Citizens Bank mortgage review: A wide variety of loan options

A young girl is sitting on her father's shoulders, in the front yard of their house.Image: A young girl is sitting on her father's shoulders, in the front yard of their house.
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Citizens Bank mortgage loans at a glance

  • Conventional loans: Yes
  • FHA loans: Yes
  • VA loans: Not specifically named, though a “Veteran Home Loan” option is listed
  • USDA loans: Not listed
  • Refinancing: Yes
  • Jumbo loans: Yes
  • Construction loans: Yes
  • HELOCs: Yes
  • Adjustable rates: Yes (7/6m)
  • Fixed rates: Yes (15 years, 30 years)

Citizens Bank offers low down payment options, interest rate discounts and the chance to get some cash back if you use one of its real estate agents. But benefits can vary depending on where you live.

Pros

  • Semi-transparent about rates
  • Offers new construction loans, HELOCs and FHA mortgages
  • Offers rate discounts as well as rewards in cash for buying or selling a home (restrictions apply)

Cons

  • Requires extra research to find out about all loan options
  • Not all features are available in all states
  • Offers sample interest rates based on a fixed home price

5 things to know about a Citizens Bank mortgage loan

Citizens Bank offers a lot of mortgage options, particularly for people who can’t afford a big down payment. It also provides incentives that can result in a cash reward after buying or selling a home. Here’s what to consider before you apply for a Citizens Bank mortgage loan.

1. There’s a wide variety of loan options available

Citizens Bank offers a variety of standard loan options, covering many homebuyer needs. Additionally, it provides a handful of home loan programs for first-time homebuyers as well as those with low to moderate income.

While the lender doesn’t offer home equity loans, you can apply for a home equity line of credit. And if you’re planning to build your home, construction-to-permanent financing is available.

2. Setting up autopay can get you a break on interest

Citizens Bank offers an interest rate discount if you meet certain requirements for automatic payments. Those requirements vary depending on where you live.

In some states, you’ll need a Citizens Bank consumer checking account with autopay and e-statements at the time of the loan’s origination to get the discount. In other states, e-statements and autopay from any consumer checking account are enough to get the discount. Check with Citizens Bank for details.

3. You could get cash back if you buy or sell in its program

Citizens Bank’s “Your Home Rewards” program offers the opportunity to get between $350 and $6,500 back when you buy or sell your home through the program. But not all home loans qualify.

To qualify, sign up for the program and get matched with a real estate agent in the bank’s network — typically within 24 business hours. You don’t need to be an existing Citizens Bank customer to enroll, and you don’t even need to get your loan through the bank to qualify for the cash back.

Once you complete the full-service homebuying program, you’ll receive your reward based on the price of the home. You can use the lender’s program slider to find out how much you may be eligible to receive.

But take note that the reward offer is limited in some states. Also, if you’re getting an FHA or VA loan from Citizens Bank, or you live in Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana or Missouri, the program isn’t available.

4. Low down payment options are available

If you’re a first-time homebuyer or have a low-to-moderate income, you may be able to take advantage of one of the bank’s mortgage programs.

  • HomeReady program — Offers down payments as low as 3% and reduced mortgage insurance requirements if your down payment is 10% or less. A homebuyer education course is required as a condition of this loan program and income caps may apply.
  • ONE Mortgage program — If you are looking for a primary residence in  Massachusetts, you could buy one with a down payment as low as 3%, part of which can be in the form of a gift. Only 1.5% needs to be your own money. There’s also no private mortgage insurance requirement, and some buyers may qualify for an interest subsidy for the first seven years. First-time homebuyer education is required, and income limits apply. 
  • Citizens Bank Destination Home Mortgage program — You may qualify for a down payment as low as 3% with no monthly private mortgage insurance. Buyers in some areas may also qualify for down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Government-backed loans — Citizens Bank offers FHA loans, which you can get with as little as 3.5% down (with qualifying FICO® scores), and VA loans, which typically don’t require a down payment at all. 
  • Down payment assistance program — If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for a grant to help you cover your down payment or closing costs. Repayment is not required.

5. Rates are semi-transparent, but other details aren’t

Citizens Bank provides general information about its interest rates on its website, which can help you shop around for a mortgage loan before submitting an application. But you might not find any information about the lender’s closing costs listed on the site. We found articles describing closing costs, but not the lender’s actual charges.

What’s more, it can be difficult to gather information on all of the bank’s loan offerings. We had to do some serious sleuthing to find a lot of the details because there’s no single hub where you can navigate to each program.

Who is a Citizens Bank mortgage good for?

Citizens Bank may be a good option to consider for first-time homebuyers and people who have a low to moderate income. This lender’s down payment assistance program and home loan programs can make it easier to get into a new home.

It’s also worth considering whether the bank’s interest rate discount helps you beat a competing interest rate. Getting a better rate for setting up an automatic payment is a perk to take full advantage of if you choose a Citizens Bank mortgage.

How to apply with Citizens Bank

There are a few ways you can start the application process.

  • Call the bank
  • Find a loan officer through the lender’s locator tool
  • Get started on the lender’s website

If you decide to get started on the lender’s website, you’ll begin by sharing where you are in the mortgage process. You’ll then provide some information to give the bank a profile and get personalized rates you can use to compare with other lenders. If you want to proceed, you’ll submit the required documentation and continue through the closing process.

Use Citizens Bank’s documentation checklist to find out what you’ll need to provide.

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

It’s always a good idea to shop around before settling on a mortgage lender. Here are some alternatives to consider.

  • Rocket Mortgage: This online lender may be a good fit if you want to complete the entire mortgage process online.
  • Bank of America: This national lender offers certain discounts to Preferred Rewards members who qualify, in part, by signing up no later than 10 days before loan closing. Bank of America offers loan options similar to those at Citizens Bank.
  • Freedom Mortgage: Freedom Mortgage can be a good lender to compare options with, especially for first-time home buyers.


About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.