Ally Bank Review: You’ll Save Big by Banking With Ally

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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Are you ready to move your banking online?

If so, Ally Bank is there for you. Ally is an online-only bank with one of the highest-yield savings accounts on the market.

Read on to learn about online banking in this full Ally bank review. Plus, you’ll find instructions on how to set up an Ally savings or checking account, step by step.

Bank with ally

Ally Bank review: just the essentials

Ally Bank offers many of the same products as a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, but without physical bank branches. You can open an account and make unlimited deposits via eCheck. You can also take out cash fee-free at any of the 43,000 Allpoint ATMs across the country.

Because Ally doesn’t have as many overhead and administrative expenses as a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, it can offer high annual percentage yields (APY) on its savings accounts. Whatever your balance, you’ll get a 1.00% APY in an Ally savings account. If you had $5,000 in savings, you’d make about $50 in interest after a year. Compared to Bank of America’s 0.01% APY, Ally allows your savings to grow at a much higher rate.

Apart from cash withdrawal at an ATM, you’ll conduct every transaction online or over the phone. Ally has innovative and easy-to-use banking platforms on the web, a tablet, or via mobile app on your iPhone or Android.

Checking your balance is as simple as opening up the app on your phone. If you run into any issues, you can call customer service any time of the day or night. While most banks stick to traditional business hours, Ally offers support on a 24/7 basis.

ally banking

Image credit: Ally Financial, Inc.

Ally Bank products

Ally Bank offers a number of financial products, but its offerings aren’t as extensive as major banks such as Bank of America or Chase. For instance, it doesn’t have 401(ks) or college savings plans. However, Ally does offer common products such as bank accounts, CDs, and auto loans, among others.

Checking accounts

Ally’s checking accounts have no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees. You’ll receive a debit card and standard checks. You can take out cash from an Allpoint ATM for no fee and there are no limits to how many withdrawals you make. Need to use an out-of-network ATM? Ally will also reimburse any ATM fees for up to $10 per statement cycle.

You’ll deposit checks by uploading a photo of your check on the mobile app or website. You can also send money to someone using PopMoney, Ally’s user-friendly money transfer service.  

If your daily balance is lower than $15,000, you’ll get a 0.10% APY. With a balance of $15,000 or greater, you’ll earn a 0.60% APY.

Savings accounts

As mentioned above, Ally savings accounts have a competitive APY of 1.00% at any balance tier.

Your FDIC-protected savings account has no monthly maintenance fee. You can make unlimited deposits, but there’s a limit of six additional transactions per statement cycle.

Unlike an Ally checking account, an Ally savings account doesn’t come with checks or a debit card.

Money Market accounts

Money market accounts are Ally’s third option for a bank account.

In a money market account, you’ll earn an APY of 0.85%, regardless of your account balance. You’ll also get checks and a debit card. However, you won’t get the free online bill pay service that comes with a checking account.

Money market accounts are most useful to customers with a daily balance lower than $15,000. They give you the high interest rate of a savings account but the check and debit card options of a checking account.

Certificates of deposit (CD)

A CD is a timed deposit with a fixed yield. The longer you agree to leave your deposit in the account, the higher your yield will be. If you try to withdraw your deposit early, you’ll have to pay a penalty.

With Ally Bank, you can purchase a CD for a term as short as three months or as long as five years. Your APY will vary depending on the term you select.

As of this writing, an 18-month term CD would get you 1.20% APY on $5,000. If your balance is greater than $5,000, your APY increases to 1.25%. If your balance exceeds $25,000, you’ll earn a 1.35% APY.

You can also open an independent retirement account (IRA) CD. These FDIC-insured IRA CDs are available for Roth, Traditional, or SEP IRAs.

IRAs

If you’re interested in saving for retirement, open an IRA Online Savings Account with Ally. Ally IRAs are available for Roth, Traditional, or SEP accounts. They all have an APY of 1.00%, which is on the low end compared to other banks.

Ally CashBack Credit Card

ally savings

Image credit: Ally Financial, Inc.

Ally offers a cash back credit card with no annual fee. You’ll get two percent cash back at gas stations and grocery stores and one percent cash back on all other purchases. If you spend $500 in the first few months, you’ll earn a $100 bonus. Since it’s a Visa, you can use the Ally card pretty much anywhere.

By no means are you obligated to open an Ally card as the bank’s customer. You may qualify for other cash back credits card with even more lucrative rewards programs.

Vehicle financing and protection

Ally was originally an auto financing company, and it continues to offer car loans and protection plans today. Whether you want to buy or lease a vehicle, you can browse flexible financing offers or find a protection product that includes basic or full vehicle coverage.

Home loans and refinancing

Finally, you can take out or refinance a home mortgage through Ally Bank. The bank offers a number of terms; Ally’s 30-year plans, for instance, have interest rates between 4.25% and 4.326%. Already have a mortgage? You can refinance an existing mortgage to lower your monthly payments and pay the loan off faster.

Visit Ally Bank Now

Using the Ally online platform

Because Ally is an online-only bank, all of your banking transactions will primarily happen online. Head to the Ally Bank website to create an account. With some basic information, you can create your account in 10 minutes.

First, indicate whether or not you’re a new customer.

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Select the Ally banking product you want to open.

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Then, indicate whether you’re applying for an individual or joint account.

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And finally, enter basic information such as your name, phone number, address, and Social Security number.

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Once you’ve created an account, you can start to make deposits. You’ll receive a debit card and checks within 10 days of account opening, if applicable.

Using the Ally mobile app

To access mobile banking, download the free Ally app on your phone. With the app, you can make deposits, initiate transfers, or simply check the balance in your accounts.

To deposit a check, you just need to snap a picture. To send money to someone else, enter their email or phone number to get started with Ally’s PopMoney.

The Ally app also has an optional splurge alert that tracks where you spend the most. If you’re nearing a high-spend store, the app will warn you to watch your budget and help you keep your spending impulse in check.

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Image credit: Ally Financial, Inc.

Eligibility requirements and fees

There are no monthly maintenance fees or deposit minimums with Ally Bank. In fact, you can open an account before depositing any money into it. There are also no fees for transfers or incoming wires, and you can make unlimited deposits.

However, there is a $20 fee for outgoing wires and a $25 fee for overdraft items. Ally is transparent about its various fee structures on each of its banking products, however, so it’s easy to avoid charges if you’re careful.

Join Ally today

Pros and cons of banking with Ally

So what are the advantages and drawbacks of Ally banking?

Pros

  • Relatively high yields for checking, savings, and money market accounts
  • $0 account minimum and no monthly maintenance fees
  • Easy-to-use website and mobile app
  • Transparent fee structure
  • Over 43,000 fee-free ATMs and $10 reimbursement for other ATM fees
  • Simple and fee transfers to external accounts
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons

  • No in-person banking
  • Limited number of financial products
  • Can’t deposit cash into your accounts
  • Not much financial advising for complex situations

History of Ally

Today, Ally Bank is a leader in the innovative online and mobile banking space, but the company actually started 100 years ago to provide financing to car dealers. Ally was previously GMAC and a division of GM.

During World War II, GMAC moved beyond cars to work with railroad companies, household appliance dealers, and customers. At the time, their slogan was “Enjoy financing where you buy.”

In the 1970s, GMAC expanded into the auto insurance domain. In the 80s and 90s, it purchased the Bank of New York’s lending unit, marking its move into lending for equity sponsors and middle-market companies.

It wasn’t until 2009 that GMAC Bank turned into Ally Bank. Ally focuses on using online banking to create better value for customers. Plus, it’s dedicated to extraordinary, around-the-clock customer support.

Ally Bank contact information

Beyond this Ally Bank review, find more information online or through Ally customer service. You can contact Ally Bank by phone, email, chat, or mail.

Phone: 1-877-247-2559

Email: Log into your account to send a secure message.

Chat: Head to the Ally Bank website to chat.

If you don’t want to use eCheck deposit, you can send deposits and endorsed checks (but not cash) to the following address:

Ally Bank
P.O. Box 13625
Philadelphia, PA 19101

You can also like Ally Bank on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at the handle @Ally. Learn more about the company @AllyFinancial or follow Ally customer service @AllyCare.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.