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Few banks have had as profound an impact on our daily lives as Ally Bank. Back in the time of Model T Fords, all automobiles were paid for in cash. General Motors created the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) in 1919 to offer their customers easy access to credit, helping more individuals to afford their own automobile. To say the concept of consumer credit and an automobile in every driveway has transformed the way we live today would be an understatement.
Introducing Ally Bank
After the turn of the millennium, GMAC expanded into other forms of banking and became a fully fledged bank. During the Great Recession, GMAC spun off from GM and was renamed Ally Bank.
Given its roots as the primary financier for the largest automotive company in the world, it’s not surprising that Ally Bank is one of the largest banks in the nation. Not just one of the largest — for the last three years in a row, Ally Bank has won the Money magazine award for the best online bank.
Savings accounts at Ally Bank
Compared to other banks, Ally Bank has one of the most competitive offerings in its savings accounts:
- New customers can open a new account from their home with a paper check using the eCheck deposit system
- There are no fees or minimums, and interest compounds daily to ensure maximum earnings
- Interest rates are competitive and change often to reflect changing market conditions
In addition, Ally Bank offers a full slate of online tools to make banking easy and convenient. From checking balances online to moving money between accounts and making deposits from your smartphone, Ally has all the technology of a market leader.
Ally Bank CDs offer 10-day rate guarantee
Ally Bank offers some of the best CD interest rates, with various maturities. Unlike many others, though, they also offer one with no penalty for early withdrawal.
When opening a CD (or renewing one), Ally Bank customers are protected with a 10-day rate guarantee: If rates rise within ten days of opening or renewing a CD, the customer will get the benefit of that increase but be cushioned from any drop during that 10-day period.
In the event that interest rates rise in the next few years, Ally Bank offers a program to increase the rate once on a two-year CD, and twice on a CD with a four-year term. Called “Raise Your Rates,” that feature includes notifications to let customers know when interest rates go up, and is a benefit not offered by many other banks.
Checking at Ally Bank — Some pretty nifty perks
As a national online bank, Ally impresses with its truly free checking account. It gives checking account holders free ATM cards, which they can use anywhere. Ally Bank reimburses other banks’ ATM fees, which means they offer probably the widest ATM network of any bank — for free.
Like many other banks, check-writing is free. Unlike other banks, even the checks themselves are free. Not many other banks go that far to offer truly free checking. Bill pay, too, is free.
Ally Bank also offers its checking account customers an excellent online system, including mobile banking apps for the major platforms. This includes the ability to deposit checks on computers or mobile devices with their Ally eCheck Deposit system.
And finally, Ally Bank is one of the few banks that offers interest on its checking accounts, with balances over $15,000 earning more.
Money market accounts
Ally Bank offers a money market account worthy of consideration and, like their other accounts, it also requires no minimum opening deposit. Even though the rate varies, interest is compounded daily. Coupled with Ally’s commitment not to ding customers with monthly maintenance fees, the money market account is another great opportunity to maximize earnings on deposits. In addition, the account can even be used for a trust.
Ally Bank auto loans
It’s not surprising that Ally Bank is one of the most competitive direct sources of funding for car loans, given its history as one of the largest auto finance companies in the world.
While Ally Bank offers traditional term loan and lease financing, it separates from the competition with its innovative combination of those two traditional methods of auto financing. Called ABC (Allie Buyer’s Choice) it starts out like a normal term loan. Where it differs, though, is the option to sell the car back to Ally after four years at a predetermined price. If the customer can get a better price, he or she has the freedom to do so, or to simply keep the vehicle and make the payments until the loan is paid off. Trading in the car at any point is no problem.
Ally Bank’s ABC program is unique in that it offers car buyers complete flexibility. How often have customers started out with a lease, only to like the car and want to keep it but then face a myriad of additional fees and hassle to make the change? It makes total sense to get set up with financing such as this before heading off to the lot to look for that new car.
The Ally Bank website shows consumer ratings. Two things stand out: the high number of ratings (well into the thousands) and the high average — consistently over four out of five stars. Not too many banks have the courage to put up unfiltered consumer ratings.
Most online banks offer live customer support during business hours — Ally Bank sets itself apart by offering access to live customer support 24/7. The toll-free number appears at the top of virtually every page. (Auto loan operators are not available Sundays.)
The Money magazine award and the high rate of satisfaction visible in the customer reviews show that Ally Bank is going to be hard to beat when it comes to customer service. The “extra mile” in their checking and CD offerings, and the innovative flexibility of their ABC auto financing program, make Ally Bank a formidable competitor in the online banking arena.
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