Ally Bank Review

ally bank
ally bank card
  • Free online signup
  • No minimum balance
  • No overdraft fees
  • Plenty of accounts to choose from
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Free ATM withdrawal
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Custodian accounts
  • CDs and investing options

Do you want a bank that you can use on the go and has a long history of helping others with their financial situations? Are you tired of waiting in line only to see an indifferent teller that won’t help you? You can have everything with Ally Bank. The history of Ally Bank goes back over 100 years, and their commitment to evolution allows them to work entirely online.

Ally Bank is super easy to use and has so many options that you’ll find one that fits you perfectly. It goes beyond being just one of a hundreds challenger banks. Below is our comprehensive Ally Bank review covering a bit of the history, the types of accounts you can have, overdraft fees, financial travel concerns, and more.

About Ally Bank

Ally Bank is all about innovation and adaptation, even when the company wasn’t Ally Bank. The history of Ally Bank started in 1919 as part of General Motors to help auto dealers be successful as the car assembly line took off. Then, during WWII, they helped support the military by supplying tanks, trucks, airplanes, and submarine engines.

Over the years, they grew and changed from their humble beginnings to a massive digital corporation that does more than many mobile banks or digital banks do. In 2009 they changed their name to Ally Bank and founded three principles that they stick with to this day. These principles are to: do right, talk straight, and be obviously better.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No overdraft fees
  • Free transfers
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • 43,000 ATMs
  • No fees on cashier checks
  • Checking, Savings, CDs are all included at Ally Bank

Cons:

  • No cash deposits
  • You can’t find ATMs with their app
  • If you use a Windows phone, you can’t pay bills with the app

Fees:

  • $7.50 for returned deposit item
  • $15 for expedited delivery
  • $20 on outgoing domestic wires
  • $25/hour on account research

Ally Bank Accounts

Ally Bank is more than one of the simpler digital banks. It takes pride in delivering plenty of options to choose from. From two savings accounts to three different types of CDs, each comes with benefits that directly help you get the most out of your money.

Online Savings

  • Buckets for separating your money
  • Boosters such as automatic transfers and round-up to optimize your savings
  • No monthly maintenance fee or minimum balances
  • Up to 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) depending on the financial market
  • Turn on Surprise Savings and have safe-to-save cash transferred from checking to savings
  • Six withdrawals per statement cycle

Money Market

  • Get a debit card and checks
  • Compounded daily interest
  • Deposit checks remotely
  • No overdraft fees
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Free ATM withdrawals at their 43,000 Allpoint ATMs

Interest Checking

  • Easy money transfers through voice with Amazon Alexa or through Zelle
  • Use Round-Up that puts the extra change in your savings account
  • Decide when, where, and how you use your debit card
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free ATM withdrawals
  • Up to 0.25% APY depending on financial market

Certificate of Deposits

High Yield CDS

  • Anywhere from three months to five years CD
  • Competitive fixed rates
  • Get a reward when you renew
  • Early withdrawal penalty applies

Raise Your Rate CDs

  • Two to four year CD
  • Increase your rate once with the two-year and twice with the four-year
  • Early withdrawal penalty applies

No Penalty CD

  • Flexible until maturity
  • Keep interest, even if you withdraw all the money you deposited
  • Can withdraw from this CD as early as seven days after deposit
  • No penalty for withdrawing from the CD

No doubt that Ally Bank tries to cover all its bases by offering a wide variety of banking types meant to fit anyone’s needs. Ally Bank does not have monthly maintenance fees or set up fees for all of their accounts and no overdraft fees or a minimum balance requirement for their checking and savings accounts.

They offer two savings accounts, their traditional Online Savings and a more flexible Money Market. Both of these accounts have an APY of up to 0.50%, depending on the current financial market. You can separate your money into buckets and optimize your savings with boosters.

Their Interest Checking account is free and comes with a free debit card as soon as you add funds to your account. You also have the option of physical checks instead. In addition, get free ATM withdrawals at over 43,000 ATM locations and get up to $10 back in external ATM processing fees.

If you’re looking for longer savings options, CDs can make the difference, and Ally Bank has three to choose from. 

Their High Yield CDs have competitive fixed rates with extra money coming your way when you renew your CDs. The Raise Your Rates CD allows you to increase your APY once for a two-year CD and twice for a four-year CD. A No Penalty CD has no penalty for removing funds after six days, and you get to keep the interest it generated.

How to Add Funds to an Ally Bank Account

You can add funds to Ally bank through direct deposit or online transfers, Ally eCheck deposit, wire transfers, and through the mail.

  • Linking an External Account

Linking an external account is easy with Ally Bank. All you have to do is log in to your account, click on Transfers, and then Linked accounts. Then you’ll add in the routing number, account number, and the account type you’ll be using to transfer money. Once Ally Bank verifies the ownership, you are good to go.

  • Wire Transfers

Wire transfers are another way to transfer funds between accounts electronically. You want to use this option when you need to move money quickly. Ally Bank charges $20 for all domestic transfers. Ally Bank may contact you by phone for verification.

You’ll need your routing number, account number, your name, and the physical address you’re sending the money to. Unfortunately, Ally Bank does not do international wire transfers to reduce the risk of scammers trying to access your money.

  • eCheck Deposits

You can now deposit checks in the comfort of your own home or wherever you would like. Simply use your phone to take a couple of pictures, and your money will be in your account very quickly but typically no more than a couple of business days.

Once you’re in your account, select Deposit Checks. Follow the instructions by taking a picture of both sides of your check. Then you’ll enter the amount on the check. Finally, you’ll hit submit, and the money is on its way to your bank account. There is a $50,000/day and a $250,000/month limit for eChecks.

  • Mail Deposits

Ally Bank may not have a way to deposit cash, but you can send checks through the mail and deposit them into your account. Ensure the back of the check has both “For Deposit Only” and your signature, so it gets appropriately deposited.

Get pre-paid, self-addressed Ally Bank envelopes by calling or sending them an online message if the ones in your welcome kit are gone. Do not send cash through the mail to Ally Bank. Ally Bank will return it to you.

While it does take longer for the check to get deposited into your bank account, there are no amount limits to what you can send by mail, so if you’re at your eCheck limit, you can always do it this way.

The Ally Bank App

Digital banks are awesome because they travel with us anywhere, safe in an app on our phone. The Ally Bank mobile app is easy to download and is available to almost anyone with a smartphone. It’s a fast and easy way to check your balance. The app allows iPhone and Android users to pay bills straight from the app, and iPhone users get Ally Assist to help you with your banking questions.

The one thing the app doesn’t do yet is let you know where the no-fee ATMs are. Here’s to hoping they add that soon, so we don’t have to go to the mobile web version to figure it out.

Saving with Ally Bank

Out of the many challenger banks we try, two things stand out as unique for saving with Ally Bank. First, the way they split savings into buckets and then optimizing the money we save.

  • Setting up Boosters

Boosters are automatic ways to increase your savings and put more money in the piggy bank for a rainy day, and the great thing is that they can be as hands-on or hands-off as you’d like them to be.

  • Recurring Transfers

You won’t have to worry about having to transfer money over from checking to savings ever again. Take a few minutes and have peace of mind that your money will roll right into your savings account like clockwork.

  • Round-Ups

When you activate this, you’ll automatically save whenever you use your Ally Bank debit card. Each transfer will be between $5 and $20, and Ally will ensure that your checking balance isn’t close to zero before they do. In addition, these transfers are instantaneous and are unstoppable. So if you find you need the money, you can always transfer it back to checking.

  • Surprise Savings

Allow Ally Bank to keep track of your checking account to spot hidden savings that they call safe-to-save money. Then, Ally Bank will transfer this money into savings without you having to lift a finger, and since they analyze your account, you’ll never have to worry that it’s money that you need.

  • Setting up Buckets

Buckets are fascinating. Instead of having multiple savings accounts for all the different things you save for or having it all in one savings account and keeping track manually, you can sort your savings into buckets with Ally Bank.

Buckets allow you to split your savings by category, and you can have up to ten buckets per account. Choose from their popular selection, which includes an emergency fund, vet, bills, and vacation, or create your own for something off-the-wall.

Change it up whenever you wish. It’s your savings account, and Ally Bank offers you the greatest flexibility it can. We wish we’d found something like this sooner. It would save a lot of headaches trying to plan a senior high school trip to Germany.

Traveling with Ally Bank

When you decide to travel, you should always notify your bank not to freeze your account when using it in a different country. It’s only common courtesy. Your Ally Bank debit card can be used wherever VISA is accepted.

As for withdrawals from an ATM, while you’re abroad, as long as you can find a free ATM on their website, you’re good to go, but you can get hit with an external fee. Also, Ally has an international processing fee of 1% when withdrawing money from your account at an ATM.

Holding Custodial Accounts

You want to set your kids up for success and teach them good banking habits, and that’s great. However, Ally Bank does not do joint accounts with minors. If you’d like to put money aside for them when they’re grown, then you should look into a custodial account.

Custodial accounts are accounts you hold in your child’s name until they reach the age of majority. Please call them at 1-877-247-2559 or through the chat service online to discuss the type of custodial accounts Ally Bank offers.

Transferring a Custodial Account When the Minor Becomes an Adult

When your child reaches the age of majority, the custodial account goes to your child. For that to happen, there are a few things that need to get done first.

Your grown child will need to call Ally Bank to set up their login credentials and open a new account with Ally Bank, where Ally Bank will transfer the funds from the custodial account. If Ally Bank needs more identity verification, they may ask the former child for a copy of their ID or social security card.

As for you, the parent, you need to contact Ally Bank through their messaging system and let them know if you’d like to transfer the funds directly into your child’s account and have the money sent by check instead.

Once all the T’s have been crossed and the I’s dotted, Ally Bank reviews everything. If it all checks out, then the funds get released to your child.

Overdraft Fees

Ally Bank does not have overdraft fees. This rule came about during the 2020 pandemic, and Ally Bank brought it back permanently at the end of July 2021. They continue to scrub their site of any obsolete overdraft fee information, so if you see any, please either bring it to their attention or ignore it entirely.

Ally Bank does provide a free overdraft fee service that transfers money in $100 increments from a linked account or savings account should you overdraft, but it counts towards your six transfers per statement cycle.

Investing With Ally

Ally Bank has checking and savings accounts, but they also have investing options you can sign up for. So whether you’d like to do it yourself or have someone manage your portfolio for you, Ally Bank’s got you covered. See their website for details and learn how to get started investing today.

FAQ

  • Who Can Apply for an Ally Bank Account?

Any permanent United States resident that’s 18 years of age or older can open an Ally Bank account.

  • How to Open an Ally Bank Account

There are three ways you can open an Ally Bank account. 

The easiest option is through their website, which you can do from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Simply select which account you’d like to open, add your personal details, choose the funding options and terms you prefer. Once Ally Bank reviews your information and your account gets approved, you’ll receive an email from Ally Bank.

You can call them at 1-877-247-2559 to open an account. In addition, the Ally Bank customer support team’s phone lines are open 24/7.

You can also mail the information in by downloading the forms you need, printing them, filling them out, and then mailing them to the address on the application.

  • Is My Money Safe With Ally?

Ally Bank is FDIC insured up to $250,000. As long as your account is under that number, you don’t have to worry. You are not liable for any unauthorized transactions as long as you call them at 1-877-247-2559 within 60 days from when your statement was made available.

Ally Bank also uses anti-virus and malware protection to make sure your money and data are safe. So you can breathe easy knowing everything is alright.

  • Who Owns Ally Bank?

Ally Bank’s current headquarters is in Utah, and the CEO, Jeffrey J. Brown, has been on the board since 2015. In 2019 Jeffrey was honored as CEO of the Year by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and in July of 2020, Ally Bank won the award for Best Internet Bank by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Customer Reviews

Ally Bank has a 3.6-star rating out of five on Consumer Affairs. Many praise the banking system and are loyal customers. Those who don’t seem pleased seem to be more on the auto loan side of things, making finding fact from fiction very confusing.

Competitors

With plenty of different mobile banks out there, we would be here listing competitors all day, but a few stood out. So let’s take a quick look at a few competing mobile banks.

Axos Bank

axos bank

Axos Bank is an all-in-one that functions as a big bank corporation but without all the fees attached to it, and that’s all due to it being a mobile bank. It’s free to sign up, and you can get everything from checking and savings to investing. You can even set up a commercial account with them for all you entrepreneurs out there.

Cogni

cogni digital banking

One of the newest in the line of challenger bank startups, Cogni is a people-based service offering fast and easy banking solutions for those on the go or unable to make it to an actual bank. Perform instant transfers to other Cogni accounts and deposit money through Visa ReadyLink locations. You can even write digital checks.

Lili Bank

lili bank

If you’re a freelancer that needs all your financial stuff in one place, Lili Bank is your go-to. It’s free to sign up with low or non-existent fees and has an all-inclusive tax and expense tool. In addition, Lili Bank is an actual digital-only bank and is exclusively done through smartphones. There are also no hidden fees, so what you see is what you get.

Ally Bank in a Nutshell

That’s it for the Ally Bank review. What can we say other than Ally Bank is a great all-in-one digital bank and perfect for those looking to combine multiple types of accounts under one roof. It looks like a neobank powerhouse with its ability to function as a bank and an investment firm, auto loan dealer, home loan dealer, and personal loan dealer.

The Ally Bank mobile app gives people the freedom to do banking from anywhere and integrates perfectly with a busy person’s life. There are many ways to save your money and lots of money management tools that you should expect from a digital bank.

The history of Ally Bank is over 100 years old, and their attention to adaptation makes them a cut above the rest when it comes to mobile banks. They’ve been around this long, so they must be doing something right.