Citizens Bank HELOC review: Small amounts available, but large amounts can fetch the best rates

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Citizens Bank HELOC at a glance

  • Fixed or variable rate: Variable
  • How to withdraw funds: Citizens checking or deposit account, checks or mobile banking app
  • Origination fee: None
  • Loan-to-value ratio: Up to 80% in most states
  • Time to fund: Typically within 30 days

Citizens Bank operates primarily in New England, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic. In addition to traditional banking services, Citizens Bank offers HELOCs, or home equity lines of credit, at competitive interest rates. HELOCs can be used for anything from home improvements and debt consolidation to major purchases and education expenses.

Citizens also offers a “GoalBuilder” HELOC for people who want to borrow a smaller amount.

Pros

  • Citizens HELOCs have competitive rates
  • Rate discount with autopay from Citizens Bank checking account
  • No appraisal, application or closing fees
  • Offers a “GoalBuilder” HELOC for smaller amounts

Cons

  • Has an annual fee (though it’s waived in the first year)
  • Not available in most states
  • Not all properties are eligible

5 things to know about a Citizens Bank HELOC

Here are some things to consider before applying for a HELOC with Citizens Bank.

1. Competitive rates and few fees

Citizens Bank HELOCs have competitive variable APRs. There’s also a 0.25% rate discount when you set up autopay through a Citizens Bank checking account.

To get the best rates, you need to meet certain criteria. You’ll need to …

  • Have a Citizens Bank checking account with automatic payments
  • Take out a HELOC of at least $200,000.
  • Have “strong credit”
  • Have a loan-to-value ratio equal to 80% or less (85% in Michigan)
  • HELOC must be a first lien

Along with a potentially low APR, Citizens Bank HELOCs have minimal fees. There are no application, closing or appraisal costs. There’s a $50 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.

2. GoalBuilder HELOC

Citizens Bank offers a “GoalBuilder” HELOC that comes in smaller amounts — $5,000 to $25,000. It’s meant for homeowners who want to take out a smaller amount for things like home repairs, education or other purchases, but may not have much home equity.

The GoalBuilder HELOC also has a variable rate that follows the prime rate. It doesn’t have an annual fee, prepayment penalty or interest charges on the amount you don’t use.

Citizens says on its website that there are certain restrictions based on property location and income, but you’ll have to call or visit a local branch to learn more.

3. Easy access to funds

With Citizens Bank, it’s easy to access your HELOC funds through online banking or the mobile app. You can also manage your account online. This includes making transfers, viewing your account balance, making payments, setting up e-statements and more.

You can also use HELOC checks to access funds. It does take around seven to 10 business days for the funds to arrive after closing, though.

4. Limited availability and eligible properties

Citizens Bank HELOCs are only available for properties in a dozen-plus states in New England, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic — you’ll need to check to see if your state is one of them. This goes for the GoalBuilder HELOC, as well.

Citizens Bank also doesn’t offer HELOCs for certain types of properties. This includes co-ops, mobile homes, investment properties and manufactured homes. Eligible properties include condos, family homes, owner-occupied homes and those not currently for sale.

5. Long draw period and repayment term

A Citizens Bank HELOC comes with a 10-year draw period (the time in which you can borrow money) and a 15-year repayment period. During the draw (borrowing) term, you can choose interest-only payments to lower your monthly payment.

This can be risky, though, since these HELOCs have variable APRs that could increase in the future. If you don’t pay down the principal balance during the draw period, you could end up paying more in interest in the long run.

How long does it take to get a HELOC from Citizens Bank?

Funding time can vary based on your circumstances and how long it takes for Citizens Bank to receive the required documents. But Citizens says that most eligible borrowers receive funds within 30 days of applying.

Who is a Citizens Bank HELOC good for?

Citizens Bank HELOCs are good for homeowners who want to borrow large amounts and have a Citizens checking account, strong credit, stable income and an 80% maximum LTV. Amounts $200,000 and up command the best rates.

You can choose between interest-only payments and principal and interest payments, depending on your monthly budget and risk tolerance.

But borrowing a smaller amount through Citizens’ GoalBuilder HELOC is also an option, with amounts between $5,000 and $25,000 from your home equity and potentially lower rate than the average personal loan or credit card rate.

How to apply for a Citizens Bank HELOC

Citizens Bank makes it simple to apply for a HELOC. The process can be done online and involves the following steps:

  • Figure out how much home equity you have. Estimate your home equity to determine how much you may be able to borrow. Citizens has a tool to help with this.
  • Complete an online profile. Fill out information about yourself, including your employment and income details. If applying with a co-applicant, be prepared with their information, too.
  • Describe the property. Provide an estimate of the property’s value, its type, year it was built, home insurance info and tax details.
  • Get personalized rates. These potential rates are based on what you’ve indicated up until this point.
  • Upload any required documents. This typically includes your mortgage statement, homeowner’s insurance policy, bank statements, property tax bill and other documents verifying your income and debts.

Not sure if Citizens Bank is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

Looking for a HELOC? Here are some other lenders to consider.

  • U.S. Bank: This lender offers HELOCs at competitive rates, but it also has home equity loans.
  • Alliant Credit Union: Alliant may let you borrow more against your home equity.