It was thanks to a mistake that I opened a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) with Ally. I was under the mistaken impression that ING Direct levied a fee to transfer a TFSA account to another institution but when Ally customer agents assured me that they do not charge transfer fees, I withdrew the entire balance out of my ING Direct account late last year, opened a new account with Ally in the New Year and put back the amount withdrawn into the new TFSA account. Ally sounded intriguing because of CDIC guarantee, high interest rates, 24/7 customer service, promise of no fees and good word-of-mouth reports (here and here). I learned later that ING Direct also offers free TFSA transfers but I’m not going back: Ally’s interest rates are similar or better than ING Direct’s for most accounts.
Ally happens to offer one of the highest interest rates on a savings account: 2.0% on TFSA and regular savings accounts but, alas, no RRSP accounts. But it is with GICs that Ally really shines. Ally’s GIC rates are 0.75% better than ING Direct’s on 3, 4 and 5 year terms with better early redemption rates. For instance, ING Direct currently pays 3.25% on a 5-year GIC and Ally comes in at 4.0%.
My experience thus far has been very smooth. Ally opened an account promptly and the initial funding and linking to a chequing account took about 10 business days. Ally did refuse a deposit of more than $5,000 to a TFSA account but after I explained the TFSA rules patiently and assured them that any penalties are my responsibility, they accepted the initial cheque. Interest payments are made prompty at the end of the month. After my initial test drive with a TFSA account, I also opened a savings account with Ally and found transfers to be very fast — one or two business days.
It’s hard to open a magazine or newspaper these days before shortly running into blue, full-page ads from Ally promising great rates and “absolutely no monthly fees”. It’s nice that it’s not just empty words — Ally has delivered on that promise thus far.
PS: Ally is a product of ResMor Trust, a subsidiary of GMAC. It is not currently available for Quebec residents.