Ally Bank checking review: An online bank with interest checking

A young man seated on a bench smiles as he uses his mobile phone to access his Ally checking account.Image: A young man seated on a bench smiles as he uses his mobile phone to access his Ally checking account.
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
Physical locations None
Getting started Easy to open an account — no minimum balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees.
Monthly service fee None
Overdraft fees None
Other fees Returned deposit fee, outgoing domestic wire fee, expedited delivery fee and “account research” fee
How to deposit Transfer between accounts, mobile check deposit, direct deposit, wire transfer or mail-in checks
How to withdraw Withdraw money online or from your mobile device, use a debit card, set up bill pay, visit an ATM, write a standard paper check or call for a cashier’s check
Notable feature Ally Bank allows members to round up transactions and deposit the money in a connected savings account.

Ally Bank offers online-only, interest-bearing checking accounts with a robust set of features, including savings boosters and two fee-free ways to defend yourself against accidental overdrafts.

But you’ll have to be comfortable doing your banking digitally since Ally doesn’t have any physical locations.


5 things to know about an Ally Bank checking account

1. One-stop banking

Ally Bank offers interest checking account options as well as savings accounts, investment services, home mortgages and auto loans. While you can’t bank in person, you’ll have access to more than 43,000 in-network ATMs and 24/7 customer support.

For people who like to go into a local branch or who need to deposit cash, an online bank like Ally may not be the best fit. But if you rarely visit physical banking locations (or have another local savings institution), Ally Bank could be a good choice.

2. (Relatively) high interest rates

Ally Bank offers interest checking — something you won’t find with every checking account.

Ally’s interest checking accounts offer a higher annual percentage yield, or APY, than the industry average. Keep in mind that you’ll have to maintain an average daily balance of at least $15,000 to get its top APY.

3. Connected savings

Ally Bank offers recurring transfers to help you move money from your checking account to your savings account on a regular schedule. It also offers roundups, which means the bank will round up checking transactions to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into a connected savings account.

Most notably, Ally Bank offers what it calls “Surprise Savings.” Once you link this feature, it analyzes your linked checking accounts for money that it regards as safe to move to your savings account, then sends it automatically. The company says that people who use this feature may save more than 10 times as much as they would with interest alone.

4. No minimum balance requirement or monthly fees

Ally Bank does not charge many common fees. There are no …

• Monthly maintenance fees
• Overdraft fees
• Daily balance minimum fees
• Automated Clearing House transfer fees
• Cashier’s check fees

5. Overdraft protection

Ally Bank doesn’t charge any overdraft fees. Instead, it offers two services to give members overdraft coverage.

Overdraft Transfer Service: This option allows Ally to link a savings account or money market account with your checking account. If you overdraw your checking account, the bank will transfer enough money — in $100 increments — to cover the overdraft.

CoverDrafts SM: Ally also has a safety-net service called CoverDraft. This allows account holders to overdraft up to $100 without fees. You then have 14 calendar days to repay the money. Keep in mind that your next deposit will automatically apply to your negative balance.

How do I open an Ally Bank checking account?

Opening a new Ally Bank checking account is simple. It only takes minutes. The online application allows you to provide personal details, including your address and your Social Security number. You can then fund your account. There is no minimum balance required to start banking with Ally, and online access is available almost immediately.

Is an online bank right for me?

The main difference between online banks and many traditional banks is that they don’t have a physical location. That trade-off may allow online banks to offer a better value proposition — such as higher interest rates on checking and savings accounts — than banks with physical locations.

But there are some potential disadvantages. Namely, not all online banks can accept cash deposits, they don’t have safe deposit boxes and they don’t offer notary services. Plus, some people just feel better when they can meet with a person face-to-face to discuss their finances.

That said, there is no reason you can’t open an account at a bank with a local physical location and also have an online-only account.

Not sure if Ally Bank checking is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Chime: Chime also offers no-fee checking, but it can also help you get paid early when you use direct deposit.
  • Wells Fargo checking: If you prefer to open a checking account with an institution that offers banking at a physical location, Wells Fargo may be worth a look.

About the author: Renee A Butler is an experienced writer and consultant who helps explain complex ideas simply. For more than 15 years, she has been a leader in financial management, business strategy, and marketing. Butler has worked… Read more.