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Ally Bank Review

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Ally BankIn mid-May, GMAC Bank changed its name to Ally Bank. With General Motors in the news every day for something negative, it’s hard to do business when everyone thinks you’re about to go out of business. The funny thing about it all is that GMAC Bank’s parent company, GMAC Financial, hasn’t been a part of General Motors for several years. When you have financial companies in distress and auto companies in distress, a bank that people think is inextricably linked to auto company is in some deep trouble.

So, they changed their name.

But are they a good bank to do business with? Let’s find out.

History Lesson on GMAC

If you are confused with all the acronyms and relationships between businesses, you aren’t a lone. I was very confused. GMAC stand for General Motors Acceptance Corporation and was once a wholly owned financial services arm of General Motors, the auto manufacturer. The financial services company provided financing to GM dealers, among other things. In 2006, General Motors sold a majority stake in GMAC to Cerberus Capital Management, thus providing some separation in the GM and GMAC relationship. Last year, GMAC was converted to a bank holding company to give them access to TARP funds.

GMAC Bank is a subsidiary of GMAC Financial Services, which offers a whole host of other financial products. This year, in May, GMAC Bank changed their name to Ally Bank.

Whew! Hopefully that all makes sense, but the end result is that Ally Bank/GMAC Bank is part of GMAC Financial Services, which is separate from General Motors itself and has been since 2006.

Rates are out of date. Compare today’s high yield savings account rates.

FDIC Insured

First things first, always confirm that the bank is FDIC insured. I would never bank at a non FDIC/NCUA insured financial institution and neither should you. Ally Bank is FDIC insured under FDIC certificate #57803 and have been since August 2004. The FDIC certificate still lists gmacbank.com as their primary internet web address but that will redirect you to the Ally Bank homepage. If you’re curious, their headquarters is at 6985 Union Park Center, Midvale, UT 84047.

Bankrate Safe & Sound rating: I don’t put a tremendous amount of credence in bank ratings because I believe FDIC insurance trumps everything, but they are valuable to read so you know what you’re getting into. Since the reports are quarterly, the most recent one is from December 2008, which is arguably a little dated. Back then, they still had a three star rating (out of five) and their predictive indicator was positive. You can read the memo for GMAC Bank here. I didn’t find a more recent report.

Online Savings Account

Let’s get to the reason why you and I care about Ally Bank in the first place, their deposit products. Ally Bank’s high interest rate on their high yield savings account is pretty good, enough to snag one of the top spots on my table of high yield savings account rates (Everbank is listed higher with an asterisk because they offer a promo rate for three months). The minimum to open is a comedic $0 (they will close your account if you don’t fund it, but I’d read that to say “no minimums”) and there are no monthly fees.

One thing I do like seeing is the explicit listing of a limit of six withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle. This limit is true on all savings accounts because there is a six transfer/withdrawal limit mandated by federal regulations. So many people, myself included, run into this problem with online accounts and it’s mostly out of ignorance. It’s nice to see them inform people about it.

No Penalty Certificate of Deposit

They’ve been heavily promoting the fact that they have no tricks, with no fees, no minimums, and all sorts of other anti-gimmick messages. It’s a great angle, especially during a time when banks are trying to earn as much revenue as possible, but a lot of other banks have very low minimums and don’t have any maintenance fees. In that respect, they’re not that much different. However, they do have one unique product – a no-penalty CD.

The no penalty CD lets you withdraw your money without paying a penalty, which is usually several months worth of interest. On CDs shorter than 12 months, the standard penalty is three months worth of interest. On CDs greater than 12 months, the standard penalty is six months worth of interest. For the no penalty CD, the penalty is in fact $0. The difference is in the interest rate.

In May 2009, they offered a 9-month No Penalty CD at 2.50% APY and a 9-month regular CD at 2.60% APY rate, a difference of 0.10% APY (the rates have since changed). That translates into $0.75 on ever $1,000 deposited over the 9 month period. Seventy five cents doesn’t look like a lot, but to be fair you need to compare it with the interest you would’ve earned at 2.60%. When you calculate the difference as a percentage of the total interest earned, it’s not a significant price to pay at 3.86%. You lose a little under percent to gain the flexibility to cancel, it doesn’t seem too bad and would be a fair price if you think interest rates are rising.

The only downside with the no penalty CD is that the only term they offer is 9 months.

Summary

It’s FDIC insured, they have great rates compared to their peers, and they seem to be in sound financial shape. I don’t have an account with them but I’ve heard good things about people who opened GMAC Bank accounts because of their great rates. I don’t see anything that would stop me from banking with them.

Do you have a GMAC Bank/Ally Bank account? What do you think of them?

{ 345 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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345 Responses to “Ally Bank Review”

  1. russ E. says:

    Three cds with ally all 1yrsame rate. each mth’s statement apy earned climbed tp the last month’s yield of 4.53%. Ally transferred money to on line savings but only paid 4.36%. Dozens of phone calls, no one knows anything, supervisors promise to call back same day, NEVER call back. Hide behind NO PHONE NUMBERS, can’t trace anyone. It’s like a sweat box or boiler room in a collection agency. Lies, hiding, etc, etc. Take evry cent and RUN BABY RUN.

    • Allen TX says:

      Hello! I can not understand, why some customers are so satified, and some get the worse agents that answer the phone, Seems to
      me that something is amiss here. Either they dont care who they hire to answer their phones, and stand behind what their reps are saying to customers?
      Any feed back on this? Dont they tape the
      conversations? I am now very weary of this
      bank. For now, I will still watch on the comments. Better to be safe than sorry!

      • An Employee... says:

        Being an employee of the GMAC Asset Recovery Center, I share a building with Ally Bank’s customer service center. They hired a ton of new people to run the phones, but every time I have had to call someone about my personal accounts, they seem to know what they are doing. There have been a few people (as with any job) who just don’t care about anything and they don’t last long. They are very strict on their employees and if they are caught giving wrong information or speaking rudely with a customer they are let go on the spot. The bank employees are required to go through six full time weeks of training before they are even allowed to touch the phones… I am fine with the bank and use them for a Money Market account… I would try them if I were you… I mean if they don’t work for you then close your account…

        • My nephew: Former Employee says:

          I am very upset with Ally Bank. My nephew use to work in the Fraud Department and was Terminated for no reason. He was a great and loyal employee and was dedicated to his work. Now he is suffering due to the economy. Michael Oneill is the fraud departments manager. He obviously does not make wise decisions, because he lost a greay employee. I wonder if it has something to do with him advancing so quickly in the company. I will never bank with them and I will spread the word around.

        • San says:

          They may be strict with the employees but they don’t give a rats behind about the customers… They are beyond full of it. IF YOU ARE READING THIS, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND RUN FAR FAR AWAYF ROM THIS COMPANY!

  2. bob says:

    ally bank is great they have good rates and are customer helpfull

  3. Ally is still one of the best accounts out there especially because there are no minimum account balances to get one of the highest APRs available. I’ve used them for years and it’s easy to transfer money to your brick and mortar bank accounts as well.

  4. aua868s says:

    its the best bank for me so far…hope they dont shut down!

  5. James says:

    i’ve been happy with the bank. it’s easy to sign up and the website is easy to navigate

  6. aua868s says:

    also the customer service is very friendly…importantly, they dont try to shove something down your throat with half-baked lies!

  7. wh says:

    I had been pleased with the service until recently. Two CDs matured and I requested that they be redeemed, with the proceeds put in my Ally savings account. They did not do so within the standard 48 hour timeframe they committed to. When I inquired, they said they had a backlog of requests and didn’t know when they would get it done. In the meantime, I can’t access my money. This is absurd! Essentially, they are saying they are too busy to give me my money back.

    A quick online search found others encountering the same problem.

    • allyCustomer says:

      Hi WH, has this been resolved? Just curious because I’m considering getting CD’s with Ally. I had a CD with them before and did not encounter this problem but if others are having the same problem as you then I would be hesitant to get a CD with Ally again.

  8. August J Woerner says:

    Ally Bank falsely advertises on TV that there is no penalty for early CD withdrawals, I bought a CD from them and tried to withdraw it four months from maturity. This is a bank, “too large to fail.” So, in protest, I decided to withdraw my money from their bank. I phoned therm. I was first told they would charge me for mailing me the check, more if I wanted a wire transfer. Then they said there would ba a penalty for early withdrawal. Rather than pay those penalties, I decided to wait until the CD matured.

    • Jim says:

      There are two different CD products, one is a no penalty CD and the other is a regular CD. If you opened a regular CD, then there would be a penalty.

      • Allen TX says:

        JUST fyi I was told by a banking person that there are some instances that you can do early withdrawal without penalty. (they wont tell u this) But if you have a good reason, like illness, hardship or loss of job, medical hardship, they will waive the penalty, BUT if you dont ask they will not tell u this!

      • Allen TX says:

        JIM, i was trying to comment on, your comment,
        If they are FDIC, who cares. They only comment
        that I would like to add, if there is ever a bank melt down, all banks would go down, and it would take forever to get your money, from FDIC, with an online bank. A melt down, could happen! I never knew about this til I read about it, which means ALL the banks would fail, and the insurance co. wouldnt be able to handle the catastrophe! Just my comment.

    • Weird says:

      I find it interesting how people do not include the full details when they are complaining, maybe it is lack of understand. The only reason you would be charged for them to mail you a check is if you ask for it to be express mailed. That only makes sense as there is a fee for express mail.

  9. JP says:

    Thanks for this review, it is the reason I opened an account with Ally today. At one point in the online sign up process, it returned an error and instructed me to call them at which point I figured “oh great.” But they just needed to ask me a few questions since I am young (19). Just took a few minutes and the account was set up.

  10. MILTON says:

    Ally bank is the best. I did have an account with Compass it started as FREE checking then slowly but surely FEES FEES FEES. Ally bank is the BEST no fees already have a money market about to open a checking with them great bank ALLY IS THE BEST BANK AROUND !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chris says:

      When did they start offering checking?? I signed up as soon as I read this. I have no reason to bank elsewhere now! They send you free checks as well, how awesome is that?

  11. David says:

    Just opened the checking account.

    In my opinion, it’s better than ING checking because it gives free physical checks and I can use ANY ATMs to get cash.

    Did I say it’s FREE with no minimum balance?

    With checking, MMA and online savings accts, Ally bank will soon become my main bank.

  12. Hmm says:

    Okay. Ally let me open a savings and money market. Then when I called back (as a current customer) to open a *new* checking account, they refused saying my credit score wasn’t high enough…cough, for a checking account? Huh? They apparently don’t want my business, (and yours). They suggested I use the money market account (with a limit of six transfers) as a checking account. Yeah. SO….I wend to USAA instead, who instantly opened a checking account for me, and I can deposit check by scanning it to them on their website. Nice. Thanks Ally, for pushing me in a new direction.

    • cindy says:

      Same here….told them they could pound sand, and close my other accounts as well. I’ll check into USAA

    • Vera says:

      Really?! USAA is the greatest one… except for scanning checks you gotta be either military or related somehow to military. There is NO WAY you can get this option without it- neither opened checking, saving, credit card will help you out with it. You gotta have a property insurance with them!- and what if I don’t need the one? Than you won’t be qualified. Besides, you forgot to mention that minimum balance for opening an account with USAA is $35, but in fact they will charge your credit card for dollars more making the transaction as a CASH withdrawal, so you will end up giving them more than what they ask, and they won’t even notify you about the type of charge they will do.
      If Ally wasn’t able to accept your credit score, than USAA doesn’t even care about it putting you aside by the principle either you’re military or not.USAA is the “military club” with limited futures for civil people.
      At least Ally didn’t hide anything before I opened the account.
      As of scanning checks customer service of Ally told they are working on this option, so it will be soon available for customers.
      I love this bank for very friendly web-site and the best customer service I ever had from any bank I was. I wish they would have other options like linked credit cards, remote deposits, and cash deposits via ATM. Than I would completely close all other my accounts.

      • Rexmidian says:

        Vera you are almost correct. Although USAA only offers to Military and family of Military, they do not charge you $35 to open an account. A $25 deposit is required to open an account, but it IS a deposit and it is your money. you can withdraw it when you need it with ZERO penalty of fees.

        • Vera says:

          My deal fried, yes, 35 dollars will be yours. But USAA will run charge via your credit card to debit your account by these dollars as a CASH. So, you will find these charges on your credit card account, not USAA. So, putting 35 on USAA you will lose up to 5 dollars for the transaction that USAA made via your card.
          And 35 is the minimum deposit , not 25.

          • Rexmidian says:

            No, it is 25 dollars because I just opened an account with them three weeks ago. And why are you using your credit card to open an account? That is user error.

          • Rexmidian says:

            I guess only time will tell. You may be right that they are not a good bank, but it seems like the right fit for me.

          • Bepa says:

            “User error” should be warned by USAA. I opened accounts in Ally and in EverBank. I am using checks deposit-from-home in EverBank and very happy about it- I don’t have to be military to do so. As of USAA- I asked them to close my account 2 months ago, they said- I should send an email with accounts numbers I want to close. I did it, they called me to verify if I really want to do so. I said- yes. The account is still open after 2 months. The only thing I like in them is customer service and user friendly interface. Over than that there is nothing to like, but repeat after the crowd, “I love them!”-just because everybody said so.
            And why in the world I should have these 25 bucks of deposit on USAA?! I can understand why EverBank require 1500 minimum deposit- they are giving 2.5 percent of interest for the first 3 months even on checking accounts with no conditions, but deposit only!Ally does the same- NO HIDDEN CONDITIONS- but there is no 2.5 percent for the first 3 months from them, that’s the only difference.

  13. Don C. says:

    I would discourage anyone from CD’s. My 12 month CD matured 2 weeks ago. I have been trying to get Ally to transfer my funds to my checking acct so that I can continue to invest at a local bank at a higher interest rate.

    Unfortunatly, after two weeks, they still have not transfered my funds. I have called 4 times and they kept giving me the run around. Their excuse the last 2 times were that they have not put my request in the system due to high volume and that they will elevate my request to the top priority. They also mentioned that it would that 3-5 days for the transaction to go through. I said, fair enough. However, after 2 consecutive 3-5 days, my funds is still not in the system.

    To compound to the issue, the customer service rep was rude and claimed that I had not provided the correct routing number to my checking account the first time, in which I had called back to confirm.

    • David says:

      Don C.

      My experience with matured CDs with any bank suggests that it’s always a hassle to transfer funds to an external acct.

      It’s always better to transfer within bank. I remember I requested to transfer the funds to my Ally MMA account when my CDs mature.

  14. Austin says:

    I have an online savings account with Ally. Their rates are among the best and they have a useful and easy-to navigate website… so far Ally has provided a great banking experience.

  15. roger says:

    I was going to open an account with Ally, but after reading all the problems these people are having, I want to thank you all for your time.

    I have decided not to open an account.

    Roger

    • Tobey says:

      The comments on here are mostly positive, don’t let the few negative ones scare you off. With any bank, you’re going to have people who’ve had bad experiences. But I’ve been banking with Ally for the last 5 months and have nothing but good things to say about them. In fact, I’ve made them my primary bank since they added checking.

      • GW says:

        Maybe, but how many of these comments have been left by anonymous Ally Bank viral marketing PR flunkies? Nobody knows, but the answer is surely higher than zero. It’s also highly unlikely that bank shills are leaving negative feedback on their own bank.

        • Jim says:

          I can’t say for certain, nothing stops a PR person from logging on at home, but none are from PR flunkies that *I* know of.

          I think negative feedback is good, it gives them an opportunity to fix it (but you’re right, their PR people aren’t leaving negative comments!).

      • Thom says:

        I was considering ALLY based on all the adds, then I found out they are GMAC a.k.a TARP Run.

        The only positive adds are the ones depositing money, the negative adds are the ones trying to withdraw. This Bank smells like B.O.

  16. aua868s says:

    with the interest rates going down at Ally, it looks like it is just going to be a matter of time before their interest rates get lesser than that of my credit union’s.

  17. Anonymous says:

    very fustrated with ally bank. I tried to open an account online but could never actually get into my account due to technical errors no one could figure out. Then they withdrew my initial deposit from the wrong account resulting in an overdraft charge from my current bank which they refused to refund! I closed the account that was never opened due to horrible customer service.

  18. Tobey says:

    So I had a problem with my Ally debit card a couple weeks ago– I used it to pay for a 50 cent transaction and later tried to use it again and it was declined. No problem, figured it was some fraud protection thing because of the small charge I made earlier. Later that night I chatted with an Ally rep online who said it shouldn’t have been frozen and that he couldn’t find anything wrong. He told me it should work next time, so I tried it again the next day and sure enough, it worked fine. A week later I get a call from a very friendly Ally rep apologizing for the inconvenience they caused and that they are going to deposit $25 into my account for my troubles! I thanked her but told her this was very unnecessary, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But she insisted, she said it was the only way to make things right. What bank does that?? I love Ally!

    • GW says:

      I’m glad you got your $25. Ally still refuses to give me back my $45,000.

      • Patrick says:

        what??? never got your 45,000? what happened?

      • MR says:

        what?? anyone who lost that kind of money would be talking to a lawyer, not a discussion board.

        • Allen TX says:

          Isnt there some kind of bank board, separate from these banks, that you can report this kind of stuff to? I remember when I was having trouble having some monies transfered out of
          a bank in Massachusetts, to CA, that bank in Ca was going to report them to some overseer of funding transfers. I am going to try to check into this 3rd party.

        • GW says:

          I have been talking to my lawyer about it, thanks (and my state attorney general as well). So far, my lawyer has been able to recover $45K out of the $90K Ally Bank owes me, but the remainder (the $45K I mentioned) is still being held by the bank.

          In the meantime, I thought it might help people out to know that Ally Bank is not a trustworthy institution. Is there a problem with that?

          • Nicole says:

            I think it is great to let people know and appreciate everyone talking about their experience. Thanks to the discussion boards, everyone can have a better idea of what they might be getting into!

  19. M says:

    I’m in the process of closing my account with Ally. I opened a savings account because they have higher interest rates. On January 14, Ally was supposed to send some items to me. It is now March 15 and I have not received them. When I contacted the online customer service, they wrote, “We’re behind in responding to our email.” A bank that cannot respond to customer requests is frightening. I immediately transferred all funds out of Ally to my old Savings Account. If this were an isolated incident and wasn’t two months old, I’d be more flexible but they have not responded to my follow up messages and their customer service never has an answer to anything. Now that anyone can open an account with USAA, I’d recommend going that route instead. I’ll be opening a new savings account with them ASAP.

  20. Karma says:

    I have several accounts with Ally bank and have had no issues what-so-ever. Their policies are that of ANY OTHER bank. The credit score thing is understandably frustrating, but you have to get the fact that this is an online-only bank. No face-to-face and no way to “verify” that you are who you say you are!! I am a victim of identity theft and it is extremely hard to recover from something like that, but I’m glad to see that there is a Bank out there who cares about it enough to prevent it as much as possible.

    Every bank has crap rates which makes it very difficult for all of us, whether it’s $1.00, $100.00 or $100,000.00. But a bank that gives me FANTASTIC Customer Service (even ALL english-speaking reps, whew!!!!), 24/7 access and the security of I.D theft alert and FDIC coverage, is #1 in my book…

    Not to mention that the Ads are HILARIOUS! People are getting sooooo worked up over commercials that are trying to prove a point and how Ally DOES NOT want to be that way to their customers. People need to get a life and start being passionate about something else than a Bank’s commercials. Haha.

  21. Wayne Bridenstine says:

    They have a problem with their bill paying system. When they were GMAC, the bill pay system was the same one used by many banks. It was well laid out, user friendly and effective. After changing to Ally they continued to use the same system and provided the same level of service. However, in Jan. 2010 they switched to an in-house system that is inferior to what they were using. I have talked with their service dept about 4-5 significant differences that they seem to be unable to understand.

    The biggest problem is the service dept employees don’t use the system themselves, thus no first-hand knowledge, and only have a users manual which shows different screens than the customer is using.

    My current issue with them specifically is that when a check is sent to pay a bill, it does not show my account number with the company being paid but rather the last 4 digits of my Ally account number. Now I am getting letters from companies I am trying to pay requesting that I include their account numbers on the check so they correctly record the check without incurring processing time to find which account to apply the payment.

    Does anyone reading this have any influence with these people? Please let me know.

  22. Wonder how long it will take folks to figure out that Ally Bank is poorly run, with its customer service (if you want to call it that) policies too heavily influenced by investors. There are better options out there, including with brick and mortar banks.

  23. Pat says:

    I have tried several online banks and after having opened a savings account, several CDs and a checking account with Ally, I have to say that I finally have a Bank I can trust. They have good rates and tremendous customer service. I appreciate their loyalty bonus and the fact they seem to actually care about me as a customer.

  24. Pat says:

    Which competitor of Ally do you work for Mr. ToughMoneyLove? I like my experience with Ally Bank and I am entitled to say so.

    • Pat: I work for myself, a credit-averse American. Ally Bank doesn’t like us because, apparently, we are too high-risk. Yet, in all of these comments, not one person has told me what that risk is.

      • BillyBob says:

        As far as the credit score goes on the checking account..it is an interest checking account with a great rate and no min deposit…You can’t beat that with a wooden spoon…every other bank I’ve checked out has a min deposit of 500-1000 and fees if you go below that…I can’t blame them for checking a credit score to make sure your not gonna screw them over in the end

  25. al23 says:

    I’ve recently opened both a checking a savings account with Ally and could not be happier. I’ve spoken to CSR’s at the bank 4 times and each time the service was outstanding. (I’m really picky about this)

    The web site is well designed and easy to use. Everything sent to me via snail mail has arrived when promised.

    all told, I give these guys 4 stars!


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