Ally Financial Review – An Online Bank with a 100-Year-Old History

Ally is an online bank and lender with a variety of financial products, including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and retirement and investment options.
Ally was originally founded in 1919 by General Motors to provide financing to automotive customers. After successive changes over the course of decades, the company rebranded in 2009 as Ally Bank. Today, Ally is best known for its low fee, online-only banking products. Ally is a member FDIC.

How does Ally work?

If you’re interested in opening a bank account with Ally, there are a few steps you’ll have to take. On the bank’s homepage, you can access the drop-down menu to view all of their financial products, including Interest Checking, their basic checking account. When you click on Interest Checking, you’ll be redirected to the landing page for that product, where you can learn more about opening a checking account with Ally.
Ally Bank
To open a checking account with Ally, click the Open New Account button in the bottom right corner of the page. In order to be eligible for an account, you must be over 18 years old. You’ll also have to provide some basic information about yourself, including:
  • A Social Security or Tax Identification number.
  • A U.S. residential street address.
  • Your legal name.
  • Your birth date.
On the following screen, you can choose which type of account you’re applying for. If you’re confused about what any of the terms mean, Ally provides definitions and educational resources in a helpful sidebar throughout the process.
Ally 2
After you choose an account type, you can customize your opening deposit and other account details based on your preferences. You also have the option to choose to receive an Ally debit card and checks, as well as to sign up for Ally’s overdraft transfer service to avoid an overdraft fee.
Ally 3
If you’re just setting up a checking account, you can proceed on to the next step. If you want to open an additional account with Ally, such as an online savings account, it’s easy to add another account to your application.
Ally 4
You’ll then need to provide some additional details about yourself, including your name, birth date, social security number, occupation, and contact information. After that, you can submit your application for review. Ally will then review your application to make sure everything looks okay. After you’re approved, you can deposit money into your new account.

How much does Ally cost?

Ally’s financial products are generally low-cost with few fees. For example, Ally’s online Interest Checking account has no monthly maintenance fees, no fees for ACH transactions or domestic or international wire transfers, and no fees for cashier's checks. The fees that they do have, such as for overdrafts or outgoing domestic wires, are clearly stated upfront.
Not only does Ally charge few fees, but many of their financial products can earn you money over time. For example, both their Interest Checking account and their Online Savings account earn interest at an impressive rate.

Ally features

Ally Bank offers a variety of financial products, including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and retirement and investment options.

Interest Checking

Ally offers a great online checking account that, unlike many traditional checking accounts, actually earns interest. Account holders earn .10% APY on balances under $15,000, and .25% APY on balances over $15,000. You can deposit checks remotely using echeck deposit, and easily transfer money with Zelle and Ally Skill. There’s no minimum deposit required, and customers have access to 43,000+ Allpoint® ATMs to avoid ATM fees. You can also check your account balance and manage your account through a mobile app.

Online Savings

Ally’s savings account is another great option for consumers looking to earn interest on their savings at higher rates than many traditional banks. The account comes with an APY of .50%, charges no monthly maintenance fees, and has no minimum balance requirement. Ally also lets you customize your savings by using digital “buckets” to save for particular expenses, like vacations and home improvement projects.

Money Market

Ally’s Money Market account is another great place to stash your savings, with an APY of .50% on all balance tiers. Like Ally’s checking and savings account, the Money Market account has no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirements. Account holders can deposit checks remotely, access a network of fee-free ATMs, and earn interest on their balance.

CDs

Certificates of deposit, or CDs, are a great place to store money for medium-term expenses, like the down payment on a house or a new car. CDs come with fixed terms, during which you’re not allowed to withdraw your funds. For example, if you have a CD with a 12-month term, you’ll have to wait 12 months before you can access your money. During that period, your savings will accumulate interest.
Ally offers a High Yield CD, along with a Raise Your Rate CD that comes with a loyalty reward when you renew your CD. Ally also offers a No Penalty CD that doesn’t penalize you if you need to access your savings before the term limit is up.

Investing and retirement

While Ally’s CDs and checking and saving accounts may steal the show, Ally also offers several different ways to invest and save for retirement. Customers can open up a traditional, Roth, or rollover IRA account. There are also plenty of investment options available, including stocks and ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds, low priced securities, and more.

Mortgage

Ally offers mortgages for customers looking to finance the purchase of a home. Borrowers can complete an easy online application, with approval in as little as three minutes. Ally offers fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, and jumbo mortgages. If you need to refinance your existing mortgage, Ally can also help with that.

Auto loan

Ally started off offering auto financing over a hundred years ago, and they’re still going strong today. Ally offers vehicle financing for both personal and business vehicles. However, Ally financing options are only available from select dealerships.

Personal loan

Ally offers personal loans to fund certain specific expenses. These include loans for medical treatments and procedures, as well as loans for home repairs and renovations. If you have a significant medical expense or home improvement project on the horizon, these loans can help you to cover the cost. In both cases, loans go directly to your provider.

Who is Ally best for?

Ally is a great choice for many types of consumers, especially those who prefer the company’s digital-first approach.

People looking for an online bank

Ally is an online-only bank, with a robust set of digital tools to help you plan, save, and manage your finances. If you’re looking for a bank where the online experience isn’t an afterthought, Ally is a great choice.

People looking for a low-fee bank

Ally prides itself on charging few fees to its customers. The fees that it does charge are clearly stated up front.

People looking for checking and savings accounts that earn interest

Unlike some other traditional banks, Ally features both checking and savings accounts that earn interest. This means that it’s a great way to earn a little extra on the money that you have stashed away.

Who shouldn’t use Ally?

While Ally has plenty of great features, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few types of consumers who may want to look elsewhere for their banking needs.

People who prefer a brick and mortar bank

Ally is an online-only bank, so there are no physical branches of brick and mortar banks for customers to visit. While some consumers prefer Ally’s digital-first approach, if you’re looking to speak to a bank teller in person then Ally probably isn’t the best fit.

People who want to deposit cash

Unfortunately, there’s no way to deposit cash into an Ally bank account. This means that it’s not a great fit for people who deal frequently with cash, like restaurant workers who receive cash tips.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Wide range of products. Ally offers a wide range of financial products to choose from, including checking and savings accounts, retirement and investing options, and much more.
  • Low fees. Ally prides itself on its low fees and transparent pricing.
  • Educational resources. If you’re looking to learn more about personal finance, Ally has plenty of educational resources to avail yourself of.
Cons
  • No physical bank branches. Ally is entirely online, and doesn’t operate any brick and mortar bank branches.
  • Not good for cash. You can’t deposit cash to an Ally bank account, which can make it inconvenient for people who deal with cash frequently.

Ally vs. competitors

Ally is one of the better-known institutions when it comes to online banks, but it’s far from the only option.
BankMonthly maintenance feeChecking APY
Ally$0.10% to .25%
Chime$0None
Alliant Credit Union$0.25%

Chime

Chime is another online bank with a simple, consumer-friendly interface and low fees. Chime’s checking account doesn’t accumulate interest, but it’s easy enough to pair with a Chime savings account, which earns .50% APY. Chime also offers a secured credit card for customers looking to build credit.

Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union’s high-interest checking account has an APY of .25%, which is comparable to Ally’s. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and customers can access over 80,000 fee-free ATMs across the country. Alliant’s online interface is a little less slick than Ally’s, but its financial products are solid.

FAQs

What financial products does Ally offer?
Ally offers a variety of financial products, including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and retirement and investment options.
Does Ally have physical bank branches?
Ally is an online-only bank with no brick and mortar branches.
Can you deposit cash to an Ally account?
It’s not possible to deposit cash to an Ally bank account.
Does Ally offer business checking accounts?
Ally currently does not offer any business checking accounts.

The bottom line

Ally is an online bank with a variety of financial products, most notably high-yield checking and savings accounts. Ally is a great choice for consumers who are comfortable with online-only banking who are looking to better manage their finances and earn a little extra interest while doing so. Low fees, competitive rates, and customer-friendly policies are just a few of the perks of banking with Ally. An online-only bank isn’t for everyone, and if you’d prefer the convenience of a brick and mortar bank Ally probably isn’t the best option. That said, it’s a great choice for anyone who wants a simple, low fee bank account that they can manage entirely online.

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