Ally Bank Review

Chris

In a Nutshell

Ally Bank, founded in 2004, has become one of the most popular online banks -- already ranking in the top 20 banks in the country by assets and over $100 billion in deposits passed in 2019. But they’re an online-only bank - so how do they fare against other, more traditional banks? Here’s our complete Ally Bank review.

pros

  • Competitive deposit rates
  • Unique savings account features
  • No-fee checking and savings

cons

  • No personal loans
  • No ATM-finder on the mobile app

Ally Bank Ally Bank Visit Site

Ally Bank at a Glance

Fees: None

Personal loans available: X

Credit card available: No

SMS/Mail alerts: Yes

24-hour customer service: Yes

Money transfers: Yes

Check scanning: Yes

Average APY: 1.25%

Minimum balance for APY: $15,000

Advantages Over Regular Bank

Ally Bank was built as an online-first bank, so they have adapted their business model to cater to that. Here are a few advantages Ally Bank has over a regular bank:

  • High-yield savings

Ally Bank offers a 1.25% APY with their online savings account - which is about 15 times the national average. Interest is compounded daily and there are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. 

  • High interest checking

Ally Bank’s checking account earns a 0.50% APY when your balance is more than $15,000 as a minimum daily balance. If your minimum daily balance is less than $15,000 with Ally Bank, your APY is 0.10%.

  • Raise Your Rate CD

Ally offers three CD options - a high-yield CD, a no-penalty CD, and a “Raise Your Rate” CD. The Raise Your Rate CD is unique because it allows you to start with an excellent rate (1.25% APY) and can increase your rate once within two years (for 2-year CDs) or twice within four years (for 4-year CDs) to take advantage of increased rates. 

Cutting-Edge Banking Services

  • Savings buckets

Ally Bank’s online savings lets you organize your savings into “buckets,” so you can save for different goals. For example, you can have a home down payment bucket, an emergency fund bucket, and a vacation bucket -- this way, you can visually separate your money and work toward individual savings goals, all within one account. You can have up to 10 savings goals at once.

  • Savings boosters

Besides having buckets for savings goals, Ally offers “boosters” to your savings balances. The first booster is recurring savings. You can just set it and forget it, scheduling a specific dollar amount to be moved into your savings account on any cadence that works for you. 

The second booster is Ally Bank’s Surprise Savings. Using an algorithm to analyze your checking account balance and spending, Ally will deposit “surprise” amounts into your savings you won’t miss. Over time, this is a great way to build up your savings without even noticing.

  • Ally Invest

Ally Invest offers two options for investing. The first is Self-Directed Trading, where you can choose your own investments and pay $0 in commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options. There is no minimum balance required to get started, and Ally offers a wide range of tools and resources to analyze the stocks you want to buy.

Ally Invest also offers Managed Portfolios, which is more like a robo-advisor and is automated investing, with the added touch of human specialists. Ally uses algorithms to recommend a portfolio that fits your investment goals and risk tolerance, and there are no advisory fees. There are four portfolios you can choose from - Core, Income, Tax optimized, and Socially Responsible. In addition, 30% of your portfolio goes into a cash account that earns 1.25% APY. Plus, you can get started with just $100.

Traditional Banking Services

  • Loan options

Ally offers both auto and home loans. For auto loans, you can get a personal or business auto loan, and with a home loan, you’re able to do a new purchase or refinance.

  • Retirement accounts

You can open an IRA with Ally through either a high-yield CD, a Raise Your Rate CD, or online savings. While this is not an IRA investment account, it qualifies as a tax-deductible IRA. Still, your investment is just in a high-yield cash account (CD or savings).

  • ATMs

You’ll have access to over 43,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. for free. Ally will reimburse ATM fees from other ATMs up to $10 per month. 

Interest Rates and Fees

Ally has savings, CDs, and checking accounts. Here are the rates and withdrawal fees for each:


APY
Withdrawal Fees

Online Savings

1.25%

None

Interest Checking

0.50% on balances above $15,000; 0.10% on balances below $15,000

None

High Yield CD

0.50% - 1.35% (based on maturity)

60 days of interest - 150 days of interest (based on time of withdrawal)

Raise Your Rate CD

1.25%

60 or 120 days of interest (based on time of withdrawal)

No Penalty CD

1.20%

None

Customer Service 

Customer service is available 24/7 at 1-877-247-2559. We like that Ally will tell you how long the wait time is online before you call. And you can send a secure message through your account portal.

Mobile Apps

Ally Bank’s mobile app is available for Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Within the mobile app, you can do things like transfer funds, deposit checks, pay bills, send money, and check your balances. One thing we didn’t like was that you couldn’t locate ATMs directly from the app - you need to do this from Ally’s mobile website, which is an extra step.

Ally Bank Ally Bank Visit Site

Security

Ally Bank uses 2-step authentication and other security strategies to protect your information -- this includes things like SSL encryption, firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware protection, online and mobile security, and more. They also provide education on fraud and identity theft, and personal security tips to help keep you safe. 

Conclusion 

Ally Bank is not flashy, but appeals to people who want to do most, if not all, of their banking under one roof, get competitive rates and have readily available customer service. While they lack products, like credit cards and personal loans, they are a viable option for your other online banking needs.

Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and ran a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016.

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