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CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through Citi if you apply and are approved for an account on this page, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

Our quick take: The Citi Priority checking account offers an exceptional bonus of up to $1,500, though steep deposit requirements apply. But the account comes with mobile and online banking access, and Citi operates more than 65,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.

Pros:

  • Earn a cash bonus of $300, $700 or $1,500 when you maintain a minimum eligible balance and complete required activities.
  • Citi mobile banking features and online bill pay.
  • Access to 65,000-plus fee-free ATMs within the United States.
  • Refer friends and family for more bonus cash.

Cons:

  • High new money deposit required to earn the bonus.
  • Must maintain an average minimum balance of $50,000 across eligible accounts to avoid a $30 monthly service fee.
  • Bonus will be reported to the IRS as interest to the first signer on the account.

Best for: People with a high net worth who have a large stash of cash to park somewhere and want to earn a sizable bonus for opening a new checking account, as well as those who want convenient access to fee-free ATMs almost anywhere in the country.

See how to qualify for up to $1,500 in cash bonuses when you open a new Citi Priority checking account.

Citi Priority checking: What you need to know

If you have a significant chunk of cash and you’re looking for a new checking account that pays out a big bonus, the Citi Priority account is worth a look. Right now, through October 4, 2021, you can earn a cash bonus of $300, $700 or $1,500 when you maintain a minimum eligible balance and complete required activities.

The bonus amount is tied to the amount of funds you deposit from a non-Citi account within the first 30 days after opening a new Citi Priority checking account. It breaks down like this:

Your Citi Priority bonus amount will depend on how much new money you deposit and maintain in the account.
Citi
Your Citi Priority bonus amount will depend on how much new money you deposit and maintain in the account.

Those are high deposit thresholds to meet, but they can be doable for those willing to move their emergency funds over to Citi, as well as people in the process of saving up for a large expense. In particular, the first bonus tier of $300 only requires a new money deposit of $15,000 in the first 20 days.

You must also maintain your balance for at least 60 consecutive calendar days after depositing it in order to earn the bonus. However, the account charges a $30 monthly fee unless you maintain at least $50,000 in eligible linked Citi deposit, retirement and investment accounts beyond the initial offer period, so you’ll need to plan on keeping at least that amount in your accounts for the long term to avoid being charged.

Open a new Citi Priority checking account with a potential $1,500 cash bonus.

Advantages of Citi Priority checking

The biggest upside that comes with opening a Citi Priority checking account is the up to $1,500 in potential bonus cash. You’ll have to move a significant amount of new money to the account to qualify, yet you can get a return on those funds relatively quickly, at which point you can decide whether to continue on with the account.

Another benefit of the Citi Priority account is its massive network of ATMs, which include 65,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. For those who still prefer to bank in person, Citi has a significant worldwide footprint, with over 2,600 branches in 19 countries, including almost 700 in the United States. However, while the bank’s ATMs are widespread, its branches are concentrated in just a handful of states.

With 65,000 fee-free ATMs, you'll have no problems accessing your money from a Citi Priority checking account.
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With 65,000 fee-free ATMs, you'll have no problems accessing your money from a Citi Priority checking account.

But even if you don’t have a nearby branch, with the Citi Priority account, you also get easy access to Citi’s mobile banking features, including online bill pay. Citi also has a referral program that lets you earn more cash when you refer friends to Citi and they also open a new account.

Finally, Citi Priority comes with some elite travel and banking benefits. For example, account holders get select waived fees on stop payments, incoming wire transfers, money orders and more. Members also enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases made with the Citi Priority debit card.

Get access to over 65,000 fee-free ATMs with a new Citi Priority account.

Disadvantages of Citi Priority checking

By far, the biggest downside of this account is the significant amount of money you need to deposit and maintain in order to earn the bonus. Plus, even after you deposit enough into your new account within the first 20 days and keep it there for at least 60 days to earn the bonus, you have to maintain a balance of at least $50,000 across your eligible Citi accounts in order to avoid the $30 monthly maintenance fee.

If you decide to instead simply pay the monthly fees on an ongoing basis, they would quickly eat away at the bonus you earned for opening the account. In fact, at $30 a month, you’d be charged $300 in fees in just 10 months, so you really need to either plan on keeping enough money across your eligible Citi accounts to waive the fee or making a rapid decision on whether the account is worth it.

The fine print on this offer is also rather stiff. For example, in the terms and conditions, it states that “if your Balance falls into a lower Balance Tier for even one day during the Maintenance Period, your Maximum Bonus will change.” So you need to be extremely sure not to fall under the threshold for 60 days after you first deposit the money.

Also, according to the terms, the cash bonus gets paid within 90 calendar days after you’ve completed all required activities, so that means you could be committed to this account for as long as 180 days, since you have up to 30 days to first deposit the money, then you have to maintain it for another 60 days and then it could be another 90 days before you actually get the bonus.

Finally, remember that this checking bonus will need to be reported as interest income on your tax return. That makes it a little less valuable when you compare it to credit card rewards, which are typically considered to be a rebate and thus not counted when calculating income taxes.

Related: How to choose the best checking account.

Should you open a Citi Priority checking account?

If you’re currently looking for a new checking account and you have at least $15,000 that you can keep on deposit for several months at minimum, the Citi Priority account is worth considering. Just remember that, once you earn the bonus, you’ll have to continue on with at least $50,000 across your eligible Citi accounts to avoid a $30 monthly account fee.

These are some big requirements to meet, and keep in mind that plenty of other checking accounts with bonus offers come with lower minimum deposit requirements. Before you open a new account, make sure that the bonus is worth pursuing, and that you can meet the requirements to earn it with ease.

Learn more about the Citi Priority account and how to earn up to a $1,500 bonus.

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