Ally Bank Application Review

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Ally BankTwo weeks ago, I applied for an account at Ally Bank, the new rebranded name for GMAC Bank. Their rates have fallen in recent weeks but are still competitive, so I wanted to open an account to take advantage of certificate of deposit rates while they were still strong.

Ally claims the account opening process takes only 10 minutes, which, after my experience, is probably accurate if you don’t run into any problems (more on that later). It’s also important that you have all the information present, including but not limited to your social security number, your driver’s license, and any banking information for the accounts you want to link to your Ally account (ABA routing number, name, account numbers, etc.) It’s all fairly standard stuff.

Select Account

Selecting Account Owners: The first step covers how many owners the account will have. We selected joint owners (2) because I want the account to be in both of our names. The primary reason is so that both of us can access and work with this account. If it were only in my name, I would have to do everything. If it were only in her name, she would have to do everything. Joint account ownership gives us flexibility. The second reason is because FDIC insurance is $250,000 per account per person, so with two names on this account, we get $500,000 of FDIC insurance coverage. The difference between $250,000 and $500,000 is really meaningless for us but something to consider if you have a large amount of assets.

Selecting Products: The next sub-step of the account selection process is selecting the products you will want. We chose the 12-month CD offering 2.80% APY and the regular online savings account offering 2.25% APY. The interface is intuitive but the “Potential Earnings” calculation is a little tricky. On Certificates of Deposit, the potential earnings is calculated for the entire term. On Online Savings Accounts, it’s calculated for the month. Frr example, we put in $5k for the CD with a potential earnings of $138.38 and then $5,000 in the OSA with a potential earnings of $9.47. The $138.38 is the earnings over 12 months, the $9.47 is the earnings each month.

Ally Bank: Adding Products

Naming accounts: I like to name my CD accounts a particular way – CD [term] [maturity date], so my CD is named CD 12m: June 2010 so I know it’s a 12 month CD that matures in June 2010. I don’t know what the account summary screen will look like so I always name my CDs that way so their name gives me all the information I need.

Personal Information

Here’s where it gets to look like every other bank account application process. You will need the social security number and your driver’s license (or military/state ID) of every account owner. From there, you enter in your typical personal information like address, phone number, identifying information (the license or other ID).

Here’s a nice touch on the part of Ally, each account holder gets their own username, password, secret code, and banking pin. I’ve had joint accounts at other online banks before, not many, and they have only given us one account login to share. (after you set up your login, each person is asked to setup the secret images and secret passphrases and their security questions).

After this step, your account is technically created.

Error. We ran into an error in the account creation process because one of my wife’s credit reports still had her maiden name, which didn’t match her driver’s license name. This flagged the application so we would need to mail in a copy of her driver’s license.

At this point, I think our application departed the usual path.

Adding An External Account

After your account or accounts have been opened, you need to add an external account and then fund your account. Click on “Transfer funds” in the sidebar. At first, this transfer funds screen will be useless because you don’t have any “external accounts” set up. Click on “add external account” to… tada, add an external account.

We added our standard checking account and our ING Direct account (via firewall of course!) as our linked external accounts and used the “online test deposits” as our verification method. Some banks will let you link online savings accounts, some won’t. Ally did let me link up my ING Direct account, so that’s definitely a plus. They also give you the option of verifying by mail, but that would take a long time so we skipped it, that’s so 1999. 🙂

The transfers appeared several days later and the verification process was quick, everything you’d expect.

Transferring Funds

I’m afraid this step was as boring as it sounds. I simply chose which account to transfer from, both of my linked accounts were here, and which I was transfer to. I transfered a little into both my online savings account and the CD maturing in June of 2010.

I initiated the transfer two Wednesday’s ago at 2:30PM and the account was funded effective the very next day. I’m fairly sure the funds didn’t transfer in a single day but it appears they gave me credit starting then because that’s the effective start date of the CD. That’s important because the very next day Ally Bank lowered their CD rate from the 2.50% APY to 2.35% APY.


Except for the hiccup with my wife’s maiden and married names, everything went smoothly. Ally even gave me a call to tell me when the accounts were opened, though it wasn’t entirely necessary. In the week it took to open the account, I called Ally three times and was put in touch with an account representatives within five minutes of starting my call (including navigating the menus). I expected their customer service to be pretty strong. I had always heard that GMAC Bank’s customer service was pretty good and they’re trying to rebrand themselves, so I expected service to be top notch at least in the beginning. (when you log in, it even tells you, in the upper left hand screen, your expected wait time if you were to call their 800 number!)

Overall, there’s nothing about the process that bothered me. If you open an account, expect a hard inquiry to appear on your credit report because they do allow you to overdraw (which makes absolutely no sense). That will reduce your credit score by a few points. If you’re OK with that, the rates are very competitive if you don’t have an online savings account yet.

Time to add this account to our financial network map!

{ 23 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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23 Responses to “Ally Bank Application Review”

  1. Lucy says:

    You seriously got a hard inquiry? How odd that many applicants (including me) only got a soft on our credit reports. I wonder what makes them decide to either do a hard inquiry vs. soft.

    • Jim says:

      I would think everyone would get a hard inquiry, I asked the CSR and they said that since it’s possible to overdraft the account (weird, since it’s a savings), they do it for overdraft protection purposes. Maybe they’ve changed since then? When did you apply?

      • Lucy says:

        I opened a savings account at GMAC sometime in February of this year. I did not get any hard inquiry for this.

  2. Julio says:

    My wife and I opened this account back when they were still GMAC and did not offer online statements, which was a nice feature that Ally added. The only caveat is that GMAC sent a welcome package that included a signature card that had to be signed and returned. Since we opened the account as a savings account and had no intention of writing checks, we never returned the card. As it turns out, you also have to specify on the card is you are exempt from backup withholdings and if you don’t return the card, they assume that you are not exempt. Since they give you 60 days to return the card, we did not notice anything in the first two statements, but by the time the third statement rolled around they started taking 28% of our interest earned and sending it to Uncle Sam. Needless to say that we immediately signed the card and sent it in. No sense in paying taxes up front if you don’t have to. I don’t know if Ally is still requiring the signature card, but be on the lookout for it if you get it.

    • Jim says:

      A signature card is generally recommended, even if you don’t write checks, just so they have another way to confirm you are who you say you are. I didn’t know they used it for backup withholding confirmation too, thanks for the comment.

    • CuriousAG says:

      I recently openend some accounts with Ally, and they still have that signature card process. 🙂

  3. Lynn says:

    In terms of the credit checks, I read somewhere that if you open a GMAC/ALLY CD its a soft pull but the savings account is a hard credit pull.

    • Maddy says:

      Lynn, do you remember where you read that?

      I was actually looking into the Ally Bank No-Penalty CD, but I just got rejected for a credit card (for reasons I’m currently trying to negotiate). I would love to open an account, but I don’t want to risk the hard pull on my report so soon after my rejection.

      • CuriousAG says:

        @Lynn & @Maddy:

        This is my email conversation with Ally (then GMAC) on May 14, hope it helps:

        “Thank you for contacting GMAC Bank. In response to your email, GMAC Bank does check a customers credit when they are opening a new account, this is a Soft hit on the customers credit report only.

        The Money Market and Online Savings Account is a soft hit as well, but does validate more than the hit for a Certificate of Deposit account.

        The Certificate of Deposit credit check will check the credit header for name, address, and Social security matches. It also checks for less than 3 months at the current address as well as drivers license validation and date of birth validation.

        The Money Market and Online Savings accounts will get a Beacon and Qualifile score in addition to the above checks that must meet the Banks criteria to be opened.

        Thank you for your interest in GMAC Bank.”

        • Maddy says:

          I decided to send another email, just to make sure that policies hadn’t changed. I’m glad that the information matches yours!

          “Thank you for contacting Ally Bank. The credit analysis is performed to comply with the USA Patriot Act passed October 1, 2001. In order that we meet our obligation under this Act, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. We do a soft pull for a CD account. We do not ask for a credit score or other credit information.”


          • larry says:

            Well I’m sorry,but that staement is untrue.I just applied online and had to call customer care.They told me they could not open ans account for me because my credit score did not pass. So. your credit score will be the dermining factor for an open account..


  4. jillianlou says:

    ““Potential Earnings” calculation is a little tricky.”

    Do you think this is just an inconsistency on their part or a sneaky way to convince you to do the CD (and therefore lock your money in) rather than the savings account?

    • Jim says:

      It’s inconsistent because of how interest is calculated, they’re trying to give as close a comparison as possible but users have to pay careful attention to the period length. I don’t think there’s any other way to show it but I wanted to leave that as a note so everyone, especially those who didn’t think about it, was aware of it.

  5. cpotts88 says:

    Ally bank is terrible!

    My wife and I tried to open a CD account with them. After several back and forth phone calls and requests to establish our residence and mailing addresses (in addition to our original paperwork and copies of our drivers licenses they wanted utility bills and a copy of our PO Box receipt), we told them to return our money. Their customer service said they would send our original check back. They didn’t. We never had an account with them but they cashed our check. Our bank statement showed the check was paid.

    When I called to ask why my check was cashed, no one could explain. They told me that they would send my complaint to an escalation team for immediate resolution and they would call me back with the results 2 days later. No one ever did. When I called them to find out the status of my check, I was told that my account was pending and that in 5 days or so, they would review the matter. After yelling at the CSR, I was put on hold and eventually told by the rep that she made a mistake, my check was already mailed. I would have it in 7-10 working days.

    A few days later, Ally called me again. This time, I was told that I would have to prove that the check had been cashed in order to receive a refund. So basically, they never opened an account for me, they cashed my check, lied to me that they had already refunded my money, then called me and told me that I had to prove my check had been cashed to get a refund. This is after they acknowledged receiving the check and accidentally cashing it. They knew the check number and the amount but still no refund. Unbelievable.

    In all, they’ve held my money hostage for a month. Someone either lost or stole my check and they won’t give my money back yet. Don’t give this company your business.

  6. Chris says:

    I tried opening an account with Ally, and it took them a week to get back to me on the status of my account application. I received a brief, terse phone call stating that my application had been rejected because they could not verify my social security number.

    Are you kidding me? After faxing them a copy of me and my wife’s drivers licenses, an electric bill, and the soft hit on my credit report?? I think I was even more surprised because I had been approved for a mortgage a week later (with an approximately equal amount of disclosure).

    Their customer service is terrible, they wouldn’t refer me to a manager, and I will not do business with them for any reason whatsoever. There are plenty of online banks with lower advertising budgets and comparable interest rates. DO NOT fall for the hype – appreciate the benefits of good customer service instead.

  7. jackson says:

    Their customer service is really unprofessional. My password hint had (Gasp!) a 4 letter word in it…sh@t. I actually got TOLD OFF by the customer service rep for it being inappropriate. i was confused at first and asked if it was against company policy to allow it and he told me no you can keep the password hint I judt wanted you to know blah blah.

    I mean really if I want my password hint to be a string of the worst cuss cusswords in the english language I bloody well will. Their job is to provide a finacial service. Not to correct my foul mouth.

    They may have great rates, but I would rather go to a bank that does not treat me like a naughty chld.

    • Jennfier says:

      I work for Ally Bank. I love it when password hints and other things are EXACTLY how the customer feels it should be. I apologize about what the customer rep said to you. If you have the name of him/her my suggestion is to write a letter to Corporate and complain. You’ll get shit done if you say you’ll close your accts.

      LOL… just a little hint.

      I love my job. I love talking to customers like i’ve known them my whole life. I’m sorry you all had bad experiences. There are different call centers and honestly most of them really don’t know jack shit about what they are doing.

    • Xavier says:

      It’s disturbing that a customer service rep would know one’s password. They shouldn’t ask the customer to disclose a password, and their computer systems should not make it available to them either.

      • jennfier says:

        We cannot see passwords. We only see the password hint. It should remind the customer of their password.

  8. Luana says:

    Sounds like Ally is no different than any other establishment these days. Promise the moon and get less. I really want to open a CD acct because of the interest rates, but I’m not sure now because of these reviews. I may have to check out other banks in the meantime before opening an account with Ally.

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