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Citizens Bank is an established financial institution with over 1,100 branches and locations in the eastern half of the United States. Citizens Bank opened their doors for business in 1947, and in 1988 they were acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland to become RBS Citizens Bank. Citizens Bank split off from RBS in 2014 and continues to provide personal and business financing to U.S. consumers through phone or in-person applications.

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Proof of cashflow

For information on particular lending options and borrowing types, you will have to fill out an online form. Citizens Bank advertises six options for small businesses seeking borrowing options and solutions:

  • Mortgages
  • Term loans
  • Business flex loans
  • Line of credit
  • SBA loans
  • Credit cards

The Good

Citizens Bank is a leading participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs and offers three types of SBA loans to new and existing businesses:

  • SBA 7(a)
  • SBA 504
  • SBA Express loans.

Their SBA resources also include helpful tips for applying for SBA loans, FAQs, a glossary of SBA terms, choosing the right SBA loan, and other pertinent information about the SBA loan process.

There are two general types of business loans: flex loans, term loans, and mortgages:

  • A business flex loan is mainly for purchasing business equipment or vehicles over a period of time and includes a six-month purchasing period that operates much like a line of credit.
  • A business term loan is a standard loan that deposits the funds as one lump sum instead of over a period of time. The loan amounts extend up to $350,000. Interest rates can be fixed or variable and can potentially be a little lower than those for business flex loans.
  • A revolving line of credit is also available to small business owners.
  • For all lending types, the interest rates will vary based on the prime rate and on the loan amount, the term length, and more.
  • Citizens Bank does not offer any unsecured loans or lines of credit: all of their standard borrowing options must be secured by general business assets or, in some instances, real estate. Applicants do not have to be previously established customers but do need to have or to set up a Citizens Bank business checking account for automatic payments on their borrowed amounts. Once all the documentation has been received, applicants can generally expect to hear back within five business days, with an additional two weeks to close on a loan. Funds can be received in a few as three business days.

The Bad

Citizens Bank has had over 800 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years, and 10 of those complaints have gone unresolved. Still, they have a ‘B’ rating with the BBB. There are also plenty of negative reviews online, mainly concerning a lack of helpful customer service and a frustrating set of fee policies that often leave customers overdrawn without refunds. What is most concerning, however, is that while these complaints are not unusual for a large banking organization, the BBB noticed a pattern in the filed complaints that included:

  • A lack of timely communication concerning car loan, mortgage, or refinancing applications
  • A lack of timely responses to requests for copies of documentation
  • A lack of customer service or customer service that causes delays in the application processes
  • Incorrect information about customers’ available funds via phone and online, causing customers to overdraw with resulting insufficient fund fees
  • No refunds for insufficient fund fees incurred by incorrectly reported available fund amounts

The BBB reported these findings to Citizens Bank, and while Citizens Bank did respond to the BBB, they did not address the pattern of complaints or indicate any actions they might be willing to take to reduce the problems. Citizens Bank currently maintains a B rating from the BBB.

While Citizens Bank does not reveal a limit for a company’s annual revenue, both business and personal tax documents are required for loan applications. Financial statements and proof on ongoing revenue may be required as well. A credit score is also necessary, though there is not a cutoff number for that, either. Applying businesses must have been operating for at least 6 months, though for companies in certain industries, that time period could be much longer. In general, this is much lower than other banks. There is a one-time documentation fee of $250 for all loan types, and a $150 minimum annual fee for all lines of credit.

Other pieces of information Citizens Bank does not provide include the following:

  • Interest rates and APR
  • Term Length
  • Application requirements (credit score, time in business, current revenue)
  • Prepayment penalties

There are only 19 states with physical Citizens Bank locations:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • *Washington D.C.

The Bottom Line

Citizens Bank is a well-established financial institution with a variety of basic lending services for small businesses. They are a preferred SBA lender and provide information, guidance, and help in applying for and securing SBA loans. They have reasonable turnaround times for loan applications and fund distribution, although they do not offer any unsecured funding. They charge a $250 documentation fee for loans and a $150 minimum annual fee for lines of credit.

However, Citizens Bank does have a high number of negative reviews and specific complaints. The BBB compiled a report detailing the pattern of complaints and submitted it to Citizens Bank. While Citizens Bank did respond, they did not address the complaints or outline their intentions for reducing the described problems. These factors have resulted in a B rating from the BBB for Citizens Bank.

*Star Rating is determined by evaluating APR range, minimum credit score requirement, revenue requirement, length in business requirement, and other related approval data.

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