Ally Bank: Review of Online Banking Services

by Stacey Doyle on May 14, 2010

A look at Ally Bank’s internet banking services.

Once upon a time, there were only a couple of online banks to choose from. Now competition is getting stronger with more online banks offering CDs, checking accounts, high yield savings accounts and money market accounts. Online banks such as Ally Bank might make brick-and-mortar banking a thing of the past with offerings such as interest bearing checking and no minimum deposit CDs.

How Do You Open An Ally Bank Account?

Ally Bank

To open an Ally Bank account, you apply online, call toll-free or print the application and mail it. Visit the website to keep track of the status of your application so you know what’s happening. For a bit of background, Ally dates back to 1919 and was formerly known as GMAC Bank. Accounts offered by Ally Bank include interest checking, high interest savings, money market and various certificates of deposit. Your deposits are covered by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor. There are a variety of accounts to choose from at Ally. Let’s look at each more carefully:

  • Ally lets you open a money market account with $0, no minimum balance and no monthly fees. An ATM check card and your first 50 checks are free. You earn daily compound interest and are allowed six transactions per statement with no fees. Here’s where to go for more information.
  • Interest checking at Ally also takes $0 to open the account with no minimum balance. You get a free Debit MasterCard, checks, unlimited check writing, online banking and Bill Pay with no ATM fees. Accounts with a balance of $15,000 or more earn a higher interest rate. Here’s where to go for more information.
  • A high yield savings account at Ally can be opened with $0 with no minimum balance or monthly fees. You get six transactions per statement cycle with no fees. Here’s where to go for more information.
  • There are three different types of CDs to choose from. While you open with nothing and fund later, you can only make subsequent deposits when the term of the CD rolls over. The three Ally CDs are a no penalty CD, raise your rate CD and high yield CD.

Ally Bank Review: Online Savings, Checking Accounts, CDs

With little money to save, I need to make the most of what I have. Ally Bank offers an unprecedented opportunity for me to finally save money in a top online savings account, even if it is just $5 a week. Besides being an online bank rather than a bank with a physical location, what makes Ally different?

  • No minimum deposits or balances are required. You can open a CD with nothing then make a deposit when you have the money. Even if it is just $10, you can start saving money while earning the highest possible interest for your deposit.
  • Ally Bank offers pretty competitive interest rates. Also, interest is compounded daily rather than monthly or quarterly. That means you earn more for letting Ally Bank hold your money since many other banks pay interest on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Ally Bank’s “Ten Day Best Rate on CD” policy means that you get the best possible rate within ten days of opening your account. If rates shoot up a percentage point five days after you open your CD, you can request the higher rate as long as you fund during that time.
  • Ally Bank has a No Penalty CD. You can open a CD that won’t incur any penalties on any actions you take, plus it offers a great fixed rate. You can withdraw the entire balance within six days of funding with no penalties or fees.
  • Check card convenience includes no fees at ATMs and interest paid on the balance in your account. It certainly beats my current ATM account that charges a fee for foreign ATMs and debit transactions!
  • There is no small print or financial jargon to translate. You don’t have to be a financial genius to make the most of your money. The Ally Bank website is simple and straightforward. Questions are easily answered with a help option, online chat and a 24-hour toll-free number connecting you to a real person.
  • Transactions are performed online. Funding your Ally Bank account is done through online bank transfers. These funds are usually available within three to five business days.
  • “Sleeping Money alerts” from Ally Bank let you know when it is more profitable to move your money into another type of account. No matter how small your balance, you will still get Sleeping Money alerts from Ally. I appreciate this feature because I often don’t have time to research the best offerings every month. This helps you keep on top of your savings and allows you to grow your money over time.

Comparing Ally Bank to Traditional Banks

Ally Bank accounts offer the typical features you look for in any traditional bank including:

  • ATM card
  • Online bank transfers
  • Bill Pay
  • Checking
  • Interest paid on your balance

Any of the everyday transactions that you handle with your regular account, you can do with an Ally Bank account. Don’t forget too, that Ally Bank also offers accounts in Canada.

The Bottom Line About Ally

While I will still maintain a regular bank account for checks I receive, for business purposes, I plan to open a money market and eventually a CD account at Ally Bank because they offer flexible terms, decent interest and the ability to save a little at a time. I can’t move mountains right now but I can start building hills. With no minimum balance requirement or fees, I don’t feel hassled. Plus, if I need the money, I can get it without paying exorbitant fees. All this makes Ally Bank a solid choice for online banking.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sam October 5, 2010 at 6:43 am

Seems ally bank has started charging $10 as per description “FEE-ACHDW: Service Fees” if there are 6 or more transactions per statement cycle. You can call them on phone to have the charges reversed.

FEE-ACHDW: Service Fees

2 James November 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

Don’t sign up without a perfect credit score!

I just wasted 20 minutes of my life signing up for a checking and savings account. Ally requires a high credit score to get a basic checking account. This is not consistent with standard banking practice. If it was 1/3 of America couldn’t do banking.

If your credit score is not perfect, don’t bother signing up for this bank. They do NOT want your business.

My credit score is now below average due to major difficulties selling a home in another state. This is not my fault and I can’t do anything about it.

3 kate November 24, 2010 at 4:55 am

Their savings rates are down to 1.09%. Not worth the hassle to open an account if their rates are going to continue to drop.

4 Mike December 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Ally bank will lie straight to your face and smile while doing it. I have had my savings acount for over a year with Ally bank and thought everything was good until they started charging me tons of fees that they specially had told me that didn’t charge. Don’t use this bank unless you want to wake up one day and see your account pounded with fees when you though you had a “free” account with “no fees”. SURPRISE there is a reason why the interest rate is so high, they make up for it with fraudulent fees. I am filing a small claims case in the state of Pennsylvania – go check out the court records.

5 Angry Client January 17, 2011 at 8:52 am

TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE—I applied for a mortgage through GMAC (now ALLY) about a month ago. I was told for the past three weeks that everything was going great and the loan would be finalized soon. I received a wonderful credit and interest rate….and then, last Friday got a call from them saying that despite making more than enough money, despite a previous mortgage with GMAC with an excellent payment history, despite credit scores over 720, etc etc etc, that they do not want to give the loan.

They made the illusion that I had the loan and everything was going to go through fine for a month straight and then said no. They gave me NO explanation or reason why. This was a TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE, now I have to close in less than a month on the house I am buying because they wasted my time for a month straight. I wish that they were allowed to fail as they are failing to provide the services they advertise. It is all a facade, they got the bail out and they are not lending the money out and the customer service is terrible. No wonder they are changing there name to ALLY bank, they need to bury the skeletons they have. It is practices like this that make it obvious why they were in the trouble they were in financially and why THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO FAIL!

6 Trent Davis April 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I took a loan from Ally on my Dodge to get a lower price and pay it off early. It has been a nightmare to try and pay the bill. All the phone calls for the car loan are outsourced and when I have tried to pay it off I get sent to several departments and have to tell my story over to each person. It has been so frustrating. No one is consistent with the regulations within the departments. I have asked to speak to a branch in America or a corporate number, but they are not allowed to give it to me. They have been promising a refund for a payment for the last three months and I have to call weekly and have them constantly tell me it will be sent out in 3-5 business days. I wish I could have someone in corporate listen to the hours of conversation that has occurred. Their add says, “I love my bank”, well, “I HATE THIS BANK!”

7 first June 24, 2011 at 6:55 am

At the heart of the success or failure of any organization is the IT Department. In the case of Ally it is a failure. Having spent many years in IT development the Ally website reveals very poor management of the IT department. It is obvious from my attempts to login to my account that the most elementary tasks of logging in to the site have not been tested properly.

After entering personal information and receiving a message that says I “The username and password combination is invalid” I have to question just how much testing was done to programs that drive the website. If your account information cannot be found with the information from your paper bill then Ally bank has big information management problems.

If an organization cannot manage the very basic login task it scares me that they are able to do more complex accounting and management of a account.

Being the case I will never purchase a car again that uses ALLY bank financing.

8 Mari October 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I just opened an account with Ally a few days ago, & I’m not expecting any problems.

You don’t have to have perfect credit to get approved. My husband & I have a credit score in the low to mid 600’s, & we got approved.

Also, I’m sure the $10 in fees Sam was talking about are the fees they charge you if you transfer or withdraw 6 or more times from your savings account in 1 statement cycle. All banks do this.

9 MBinWV August 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I’ve been an Ally customer for approximately 4 months.

During that period, my place of employment has attempted to direct deposit my paychecks into Ally, but the deposits were rejected. I then tried to e-check deposit my paychecks….which Ally held for 12 days EACH time before depositing. In the mean time, I had checked and double checked and triple checked that the account information that was being used was correct. Each time I called Ally I was subjected to yammerings about account numbers that I’ve confirmed and hold times I find excessive, given the fact that it’s a salary check for the same amount every two weeks. But, I figured it would all be fine when the direct deposit issue was fixed.

After five attempts, my accounting department said “Good news, your deposit has been accepted!” and I was so happy. But on deposit day, my money wasn’t in my account. My pay stub said “This is not a check” and Ally said “We don’t know where your money is…but it may take us 24 to 48 (business) hours to research it” On a Friday that means I won’t hear from Ally until Tuesday, and if they DO find it, I’m sure they’ll come up with a reason to hold it for another 12 days.

The worst part…while speaking with a customer service supervisor (almost as useless as a customer service representative, but with a more authoritative sounding title) she indicated that there was no way to further expedite my resolution, as it was a newly opened issue. WTF? I’ve been calling over and over for months about the same issue. Maybe it’s a bit different than the last eight calls, but it still boils down to the same. little. nugget. My direct deposit isn’t being deposited and Ally won’t give me my money.

The fee-less accounts, the interest, the convenience, the friendly customer service, the e-check deposit…it all sounds fantastic, but BEWARE. You’ll continuously call with the same issues. You’ll wait weeks for access to your own money and there is no direct line to the resolution center…leaving you at the mercy of friendly, but relatively helpless customer service reps (and supervisors).

I’ll be posting this review on every available site for each waking hour that my funds remain missing in some Ally limbo. At the earliest availability I’ll be removing my money and marching it straight toward the teller of a better bank…if there is such a thing.

Wish me luck.

10 The Smarter Wallet August 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Good luck MBinWV. All banks give you the runaround to some degree. As with anything else, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and as a consumer you’ll need to push to get your issues resolved at any establishment, be it a bank or at any service agency.

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