Ally is everything you need out of an online bank. They do everything adequately and there aren’t any huge misses in their approach to online banking.
Let’s run through the review thumbs up, thumbs down style so you can see what parts of Ally I like and the parts that need work.
Thumbs up: Web interface
Personally, this is the most important priority of an online bank. I’m going to be relying on this site to manage my money so it better be pretty on the eyes.
Some of the positives: I like the color scheme of purple, black, and gray. It’s relatively easy to navigate and find what you need even if it’s your first time looking for something. It’s not overloaded with unnecessary features and links. Only the vital information you need is located on the account home page. They use screen space efficiently without being bare or cluttered.
Thumbs up: Easy to create multiple savings accounts
I wrote a post about this topic a couple of months ago. Currently, I use 3 savings accounts – general savings, emergency fund, and house fund – and it takes less than 2 minutes to create a new account. You can also transfer between your accounts instantly. Having 3 different savings accounts allows me to track my savings goals and I can put aside money for an emergency fund that is untouchable.
I wish they advertised the ability to create multiple accounts a little more, but once you know how to create the account, it’s like riding a bike and you won’t forget how to do it.
Thumbs down: No daily running interest counts
I loved how my old online bank would keep a running total of your interest accumulated above your account’s information. I would check my account every couple of days and could see the progress of the account. It was like a morning coffee – it just made your day a little better.
Ally tells you how much your daily accumulated interest is , but they only list that number (which is usually too small to care) and then your total at the end of the month. This is a nitpicky complaint, but I use online banks because of their high interest rates so why not throw your customers a bone and show them how much they’re received in interest from one day to the next?
Thumbs up: Quick, simple transfers
Transferring within your accounts is instant and getting money to your external bank only takes a couple of days. An 8-year old could figure transfers out and you can even schedule transfers for reoccurring dates. This is great for automatically building savings by transferring, say, $50 a month in to your savings from your external checking account.
Thumbs down: No referral system
ING was all about getting you to tell your friends about their bank. They offered you and your referee money, promoted it on every page, and wanted you to know that they’ll hook you up if you tell your friends about them.
Ally’s main page has zero information about referrals. Nothing. Do they not want new members? Do they not want people to talk about their bank? Do they not want to give $10 to a new customer?
Fix this, Ally. I’ll tell my friends about you.
Undecided thumb: Checking account
I also opened an Ally Interest Checking Account in May, but haven’t had much experience with it since I’m abroad. They offer a healthy .50% interest rate on money in your checking account and offer a nice little bill pay feature.
Their biggest selling point is the debit card which offers no ATM fees. Since they’re an online bank, they don’t have ATMs, so you’ll see a small fee but it’ll be quickly refunded. This should be the gold standard for all checking accounts soon.
If I was in America and used this account more, I’m sure it would be a thumbs up, but we’ll have to leave that review for a later date.
Overall: A big thumbs up
Ally does everything you need, without beating you over the head with unnecessary features. Ally doesn’t bother me with e-mail and the one time I’ve called their customer service they were helpful and cheery.
If you’re switching from another online bank, like a new hair cut it’ll take some time to get used to, but after a couple weeks you’ll feel like you’ve been using their services for years.
They are a young bank so hopefully they’ll fix some of my nitpicky complaints soon, but if you’re looking for an online bank, Ally will fit your needs and leave you more than satisfied with what they offer.