When Bank of America announced their obnoxious fees last year, I was one of thousands who shook my fist at the bank. They were going to charge me $5/month for retrieving my money! Obviously, since I wasn't the only one upset, they never ended up charging the $5 monthly fee.
This led me to investigate several other banks, including online only banks. Everything I do with my money and bills is online. I figured I would give it a try. I admit I was intrigued with Ally Bank's commercials. I also have a dear friend who works for them. I opened a free checking and savings account with them just to try it out. I ended up moving everything over to those accounts, which are now my primary bank. If you're scared about moving toward a bank with no branch near you, here are few things to consider.
What If I Need To Get Money?
Ally Bank has a solution for that. Obviously, you could just debit out an extra $20 next time you run to Walgreens, but you can also use any ATM. Yes, you may have to pay the $5 fee up front, but you are completely reimbursed at the end of the month.
What If I Need To Make a Deposit?
Ally gives you a few different options here, too. They send you free postage paid envelopes and deposit slips to insert checks (no cash). You can also deposit a check online by scanning it in (I haven't used this feature, but I've read about people’s mixed results.) Another option is to wire the money. They won't charge you fees on their end, but be sure to check with who you are wiring from about their fees.
Did I mention free checking and free checks or deposit (postage paid) envelopes and deposit slips? They also have free online banking, bill pay, transfers, and free POPMONEY. This is Ally-speak for sending money to family and friends by using their email, mobile number or banking information. Do you owe your mom $25 from your last shopping excursion? Instead of using one of your free Ally checks, send her money online.
Ally's customer service is top notch. They are available 24/7. There's even a message with your expected wait time to talk to someone when you log in online. I've messaged customer service and talked to them on the phone. I don't think I've ever waited more than 3 minutes during peak business hours. Also, the ease of opening the account was astonishing. On your lunch hour you can open a new account. Your checks, debit card, and account information are on their way to you immediately.
There are no monthly fees for your checking or ATM usage, and there are only a few others, which are minimal in my book. An overdraft fee is $9 per day! I know of another bank–not naming names–that charges $25 per item.
You're going to shop anyway, so you might as well get something back! Ally has Ally Perks! According to your shopping and preferences, Ally offers certain perks every month from a variety of online and storefront retailers. Some examples I've taken advantage of have been: Spend $50 at Wal-Mart, get $5 back. Spend $12 at Jimmy John's, get $2 back. Spend $30 at Kohls online, and get $5 back. Others have been Lucky Brand Jeans, Vera Bradley, The Container Store, and other names you will certainly recognize. As soon as you make one of the qualifying purchases, Ally deposits the credit into the account of your choice. Mine goes directly in my savings. There are no points to keep track of, no wondering when they are going to expire. Everything is right there next to your account information.
This has been a guest post by Kristi from Detroit, MI
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