search
Home navigate_next Investing

Ally Online Savings Account Review 2021

Ashlyn Brooks

August 27, 2021

The Ally Online Savings Account doesn’t offer the highest interest rate compared to other online-only high-yield accounts. But for people who want help saving more — finding “unused” money to pad your account balance, for example — its tools may make it worth settling for a slightly lower APY. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking to conduct all of your banking business at one institution.

Top Takeaways for 2021

After spending seven months testing 19 high-yield accounts for our inaugural review of the best savings accounts, here are our top findings on Ally Online Savings Account:

  1. Ally was a top contender in our analysis of the best savings accounts, until it came to the interest rate. Its 0.50% annual percentage yield, though higher than the national average, simply isn’t competitive with the leading high-yield accounts and landed it in the No. 8 spot overall.

  2. Tools, tools and more tools — Ally sports several auto-save features with insights that help users to save more than they probably would on their own. Plus, its seamless app packs in functionality without clutter.

  3. Ally is still worth considering if you’re looking for an all-in-one bank. It offers a full suite of banking services, including a high-interest checking account (which is rare).

Overall Summary

Ally logo

Feature Ally Online Savings Account
Overall
APY
Fees
User experience
Features and tools
Additional banking services


Pros:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Offers “Surprise Savings” to help you become a better saver
  • Convenient one-stop, all-inclusive banking services

Cons:

  • Below-average interest rate compared to other high-yield accounts
  • Cash deposits are not supported
  • Zelle and recurring transfers are not available on mobile web
  • Online only, no physical branches

User experience

Just a few upgrades (like using third-party verification to shorten the account funding time) would have greatly improved our experience at Ally. But once we got over the time suck of waiting for our initial deposit to clear, it was smooth sailing.

Account setup: Ally claims you can open an account in five minutes, and it means it. You still have to go through the basics of entering your personal information by hand, but there were no time-consuming phone calls or multiple verifications required.

Ally was also on par with most other banks we tested regarding the initial money transfer and external bank linking. Making the first transfer only took one day for a mobile check deposit. However, our ACH transfer from our funding bank took five business days to clear. (We saw some banks take up to eight days to make funds available.) Connecting a bank account is done manually, which was a bummer, but it didn’t require any test deposits, which can make the process much longer.

Bottom line, we would’ve liked to have seen a third-party verification, like Plaid, to link our external account. This, plus a slightly quicker funding time, would have boosted Ally’s overall user experience in our eyes.

Deposit/withdrawal options: With four ways to get at your money, Ally has the bases covered in this area. Your options:

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Request a check

Note that Ally Online Savings does not come with a debit card, so if you need to get cash in a pinch, stopping at an ATM is off the table.

Customer support: There are five ways to get support:

  • Online chat
  • Over the phone 24/7 at 877-247-2559
  • Log into your account and send an email
  • By mail at Ally Bank Customer, Care P.O. Box 95, 1 Horsham, PA 19044
  • Twitter (@Ally)

Deposit and transaction limits: Ally notes a mobile check deposit limit of $50,000 per day, up to $250,000 per month. Plus, it’s not to be forgotten that there is a federal mandate prohibiting more than six withdrawals/transfers per month from savings accounts.

Fees

Of the 19 banks we analyzed, only one (Citi Accelerated Savings) charged a monthly fee, $4.50, for account maintenance. However, even if a bank has no monthly maintenance fee, savers should keep an eye out for other potential costs. A minor fee can have a corrosive effect on the interest you earn. For example, one $5 fee immediately wipes out two months’ worth of the interest you’d earn on a $5,000 balance at a 0.60% APY.


Ally Online Savings Account fees
Outgoing wire transfer $20
Monthly maintenance fee N/A
Official check fee $0
Paper statement request fee $0

Features and tools

Both in-app and on its desktop portal, Ally gives users a wide range of savings tools, a virtual assistant and mobile check deposits.

Ally Assist: With Ally assist, an in-app virtual assistant can help you make transfers, find account info, and even help you make smarter spending choices through its “CurrenSee” feature. Ally Assist is also accessible through Amazon Alexa, allowing you to complete essential functions such as checking your balance or initiating transfers via voice recognition.

Savings tools: Ally allows users to personalize their savings with an assortment of features and cash management tools:

  • Buckets: These serve as a digital filing system to section off your savings goals, with a max of 10 buckets available. This is more of a visual accounting tool. Unlike similar features at Sallie Mae’s SmartyPig, where the buckets are set up as distinct and separate savings accounts, Ally’s buckets are not separate from your primary savings account. That limits your total withdrawal transactions to six per month, according to federal law. Beyond that, there’s a $10 excess transaction fee per withdrawal.
  • Recurring transfers: This autosave feature allows you to set up transfers of any amount at a frequency you preset (weekly, monthly, etc.).
  • Round up: If you have an Ally checking account and enable this feature, Ally rounds up certain transactions to the nearest dollar; once that totals at least $5, Ally transfers the money into your savings account.
  • Surprise savings: Surprise savings takes money from your linked checking account (at Ally or another bank) that Ally categorizes as “safe to save” and transfers it to your Ally saving account. Ally decides how much is safe by automatically analyzing your spending, looking for leftover money ($100 or less at a time). You’ll get a notification before any money is moved, and Ally pledges not to let your checking account get too close to $0.

As an example of the potential savings users could reap from the use of these tools, let’s say you’ve set up a monthly $100 recurring transfer, with a $20 monthly roundup and $50 monthly in surprise savings. By tacking on the 0.50% interest rate, you’d have $2,045 in thoughtless savings over one year.

Digital payments: Ally uses Zelle, a money transfer service within the app that’s widely used by major U.S. banks. Zelle gives users a secure way to send money without having to go outside of the Ally app, as you would with Venmo or PayPal.

Mobile app and website: Ally Mobile is available on both Android and iOS and allows basic banking functions within the app, including account access and the ability to make transfers. Ally actually has five separate mobile apps, one for each of its banking services — Ally Mobile, Ally Auto, Ally Card Controls, Ally Invest and Ally Smart Auction — which is highly inconvenient for users wanting everything in one place. But if you’re solely a savings account holder, you’ll only need Ally Mobile.

Ally’s website does a good job of organizing its services and features. Given the scope of offerings, it could have been overwhelming. But a handsome design, pleasing aesthetics, easy navigation and functional landscape make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Educational content: During our analysis, we wanted to reward those banks that took the initiative to educate readers in addition to offering financial products. Ally houses an enormous amount of educational content to sift through. Its “do it right” blog covers topics including saving, car buying, home ownership and investing, to name a few.

Banking services

The primary function of a high-yield savings account is to hold your cash so it can rack up interest until you need to spend it. If your primary bank doesn’t offer competitive interest rates, that means managing multiple accounts at multiple financial institutions. Since some people prefer to consolidate their banking business, we looked at what other services the savings account providers offered.

Ally is a standout when it comes to banking services. It offers a full range of products, including mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, retirement and investment accounts. On the bank account side of the business, Ally offers several options (including interest-bearing savings and checking accounts), with no maintenance fees and no minimum deposit requirements.

What particularly caught our attention was Ally’s Interest Checking Account. The tiered checking account offers an annual percentage yield of 0.10% if you have a minimum daily balance below $15,000. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than triple the 0.03% that traditional banks offer. For savers with an average daily balance of $15,000 or more, the APY jumps to 0.25%. Although Ally does not support cash deposits, you can fund your account with Ally eCheck Deposit, online transfers and direct deposit, wire transfer and via mail.


Ally banking services
Checking account Yes
High-yield savings account Yes
Money market account Yes
CDs Yes
Loans (personal, auto and mortgages) Yes
Credit cards No
Retirement savings accounts (IRAs) Yes
Investment account Yes


Final thoughts

The 0.50% APY on Ally’s savings account trails the current leaders and may not be competitive enough to warrant keeping your money there on its own. (See our top picks for Best Savings Accounts of 2021 for earning maximum interest.) But Ally’s built-in account features could be enough to win you over, especially if you find it challenging to save. Tools like buckets, rounding up and “surprise savings” not only encourage better saving habits but also take the guesswork out of finding more money to save. And if you’re looking for an all-in-one bank, Ally is a solid choice, as long as you have no need to make cash deposits (they’re not supported) and are comfortable with banking completely online.

About Ally

Ally started as a branch of the General Motors auto financing division in the 1920s and has grown over the last 100 years to the point that it now manages more than $180 billion in assets.

2021 Savings Account Review Methodology

Our mission at investor.com is simple: provide thorough and unbiased reviews of financial services products and providers.

For investor.com's annual Best Savings Accounts Review published in August 2021, we collected a total of 532 data points over seven months to score and rank high-yield savings accounts. We assessed 19 banks across 70 variables spanning five core categories, including APY (annual percentage yield), monthly fees, user experience, account features and banking services.

All 19 institutions passed our initial screening criteria of having FDIC (for banks) or NCUA (for credit unions) insurance, online accessibility, and an interest rate above the 0.06% national average for savings accounts. To test quality and usability, we opened, funded and used each bank’s high-yield savings account for a minimum of three statement cycles. We performed basic account functions (deposits, withdrawals, transfers) on both the desktop and app versions (where applicable), scoured all fine print and disclosures, and had some lengthy phone calls with bank service reps.

FAQs

How do I access my money at Ally?

There are four ways to withdraw money from your online savings account:

  • ACH transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Transfer by phone
  • Request a check

How do I reach Ally’s customer service?

Ally has five ways to reach customer support:

  • Online chat
  • Over the phone 24/7 at 877-247-2559
  • Log into your account and send an email
  • By mail at Ally Bank Customer Care, P.O. Box 951, Horsham, PA 19044
  • Twitter (@Ally)

About the author:

Ashlyn Brooks is a financial writer and former civil engineer. She's on a mission to show others how to save and spend smarter through purposeful money habits. Her work has been featured on Her Money.com, MoneyGeek, and Top 10.com.

Was this helpful?

Yes or No
contact_supportSupport