Since opening my Ally Interest Checking account, I’ve had no complaints about the bank’s service. So when I received a letter in the mail earlier this month informing me I was enrolled in the new Ally Perks program, I was excited to start earning my free cash.

The main reason I decided to open an Ally checking account about two years ago was because I was tired of paying ATM fees whenever I used an ATM not affiliated with my primary bank, which is Capital One. Here’s a rundown of how the program works:

Ally Interest Checking account holders are automatically enrolled in the Ally Perks program and can choose to opt out of the program. The program isn’t points or miles-based, and instead allows customers to earn cash bonuses for purchasing offers generated by the bank. Once a qualifying purchase is made, the cash is automatically deposited into the account. Customers can also choose which types of merchants they’d prefer to receive offers from in their preference settings.

When I reviewed my list of Ally Perks offers I was presented with a list of 16 different options ranging from $5 back on a $35 purchase at Red Lobster to $20 back on a $100 purchase from West Marine. To give the program a test-drive I decided to make my first purchase nice and easy: $1 back on a $1 purchase from Apples’ iTunes.

Since I don’t usually purchase music from iTunes, I first had to sign up for an account then purchased a single song for $1.29. No more than a minute after making my iTunes purchase of $1.29, Ally had already posted $1 into my account. iTunes took an additional four days to charge me for my purchase.

Ally Perks Vs. Capital One Rewards:

The Capital One rewards checking program was the only other account I could compare the Ally Perks program to. Through that program account holders accrue miles in increments of 5 or 10 miles depending on the type of transaction processed. For example, a PIN-based debit card transaction will earn you five points while selecting ‘credit’ for the same purchase will earn you 10 miles.

Time is a commodity and, for me, the Ally Perks program beat out Capital One’s rewards program because the perks are instantaneous. As I’d mentioned before, I was able to earn my $1 on iTunes purchase almost immediately. In comparison, while Capital One customers earn a one-time bonus of 1,000 for opening a rewards checking account they generally must also wait up to 60 days before the miles can be redeemed.

The Ally Perks program is also great because the amount of cash credited back to you is based on the offer you redeem rather than the amount of miles you accrue. I received about a 78 percent discount on my iTunes purchase, and can also receive discounts of as much as 20 percent off instantly for other offers.

Capital One’s rewards program makes no distinctions between large or small purchases when you earn miles. This means that for each PIN-based purchase on my debit card – whether it is $1 or $1,000 – I’d earn 5 points on each of those transactions. That also means that, hypothetically, a person that earns points exclusively by making PIN-based transactions with their debit cards could spend thousands of dollars before even qualifying to receive a $25 cash back reward (worth 5,000 miles).

The one criticism I did have with my particular Ally Perks programs was that most of my offers were for either clothing retailers or restaurants. While I do enjoy both shopping and dining out it would have been nice to see some travel offers included. It’s also important to note that not every customer receives the same offers, so it’s possible that other Ally account holders did receive travel offers.

When it’s all said and done, the Ally Perks will go a long way in bolstering Ally Bank’s already positive profile, especially at a time when most banks are beginning to do away with rewards programs. If you’re a fan of free cash then now could be the right time to consider opening an Ally Interest Checking account.

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  • Dave

    Most of the “perks” were for online purchases.  I am reluctant to use my debit card online so the value of this program is very small for me.  I did however take advantage of the $1 back on $7 purchase at Subway and the $2 back on a $20 purchase at my local Walgreen.