Several years ago, the banking division of GMAC Financial rebranded under the name Ally Bank. So what has changed at Ally Bank? Besides changing their logo, Ally Bank has been busy seeking out new customers by increasing their interest rates to offer one of the best high yield savings accounts in the nation, offering new financial products and services, acquiring the discount brokerage firm TradeKing, and enhancing their customer service.
Ally Bank Financial Products & Services
Ally Bank has come a long way in the last few years. Their initial claim to fame was a high interest savings accounts and Certificates of Deposit. They have since added several different products and services en route to becoming a full-service online financial institution. Ally Bank now offers:
- Savings Products & IRAs
- Interest Checking
- Ally CashBack Credit Card
- Auto Loans & Home Mortgages
- Investing with a discount brokerage and a managed investment service.
- Tools & Education
Here is a brief overview of the products and services Ally Bank offers.
Ally Bank Savings Accounts, Money Market, and CDs
Ally Bank offers five main savings products: Online Savings Account, Money Market Account, Classic CD, and No Penalty CD, IRAs.
- Online Savings Account. Interest rates are currently among the highest in the nation (see additional savings account rates). There are no minimum balances, no account opening minimums, and no maintenance fees.
- Money Market Account. Ally Bank Money Market Account holders have access to a check card with free ATM transactions, but there is a limit of 6 withdrawals per month (the Federal Reserve limits the number of transfers and withdrawals from a savings accounts to 6 per month).
- Classic CDs. Ally offers Certificates of Deposit (CDs) of varying lengths and interest rates. I recommend visiting the Ally Bank CD page for more information about current rates. You can also compare CD rates on our site.
- No penalty CDs. One of the features that sets Ally Bank CDs apart from CDs at other banks is the no penalty Certificate of Deposit. The no penalty CD allows you to lock in the interest rate while still having the option to withdraw your funds without any penalties. The downside is that the no penalty CD rates are slightly lower than the traditional CD rates. But they are also higher than the standard interest rates, so you have a chance to earn more interest than a savings account. This gives people flexibility in the event of an emergency or if they decide to withdraw their funds because rates rise and they can lock in a better rate.
- IRAs. The IRAs offered by Ally Bank are primarily savings vehicles, featuring Certificates of deposit or fixed rates of return. While I generally recommend opening an IRA with the intent of long-term growth, housing a Certificate of Deposit in an IRA can be a good strategy for those on fixed income or those who are in the withdrawal phase of their retirement.
Ally Bank Interest Checking
In today’s banking environment, it’s becoming more common for banks to charge you for a checking account instead of paying you to use your checking account. Ally Bank is one of the exceptions, offering an Interest Checking account that pays more interest than most banks pay on their savings accounts. The Ally Bank Interest Checking account is among the best free online checking accounts in the nation.
Every Ally Bank checking account comes with online and mobile banking services, a debit MasterCard® with EMV chip technology, standard checks, online Bill Pay and postage-paid deposit envelopes. You can also deposit checks remotely with Ally eCheck Deposit?.
Like the Ally Bank savings account, there are no monthly minimums or monthly maintenance fees. Members have access to the Allpoint® ATM in the U.S. for free, plus Ally Bank reimburses up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide.
Ally CashBack Credit Card
The Ally CashBack Credit Card is a solid rewards credit card, offering cash back on every day purchases. Here are the details:
- No annual fee.
- Earn unlimited rewards as you shop:
- 2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Get a 10% Ally Deposit Bonus when you deposit your cash rewards into an eligible Ally Bank account
- Receive a $100 bonus when you make $500 in eligible purchases during the first 3 billing cycles
- Pay confidently anywhere Visa® is accepted
- Can be added to Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay™
Auto Loans and Home Mortgages
Ally Bank offers auto loans for personal and business use. They also offer Recreational Vehicle (RV) loans. You can buy a new home through Ally, or use them to refinance your current mortgage. The Ally Bank website offers several calculators for both auto and home loans to help you get an idea of how much you can afford, what your payments might be, and more. They also offer tips for first-time home buyers.
Ally Invest – Discount Brokerage and Managed Investment Services
One of Ally’s strengths is their investment section, Ally Invest. There are only a few competitors in the discount brokerage space that have some of their advantages, and one of those is their low commission rates. They have a low $4.95 fee for trading stocks, and depending on how often you trade, you can get lower $3.95 rates. You’ll have to do at least 30 trades or more a month to qualify for the lower rates.
They have a variety of investments products that you can use. They have self-directed to fit your financial needs. If you want to have more hands-on control, then their Self-Directed Trading account is going to be the best option for you. They have no account minimum that you have to meet and a variety of analysis tools and research that you can use to help make the best decisions for your money.
If you don’t want to put directly involved with your investment portfolio, then you can open an Ally Invest Managed Portfolio instead. With these accounts, they automate the investing using their technology and algorithms. Their program will automatically invest your money based on your goals and risk tolerance.
With the Ally invested account, you’ll pay a 0.30% annual fee for the advisory services, regardless of what the account balance is. There is a minimum investment to up an account. You’ll have to put in at least $2,500 to get access to their account management. This might seem like a hefty amount to some people, but this is much lower than a vast majority of other professionally managed accounts.
Drawbacks of Investing with Ally
There are a few areas that Ally is not going to be the best option. One of those is their commission-free ETFs, which is because they don’t have any. The vast majority of competitors on the market offer several commission-free ETFs, which is a great way for long-term investors to build their portfolio without having them eaten away by fees.
Another drawback of opening an account with Ally is their mutual funds. They have over 12,000 mutual funds that you can choose from, but none of them are fee-free. Just like with their ETFs, they don’t offer any free trades on mutual funds, unlike some other options. While they have some of the lowest fees at $9.95, it might be a better option to find a brokerage that will offer no-fee mutual funds.
Ally Bank Tools & Education
The Ally bank website does a great job of breaking down financial topics to help educate their customers. In fact, they have an entire section on their site devoted to financial education. The topics are broken down by stage of life. For example, getting started, getting married, budgeting, saving for a major purchase, preparing for retirement, and more. Ally also offers a variety of financial tools including calculators, education, investing tools, and a blog. Overall, I would rate their website as one of the most user-friendly when it comes to consumer education.
Opening an Account at Ally Bank
Opening an account at Ally Bank is a quick and relatively painless process (as painless as opening any financial account nowadays). Be prepared to have your personal information ready, and be aware that you will have to submit to a credit check when you apply. Unlike some banks, Ally Bank approves applications based on credit risk, so your credit worthiness may affect your ability to open an account. When you open your account you also have the option of simultaneously opening CDs or a Money market account, which is a nice feature.
Ally Bank Customer Service
I haven’t had to use Ally’s customer service yet, but their support availability is greater than most banks. Ally Bank offers online and 24 hour telephone customer service options:
- Ally Bank Telephone Number: 1-877-247-ALLY (2559) for 24/7 assistance
- Ally Bank Address: Ally Bank, P.O.Box 13625, Philadelphia, PA 19101
- Ally Bank E-mail: [email protected]
Other Features at Ally Bank
Ally Bank offers an easy to use user interface,
- Each Ally Bank account is FDIC insured to $250,000.
- Ally Bank supports Quicken, Mint.com, Personal Capital, and a host of other online money management tools.
- Ability to choose paper or electronic statements.
- Ability to create sub-accounts with different names and account numbers (great for targeted savings, or setting up a child’s account).
- High level of online security – if you try logging on from a computer that isn’t registered with Ally Bank they will send you an e-mail with a password good for one use (unless you wish to register the computer).
Ally Bank offers some of the highest interest rates in the nation and all accounts are FDIC insured. Add the no penalty CDs, money market account, lack of fees or minimum deposit requirements, high security ratings, and solid customer service, and you have the recipe for a good bank. If you are looking for a new bank or higher interest rates, Ally Bank is a worthy option.
While Ally Bank might have a few drawbacks, they are still one of the best options for opening an online savings account. They have just about any financial product that you would need. As long as you don’t want a bank with a physical location, they could be one of the best options for you. If you want a bank that will allow you to save your money, invest it, or just have an account with any hidden fees, then Ally Bank is the place to go. Opening an account is quick and simple.