Unlike many banks, Ally has no physical branch for you to walk into and open an account. Instead, you’ll head to its website, fill out the requisite forms, and conduct your banking needs online. An online-only bank may not be for everyone, but Ally checking accounts offer a bevy of benefits that may give it the advantage over other financial institutions.
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The Basics of Ally Checking
Due to the rise of banking apps and other online tools, opening and maintaining an Ally checking account won’t differ too much from other banks or credit unions. You’ll still have access to the full suite of services offered by most banks, such as issuing cashier’s checks from your account, sending or receiving domestic or international wires, and depositing checks.
The availability of that last service may be difficult to understand considering there’s no teller or Ally-specific ATM network. However, Ally offers mobile check depositing through its app. This allows you to deposit without even leaving the house.
While Ally doesn’t have specifically branded ATMs like other major financial institutions, there is still a network of fee-free ATMs at your disposal. Ally partners with Allpoint ATMs, of which there are 43,000 nationwide, to provide fee-free cash withdrawals. You can also get cash back at retailers when you purchase something, such as a gas station or grocery store. If you’re unable to find a fee-free ATM, Ally does reimburse up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at ATMs outside of the Allpoint network.
The Benefits of Ally Checking
The nature of Ally’s location-free business model is the reason behind most of the benefits Ally offers. As the bank does not need to pay the high cost of renting physical spaces, along with the utilities and other associated costs, Ally can offer an interest-bearing checking account. So, you’re earning money simply by having money in your account.
The lack of a physical operation space also means that Ally can cut back on many of the fees that other financial institutions charge. When you open an account, you’ll receive an array of free tools and services:
- Debit card
- Standard checks
- Cashier’s checks
- Copies of online statements
- Expedited ACH transfers
- Incoming wires
There are also no monthly maintenance fees to open a checking account with Ally, and there’s no minimum balance you need to maintain (if the account isn’t in the negative). So, you won’t have to worry about whether your latest purchase puts you below the minimum threshold that then incurs a fee that puts you even further below the minimum.
The Disadvantages of Ally Checking
Of course, there are two sides to every coin. The lack of physical branches can make it difficult for some to conduct their day-to-day banking needs. For instance, if you’re someone who regularly receives payment in cash, such as services workers who make their money from tips, you’ll run into some issues trying to deposit said cash.
Ally doesn’t accept cash deposits. So, to get the cash into your Ally checking account, you’ll still need to have another checking account open that does accept cash deposits. After the deposit is made, you can log into the Ally app and transfer the deposit into your Ally account. This workaround may be frustrating for those used to make cash deposits and have the funds available to use immediately.
Ally Checking Customers
So, who is Ally for? Anyone comfortable doing their banking online should benefit from an Ally checking account. The interest rates you’ll receive are competitive to other financial institutions, and the mobile check deposit process makes it easy to get money into your account.
The lack of physical space doesn’t mean that Ally’s customer service is lacking. It offers support over the phone 24/7, and it lists the current wait time on the website, so you know if now is a good time to call. As of writing on a Monday morning, the wait time is 1 minute.
There are no maintenance fees and checks are free
Ally claim that, on average, it takes three to five days to complete the process
It’s as easy as logging into your account and choosing the “Add an account at another institution” option
Choosing the right bank for you can be difficult. To make the process easier, make sure to check out the reviews and guides at MoneyMash