In November 2010, Citibank phased out their EZ Checking account in order to introduce the Basic Checking account, which now charges a monthly fee unless a number of transactions are made on the account. Here is how you can waive your monthly fee with ease.

The New Citibank Basic Checking Account

The Basic Checking Account is now the lowest tier checking account offer that is available to all customers of Citibank (NYSE:C). There is no minimum monthly balance required.

The monthly account fee is $8 unless you complete a combination of five (5) of the following transactions within a statement cycle:

  • Direct Deposits
  • Any non-PIN Debit Card Purchase
  • Bill Payments
  • Auto Deduction
  • ACH Payments
  • Checks Paid
  • Cash Withdrawals at any ATM

Any payment, whether by check or electronic transfer, made to other accounts of Citibank or Citi affiliates do not qualify. Which means if you are writing a check to someone who is going to deposit that money into a Citibank account, that check won’t be considered a qualifying transaction.

How to Avoid the Citibank Checking Account Fee

Compared to the new basic checking accounts offered by Chase and Wells Fargo, Citibank’s Basic Checking account offers more options to waive the monthly fee. Most of the new checking accounts require either a direct deposit of a certain amount or maintenance of minimum average daily balance.

Found below are some ways to make it easier to avoid the monthly fee associated with a Citibank Basic Checking account. Note that you can use any combination of the following options. You may even opt to attempt more than five (5) qualifying transactions to ensure that you would waive the account fee.

ACH Credits as Direct Deposits

The common use for a direct deposit is a payment of wages, Social Security income, and retirement benefits straight into a bank account. But, many Citibank customers have found that ACH credits, typically an incoming transfer from an external account, triggered an alert notification of direct deposits.

Therefore, you can make five (5) transfers of any amount from an online savings account or PayPal account into the Citibank Basic Checking account and they’d be considered a direct deposit. This option is a possible method only because Citibank’s computer system recognizes ACH credits as direct deposits. Citibank can alter their systems without notice and nullify this method at any time. Set up an account alert to detect a “direct deposit” transaction.

Multiple Withdrawals in One Visit

Citibank does not impose a limit on the number of ATM withdrawals you can make per day. By visiting a Citibank ATM during off-peak hours, you are free to make five (5) ATM withdrawals in five separate ATM sessions (meaning you had to insert your debit card five times).

Small Debit Card Purchases

Many consumers prefer to use a rewards or cash back credit card over a debit card for the majority of their purchases. So, it would be smartest to make small non-PIN debit card purchases for items such as candy bars and snacks. If there is a self-checkout machine, pick a low volume time of day and make the small debit card purchases on five (5) separate receipts.


For most banking customers, their checking accounts are the central hubs of their personal finances. By automating many of your financial obligations, you can probably fulfill the fee waiver requirements without too much effort.

Set up automated payments for credit cards, loans, utilities, and any other monthly recurring bills. Each payment counts as one qualifying transaction. You may already be conducting five of these transactions – now automate the process.

You can set up automatic transfers from an online savings account into your checking account. Additionally, according to a Citibank chat representative, ACH debits (outgoing transfers to external accounts) also count as a qualifying transaction. For example, a transfer from your ING Direct savings account into your checking account and then moving that money back into the savings account would count as two (2) qualifying transactions.

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  • dixom

    Awful advice about using ACH deposits. Shittybank charges $10 on each incoming ACH.

    • dixom, be sure to initiate the ACH transfer from the external account (such as PayPal or an online bank which doesn’t charge ACH transfer fees), not from Citibank.

  • Don Droga

    Thanks – now I can avoid the fees based on this advice.