Ally Bank, Capital One 360 or Charles Schwab Bank?
July 20, 2014 7:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm in need of a new bank. I've decided to go with an online only bank because of their lack of fees and 24/7 customer service. My choices have been narrowed down to Ally Bank, Capital One 360 or Charles Schwab Bank. Comments based on personal experience with any of these banks would be greatly appreciated.
posted by r-senal to Work & Money (26 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I just opened a Cap One 360 checking and savings a couple weeks ago. I like it so far. The iphone app, and mobile check deposit works great.

The only negative, when compared to my local bank (which is still my main bank) is the hold time for deposits. For instance, at my local bank, if my balance is zero and I deposit a check, I can usually go right to an ATM and withdraw the money, even though they say they technically have a one day hold time. (Obviously if the check ends up no good, I'm on the hook for the money.) With Cap One, deposits may not be available for 5 days or more. This may be true of all online banks, I'm not sure. I'm just comparing to my local bank.

Cap One also seems to have a lot of no fee ATMs, certainly more than my local bank, so that's a big plus if you often have to use cash, especially when traveling.
posted by The Deej at 7:39 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use Ally. They are pretty good (refund all ATM fees, reasonable interest rates, good customer service if you call them), but I do have a couple of complaints.

First, they are really slow with check deposits and transfers from non-Ally accounts. If I deposit a check using their mobile app, only $200 is available the next day, then another $800 the day after that, and then a couple more days for anything over that. Not that I'm depositing lots of $1000+ checks, but it is annoying. Also, for a deposit to be considered "same-day", the transaction has to happen by 4pm EST, which is early for me since I'm on the west coast. If you transfer money from a non-Ally account, it all becomes available at once, but it does take several days. I think that's just how they make their money, by holding on to your money for longer than they really need to to complete the transaction.

My other complaint is the mobile app. For an online-only bank, they really don't put enough resources into developing it. It's ugly, slow, and every time I deposit a check, it fails to recognize the check images the first time. It always works the second time, but it always fails the first time.

That's a lot of complain-y text there, but I am pretty happy with Ally overall.
posted by number9dream at 7:42 PM on July 20, 2014

I've been with CapOne360 since it was ING Direct, and I'm pretty happy with it. You can create separate savings accounts very easily for different purposes, and transfers between their own accounts go through straight away, which lets you maximise the amount of time you're getting the higher savings interest rate. The mobile app's decent. They use Allpoint ATMs, so you'll want a sense of availability in your area, and if you do get hit with a fee from an ATM that's listed in the directory, you can claim a refund online.

nthing The Deej on the hold time: it can take five business days or more for a check deposit to be available, and 3-4 business days for a transfer from a different bank.
posted by holgate at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2014

I love my Capital One 360 account, and like holgate, I've been using it since it was ING Direct. I have checking, savings, a CD, and Sharebuilder all together in one place, and transfers work well and are easy.
posted by deezil at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2014

I use Charles Schwab. Refund all ATM fees as well, and good customer service. I particularly like that when I deposit checks via my phone, after the first few times, they make the funds available within about 12 hours, often less.
posted by gaspode at 8:01 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

By the way, every single online-only bank that claims "no - fee" for everything uniformly makes it money from long hold times. There's no way to avoid it.

It's free to open an account, and most online-only banks do not have minimums. So you can do what I did, open an account with every online bank you are contemplating .. deposit some amount in there and use it for a month or so.

By use it, I mean, withdraw money from it, track details by logging in via a browser and via your phone, move money between the account and other accounts, set up your employer's direct deposit to it, use the debit card for shopping etc etc. That's about the only way you can really get a good hold of whether or not you like the bank, try getting some question answered by customer support etc etc.

All online only banks are nearly identical ... it's the minor details that differentiate them ..
posted by harisund at 8:01 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've used Schwab for years for this exact purpose and have never ever had an issue with them. No fees, excellent customer service, and the mobile deposit works great. (One caveat: I've never had to deposit cash with them but I don't think I can, even though I live near an actual physical branch location.) Their fraud protection and out-of-country travel access has always been very handy for me, as well.

And I love the monthly ATM fee refund.
posted by greenland at 8:09 PM on July 20, 2014

By the way, every single online-only bank that claims "no - fee" for everything uniformly makes it money from long hold times. There's no way to avoid it.

Credit union. Mine has an excellent app, I've never actually been to a local branch.
posted by bradbane at 8:10 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have both CapOne and Schwab. I use CapOne for my family joint expenses account and for savings accounts and I used Schwab for my daily checking. I prefer Schwab as a checking account. The app is a bit better, the customer service is way better and the ATM rebate is fantastic. CapOne has lots of free ATM's but it's nice to not even need to think about. I can use any ATM with Schwab. The no foreign transaction fees with Schwab is also really useful for me.

The plus with CapOne is it's easy to make multiple accounts that are all linked together which I like to use for goal specific separate saving accounts for everything. You can't go wrong with either Schwab or CapOne. They're both great. It just depends on what you'll be using it for.
posted by Arbac at 8:51 PM on July 20, 2014

I know it isn't in your list, but we have been extremely happy with Simple. The budgeting component of their app is fantastic and their customer service is the best we have experienced.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:52 PM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I switched from BofA and HSBC to Ally a few months ago. I didn't have any problems with BofA per se, though don't get me started on HSBC, but Ally has more interest and better mobile and online banking. I haven't had any problems with depositing checks with the mobile app. It always seems to recognize the pictures. I've also noticed the long delay for funds when depositing a check. It's especially annoying when I have more than enough to cover the deposit in another account that's linked with overdraft protection. As others have mentioned bank-to-bank transfers are slow, but that's not unique to Ally. I've had no problems with other types of transfers like PayPal or direct deposit. Those are immediately available--though I suppose my PalPal-type transfers are always under $200.

Overall I'm very happy with Ally. I haven't had any major problems and their customer service is very fast and helpful.
posted by sevenless at 9:27 PM on July 20, 2014

Response by poster: munchingzombie - I have a Simple account, and would love to use them my full time bank; however, there are too many niggling issues with them. Account balances that are out of sync with the holding bank, no joint accounts and issues with hotel and car rental transactions. Maybe these problems will be fixed later down the road, but I'm quite frankly tired of waiting for them to get their act together.
posted by r-senal at 9:27 PM on July 20, 2014

I've been using Capital One 360 since 2011 (when it was ING Direct).

The no-fee ATMs work fine for me since there are plenty of AllPoint ATMs here in Manhattan, but I don't know what it's like in other cities. (You've left your location a mystery.)

I like accruing interest on my checking and savings accounts. But the current APY on the savings account is only 0.75%, and I see that's not the highest out there. Of course, the interest on the checking account is very little — I can't find the percentage, but I've been accruing about $1.50 a month with about $8,000 in my checking account.

I can easily deposit a check by taking a couple photos of it with my iPhone.

ING Direct used to be entirely online — you couldn't physically write a check. I still have no brick-and-mortar location with Capital One 360, but at least they've introduced paper checks. I avoid writing checks and I'm usually fine with doing everything online — but it's nice to know you have these when you need them (e.g. you suddenly need to rent a new apartment, and your landlord isn't comfortable with giving out the information required to use Capital One 360's online "Person2Person Payments" system).

I've set up my monthly rent check to be mailed automatically, a certain number of days before the due date. The bank has a policy of not letting me send the check without having the money available in my bank account. This is useful if you ever need to convice a landlord that you didn't bounce a check. Capital One 360 stands ready to explain to anyone: it's impossible to bounce a check with them.

Since it switched to Capital One 360, I've noticed that on the couple occasions I've had to call customer service, the person seemed either clueless or lacking in communication skills. I think the service was better when it was ING Direct. Aside from that, I haven't noticed any major problems with Capital One 360.
posted by John Cohen at 9:44 PM on July 20, 2014

I've used the ING Direct/Capitol One 360 service for a few years as well.

I like it a lot and think it's gotten better since Capitol One took over--which is quite a statement, as I hated Capitol One when I banked with them a decade ago.

The biggest improvement for me is that the limit on online check deposits has disappeared (it used to be $2,000), which makes it so much easier for me to process all the checks I receive as opposed to only some of them.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:07 PM on July 20, 2014

Several years of perfect experience with Schwab. Contrary to harisund's experience, essentially no hold time the couple times I've needed a rep, and perfect phone service. Good website, excellent mobile app. This is my business acct (as a fulltime freelancer) so I don't withdraw cash that often, but no issues when I've needed to.
posted by kalapierson at 10:26 PM on July 20, 2014

By the way, every single online-only bank that claims "no - fee" for everything uniformly makes it money from long hold times. There's no way to avoid it.
Erm, that's what I thought too at first, but the ACH network is necessarily slow. You can learn more about it here in this blog post if you're a bit of a nerd and are interested in why online transfers can take days to clear, but it's actually an artifact of how ACH allows a "chargeback" window of sorts.

I just opened an Ally account. I like it. Their communication is really great: they email when you initiate transfers or make check deposits and tell you exactly when the money will be available. The apps are really nice. Their online software is nice as well, and their rates are damn competitive.

But it's basically going to be six of one, half a dozen of the other at the end of the day. I was using HSBC for awhile, but they discontinued my product, they made the ATM portion more difficult and didn't do checks for my product, and they wouldn't let me add the wife to the discontinued product, hence the recent switch to Ally.

Ally made things extremely simple, and aside from the Android app being webview based, like literally every other bank's app, save Chase, I can't think of any quibbles. (Transfer holds don't really bother me if they're in the 2-3 day range.)
posted by disillusioned at 10:58 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I too, love Schwab and have been banking with them for 6+ years. The customer service is amazing, they answer their phones with almost no hold time, are always helpful, and easy to deal with. Check deposits process quickly, and they make your funds available as soon as the deposit goes though, no hold times. I signed up with them because they don't charge foreign transaction fees, such a bonus if you travel overseas. (disclaimer: I don't work for Schwab, but I was a featured customer in their annual report last year.)
posted by nerdcore at 11:33 PM on July 20, 2014

I currently use Schwab. My experiences have been 100% positive with Schwab and I would recommend them without reservation. As others have noted, their customer service is extraordinarily good. I'm much happier with them than I was with ING.
posted by Lame_username at 1:36 AM on July 21, 2014

I also use Schwab. I once had occasion to call customer service at 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon. The call was answered by a human being, who was able to handle the issue quickly and efficiently. Who else can do that?

As to Capital One, I would not use any company that airs such inane commercials.
posted by yclipse at 3:55 AM on July 21, 2014

For your criteria, get Schwab. I use Ally for the (nominal) interest but keep Schwab as my primary account for international travel, and if you don't care about the interest, Schwab all the way--the support and technology seem much more solid.

Cap One's lack of ATM fee reimbursement is not competitive for me.
posted by deeaytch at 4:52 AM on July 21, 2014

I also nth Schwab. Family members and friends alike have switched based on my experience and everyone is happy. All the above, good customer service reps, easy to use phone app, quick mobile deposits, using any atm anytime without even thinking about the fee, all ring true for me.
posted by rdnnyc at 5:05 AM on July 21, 2014

I've had good luck with Cap One as well; I don't think much about the ATM fee issue, since the Allpoint ATMs are at 7-11s everywhere, and at least where I live there are a TON of 7-11s. Everything else with them has been easy to deal with.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:21 AM on July 21, 2014

I nth Schwab. They've been fantastic, including the customer service. I have done a lot of last minute travel, asked for increases to my withdrawal limit, activated a second card, mailed money, and asked tax questions. They've been quite helpful when I called them for each of these things.

When I call them, I can't remember ever waiting for a rep for more than 5m... It's usually instant.
posted by yaymukund at 9:20 AM on July 21, 2014

I'm going to take a slightly different tact than some other folks; I've been with ING/Cap One 360 since October 2004, and I've had to call customer service exactly once (and because I did something phenomenally dumb, not them [I mobile deposited a check into more than one account]). They were super helpful, assured me it happens all the time, and told me exactly what would happen (just wait, the authorization will fall off of one bank or the other). I wish there was any other institution in my life that I'd only had to call once in 10 years! :)

So I'm a super happy Cap One 360 customer. I've eaten an ATM fee once in 10 years, through my own bad planning; otherwise, it's usually easy enough to find a credit union ATM or an Allpoint ATM (often in Targets and 711s; we also have a chain of gas stations where I live that have surcharge free ATMs).

I banked with Ally for awhile, and they were fine and their customer service was good as well, and they had free checks (I do have to pay for my checks; the book cost me $5 and I've not gone through a book in two years), but in the end, the fact that I have never had an issue with ING/360 won out, along with the ease of opening sub-savings accounts, which makes organizing my financial life a lot easier.
posted by joycehealy at 10:57 AM on July 21, 2014

By the way, every single online-only bank that claims "no - fee" for everything uniformly makes it money from long hold times. There's no way to avoid it.

This hasn't been my experience with check deposits at Schwab bank. Small checks (under $5,000 I believe) are basically available in my account as soon as they are processed through the mobile app. For larger checks the first $5000 is available right away, the remaining funds are held for a few days. There is a limit on the total amount of checks you can deposit using the app each day; for me it's $10,000 and that has never been a problem. If you regularly deal with lots of large checks in a day you might want to ask them about this. I do experience the delays in transfers using the ACH system that disillusioned explained.

I definitely echo others' comments about Schwab Bank. I've been with them for a while and have had a good experience. I love the unlimited ATM fee rebates. Their website is good, the mobile app is good, the customer service is great. Even the time I had to deal with them when my ATM card was cloned and money was fraudulently withdrawn from my account, their customer service was excellent and it was straightforward to take care of.
posted by medusa at 11:08 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I left Cap One 360 in a knee-jerk fashion because I had been with ING, but I have been really happy with Ally. The interest is "good", love the mobile app, haven't had any problems even with large deposits on the app (I mention this because I was initially terrified). I transfer money back and forth all the time.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:49 PM on July 21, 2014

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