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Earn More Interest On Your Emergency Fund: CIT Savings Builder Review

Once you start your FI journey you likely have a good amount of cash sitting in a savings account. Between saving up for purchases and filling up your emergency fund you may find yourself having quite the nest egg sitting there not doing much for you. Finding a high-yield savings account is a great way to get a little interest on your savings.

About The CIT Savings Builder

There’s a lot about CIT that makes them a great bank. First, they have a century of experience, so they know what they’re doing. Second, First Citizens Bank and CIT recently merged, which created a top 20 US financial institution with more than $100 billion in assets as of January 2022. making them one of the largest banks in the U.S.

CIT is also great for those who like to hold their money with a company that cares about their community. CIT has a number of community programs; for instance, their employees volunteer throughout the year, they invest in clean energy, and they focus on helping the underserved in their home community of Southern California.

CIT Savings Builder Features

Two Ways To Earn

With the CIT Savings Builder account, there are two ways you can earn the 1% APY.

You can make a $100 minimum single deposit per month to earn CIT’s highest interest rate.

Or, if you maintain an account balance of $25,000 or more, you’ll earn up to 1.25%.

Two APY Tiers

While earning the highest APY is what you should shoot for, there may be months where you don’t meet the minimum requirement of $25,000 in your account, or a $100 deposit. Luckily, even CIT’s bottom tier is better than most traditional banks.

    No Fees

    While there is a minimum of $100 to open an account, other than that, there are absolutely no fees associated with the CIT Savings Builder account.

    Free Bank Transfers

    CIT also offers free bank transfers to any account (inside the U.S.), not just their own checking and savings accounts.

    What is the Best Use Of The CIT Savings Builder?

    High-yield savings accounts can be perfect places to put your emergency fund, save for a house, a new (or new-to-you) car, travel, etc.

    We used CIT’s Savings Account calculator to figure out how much you can really save with a 1% APY. We used a $25,000 balance and said we’d add $100 to the account each month. After five years we would have a balance of $32,432. You’d have more if you invested it, sure. But this isn’t an investment, it’s a zero-risk savings account. Perfect for your emergency fund or for money you know you will be spending soon.

    If you are saving for a specific goal, check out their calculator to see when you will reach your goal.

    Other Great Banking Products

    CIT offers a lot more in addition to the CIT Savings Builder account. As you can see from the picture below, they offer many ways to help you save.

    CIT bank online dashboard view

    Savings Connect

    Do even more with your savings with CIT’s Savings Connect account, which currently offers a generous 3% APY when you open an account with a deposit of at least $100.

    Benefits:

    • Earn over 14x the national average with a Savings Connect account
    • Digital convenience with online banking and the mobile app
    • Easy account opening
    • Deposit checks remotely and make transfers easily with the CIT Bank mobile app
    • FDIC-insured

    Learn more about Savings Connect and open an account here.

    Money Market Account

    CIT’s Money Market Account earns a 1.55% APY, also with a $100 minimum to open an account. You’ll receive many of the same features as the Savings Builder, including:

    • Easy access to your funds
    • No monthly service fees
    • 24/7 secure banking
    • FDIC insured
    • Deposit checks remotely and make transfers with the CIT Bank mobile app

    Custodial Accounts

    CIT allows you to open up a savings account in your child’s name, so you can begin saving for their future. CIT offers a variety of reasons you should consider a custodial account:

    • You control the account until the minor reaches age 18 unless a later age is designated which may be up to 25 years of age
    • Part of the earnings may be free of federal taxes
    • There is no maximum annual contribution limit and the potential to not incur federal gift taxes
    • It’s FDIC insured
    • Manage your account and view statements online
    • Easy account setup

    Home Loans

    The only loan service CIT offers is home loans. Their mortgage options seem decent, though. They have a lot of payment options, including 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- or 30-year loan terms.

    CIT also offers many different mortgage types, including:

    • FHA
    • Fannie Mae mortgages
    • Exclusive bank portfolio programs (for well-qualified borrowers)

    How The CIT Savings Builder Works

    How Online Banking Works

    To understand how the CIT Savings Builder works, let’s talk a little bit about how online banking works in general. Online banking is done, well, online. That’s how they eliminate the fees associated with brick-and-mortar banks–they don’t have to pay for physical locations. These savings go into customers’ wallets in the form of higher APYs.

    Learn more about the CIT Savings Builder account here.

    How To Open An Account

    Now, let’s get into how to open a CIT Savings Builder account, step by step. We’ll stop when you need to input your social security number, but that’s one of the last steps.

    First, go to the CIT Bank Website and click “Open Account” in the right-hand corner.

    Next, select an option. For most people, you’ll click “I am a new customer.”

    Next, CIT will let you know that opening an account will take about five to ten minutes. The first three steps took me about three minutes, so it’s definitely an easy application.

    After that, you’ll choose an account. For this review, we chose the Savings Builder account.

    CIT offers both individual and joint accounts. For this review, we chose an individual account. We went back later and tried to open a joint account and found that it was an almost identical process.

    Now, CIT gets into the details. They’ll ask for your name, your birthday, your citizenship, your social security number, and your mother’s maiden name (for security reasons). As you can see, this is a lot of personal information that we won’t share publicly, so we stopped there.

    The rest of the application consists of reviewing your information and making your first deposit into your account, so it should only take a few more minutes.

    What’s Great About The CIT Savings Builder?

    On The Top Of The List Of Highest Savings APYs

    The CIT Savings Builder doesn’t have the absolute highest APY, but they are definitely high on the list. You might find banks that offer higher rates, but there are likely to be a lot more stipulations associated with the higher rate.

    CIT offers their high APY for no fees, and all you need to do is deposit at least $100 a month.

    Flexible Ways To Earn A High APY

    Most banks that have tiered APYs only have one way you can get the highest rate–have a high account balance. CIT is different. Although they have a high-earner option, they also let those looking to save slowly earn the highest APY as well.

    Setting $100 a month aside to deposit into your CIT Savings Builder account is a great way to bulk up your emergency fund or save for another big goal.

    Good Resources

    While CIT’s website isn’t the most glamorous, they have a very helpful resources page. In particular, we liked their calculator section. We tried their savings calculator (see above) which shows you how much you’ll earn from CIT’s Savings Builder account.

    There’s also a FAQs section and other calculators including:

    • CD Calculator: lets you see how much you can earn with CIT’s various CDs.
    • Emergency Savings Calculator: helps you see how much you’ll need in emergency savings and how long it’ll take you to reach your savings goal.
    • College Savings Calculator: helps you see how long it’ll take you to save for your child’s education.
    • Lunch Saver Calculator: lets you see how much you’ll save packing your lunch versus eating out.

    What’s Not So Great About CIT Savings Builder?

    $100 Minimum To Open An Account

    There are many savings accounts that don’t require a minimum deposit but the CIT Savings Builder is not one of them. This account requires a minimum $100 a month deposit, plus you’ll need $100 to open an account.

    Your APY Can Change Frequently 

    Since you need to maintain a balance of $25,000 or make a $100 deposit each month, your APY can change if you don’t meet these requirements.

    CIT offers two APY tiers–one that offers 1.10% APY and another that offers 1.25%. If you don’t meet one of the minimum requirements listed above, you’ll earn the 1.10% APY. If you do meet the requirements, however, you’ll be bumped up to the Upper Tier, which is the 1.25% APY.

    CIT Is Missing Some Major Banking Products

    The CIT Savings Builder account is one of the best savings accounts available, but CIT Bank is missing some important products. So you may not want to do all of your banking with them.

    For instance, CIT doesn’t offer checking accounts, credit cards, or auto loans. These are common things offered by other online and brick-and-mortar banks.

    Not The Best Customer Service

    CIT Bank doesn’t have the greatest reviews when it comes to customer service. They have usual customer service hours (see below), but customers complain that it often takes well over 20 minutes to actually speak to a representative.

    • Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. (ET)
    • Saturday: 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. (ET)
    • Sunday: 11:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. (ET)

    Another complaint about CIT customer service is the fact that the website doesn’t make getting online help easy, which is something you’d expect from such a large bank.

    How Does the CIT Savings Builder Compare To Other Savings Accounts?

    The CIT Savings Builder definitely has one of the highest APYs, but the minimum account requirements may not be for everyone.

    I’m going to compare the CIT Savings Builder to Discover’s Savings account and the American Express Online Savings Account because, while they offer a slightly lower APY, they don’t have any balance requirements.

    Discover Online Savings Account

    Discover offers an APY that is currently less than the CIT Savings Builder, but still much higher than the national average. There’s no minimum opening deposit, no minimum account balance to get the top APY, and no monthly fees!

    Plus, Discover gets rave reviews for its customer service. And they have an easy-to-use mobile app and online platform.

    American Express Personal Savings Account

    The American Express High Yield Personal Savings Account also offers a lower rate than the CIT Savings Builder. Much like Discover, there are no maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirement.

    What makes this account different is how easy it is to link it to your current account, so there’s no need to close your other accounts. And their customer service is also outstanding. They’re available by chat and phone 24/7.

    Final Thoughts

    The CIT Savings Builder is one of the best savings accounts out there. If you’re looking to start saving, all you’ll need to do to earn 1.25% APY is make a monthly deposit of $100 into your account. Or, if you maintain a balance of $25,000 in your account, you’ll also earn the 1.25% APY.

    The high APY paired with no maintenance fees and CIT Bank’s other products makes the CIT Savings Builder a great account for almost anyone.

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