California First National Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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Updated on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

California First National Bank’s checking account options

Regular Checking

This non-interest-bearing account comes with a high monthly fee if you’re not careful.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $12 if your account balance drops below $1,000, unless you have at least $5,000 in all of your California First National Bank accounts combined.
  • ATM fee: None. However, if you use an out-of-network ATM, you might be charged an ATM surcharge fee, depending on who owns the ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $6 per month in ATM surcharge fees.
  • Overdraft fee: $20 per item.

You’ll need a fairly large deposit (at least $1,000) to open this account. It’s a good idea to keep at least that much in there for good, because if your balance drops below that point, you’ll face a steep $12 monthly fee (unless you have at least $5,000 in other accounts at this bank, that is).

On the bright side, California First National Bank does throw in your first order of checks for free. It also doesn’t charge any ATM fees, and it’ll reimburse you for up to $6 in ATM surcharge fees charged by other ATM owners per month. If you use out-of-network ATMs a lot, this could be a good bank account for you.

How to get California First National Bank’s Regular Checking account

The easiest way to apply for this account is online, but you can also do so over the phone or by mailing in an application. You’ll need to provide certain personal information, such as your Social Security number and your driver’s license number on the application.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Interest Checking

This account does offer interest, but it’s not that great of a rate.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.05%

Up to $2,499.99

0.05%

$2,500-$9,999.99

0.05%

Over $10,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $15 if your account balance drops below $2,500, unless you have at least $5,000 in all of your California First National Bank accounts combined.
  • ATM fee: None. However, if you use an out-of-network ATM, you might be charged an ATM surcharge fee, depending on who owns the ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $6 per month in ATM surcharge fees.
  • Overdraft fee: $20 per item.

If you’re hankering to earn some money on your checking account cash, this account might catch your eye. Unfortunately, it also comes with a high monthly fee — $15 — that you’ll pay unless you either keep at least $2,500 in this account, or at least $5,000 in other California First National Bank accounts.

This account also comes with a free first order of checks. You’ll get monthly statements mailed directly to you, but you can also view statements online. Finally, this account also comes with free ATM use for both in-network and out-of-network ATMs. If you do use out-of-network ATMs and pay a surcharge fee, California First National Bank will refund you up to $6 worth of these fees per month.

How to get California First National Bank’s Interest Checking account

You can open this account online, over the phone, or by mail. You’ll need to provide your driver’s license number and Social Security number when you apply.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How California First National Bank’s checking accounts compare

Both of these bank accounts come with very high fees. It is possible to avoid these fees by keeping an eye on your bank account balances each month, but still — that means you need to be on guard every single month, lest you miss one and end up being charged a bundle for that month. For that reason, we don’t recommend these checking accounts.

If you still want to earn interest on your checking account with more favorable terms, we recommend these top checking accounts instead. They offer higher rates, lower minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.

California First National Bank’s savings account option

Premium Savings

Unlike most savings accounts, this one comes with a monthly fee if you don’t keep at least $1,000 in the account.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.05%

$0.01

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 if your account balance drops below $1,000, unless you have at least $5,000 in all of your California First National Bank accounts combined.
  • Overdraft fee: $20 per item.

This savings account requires a higher minimum opening deposit compared to many other savings accounts — at least $1,000. After that, you can drop the balance as low as you want and still earn interest, however you’ll be charged a $10 monthly fee if you do drop it below $1,000. Alternatively, you can get out of paying this fee if you have at least $5,000 in other California First National Bank accounts.

Another thing to note is that this account doesn’t come with ATM access. You’ll also be subject to the Federal Reserve Regulation D limits, which means that you are allowed up to six preauthorized, telephone, or automatic withdrawals per month (including online transfers). For each transaction per month over this limit, you’ll pay a $5 fee.

How to get California First National Bank’s Premium Savings account

You’ll need to round up some information before you apply, like your Social Security number and driver’s license. After that, you can apply for an account in one of three ways: online, over the phone, or by mail. If approved, California First National Bank will send you a signature card in the mail, which you have to return with your signature to open your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How California First National Bank’s savings account compares

When it comes to good interest rates, California First National Bank’s savings account falls well short of the mark. In fact, you can find online savings accounts offering more than three times what this bank is offering on its savings account.

Even worse, this savings account comes with fees that you’ll need to jump through hoops to avoid each month. Then there’s also the fact that it doesn’t come with an ATM card, which can be inconvenient. All of these are reasons why we recommend looking elsewhere for a savings account.

California First National Bank’s CD rates

Certificates of Deposit

Strangely enough, the longest-term CDs are also the lowest-yielding CDs.

Term

APY

3 months

0.05%

6 months

0.05%

1 year

1.76%

2 years

0.05%

3 years

0.05%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $5,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: The early withdrawal penalty depends on how long of a CD you opened:
    • For the 3 month, 6 month and 1 year CDs, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest.
    • For the 2 year and 3 year CDs, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest.

You’ll need a very large deposit to open these accounts — at least $5,000. Once open, however, interest will be tallied up each month. You can select from the following options for your monthly interest payouts:

  • Roll the interest back into the CD account
  • Have a check mailed to you
  • Deposit the money into another California First National Bank account
  • Deposit the money into another external bank account

Be warned, however: if you select any other option than rolling it back into the CD, you could earn less than the stated interest rate. When your CD matures, it’ll automatically roll over into another CD. However, you will get a 10-day grace period to withdraw the money or make any changes to the new CD.

How to get California First National Bank’s CDs

You can open these accounts in one of three different ways: either online, by mail, or over the phone. You’ll need to provide California First National Bank with a few pieces of information, such as your name, address, Social Security number and driver’s license number to open an account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How California First National Bank’s CD rates compare

With most CDs, the longer the term length you select, the higher the interest rate. Most banks also offer a wider range of term lengths, up to 5 years in length. But that’s not the case with these CDs: the two longest CDs are only 2 and 3 years, and they also offer very poor interest rates.

On the flip side, the 3 month, 6 month and 1 year CDs offer decent rates. These could be good accounts to open if you want to cycle through these CDs quickly and earn decent rates. However, you can still earn better rates for longer-term deposits with these top online CD accounts instead. We recommend checking those out first.

California First National Bank’s money market account option

Money Market Checking

This is California First National Bank’s highest-earning liquid deposit account.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.05%

Up to $14,999.99

0.05%

$15,000-$49,999.99

0.05%

Over $50,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $20 if your account balance drops below $5,000, unless you have at least $5,000 in all of your California First National Bank accounts combined.
  • ATM fee: None. However, if you use an out-of-network ATM, you might be charged an ATM surcharge fee, depending on who owns the ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $6 per month in ATM charges.
  • Overdraft fee: $20 per item.

If you’re looking to earn the highest amount of interest at California First National Bank while still maintaining regular access to your cash (i.e., not in a CD), this account is your best bet. Unfortunately, it does require a steep $5,000 minimum deposit to open the account and avoid the monthly service fee.

One of the nice things about this account is that it comes with free checks (the regular checking account, if you’ll remember, only gives you your first order of checks for free). But because it’s a money market account, you’re still limited by Federal Reserve Regulation D to making up to six certain withdrawals per month of preauthorized, telephone, or automatic transfers (this does include online transfers). If you exceed this limit, California First National Bank will charge you $10 for each occurrence.

How to get California First National Bank’s Money Market Checking account

You can go online to open this account if you have your Social Security number and driver’s license number; you can also apply by mail or over the phone. If approved, California First National Bank will mail you a signature card that you must return in order to open your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How California First National Bank’s money market account compares

Although this is the highest-earning savings account at California First National Bank, it still falls well short of what the top money market accounts are offering these days — the best accounts are currently offering two to four times what you can get at this bank. That’s why we suggest looking elsewhere if you really want to maximize the amount of money you get from your money market account.

California First National Bank’s IRA options

IRA CDs

These are the same CDs as California First National Bank’s regular CDs, but require a much smaller minimum deposit.

Term

APY

3 months

0.05%

6 months

0.05%

1 year

1.76%

2 years

0.05%

3 years

0.05%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: For the 3 month, 6 month and 1 year CDs, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest. For the 2 year and 3 year CDs, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest.

You can open these CD accounts in either a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA. They work similarly to the regular CDs at California First National Bank, but they require a deposit that’s much more reasonable, at just $2,000 (still a pretty hefty deposit if you’re just getting started out saving for retirement).

When your CD matures, California First National Bank will automatically roll it over into a new IRA CD with the same term length, but with whatever the current interest rate of the day is. If you’re not cool with that, you can withdraw the money within the first 10 days without paying any early withdrawal penalties.

How to get California First National Bank’s IRA CDs

The process of opening one of these IRA CDs isn’t too difficult. You can do it directly online, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can also call them up or mail in an application. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number and driver’s license number on the application.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on California First National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How California First National Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

California First National Bank actually does offer some decent rates on its IRA CDs — but only for the 3 month, 6 month and 1 year CD options. These rates are very close to the top contenders for IRA CD rates, but they’re still not quite there yet. If you want to earn the best rates possible on your IRA CD deposit (including earning more for longer-term CDs that California First National Bank doesn’t offer), try checking out these IRA CD accounts instead.

Overall review of California First National Bank’s banking products

We’re not fans of fee-heavy banks. Unfortunately, all of California First National Bank’s accounts come with monthly fees you’ll need to stay on your toes to dodge (except for its CD accounts, which luckily don’t carry monthly fees). The interest rates offered on most of its accounts are so-so: not really that great, and you can definitely find better options elsewhere.

We do like the fact that the bank doesn’t charge ATM fees, and even refunds a portion of ATM surcharge fees from other banks each month. However, you can still find other accounts out there that offer more generous reimbursement programs.

All in all, we still recommend looking for other banks. You can do much better than this one, whether it’s better fees, better interest rates, or a better range of account options.

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