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When I was looking into a new bank and saw that there were banks offering higher interest rates on their savings accounts than the standard big banks I was used to, I was a bit skeptical.
My biggest concern was, is this legitimate?
I mean we were talking about going from basically zero percent interest on my savings accounts to over 1% (at the time… it is higher now).
That was quite a difference. As I began to look into it at the time, the bank that seemed to stand out to me was Ally.
I did some research and I found that it was completely legitimate and I figured I would give it a try, so here is my personal review of having a completely online banking service with a high yield savings account.
I had a few goals when I was looking to open up an account with Ally:
- Find a good place for my emergency fund
- Easy access to my money
- Transfer money from one bank to another with ease and no fees
Finding a Good Place For My Emergency Fund
It was important to me to find a good savings account to put my emergency fund in that actually paid out some interest. At the time my money was sitting in my big bank’s normal savings account, that paid hardly any interest at all.
I was literally receiving pennies.
As I looked, I found that there were online banks that provided no fee accounts that could be set up. After doing some research and looking at what they offered, I decided that I liked the idea of putting my money into Ally bank to receive 1% or more with my savings account.
This was way better than the bank I was with so I loved the idea of getting much more paid out to me.
Easy Access to My Money
This led to my other goal, which was to have easy access to my money. I knew that if I was going to put my emergency fund in there, I wanted to have the ability to access it if I did have an emergency I needed to pay for.
To ensure this was possible with Ally, I did some more research and came up with a plan to test out, and turned out that this too would be possible.
I’ll talk more about what I did to make it really easy to get access to my money a little later on in this post.
Transferring Money From One Bank to Another With Ease and No Major Fees
Lastly, I wanted to be sure that I could transfer money from one bank to another, without any crazy fees, or difficulty.
The worst thing to me is paying banking fees and having to worry about keeping a certain balance or daily balance or whatever.
The fees list on Ally’s site showed me that this wouldn’t be the case at all! It was a huge bonus to me that I wouldn’t have to worry about this.
My initial concerns were that it was a completely online bank (what do you mean there are no locations to go to?!). How easily accessible would my money be, and what about cash?
Well, when it came to the online part, this was solved for me fairly quickly because of the ease of setting everything up. I filled out the applications and funded my accounts so quick that I wondered why I ever wanted to go to a physical location at all.
The application process and bringing a few dollars over to start the account really took me all of 10 minutes.
The ease of access to my money was something I thought about for a while, so I decided to open a checking account to use to see about getting cash. Ally makes it easy to get cash, as they will refund up to a certain amount of ATM fees each month, or if you download the app, you can look up specific ATM’s that Ally won’t charge you a fee for.
This goes hand-in-hand with my other concern being about cash and how to handle it. I realized one option I had was to link my day-to-day checking account with my Ally account and transfer money over from time to time. Basically, all the concerns I had personally, diminished.
The research I did helped, and then once I actually set up my accounts and started using them, I considered moving everything over! I haven’t moved EVERYTHING over yet, but I have really heavily considered it because I have enjoyed my experience so much!
What I Did Personally With My Ally Account
I set up my account to have a checking account linked to my savings accounts.
There are no fees or anything so I opened up whatever I wanted (thank you Ally for no fees). I set it up so that if something were to ever happen and I needed money quickly, I could transfer my emergency fund savings from the savings account, into a checking account that I had a debit card for.
This gave me peace of mind that not only am I making way more on my money than a traditional bank (it still isn’t a ton of money but it is better than a penny every month), but I am also able to easily access the money if I need to.
For example, we keep a savings account with Ally that is specifically for Christmas. So when we are about 8 months away from Christmas, we send small dollar amounts to the Ally savings account. That money just sits there and builds up until we get closer to Christmas. Once November and December come around, or I want to make a Christmas purchase, I transfer some (or all) of the money in the Christmas savings account to the Ally checking account I have, then use the debit card!
This makes it so easy for me.
We do the same thing of big things that we have to pay every six months or similar, like taxes (since my wife is a 1099 contractor we pay quarterly taxes), car insurance (we get a big discount for paying every 6 months, so we do), and others!
My Biggest Takeaway
Simple. It is all simple.
My biggest take away really has been the simplicity. To set up an account was simple. Funding the account was very easy.
Maintaining my accounts and even add more if I need to is incredibly straightforward.
ATM usage is no problem since I get the fee reimbursed back to me up to a certain amount each month.
There are no major fees I have to worry about like setting up an account and maintaining a balance or something.
The app and online portal is easy to navigate.
Overall, simplicity really is my biggest takeaway. Ally may work for you, it may not. It depends on what you are looking for. What I know is that I have really enjoyed my experience.
I absolutely love having multiple high yield savings accounts that pay me decent money on things that just sit there like our emergency fund!
What is most important to you when it comes to the banking service you use? Let me know in the comments!