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For many, it’s difficult to resist the allure of something “invitation only.” In the credit card landscape, black cards are the pinnacle of exclusivity. These cards offer next-level services and perks but come with a high price to match, such as the Centurion Card from American Express which requires a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual fee.
By contrast, Ally Bank’s suite of credit cards are invitation-only financial products but aren’t necessarily designed for big spenders. In this guide, we will explain what you need to know about Ally’s credit cards and help you decide if one is right for you.
What is Ally?
Launched in 2017 by Fair Square Financial Holdings, the Ally brand of consumer credit cards is dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals not adequately served by major financial institutions. The company is committed to its promise to “Do It Right” for its consumer, commercial and corporate customers and aims to be a leading full-service digital bank.
Ally credit cards
Ally’s current product lineup includes the Ally Platinum Mastercard®, Ally Everyday Cash Back Mastercard® and Ally Unlimited Cash Back Mastercard®. All of these cards are serviced by Ally Card Services and issued by Ally Bank. Here’s a high-level look at the key figures and notable benefits of each:
Ally Platinum Mastercard
- Rewards Rate: N/A
- Intro offer: N/A
- Other notable features: Automatic account reviews for credit line increases, free online FICO score, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources
Ally Everyday Cash Back Mastercard
- Rewards Rate: 3 percent cash back at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores; 1 percent back on all other purchases
- Intro offer: N/A
- Other notable features: Rewards don’t expire, no minimum required to redeem, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources
Ally Unlimited Cash Back Mastercard
- Rewards Rate: 2 percent cash back on all purchases
- Intro offer: 0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then 19.99 percent* variable thereafter
- Other notable features: Rewards don’t expire, no minimum required to redeem, instant “Lock It” tool if you misplace your card, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources
Ally Platinum card details and benefits
The Ally Platinum Mastercard is Ally’s entry-level offering and is designed for individuals with fair or good credit.
While it doesn’t offer rewards on spending, the Platinum’s straightforward fee structure provides an advantage over similar credit-building cards. It carries no annual fee, no returned payment fee and no over-limit fee. Plus, it also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, making it a good choice for frequent travelers or people who shop online at international retailers.
The card does carry some fees, namely for late payments, balance transfers and cash advances, but they are relatively easy to avoid. If you do happen to miss a payment due date, you’ll have to pay $28 for your first slip-up and $40 for each subsequent missed payment within six billing cycles.
Additionally, late payments will not trigger a penalty APR.
Ally Everyday Cash Back card details and benefits
The Ally Everyday Cash Back Mastercard is the next step up from the Platinum card and shares some similarities with its entry-level counterpart but also has significant differences. Unlike the Platinum, the Ally Everyday Cash Back card allows you to earn cash back for your spending and requires an annual fee as high as $39.
Cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores, plus 1 percent cash back on all other purchases everywhere Mastercard is accepted. There is no limit to the cash back you can earn, and your rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
The unlimited 3 percent cash back rewards rate is a great benefit, but many of the best cash back cards apply a similar rate to all purchases and not just those made at certain types of merchants. Plus, consider that the only way to redeem the cash back you earned is in the form of a statement credit. Your pool of cash back earnings can be found on the account summary page within the Ally mobile app, and cardholders can redeem their rewards at any time with just the tap of a button with no minimum required.
Other than its rewards program and potential annual fee, the Ally Rewards card is nearly identical to the Platinum card, even down to the 28.99 percent variable APR.
Ally Unlimited Cash Back card details and benefits
The Ally Unlimited Cash Back Mastercard, the third and final in Ally’s portfolio can be viewed as a souped-up version of the Everyday Cash Back card, offering an unlimited 2 percent cash back rate on all purchases with no minimum to redeem and no expiration dates.
However, there’s no annual fee on the Unlimited Cash Back, meaning this card is reserved for Ally customers with high credit scores. On top of all the benefits that come with the previous two Ally cards, Unlimited Cash Back cardholders receive a “Lock It” feature, which allows them to freeze their account if their card is ever lost or misplaced.
While this card doesn’t come with boosted rewards in specific spending categories or travel benefits that are offered by many top-tier cash back credit cards, the Ally Unlimited Cash Back’s high earning rate put it among the best cash back cards on the market.
How to qualify for an Ally card
As previously mentioned, Ally Bank’s credit cards are by invitation only. To apply for an Ally card, you’ll need to receive a prescreened offer or get matched with the card via CardMatch. To receive an offer, the information in your credit report must meet Ally’s criteria. If you are invited to apply and choose to do so there is a good chance you’ll be approved, although there are no guarantees.
Pros and cons of Ally cards
While Ally cards offer helpful perks for cardholders, they also have their fair share of drawbacks to consider. Highlighted below are the pros and cons of Ally credit cards.
- The issuer offers automatic credit line reviews after six months, with the possibility of a credit line increase
- There is no penalty APR on missed payments
- Cardholders with fair to good credit can still be approved
- High APR of 28.99 percent variable
- Offered by Invitation only – must receive prescreened offer to apply
- The only rewards redemption option is a statement credit
Are Ally cards worth it?
The answer to this question is determined by your financial situation, goals and existing credit. While there are no shortage of credit-building cards for people with bad to fair credit, few come with rewards programs for your spending, and the Ally Platinum Mastercard is not one of them.
If your credit is in need of rebuilding after a prior misstep, consider the Discover it® Secured Credit Card or Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card, both of which offer the opportunity to earn rewards on your purchases and have a low barrier to entry.
All things considered, the Ally Everyday Cash Back card is a solid cash back card, especially if you tend to focus your spending at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores. That said, the similar Citi® Double Cash Card offers a 2 percent cash back rate on all eligible purchases (1 percent when you buy and an additional 1 percent when you pay off purchases) but charges no annual fee, carries a lower APR and has one of the longest introductory deals on balance transfers available.
Ally Bank’s suite of credit cards is designed to meet the needs of hard-working individuals who may not be properly served by major financial brands. The top option of the bunch is the Ally Unlimited Cash Back Mastercard, which offers a competitive 2 percent cash back rewards rate on all eligible purchases and charges no annual fee. While these products are by invitation only, they are not for those with a high net worth or large spending goals. These cards are intended to be simple, transparent and easy on the wallet when it comes to fees.