t be able to stop by a local bank branch the next time you want to open an account, make a deposit, or ask a question. However, if you need assistance with your account, there are plenty of convenient and feature-rich options available to you.
The bank’s mobile app offers access to your account summary as well as the option to transfer funds or deposit a check via mobile. If you need to talk a live person, customer service is available by phone seven days a week or you can send a quick email.
Deposits are easy. You can transfer funds online from external bank accounts with a few clicks. You can also mobile deposit checks or mail checks to the bank directly for deposit. You won’t be able to initiate any wire transfers with Citizens Access, however.
As far as withdrawing funds, you have a few options. You can initiate an ACH transfer online to another bank account, which will only take a couple days to complete. You can also request that the bank send you a paper check, if needed. You won’t be provided with any paper checks or ATM debit cards with your Citizens Access savings account, though, and you also can’t initiate outgoing wires for your funds.
One more thing to remember: you are limited to six withdrawals from your savings account each statement cycle, regardless of how the funds are withdrawn. This isn’t the bank’s rule, though; this is a federal guideline that you’ll find with any savings account.
Marcus: High-Yield Savings Accounts
Marcus by Goldman Sachs makes savings accounts easy and lucrative, but with very few requirements.
Currently, their high-yield savings accounts offer an interest rate of 0.40% APY (rate current as of October 11, 2021). The only stipulation for earning that rate is that you hold a balance that will result in at least $1 in interest in a statement cycle; otherwise, you can carry any balance you want in the account, without any minimum deposit requirement.
There are no monthly maintenance fees with a Marcus high-yield savings account, nor are there fees for withdrawals, deposits, or opening a new account.
At Marcus, you’ll enjoy:
- No minimum balance required
- No monthly maintenance fees
- No minimum deposit required to open
- Interest rates that are ~26x the national average
- No incoming or outgoing wire fees
Deposits can be added by ACH transfer (you can even set up recurring transfers to better meet your savings goals) or by mailing a check to the bank directly. You can also initiate an incoming wire transfer without charge.
There are no paper checks or ATM debit cards offered with Marcus savings accounts. Instead, you can withdraw funds by electronic ACH transfer, outgoing wire transfer (free), or by requesting a check directly from the bank. As with Citizens Access (and all other savings accounts), you are limited to six withdrawals per statement cycle.
Summary: While the banks have similar features, Citizens Access wins out for offering a higher interest rate.
Money Market Accounts (MMAs)
Most people don’t know what the difference is between a savings account and a money market account, or MMA, if there’s even one at all! It’s an easy thing to be confused about, too, as MMAs and savings accounts are very similar; depending on that bank you choose, though, there might be subtle differences between the two.
Some banks offer different interest rates on MMA balances, or additional account features. These could include checkbooks or ATM debit cards, allowing you to access your funds immediately, no matter where you are. But whether this is worth choosing an MMA over a high-yield savings account really depends on how you plan to use the account. For many, the occasional differences don’t warrant the switch.
Either way, you don’t have much of a choice if you go with either Citizens Access or Marcus by Goldman Sachs: neither bank offers MMAs to their customers. Instead, you’ll want to opt for a high-yield savings account, which we talked about above.
|Money Market Account Offered?||Monthly Fees||Minimum deposit||ATM debit card||Above-average interest rate?||Mobile deposit||Local branch access|
Summary: It’s a tie, since neither bank offers a money market account for customers.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
If there’s a chance that you’ll need to access your savings quickly — especially if it’s, say, your emergency fund — then a high-yield savings account is the best place to let it grow. However, if you have funds that you know you won’t need to touch for a while, and quick access isn’t important, you can let that money grow even more with a certificate of deposit.
Certificates of deposit, or CDs are excellent savings vehicles for things like your family vacation fund, the future down payment on your home/car, or even savings for something big like a wedding. If it’s earmarked for the future and won’t need to be utilized in the case of an emergency, a CD is a great way to earn higher interest. The only caveat is that a CD will “lock” those funds away for a period of time.
In exchange for this savings term commitment, customers can earn significantly higher interest rates on CDs than they would in savings accounts or MMAs. And the great thing about this rate is that it’s locked in; even if the market changes and rates drop, you will continue earning the same higher rate until your CD reaches maturity. This is different than your savings account’s rate, which will change regularly.
|Term CD offered?||Term lengths||No-Penalty CD offered?||Early withdrawal penalties||Minimum deposit||Above- average interest rate?|
|Citizens Access||Yes||6 – 48 months||No||90 – 180 days’ interest||$5,000||Yes|
|Marcus||Yes||6 – 72 months||Yes||90 – 365 days’ interest||$500||Yes|
Citizens Access: Certificates of Deposit
If you’re looking for some of the — if not the absolute — highest interest rates on CDs, look no further than Citizens Access. Not only are their returns impressive, but their early withdrawal penalties are lower than most other online banks and they offer a wide range of CD term lengths.
At Citizens Access, you can choose CDs ranging from six months to four years in term. As with most other banks, the longer the term you choose, the higher the interest rate you’ll be offered. Here are the CD options and rates currently being offered by Citizens Access: (rates current as of December 10, 2018)
- 12-month CD at 0.10% APY
- 24-month CD at 0.10% APY
- 36-month CD at 0.15% APY
- 48-month CD at 0.20% APY
If you’ve been paying attention, you probably just noticed that you will earn almost as much by choosing a 6-month Citizens Access CD as you would with their savings accounts. This is unique; most banks won’t begin offering high CD rates (at least, “high” compared to their savings account rates) until you hit the 12- or 18-month term mark.
The rates offered on Citizens Access’ 12-month (and longer) CDs are some of the best available today. For example, the 48-month CD at this bank will earn you just as much (if not more) than some other banks are offering for CDs terms of 60 or even 72 months.
Why does this matter? Well, you can lock your money away for a shorter period of time while still earning maximum interest. This gives you the flexibility to choose another product for your funds, invest elsewhere, or even renew your CD for an even higher interest rate down the line, without having to wait quite as long.
Citizens Access CDs have a minimum deposit requirement of $5,000. However, there are no fees, monthly maintenance charges, etc. with their products.
No matter which bank you choose for your term CD, there is one very important thing to remember: you absolutely cannot touch those funds until the certificate reaches maturity. In exchange for the higher interest rate the bank offered you, you shook hands and agreed to leave that money alone for a specified period of time. If you go back on that agreement, you’ll be penalized in the form of early withdrawal fees.
Depending on the term length you originally chose, your principal balance, and when you withdraw the funds, these penalties can be significant, too. They can not only eat up all of the interest you’ve earned up to that point, but could even dip into your original deposit.
At Citizens Access, CD early withdrawal fees are pretty straightforward:
- If your term is 12 months or less, you’ll pay a fee equal to 90 days’ interest
- If your term is greater than 12 months, you’ll pay a fee equal to 180 days’ interest
Citizens Access does not offer no-penalty CDs at this time, so it’s very important that you choose your CD term wisely.
Marcus: Certificates of Deposit
Whether you’re looking for a 6-month or 6-year CD term (or anything in between), Marcus by Goldman Sachs has you covered. The online bank offers a basic term CD option with a low minimum deposit requirement and market-beating interest rates.
Currently, Marcus offers term CDs in the following flavors: (rates current as of December 10, 2018)
- 6-month CD at 0.15% APY
- 9-month CD at 0.25% APY
- 12-month CD at 0.55% APY
- 18-month CD at 0.55% APY
- 24-month CD at 0.55% APY
- 36-month CD at 0.65% APY
- 48-month CD at 0.65% APY
- 60-month CD at 0.80% APY
- 72-month CD at 0.80% APY
It’s important to note that you can earn a higher return on your savings by opting for a high-yield savings account, if you are only putting your money away for a short period of time (less than a year). Once you hit the 12-month mark, though, a CD can earn you significantly more than a savings account.
In order to open a CD with the bank, you will only need a minimum deposit of $500. There are no fees involved with opening or funding the account, and there are no monthly maintenance fees. However, if you need to pull out your funds before the CD reaches maturity, you will be subject to the penalties we spoke about above.
At Marcus, you’ll incur a fee for early withdrawal with term CDs. Depending on the principal deposit of your CD, how long you held onto the CD before withdrawing funds, the original term length, and the rate you had locked in, this penalty can be really painful. These fees are as follows at Marcus:
- For CD terms less than 12 months, your penalty is 90 days’ worth of interest.
- For CD terms of 12 months up to 60 months, your penalty is 6 months’ worth of interest.
- For CD terms greater than 60 months, your penalty is 365 days’ worth of interest.
If you don’t have a strong emergency fund, or otherwise think there’s a chance you’ll need to touch that money before your CD reaches maturity, you should consider a no-penalty CD. These products offer you an option for earning higher interest on a fixed-term savings product, but also offer the flexibility of withdrawing funds early without penalty.
This won’t let you lock in your rate for very long, so you’ll need to renew every 13 months if you want to continue holding a CD. This product also doesn’t offer as high of an interest rate as, say, a 12-month term CD through the same bank. However, it does offer a higher rate than you would earn in a high-yield savings account, while still giving you a no-penalty safety net, in case you think you need it.
To open a CD at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, you’ll need to make a minimum deposit of at least $500. There are no fees to open a CD, no monthly maintenance fees, and if you opt for the no-penalty option, no fees for withdrawing funds early.
Summary: Both banks offer term CDs, though Citizens Access’ interest rates are significantly higher (for shorter terms) than offered by Marcus. If you need a no-penalty option, Marcus does have one; however, you would earn the same rate from a Citizens Access savings account (whilst retaining flexibility with your funds).
Choosing the bank that’s right for you isn’t just about interest rates, though those are important. You also want to ensure that the bank you choose can meet your needs when it comes to managing your account and accessing your funds.
When bank shopping, you need to look at everything they offer. Compare services and features to see which bank matches your financial habits and account management preferences. Look at how they fare when it comes to customer service ratings, range of products offered, and even the accessibility you need more. And, of course, compare the rates they offer.
Here’s a look at the features and services you’ll find at both Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Citizens Access.
Citizens Access and Marcus are both FDIC insured. What does this mean? Well, if something happens to the bank, or if they fail, your funds are protected up to the maximum insured limits.
Currently, these limits are up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, and per ownership category.
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Both Marcus and Citizens Access are the epitome of the term “online bank.” Neither bank offers brick-and-mortar branch locations at the moment.
This means that you have no choice but to rely entirely on email and phone customer service. To conduct business, you’ll need to call, access your account online, or use their mobile app.
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Some online banks will provide their customers with ATM debit cards for their savings accounts. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to find this feature at either Marcus or Citizens Access… at least, not yet.
When you need to make withdrawals from either bank, you can initiate online ACH transfers, utilize an outgoing wire (only Marcus offers this option), or request a check from the bank directly.
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Most of us live on our smartphones or tablets these days, and banking apps make life even easier to manage.
Unfortunately, neither Citizens Access nor Marcus currently offer a mobile app for account management. However, both banks do have online-ready websites to make accessing, viewing, and managing your funds easy, even on-the-go.
These websites are meant to be easily navigated by users on any web platform, whether you log in from your home computer, your tablet, or even your phone’s browser. There, you can view accounts, move funds around, and even open new accounts, with just a few clicks.
The only difference here is that Citizens Access does offer mobile check deposit through their website. This is a feature that Marcus does not yet provide, meaning that you would need to mail a paper check in to the bank if that was your preferred deposit option.
Verdict: Neither bank has a mobile app, so that part is a tie. However, Citizens Access’ website has mobile check deposit functionality, giving them a slight edge.
Mobile Check Deposit
We touched on this feature above, which is an in-demand service for many banking customers.
If you’re given a check from your job or even grandma, you’ll need to deposit it into your bank account. If you bank with an online institution and can’t pop in to a local branch, you’ll need another way to put those funds in your account. That’s where mobile check deposit comes into play.
At Citizens Access, you’ll be able to deposit your check online by simply taking a photo of the front and bank (they do not have a mobile app, however). This feature is not offered by Marcus, meaning that you would need to mail the paper check to the bank directly and wait for it to be processed.
Verdict: Only Citizens Access offers mobile check deposit, through their website.
Which Bank Is Right for You?
Choosing the right bank is tricky, and depends quite a bit on how you access and manage your money, and what you plan to do with it. It’s especially important to take these things into consideration when comparing online banks, as they offer a unique approach to banking that’s different from brick-and-mortar institutions.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to put your money in a secure place where it can earn as much as possible, while still being accessible when you need it. Online banks do a great job of meeting all of those needs, and are a great choice as long as you find one that offers everything that you, in particular, need.
It’s also important to remember that your banking needs can, and probably will, change over time. The bank you choose today might not be the best bank for you a few years down the line. Depending on how you change your financial management strategies — and even as you set new savings goals — you might find that you need to reevaluate the institution(s) you choose.
We hope that this guide serves as a great starting point in your banking search! Both Citizens Access and Marcus by Goldman Sachs are excellent online banks, offering high interest rates and feature-rich savings options. However, it’s likely that one of them is “best” for you and your needs, and we hope you were able to identify which today.
For instance, you’ll snag the absolute highest interest rates by banking with Citizens Access, which offers flexible savings products and top-of-the-market APYs. If you’re specifically looking for a no-penalty CD, though, Marcus has you covered.
Whichever bank you end up choosing, you can rest assured that you’re picking an institution that will keep your money safe, secure, and earning as much interest as possible.