Bauer upgrades ratings of BofA, Citizens Bank

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s two largest consumer banks – Bank of America N.A. and Citizens Bank N.A. – improved their financial strength ratings, according to newly released data from bank and credit union ratings firm BauerFinancial Inc.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America and Providence-based Citizens received five-star ratings, Bauer’s highest score. It was an improvement from the four-star ratings both banks had received in previous quarters from Bauer. The new ratings are based on financial data as of March 31.

Waterbury, Conn.-based Webster Bank N.A., with a smaller presence in Rhode Island, also moved up to five stars from four stars.

The only Rhode Island bank with a score that dropped was Freedom National Bank, which fell to four stars for the first quarter, down from five stars for the fourth quarter last year.

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Coral Gables, Fla.-based Bauer rates financial institutions on a scale from zero to five. Bauer recommends institutions with four- or five-star ratings. Five stars mean “superior,” four stars mean “excellent,” three-and-a-half stars mean “good,” three stars mean “adequate,” two stars mean “problematic,” one star means “troubled,” and zero stars is the lowest rating.

Bauer also designates banks and credit unions as “S.U.” for institutions that are too new to rate; “N.R.,” for credit unions that either have less than $1.5 million in assets; are not insured through the National Association of Credit Unions; or are too new to rate. The firm also has a “FDIC/RSLVD” designation for institutions that have failed or are operating under regulatory conservatorship.

Among 24 Rhode Island banks listed by Bauer, 18 received five stars, five received four stars, and one – Admirals Bank – received two stars. Boston-based Admirals was the only bank in Rhode Island to receive a rating below adequate. The ratings did not change for 20 of the 24 banks.

Five star banks with operations in Rhode Island:

  • Bank of America N.A.
  • Bank of England N.A.
  • Bank Rhode Island
  • BankFive
  • Bank Newport
  • BayCoast Bank
  • BNY Mellon N.A.
  • Bristol County Savings Bank
  • Centreville Bank
  • Citizens Bank N.A.
  • Dime Bank
  • Harbor One Bank
  • Home Loan Investment Bank F.S.B.
  • Merrill Lynch (Bank of America)
  • Merrill (Bank of America)
  • Milford Federal Bank
  • Santander Bank N.A.
  • Savings Institute Bank and Trust Company
  • United Bank
  • Webster Bank N.A.

All 20 Rhode Island credit unions listed by Bauer retained their ratings. Among those, 13 received five stars, four received four stars, and two – Alliance Blackstone Valley Federal Credit Union and Woodlawn Federal Credit Union, both in Pawtucket – received three stars.

Five star credit unions with operations in Rhode Island:

  • Blackstone River F.C.U.
  • Cranston Municipal Employees C.U.
  • Cumberland Municipal E.F.C.U.
  • Kent Hospital Federal Credit Union
  • Navigant Credit Union
  • Ocean State Credit Union
  • Pawtucket Credit Union
  • Pawtucket Municipal Employees FCU
  • Peoples Credit Union
  • Postal Employees Regional F.C.U.
  • Rhode Island Credit Union
  • Wave Federal Credit Union
  • Westerly Community Credit Union

All eight banks listed in Bristol County, Mass., retained their five-star ratings.

In addition, all 20 credit unions listed in Bristol County, Mass. retained their ratings. Among those, 13 received five stars, four received four stars, two received three stars, and one – Westport Federal Credit Union in Westport, Mass., – received two stars. It was the only Bristol County credit union to receive a rating below adequate.

Based on first quarter financial reports, federally insured banks and credit unions nationwide had a “very positive” first quarter, Bauer said. Only 1.3% of the total number of banks and 2% of credit unions are now on the firm’s list of problematic and troubled institutions. Those percentages were down from 1.8% and 2.6%, respectively, for the first quarter of 2018.

Nationwide, the number of banks reporting as of March 31 decreased by 4.4% from a year earlier – a continuation of a trend for more than a decade, according to Bauer. However, there were two new banks in the first quarter and several more are in varying stages of the “de novo” startup process, the firm said.

Similarly, the National Credit Union Association recently chartered the first new federal credit union in 2019. But the nation lost 3.5% of its credit unions over the previous one-year period, Bauer said.

To learn more about the ratings of certain banks and credit unions, visit

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at