Are you trying to decide between Chime vs Ally Bank?
You’re not alone. Chime and Ally are two of the most popular USA digital banks, and new customers are flocking to both of them every day.
Each has unique features that make them stand-out options for online banking; the question is which one is best overall. Below we attempt to name a winner. Then we show you how we got there.
So if you’re considering opening an account at either Chime or Ally Bank, keep reading. By the time you reach the end of this review, we bet you’ve made a decision.
After analyzing both Chime and Ally Bank through and through, we have to say that Ally is the winner overall. We love that their checking account earns interest and offers a full range of products, making them a full digital bank. We also think no ATM fees, even for out-of-network ATMs, is pretty great.
Ally does have a few fees that Chime doesn’t charge, but they’re on things that you can easily avoid, and they’re upfront about them.
That’s not to say Chime doesn’t have a place in the market. As a fintech company that offers banking services, they have a few unique features. Chime offers stand-out savings tools and overdraft protection up to $100.
Don’t take our word for it though, read on for the full review. We’ll cover all the ins and outs of both banks, so you can determine which one’s right for you.
Pros and Cons for Ally Bank and Chime
- Checking accounts earn interest
- Straightforward savings tools (like savings buckets, automatic transfers, and checking account analysis)
- Do not need a checking account to open a savings account
- Global ATM network with no out-of-network fees
- Broad portfolio of services
- Highly ranked customer service
- Overdraft fees
- Foreign transaction fees
- Unique savings and money management tools (like their round-up program)
- No fees on overdrafts
- No foreign transaction fees
- Sign-up bonuses may be available
- Minimal customer service
- Limited range of products
- Checking account does not bear interest
Who They Are
Before we start comparing features and pricing, it’s essential to understand who these digital banks are. When it comes to digital banking, you want a financial institution you can trust.
Learning a little about each bank’s background, what they stand for, and what they hope to accomplish can help you determine which one’s best. So, let’s run through a brief history of each. We’ll also examine their mission statements.
All About Ally Bank
Believe it or not, Ally Bank has been around for over 100 years! That’s rare in the digital banking world, given that online banks need the internet to function. But Ally bank is different. It didn’t begin as an online bank but rather as a lending institution for the automobile industry.
General Motors Corporation established the bank in 1919 as GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation). GMAC helped dealers finance and maintain their automobile inventories to keep up with growing consumer demand.
During World War II, GMAC’s financing capabilities allowed General Motors to supply submarine engines, airplanes, trucks, and tanks to the Allies. After the war, the bank continued to finance automobiles and home appliances until the economic recession of 2008.
At that point, GMAC realized the world didn’t need another standard bank. They changed their name and business model, moving into the digital world. The newly formed Ally Bank made three promises to future customers. They would “do right, talk straight, and be obviously better.”
Today, Ally Bank is a publicly traded company with headquarters in Midvale, Utah. They are a top-rated financial institution with stellar customer service and competitive rates. They offer car financing, corporate lending, mortgage loans, vehicle insurance, an electronic trading platform, and, of course, online banking.
All About Chime Bank
Chime is newer to the banking industry than Ally. They got their start in 2013 thanks to founders Chris Brett (the current CEO) and Ryan King (the current CFO). As Brett puts it, though, Chime is “more like a consumer software company than a bank.”
Technically speaking, they’re not a bank at all. They’re a financial technology company that offers banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to them as Chime or Chime Bank in this article.
Chime is a privately owned company based in San Francisco that focuses on no-fee mobile banking accounts and debit cards with ATM access. Rather than making money on loans and penalties like other banks do, Chime makes money when customers use their debit or credit cards.
They say that’s all a part of their mission to give everyone financial peace of mind. Chime’s goal is to streamline banking services. They want to make managing your money easy, even if you don’t have much financial experience.
So far, customers seem to be happy with the fintech company. Though Chime has yet to issue a press release, Forbes Magazine reported that Chime reached 12 million customers in early 2021. That’s a massive number in only eight years as a financial startup. It points to the fact that Chime has a lot to offer its clientele.
Key Features Compared
Now that you are armed with a bit of background information, it’s time to dig into each company’s key features. Below we’ll compare each financial institution’s checking account options; savings account options, ATM access, fees, and sign-up bonuses.
Then we’ll discuss Ally Bank’s added offerings and talk about why you may or may not need them.
- Account earns interest
- No fees for overdrafts and foreign transactions
- Accelerated direct deposits
Both Chime and Ally Bank offer no-fee checking accounts. Chime calls theirs the Chime Spending Account, and Ally refers to theirs as an Interest Checking Account. Neither bank requires a minimum deposit amount.
As the name implies, Ally’s checking account earns interest, where Chime does not. However, Ally also charges for overdrafts and foreign transactions, whereas Chime waives fees for both.
Chime can also get you your deposits faster. They offer accelerated direct deposits. That means you can receive things like your paycheck two days early.
- Savings buckets ideal for planning future expenses
- Automatic transfers from checking account at a percentage of your choice
- Checking account analysis
- Do not need a checking account with Ally to open a savings account
- Savings round-ups
- Automatic transfers from direct deposits at 10%
Both Ally and Chime offer no-fee savings accounts as well. And, each bank offers a competitive APY (annual percentage yield) at 0.5%. Neither bank requires a minimum to open a savings account either.
Here’s where they differ.
Chime lets you set up automatic direct deposit transfers of 10%, meaning it will pull 10% of your paycheck for savings automatically. With Chime, you also have the option of round-ups on debit card purchases. So, if you spend $4.75 on your next Starbucks drink, Chime will round up and place $0.25 in your savings account.
Adding a quarter to your savings account now and then doesn’t sound like much, but the round-ups can really add up. It’s a great way to start saving if you’re on a tight budget or lack financial experience.
Ally also allows for automatic transfers into your savings account, but you determine the percentage. You can also organize your savings and plan for future purchases by creating different savings buckets.
Ally can also analyze your checking account and alert you to extra cash based on past spending. With your approval, they’ll transfer the excess money directly into savings.
We also have to note that Chime requires a checking account with them to open a savings account. With Ally, you can open a savings account on its own.
ATM and Card Access
Both Chime and Ally banks have ATMs nationwide. Ally uses Allpoint ATMs, of which there are 55,000 locations globally. Most of them are within the U.S., but there are many in Canada, Mexico, and the U.K.
Chime has 38,000 ATMs nationwide through MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. They charge no fees to use them.
When it comes to credit and debit cards, Chime uses Visa so that you can use their cards almost everywhere. Ally uses Mastercard, which is also generally accepted.
Point for Ally
- Large, global ATM network
- No out-of-network ATM fees
- No fees on transactions of any kind
- No overdraft fees (up to $100)
One of the most significant selling points for either bank is the lack of fees. Ally and Chime both claim to be no-fee banks, and for the most part, that’s true. Neither charges fees for opening an account, monthly services, or ATM use.
Chime promises no fees on transactions or card replacements as well. Plus, they waive overdraft fees for up to a $100 overdraft.
However, both banks have a few fees to be aware of. Chime charges $2.50 if you use an out-of-network ATM. They also charge per-transaction fees on third-party transfer services.
Ally charges up to $25 for overdrafts, up to one per day. It also charges $10 for excessive transactions from savings accounts. There are other fees as well. Ally charges fees for outgoing domestic wires and returned deposit items. However, they don’t charge if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Neither Chime nor Ally offers a sign-up bonus when you sign up for an account on their site directly. However, there are promotional sign-up bonuses for Chime lurking around the internet.
Depending on the referral site, Chime may put $50 or $75 into your account for signing up, as long as you deposit at least $200 in the first 45 days.
Ally offers incentives for signing up for brokerage services but not for general banking.
Point for Chime
- Promotional sign-up bonus of up to $75
Ally’s Additional Offerings
As mentioned initially, Chime is a fintech or financial technology company, not a bank. So its services are limited to a few things. They offer checking accounts, savings accounts, credit and debit cards. They don’t provide a complete portfolio of financial services as Ally does.
Ally offers several key services that some customers need. They offer high-yield C.D.s, IRAs, home loans, auto loans, and refinancing. They also offer investing services with self-directed trading or a managed portfolio.
If you’re thinking of switching from a traditional bank, you might need services like these. Having access to C.D.s and mortgage refinancing from a company you use for day-to-day banking can significantly benefit using Ally.
Which Is Best At Customer Service?
There’s one point we haven’t touched on, and that’s customer service. Ally prides itself on outstanding customer service. After all, they promise to do right, talk straight, and be obviously better than the competition, which implies a commitment to serving the customer.
Based on our analysis, Ally lives up to their promise in this area. They provide 24/7 customer service that ranks highly in J.D. Power and Associates surveys. In 2019, Ally earned 2nd place in the U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Survey, though they’ve since dropped down a bit. Today, they sit just shy of the industry average for banking satisfaction.
One of the reasons Ally tends to rank highly is because they offer an expected wait time before you pick up the phone and call. That way, you can decide if it’s worth waiting on hold.
Chime, on the other hand, offers the minimum in customer service. They provide a help center with all sorts of frequently asked questions so you can troubleshoot on your own. They also provide a phone number and email, but it’s not a 24/7 line. They’re available from 7 am-7 pm, Monday-Friday.
Chime offers straightforward services. They have checking and savings accounts. So, you probably don’t need a 24/7 support line with them. Most questions are easy to answer using their help center guides.
Ally offers a much broader range of services, which makes having 24/7 customer support a little more necessary. Though we wish they ranked higher in the latest satisfaction surveys, they’re still heads and shoulders above most of the competition.
The Bottom Line
When it’s all said and done, Chime and Ally Bank are two unique financial institutions. Chime is a straightforward fintech company that hopes to put banking access in everyone’s hands. It’s great for those who want to manage their paycheck without ever stepping foot in a physical bank branch.
Chime isn’t as great if you want a full-blown bank online. They don’t offer a full range of services, though their savings tools are top-notch. That’s why we recommend Chime to those who are beginning on their financial journey. If you don’t need C.D.s, an IRA, or home financing, Chime is an excellent choice.
If you need those extra services, which a traditional bank would supply, Ally Bank is the better digital banking option. They charge a few fees, but they’re upfront about them. And, their 24/7 customer service is a huge plus.
If you’re comparing Chime vs Ally, we think Ally wins, but that’s just us.