Fifth Third Bank Review

A socially responsible regional bank with low interest rates and high fees ​
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Michelle Clardie

By Michelle Clardie Contributing Writer

Fifth Third Bank Review

Fifth Third Bank’s roots go back to 1858 with the founding of the Bank of the Ohio Valley in Cincinnati. In 1871, Third National Bank purchased the Bank of the Ohio Valley. And when Third National Bank merged with Fifth National Bank at the turn of the 20th century, the organization became known as Fifth Third Bank. Today, the bank has branches in 10 states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Fifth Third has a solid reputation thanks to its community enhancement initiatives, and it is generally well-rated on sites like J.D. Power, meaning that you’re likely to have a good experience when working with the bank and its representatives. Unfortunately, it also has a reputation for low interest rates and high fees, compared to other banks — so if you’re looking strictly to make the most of your investment, Fifth Third may not be the best option for you.

The Claim

Fifth Third Bank’s claim is in its slogan: “This is banking a Fifth Third better.” The homepage of the Fifth Third website also claims, “We put 166.7% into everything we do.”

Is it true?

Not so much. If you interpret this rather confusing claim to mean that Fifth Third Bank is offering a 166.7%-better product than other banks, the claim is categorically untrue, as many banks offer financial products with better returns. Sure, these claims are meant to be a cute play on words and aren’t meant to be taken literally. But if there’s one thing we should expect from a financial institution, it’s clarity.

Having said that, Fifth Third does have a few things going for it. First, it’s heavily involved in its communities, having committed $32 billion to community development through 2020. It also has a couple of innovative programs to help customers with identity theft protection and student loan debt. The hyperbolic claims may not be true, but Fifth Third offers some valuable services.

What Fifth Third Bank Offers

Checking accounts

Pros
Cons
Multiple account types
Ways to mitigate monthly fees
Options for students and military families
Monthly service charges for most accounts
No interest-bearing accounts

Fifth Third Bank offers eight checking account types to choose from based on your financial needs, which includes Fifth Third Free Checking, the bank’s only completely free checking account option. However, Free Checking is only available in Illinois and select areas in Kentucky and Indiana. The remaining accounts charge between $11 and $25 per month unless you meet certain conditions, like keeping a minimum balance, reaching a minimum amount in monthly direct deposits, or having an active loan from Fifth Third Bank. The requirements for waiving fees vary by account type.

Savings accounts

Pros
Cons
No monthly fees for the first six months
Waive monthly fees with a minimum balance
Bonus for meeting savings goal with Goal Setter Savings
Low interest rates
Monthly fees

Fifth Third Bank offers six different savings account types, including a money market account, a 529 college savings plan, a health savings account, and a savings account for minors. And while it’s nice to have options, these savings accounts all pay lower-than-average interest rates. Rates vary by region, but using Chicago as an example, most accounts have an APY of only 0.01%, and the best-published rate (for a money market account with over $250,000) still only pays 0.20%. This flaw is difficult to overlook, especially since many online banks have nationwide availability and offer savings account APYs up to 1.80%.

CDs

Pros
Cons
Minimum investment of $500
Flexible terms
Continuous compounding
No charge to open a CD
Low yields
Can’t apply online

Fifth Third Bank offers fairly flexible CD terms. Your term can be as little as seven days or as long as seven years, with deposits of anywhere from $500 to $99,999. But again, the interest rates are comparatively low. An APY of 1.50% is the best possible rate, but this is only available with a five-month promotional CD, requiring a minimum deposit of $5,000. The APY for most of Fifth Third’s CD terms is between 0.05% and 0.50%.

Product Overview

  • In business since: 1858
  • J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study score: 4/5
  • FDIC-insured: Yes
  • States served: 10
  • Number of locations: 1,250
  • Pros: Excellent online experience, track record of community involvement
  • Cons: Low interest rates and high fees

Features

Checking accounts
Free Checking (only in Illinois and parts of Indiana and Kentucky)
Essential Checking
Enhanced Checking
Preferred Checking
Student Checking
Military Checking
Express Checking
ABLE Checking
Savings accounts
Goal Setter Savings
Relationship Savings
Relationship Money Market
529 College Savings and CD (college savings)
Minor Savings
Health Savings
CDs
Promotional CDs
Standard CDs (7 days to 84 months)
529 CD

All information accurate as of December 10, 2019.

Great mobile banking experience

If you’re looking to take most of your banking online, Fifth Third Bank streamlines the process. It is one of the top-performing providers in J.D. Power’s study on the online banking experience, and its mobile app is well-reviewed. Customers give it a 4.5 out of five on both Google Play and the Apple App Store — just one way Fifth Third makes banking a little easier.

Identity theft protection

Following the Equifax data breach of 2017, Fifth Third upped its identity theft protection game. The basic Fifth Third Identity Alert plan provides daily credit monitoring, monthly credit reports, social security monitoring, and up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance. As of December 1, 2019, this plan costs $10.95 per month, but that amount can be reduced when you sign up for select Fifth Third accounts. For $5 per month more, you can upgrade to the Premium plan, which includes up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Student loan pay-down program

With the Fifth Third Momentum program, you can make faster progress toward paying down your student loan debt. Every time you use your Fifth Third debit card, the Moment program rounds up your purchase amount (either by $1 flat or to the next full dollar, depending on your preference) and applies that amount toward your student loan balance. While you probably won’t miss these small amounts, they can make a noticeable dent in your student loans. You also have the option to apply these amounts toward someone else’s student loans, perhaps a child’s or grandchild’s.

Community involvement

In February 2016, Fifth Third made a public commitment to invest $30 billion through 2020 in the communities it serves. By October 2018, this commitment grew to $32 billion. Fifth Third invests in mortgage credit access, particularly for low-income and minority groups, small businesses, and community development. Additionally, Fifth Third Impact initiatives like community sponsorships, diverse hiring, and financial empowerment programs are ongoing. While this likely won’t affect your banking experience directly, it’s nice to work with a bank that’s committed to serving people outside of its customer base.

Possible drawbacks

Lower-than-average interest rates

While rates vary by region, the standard Goal Setter Savings account only returns 0.01% (using Chicago as a sample), for all balance tiers — and you won’t earn anything on balances of $50,000 and above. You can do twice as well with the Relationship Savings account, earning up to 0.02%, but that’s still a comparatively low savings account interest rate. CD rates are also low, with most CDs having an APY between 0.05% and 0.50%. And none of the checking account types offered by Fifth Third Bank earn interest. In contrast, banks like Capital One have savings account APYs up to 1.80%, with CD rates climbing up to 2.10%.

Higher-than-average fees

Fifth Bank’s standard Essential Checking account has a monthly maintenance fee of $11, and the Preferred Checking account charges a monthly fee of $25. You can waive these fees by maintaining minimum balances and/or minimum monthly direct deposits, but in a world where many banks offer free checking and savings, this is an unnecessary expense. Penalty fees, like overdraft fees, are also comparatively high at $37 per overdraft, up to five times in a day — which could mean a potentially costly overdraft chain reaction. Overdraft protection is available, but each transfer to cover an overdraft comes with a $12 fee.

The Competition

Fifth Third Bank** Ally Bank Capital One
J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study score
4/5 N/A 4/5
Minimum checking requirement*
$1,500 for Essential Checking $20,000 for Enhanced Checking $100,000 for Preferred Checking $350 for ABLE Checking $0 $0
Minimum savings requirement*
$500 $0 $0
Maximum savings account APY
0.02% 1.70% 1.80%
One-year CD APY
0.05% 2.00% 2.10%
Monthly maintenance fees
$0-$25 or waived with minimum balance requirements $0 $0
24/7 customer service
Number of states served
10 50 50
Check rates Check rates Check rates

*Minimum required balance to waive monthly fees (if applicable) **Rates pulled for Chicago ZIP code

All information accurate as of December 10, 2019.

Fifth Third Bank FAQ

Will I be charged a fee to withdraw cash from an ATM?

Fifth Third Bank belongs to three ATM networks: Allpoint, Prest!, and 7-Eleven. Generally speaking, as long as you use one of the 43,000 nationwide ATMs on these networks, you won’t be charged a fee to withdraw cash from your account. There are, however, certain 7-Eleven locations in Alaska, Hawaii, and Oklahoma that may charge a fee, so it’s best to check Fifth Third Bank’s ATM locator when traveling.

Does Fifth Third Bank offer free mobile deposits?

You can quickly and easily deposit a check through the mobile app. There’s no fee for standard mobile deposits. Select checking accounts offer the immediate funds option, in which you have prompt access to the entire amount of your deposit. Fees are charged when the immediate access mobile deposit exceeds $20: a 3% fee for personal checks and a 1% fee for other checks with a minimum of $4.

When are my Fifth Third Momentum funds applied to my student loan balance?

Your Fifth Third Momentum funds debit from your checking account daily, and they’re grouped in a weekly payment toward your student loans every Friday, as long as you have at least $5 in roundup funds for the week. If you don’t hit the $5 minimum, your roundups roll over into the next week.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a bank that provides solid rates of return and low fees, Fifth Third Bank isn’t your best option. Online banks like Ally and Capital One provide checking, savings, and investment accounts with better financial terms. And because of the higher-than-normal fees, Fifth Third is also not the best fit for anyone living paycheck to paycheck. There are plenty of other banks that won’t charge account maintenance fees and that have less severe penalty fees. However, if you prioritize community improvement initiatives and a good online banking experience over financial terms, Fifth Third Bank may be a good fit for you — it has a strong track record of community involvement and a highly praised mobile app and online platform.