Ally and Ing Direct are two of the most popular online banks in the US with no physical branches. Ing Direct is owned by the Dutch financial group, Internationale Nederlanden Groep and Ally is the financial arm of General Motors, formerly known as GMAC. (ING group has agreed to divest US operations of Ing Direct to Capital One. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.)
Being online banks, both the banks can afford to offer very aggressive rates when compared to traditional banks. But between them, which one offers the best value for your money? Let’s find out!
Let’s start with the rates. (As of Aug, 13, 2011)
Orange Savings Account: 1.00% APY
Electric Orange Checking ($0 – $49,999.99): 0.25% APY
Orange 12 month CD: (12 months) 0.75% APY
Online Savings Account: 1.00% APY
Online Checking Account ($0 – $14,999.99)): 0.50% APY
High Yield CD (12 months): 1.19% APY
Paperless transactions? We are almost there! But for that ocasional payee who insists on a paper check, having this option is useful.
Ing Direct: You can order a checkbook containing 50 checks for $5.00 with an Electric Orange checking account.
Ally: Checks can be ordered for free with Ally’s checking account.
Access to ATMs
If the banks don’t have physical branches including dedicated ATMs, what about having access to cash?
Ing Direct: Ing Direct has tied up with Allpoint Network and charges no fee if the ATM card used at any one of the 35,000 Allpoint Network ATMs. That is more than what Bank of America, Chase or Wells Fargo provides. Allpoint ATMs are available at Target, Costco, 7Eleven, CVS, Kroger and Walgreens.
If you use your IngDirect ATM card at a non Allpoint ATM, IngDirect will not charge you a fee, but you will be responsible for any fee the ATM owner might charge.
Use at any domestic ATM. Ally will reimburse all charges at the end of the statement cycle.
Goodbye stamps and one less excuse to not pay your bills!
Ing Direct: Free with Orange Checking account
Ally: Free with Ally Checking account
How would you cash in mail-in rebates?
Ing Direct: You will have to mail in the physical check. IngDirect does not provide free check deposit envelopes
Ally: Like IngDirect, you will have to mail in the check. Ally, upon request will provide postage paid check deposit envelopes
Both banks offer remote deposits via check scanning.
Foreign Transaction Fee
Not having to carry wads of foreign currency is liberating!
Ing Direct: If the check card is used overseas, a currency conversion fee of 2% is charged by MasterCard
Ally: A fee of 1% is imposed if the ATM card is used overseas
Website Ease Of Use
Ok, this is purely subjective, but here goes…!
Ing Direct: I find Ing Direct’s site to be more user friendly than Ally’s. Nothing in particular stands out, but never had trouble finding what I was looking for. FAQs are very well thought out and has excellent search.
Ally: Ally certainly has a well thought out layout, but if I were to choose between the two, I would pick IngDirect for ease of use.
Winner: Ing Direct
Now that the outrage over this service has died down, I still think this is a valuable option. Opt-in, but be responsible.
Ing Direct: If you overdraft, IngDirect will honor the transaction if it is within your overdraft limit and will charge you an interest on the difference.
Ally: There is a charge of $9 per overdraft. However, $9 is the maximum per day. If you have two OD transaction in a single day, the charge is still $9.
Winner: Ing Direct for simplicity
Convenient and quicker than writing a check.
Ing Direct: Ing can only receive wires and that too only domestic wires. There is no way to do an outgoing wire transfer with IngDirect.
Ally: Can receive and send both international and domestic wires. There is a fee for outgoing wires.
Deposit Hold Time
Long deposit times are one of my pet peeves!
Ing Direct: If you make a deposit via a linked external bank to your IngDirect account, the transfer time is about 2 days and in addition, there is a 5 day holding period imposed by IngDirect before the money is made available.
Standard 2 day transfer time, no holding period I’m aware of.
Money is made available immediately for an intra-account transfer for both the banks.
Mobile banking through a smartphone is cool… just don’t lose your phone!
Ing Direct: Has dedicated apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.
Ally: Has dedicated iPhone and Android apps.
The taxpayer was the real loser here!
Ing Direct: IngDirect’s parent group ING, received bailout money to the tune of €10 billion from the Dutch government. The sale of US operations of ING Direct to Capital One is, in part, a plan to repay this loan.
Ally: GMAC as Ally was formerly called, received a $17 billion bailout from the US.
Winner: Ok, at the current conversion rates, €10 billion is less than $17 billion. I’m going with Ing Direct!
Ally Bank emerges the clear winner with good rates, more services and less fees. Ing Direct still beats brick and mortar banks hand down and if you are a ShareBuilder user, using Ing Direct makes sense for quick money transfers between your ShareBuilder account and your Ing Direct checking or savings account.