An Online Bank With a Full Range of Products


Ally Bank has been around for over a century — but you probably didn’t hear about it until the last decade.

The bank started out in 1919 as GMAC, General Motors’ finance division. But in 2009, the company rebranded as Ally Bank, an online-only banking institution that offers everything from checking and savings accounts to home and auto loans to investment accounts.

Our in-depth Ally Bank review paints a full picture of the institution but specifically focuses on its checking and savings accounts. This review also includes information about Ally’s money market accounts, CDs, loans and investment options, as well as a review of Ally’s mobile app, level of convenience and customer service.

In this review:

What Is Ally Bank?

Ally Bank is an FDIC-insured online-only banking institution offering an array of accounts, including its Online Savings and Interest Checking. You can also open a Money Market account or invest in CDs with High Yield CD, Raise Your Rate CD and No Penalty CD options. Ally Bank also offers competitive home and auto loans (with a history in the automotive business), multiple IRAs and various investment options.

Ally Bank boasts a wide shelf of trophies, including best bank and best online bank awards from organizations such as MONEY Magazine and Kiplinger’s. Check out its latest awards here.

Pros

There’s plenty to like about Ally Bank:

  • Great APY for savings accounts.
  • No minimum balance requirements.
  • No monthly maintenance fees.
  • Free access to Allpoint ATMs (and up to $10 reimbursement each month when accessing out-of-network ATMs).
  • A highly rated mobile app across all operating systems (Apple, Android, Windows).

Cons

Ally Bank does have some downsides to consider:

  • No brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Overdraft fees.
  • Low APY for checking accounts.

Banking with Ally: How We Rate It

Ally Bank has a full suite of products, but this Ally Bank review primarily focuses on the checking and savings account options. Further in this review, you can find information on money market accounts, loans and investment options.

Checking: Ally Interest Checking Account

Grade: B-

Despite being called the Interest Checking account, Ally’s checking option offers a somewhat low interest rate: 0.10% on minimum daily balances below $15,000 and 0.50% on minimum daily balances above $15,000 — though we recommend keeping less in your low-yield checking accounts and more in a high-yield savings account.

That said, the Ally Bank checking account still offers a higher APY than many major players, both online and brick-and-mortar. Also notable: The Interest Checking account includes no minimum deposit or balance and no monthly maintenance fees. The account does, however, charge overdraft fees.

However, unlike many other banks, Ally caps overdraft fees to one a day, so even if you overdraft multiple times without realizing it while treating yourself one day, you’ll only be charged a single fee. Even better, Ally’s Interest Checking account can be linked to the Online Savings or Money Market account, automatically funding the checking account to accommodate your purchase if you would otherwise overdraft. This perk, called Overdraft Transfer Service, is free of charge.

Though Ally is an online bank, depositing and withdrawing physical cash is easy with free access to any of the 55,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide. If you’re strapped for time and need to transact with an out-of-network ATM, Ally Bank will reimburse you up to $10/month for usage fees.

The Ally Bank Interest Checking account also includes easy mobile check deposit and money transfers via voice with Ally Skill for Amazon Alexa.

Savings: Ally Online Savings Account

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Grade: A

Ally Bank is one of the best options as far as savings accounts go, especially if you are comfortable with an online-only institution. The Online Savings account currently offers a 1.10% APY that compounds daily; that APY is 15 times higher than the national average and is much better than what most traditional brick-and-mortar banks will offer.

Two other hallmarks of Ally’s Online Savings account: It carries no typical monthly maintenance fees and has no minimum balance requirements. Ally is transparent about the fees it does have, which include excessive transaction fees ($10/transaction) and outgoing domestic wires ($20; incoming wires are free), among a few others.

Ally also offers a few tools that make its Online Savings account even more appealing:

  • Savings Buckets: You can categorize your savings into up to 10 buckets for various savings goals, like a vacation, a wedding and a house down payment. No matter which bucket your funds sit in, they’ll still earn the same interest rate.
  • Recurring Transfers: You can “set it and forget it” by setting up recurring transfers from your checking account, forcing you to routinely put money into savings.
  • Surprise Savings: Ally does the hard work for you, analyzing your checking account to identify “safe-to-save money” and transferring it from your checking account to your savings account for you.

Convenience: Great Features, But Online Only

Grade: B

In an increasingly digital world, Ally Bank is highly convenient. It offers intuitive mobile check deposit and easy money transfer (via voice, no less!). The mobile app and website (more on that in a second) are both easy to use, and you can easily link checking and savings accounts to fund one another as necessary. The Allpoint network of ATMs is extensive and free to use.

So why not an A+ rating? Ally Bank’s one true detriment — and the detriment of all online-only banking institutions — is the lack of a brick-and-mortar location. Though you can handle all your transactions and banking online with Ally, many customers still prefer physical locations for their sense of security and the feeling of in-person help. While COVID-19 has certainly ushered in a newfound acceptance of digital everything, many customers will likely still appreciate physical bank visits for years to come.

Mobile Banking: Ally Mobile App Review

Grade: A

As an online-only institution, Ally Bank offers an intuitive website and highly rated mobile app, available for Windows, Apple and Android devices. You can use the website for a full range of services, but when you are on the go, the app should do just fine.

With the Ally Bank mobile app, you can:

  • View account balances.
  • Use Ally Assist (Apple only).
  • Transfer funds.
  • Manage one-time and recurring transfers.
  • Deposit checks via Ally eCheck Deposit.
  • Pay bills (Apple and Android only).
  • Send money with Zelle.

At the time of writing, the Ally Mobile app had a 4.8-star rating on the App Store, a 4.1-star rating on Google Play and a 4.3-star rating on the Microsoft Store.

Small Business Banking Options

Ally does not offer small business checking or savings accounts. Instead, consider these alternative banks for small businesses:

  • Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking Account and Business Market Rate Savings Account, loans up to $100,000 and a 1.5% cash-back credit card.
  • Chase Total Business Checking and Business Total Savings, SBA Express line of credit up to $350,000 and Ink Business credit cards.
  • Capital One Spark Business Checking and Savings, and 1.5% or 2% cash-back credit cards.
  • Axos Basic Business Checking or Business Interest Checking, Business Savings, and lines of credit or commercial loans starting at $250,000.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union for business owners who are veterans, active-duty military, employees of qualified government agencies and their immediate family.
  • Azlo for online-only, fee-free business checking.

Ally Bank Account Fees

Ally Bank prides itself on its lack of monthly maintenance fees. In addition, Ally promises no fees for standard or expedited ACH transfers, copies of online statements, incoming wires, postage-paid deposit envelopes or official/cashier’s checks.

However, Ally does have some fees and is transparent about those upon account signup. These fees include:

  • Returned deposit items: $7.50
  • Overdraft: $25, once a day max
  • Excessive transactions: $10 per transaction
  • Expedited delivery: $15
  • Outgoing domestic wires: $20
  • Account research: $25 per hour

Other Ally Bank Products

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You can find the full breadth of products on the Ally Bank website, but here’s a good starting point:

Money Market

The Ally Bank Money Market account offers a 0.50% APY and requires no minimum balance. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and the account can be opened in the name of a trust. Unlike the Online Savings account, the Money Market account includes debit cards and checks.

Certificates of Deposit

If you are interested in investing but are risk-averse, consider a certificate of deposit (CD) through Ally Bank. (For beginner investors, check out this intro to CDs.)

Ally Bank offers three CD products:

  • High Yield CD: 1.00% on all balance tiers; terms ranging from three months to five years; fixed rate.
  • Raise Your Rate CD: 1.00% on all balance tiers; two- or four-year terms; opportunity to increase rate once over two-year term or twice over four-year term.
  • No Penalty CD: 0.95% on all balance tiers; ability to withdraw all money six days after funding while keeping interest and avoiding penalty.

Note: These rates are accurate as of June 24, 2020.

IRAs

Invest in your retirement through Ally Bank with multiple IRA options:

  • IRA High Yield CD
  • IRA Raise Your Rate CD
  • IRA Online Savings

All of Ally’s IRAs compound their interest daily and are available as Traditional, Roth, or SEP.

Auto Loans

Ally Bank offers both personal vehicle financing and business vehicle financing. You can also use Ally Bank for a vehicle service contract. Learn more about Ally’s full suite of auto products here.

Mortgages

With Ally, you can apply for home loan preapproval in as little as three minutes. You can choose between a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loan (or a “jumbo loan” for a high-priced home). Ally will even pay $500 toward your closing costs if you have an Ally Bank account.

Already have a mortgage? Ally Bank also has refinancing options available.

Investment Options

Interested in investing? Ally Bank offers plenty of options, including stocks and EFTs, commission-free EFTs, bonds, mutual funds and more. With Ally, you can opt for self-directed trading or a managed portfolio (recommended for beginners).

Ally Bank Customer Service

Ally Bank offers 24/7 customer support with an estimated wait time listed on the website.

  • Phone Number: 1-877-247-2559
  • Email: Log in to your account to send a secure message
  • Chat: Available online

Ally offers additional customer service numbers for various products. View the full list here.

Is Ally Bank Right for You?

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Ally Bank is one of the top choices if you are open to the idea of switching to an online bank. The institution offers a full suite of products, so you can move all your banking needs there, or just open one or two accounts and keep other accounts with your current bank or credit union.

Ally Bank might be a good fit if:

  • You’re looking for a high-interest savings account.
  • You have various savings goals that you need help organizing.
  • You’re comfortable with mobile check deposits.
  • You’re tech-savvy.
  • You’d like a bank with a full suite of products, including loans and investments.

Ally Bank might not be a good fit if:

  • You prefer to do your banking in-person.
  • You need small business banking.
  • You deposit cash regularly.

Our Bank Review Methodology

The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.

To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.

For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.

Ratings are assigned on a scale of one (worst) to five (best) stars across the following categories:

  • Personal checking accounts
  • Personal savings accounts
  • Convenience
  • Mobile banking
  • Small-business banking

Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 and has been featured on sites like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.



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