Ally Bank Savings Account Review

allyreview_logoI’ve banked with Ally for years (checking, savings, and multiple CDs), but I’ve never done a specific review of their savings account until now. Ally has recently raised their rates to be closer to the rotating list of banks jockeying for top spot.

The Ally Online Savings Account has no minimum balance, no monthly fees, and currently pays 0.99% APY (as of 12.19.14). Their interest rates may not be the absolute highest, but they have consistently been within 0.10% of the temporarily top banks, making it not worthwhile to move my money. (See my rate chaser calculator). Let’s go through the important factors.

User Interface. Below is a screenshot of the main page after logging in (click to enlarge). I can see all of my accounts and their balances at a glance. The overall design is clean and practical (with a good dose of purple).

allyreview_main

Customer Service. Ally Bank differentiates itself with their customer service. First of all, they are available 24/7 at 1-877-247-ALLY (2559). When you use their smartphone app or log into their website, you can see the wait time beforehand. Even better, if you don’t want to call them you can just use their Live Chat feature. I have highlighted these with red arrows on the screenshot above.

Awards. Ally Bank has won “Best Online Bank” from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in 2014 and “Best Online Bank” from Money Magazine from 2011-2014.

FDIC Insurance. Ally Bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC Certificate #57803. As with other FDIC-insured banks, this means your Ally deposits are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor, for each account ownership category.

Funds Transfers. With no physical branches, online savings accounts should have maximum flexibility as they are often secondary accounts (given most megabank checking accounts pay either no interest or a sad 0.01% APY). Ally Bank allows you to link any other external bank account using the standard routing number and account numbers. As long as you initiate the transfer before 7:30 pm Eastern Time, the transfer will take 2 business days. You can link up to 20 different accounts (it used to be unlimited; but other banks limit to 3; I have 7 myself).

So if I initiate a transfer on Monday afternoon by 7:30pm ET, the money will be debited first thing on Tuesday, and credited to the destination account first thing Wednesday. But know that if you initiate on a Saturday, you’ll get the same result. Even bank computers really don’t like working weekends, it seems. Overall, free transfers within 2 business days during the week is about as good as it gets for online banks.

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The transfer limits are also relatively high. On my accounts, I see that I have a $150,000 daily limit outbound and $250,000 daily limit inbound, with a total monthly limit of $600,000 outbound and $1,000,000 inbound. Keeping in mind that all savings accounts from any bank are limited to six withdrawals per month.

Mobile check deposit. You can use the Ally smartphone app to deposit checks using your smartphone camera. (This is in addition to using your computer scanner and/or free postage-paid deposit envelopes.) I’m not sure if this is the same for everyone, but my deposit limit is $50,000 which is higher than many other electronic deposit programs. I’ve used the app to deposit multiple checks without issue. Screenshot below.

allyreview_echeck1 allyreview_echeck2

Mobile app. Let’s see, other comments about the app (iOS and Android)… you can do all the important stuff – see transactions, transfer funds, deposit checks, pay bills. It can remember your username, but you must type in your password every time. I usually just use my Mint app for checking balances, as that only requires a 4-digit PIN. The overall design is acceptable, and the ATM locator includes places like Safeway stores that offer “cash back with purchase”. (If you have the Ally Checking account, you get free ATM fee rebates so the locator is handy as you can just use the nearest ATM.)

The Stats

  • Current interest rate: 0.99% APY (last checked 12/18/2014)
  • Interest Compounding: accrued daily, compounded daily, credited monthly
  • Minimum to open: $0
  • Minimum requirements to avoid monthly service charge: None
  • Number of external bank account links allowed: Unlimited
  • Routing Number: 124003116

Bottom line. The Ally Online Savings Account is a solid offering with with no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement, and a historically competitive interest rate. I like that their brand is built around the “no hidden fees” slogan. Additional features like a flexible funds transfer system and solid 24/7 customer service help differentiate themselves from the competition.

You can use this savings account either as a complement to your local bank, but I really like how it works with the Ally Checking account which offers unlimited ATM fee rebates, free online billpay, and the ability to use the savings account as a free overdraft source. Ally also has certificates of deposit which offer competitive rates at times.

Comments

  1. In my mind Ally’s only downfall is their very temperamental mobile check deposit feature, my other banks use industry leader Mitek for their mobile check deposit while Ally continues to use a finicky homegrown solution that repeatedly rejects images.

    • Interesting comment. I have tried them along side two other banks that offer check cashing through the mobile app, and I have found Ally to be the easiest to use. That does not mean they are the best when compared to all others, but they are my go-to when depositing a check, especially tough ones (i.e., checks that look like mail/postcards).

  2. Have been using ally since the time they were gmac bank. It’s the best account I have. The unlimited external account linking is a HUGE benefit. They’ve also consistently been among the top interest rates.

  3. I also give high marks to Ally. They are the only online bank I still use from the heydays of 4%-5% interest rates on Money Markets and CDs. Though I do find it humorous or depressing, going on 5 years now to see them touting 1.5% interest rates as if its something to get excited about as about to enraged. We can thank Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke and our friends on Wall Street for that.

  4. Big fan of ally bank. Unfortunately the same can not be said of them about me. They have shut down my two savings accounts. I had been making many transfers between banks moving money around…far more than average person, but nothing illegal. Their customer service was great, until the shutdown… where they did the usual tricks of delaying the 30 day notice of the shutdown, refusing to give out even basic answers (like can I open a checking account with them) and so on.

    • Just curious, but what reason did Ally give you for shutting down your savings accounts? And why so many transfers between banks?

      • Ally didn’t give a reason. Banks almost never give reasons, just 30 day notices. I wasn’t expecting a reason, but I was hoping they’d at least tell me if I could open a checking account with them (I didn’t know if they were unhappy with the savings tranfers, or the transfers in general).

        All of the transfers were due to manufactured spending. Basically depositing money orders in other bank accounts, transferring them to ally, and transferring them out of ally to the bank where I’m purchasing them. I thought ally was a pretty safe cog in the wheel, but apparently I was wrong.

        • Just wanted to add a quick confirmation that Ally does not like being used solely/primarily as a transfer hub. If you repeatedly move money in, just to move it out again immediately, they will close your account. I can see their side that such behavior appears like potential for fraud, even if it it isn’t. It would be nice if they outlined their policy more clearly. I’ve moved some big amounts through Ally when I really needed to, but it was maybe once every 6 months and I still use them for day-to-day activities.

          • Also want to add that in my experience the bank doesn’t care about the positives of your relationship, if the right person sees any potential concern, you are history. I had been a good Ally customer for many years, I had my work direct deposits there, and I regularly had 20K plus in my accounts. BofA chopped me off after about 15 years with them, and again I had my direct deposits there. They are judge, jury and executioner, and they’ll hit you with a 30 days notice letter out of nowhere (that always takes at least a week to arrive in the mail).

        • I was using them for some pretty decent MS, due to their system of allowing many checking accounts all under one user account. I was moving in over 5 figures per month and was never questioned about it. I made sure that I moved the money in and then paid from Ally. No middle-man operation due to the time the transfers were taking. Apparently that may have been my saving grace.

  5. Another nice thing about Ally Bank is that they have no fee for incoming wire transfers. That’s a great saving if you’re someone who receives wire transfers on any kind of regular basis.

    I have had the occasional difficulty with check deposits, where their software doesn’t recognize or accept a check I’m trying to deposit, but overall my experience with them has been great!

  6. If people are using this for long-term saving, they might as well use Ally’s CD:
    http://www.ally.com/bank/high-yield-cd/

    It’s higher yield and their early termination penalties are pretty ok. I guess for people that expect to just leave a security deposit around for a while but still want the flexibility to get the money back in case of an “emergency”

  7. Been using Ally for a while now. Once they added the mobile deposit option via mobile app it made using it even more convenient. The app can be finicky, but I don’t deposit enough to complain about it too much….

  8. The purple is a psychology thing that implies wealth, according to (http://www.vandelaydesign.com/the-psychology-of-color-in-web-design/).
    “Purple has long been associated with nobility, so it is no surprise that dark shades of purple imply wealth and luxury. Lighter shades suggest fields of lavender and are associated with spring and romance.”

  9. I do love Ally bank. I just wish they had plans to support Apple Pay. I may leave them soon for that reason.

  10. josefismael says:

    Love Ally. I’ve had the their MM and online checking for quite awhile now. Interest on the MM is .85 and I don’t use it’s debit or check features….hmmm.

    ALSO: It’s a bit buried in your article, but Ally checking reimburses you for ALL US ATM fees, no exceptions. (not sure on foreign ATMs tho).

    • Yes you’re right they won’t reimburse foreign ATM fees. However, in my experience in Europe and parts of Asia the ATMs often don’t charge fees on their end. Instead, usually your own bank gets charged a fee behind the scenes and passes it along to you via a $5 foreign ATM fee or similar. Ally Bank doesn’t charge such a fee on their end, so in those cases you’re still getting money without fees.

  11. Any idea why banks don’t let you do online transfers on weekends? It seems stupid to have computers work only during business hours M-F.

  12. Since you touched on the UI of the website, you may want to mention that substantial changes are coming soon: Their Beta site is at http://www.ally.com/learn/earlyaccess/

    • Thanks, I don’t recall them telling me about this, but I may have overlooked it. The new UI looks a lot like their smartphone app. I like the bigger text elements and the overall feel, just hope all the fancy stuff doesn’t slow everything down.

  13. I use Ally for several CDs, but have only used ING Direct / CapitalOne 360 for online savings. Happy enough with their interface, especially for multiple accounts, and with the small difference in rates I’m not ready to move yet.

    One thing that’s always confused me about my CDs at Ally, though: why does the interest accrued only get added to the balance every 3 or 6 months? I’m pretty sure that when I had CDs at ING Direct the interest was added on monthly.

  14. Hmm, funny timing. I noticed sometime in the last week Ally raised their savings interest rate to 0.95% APY, but as of today 12/19/14 the rate has been upped again slightly to 0.99% APY. Wonder why.

  15. so glad the interface is changing. I actually stopped using them because I had to click 2 times just to get account balance. Long live ING Direct……

  16. How are the rates compared to DCU( Digital Federal Credit Union) Bank ?

  17. The number of allowed external accounts is 20 not unlimited.

  18. Have used Ally as my main bank for years. Do prefer it to ING Direct etc. However, one peeve I have is Ally doesn’t provide outgoing international wire transfers (only domestic allowed). If any Ally staff see this, do please consider offering that service. After all, this is the era of globalization!

    • I’d add that it’s also inconvenient to receive incoming international wire payments at my Ally account, as Ally doesn’t have a SWIFT code for receiving international payments. As a result all incoming payments are routed through an intermediary (JPMorgan Chase), and I lose $25 on every incoming payment (even if the amount is less than $100!). Ally: If you can’t offer outgoing international wires any time soon, please at least make your existing SWIFT code available to receive incoming wires so that your customers can be spared this horrible $25 fee for receiving international wire payments.

  19. I have trouble with checks being rejected. It is certain types of checks it seems that the app just doesn’t like.

    But the password is the big announce. I have an iPhone 6 with the fingerprint scanner. My CapitalOne app just needs a 6 digit pin to deposit a check. But for Ally I have to go to my computer and find my password (it would actually increase your risk to have a memorable password, so this encourages poor security).

  20. Does Ally Bank allow for Sub-Accounts / partitioning of funds / etc? For instance, I have 10k but want to reserve $5k as emergency, $3k for new car fund and $2k general savings.

    CapitalOne 360 / ING Direct allows for this and it is a real ‘sticky’ feature – as in, I won’t leave because of this single item. I love the ability to be saving toward particular goals and not have my savings all jumbled together. In my case, I have about 10 sub account to cover emergency fund, future big purchases, kid college savings and travel funds. It’s great.

    • I’m also wondering this^

    • Yes, but perhaps not exactly in the same way as ING Direct.

      1) You can open multiple online savings accounts as each has no minimum balance and no fees. You can even open up a bunch CDs as they also have no minimum deposit requirement.

      2) You can edit the “nickname” of each account so that each one has a unique name like “college fund” or “travel”.

      I’m not 100% sure on this, but I believe that ING Direct sub-accounts don’t actually open a “new” savings account for you, but Ally does. Just a small difference. Hope that helps!

  21. I have been a customer for long. However, I don’t like the fact that they only allow you to see 18 months worth of transaction (either via statements or transaction search). They should allow up to 7 years. I recommended this feature to them but they kind of ignored it. It would be nice to see 18 months of monthly statements + 6 years of year end summary type statement that most credit cards offer.

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