Mar 14 2013

Why I switched from Capital One 360 to Ally Bank

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I’ve been a customer of ING Direct since 2005. I appreciated their sign-up bonus, referral bonuses, and high interest rates, though at the time I didn’t have much money to save anyway. When the company was bought by Capital One, I along with other ING Direct customers were disappointed. Though the purchase completed awhile ago, it was only last month when they finally switched over to the new name.

It was that change that spurred me to question whether I should stay or go.

For me, it wasn’t a tough decision.

Capital One’s credit card division had/has a lousy reputation. I didn’t like that. To be sure, their shady business practices won’t necessarily translate to Capital One 360. They’d be really dumb to pull stunts, because they’d lose their client base.

Still. I decided, why should I stay with a company that I wouldn’t have chosen to do business with in the first place?

A few years ago, I banked with National City. They were bought out by PNC and First Niagara. Somehow, my money got split during the sale — some accounts went to PNC and a savings account went to First Niagara. I thought I’d give both a chance, and then either pick my favorite to switch to, or find a new bank.

First Niagara was a joke. I loved PNC. It was a bank that I would have chosen to do business with anyway, I decided. So, I closed my First Niagara account and have been with PNC ever since.

I use PNC for my checking, bill payment and daily spending. I use my online savings account solely as a place to park most of my emergency fund. Rare transactions come out of it.

I was seeking:

  • Solid interest rates — either the same as my current .75% (ugh, I can’t believe that’s ‘solid’ these days) or more
  • Great reputation
  • No hoops to jump through. I don’t want to switch my checking account, set up direct deposit, make a set number of transactions per month…none of that. I just want a good place for my money to sit.
  • Easy access to my money, should I need it. Either a linked debit card, paper checks, or an in-person branch.
  • No fees

I found that in Ally Bank. While they don’t have brick & mortar branches, I can get a free debit card and also some free checks. When I initially saw their rates, they were at .9%, but today they are at .84%. Still, this wasn’t necessarily about rate-chasing for me.

The final perk that made me pull the trigger — Ally’s CD rates and terms.

I’ve been interested in doing a CD ladder to help my savings grow a tiny bit more. Once you open a CD, you’re locked in to the rate for the duration. In a time where rates just keep going down, that kind of rate lock is nice.

Ally’s CD options are way better than Capital One’s. They have several types, including “high yield CDs” which top out at 1.53% for a 5-year; a no-penalty CD that you can withdraw at any time (!?) at a rate of .85%, which is .01% higher than their current money market rate; and a “raise your rate CD” where if the rate goes up after you’ve bought the CD, you can switch to a new, higher rate (you can only do this once or twice, depending on the term).

The best rate at Capital One right now is .9% for a 5-year.

What’s more? The penalty for cashing out your CD ahead of the term at Ally is only 2 months’ worth of interest. To me, that’s no big deal.

Compare that to Capital One: a CD of less than 12m, cashed out early will have a 3-month interest penalty. For longer terms, it’s a 6-month penalty. Not worth it, especially for that lower interest.

I’m not keeping all of our e-fund in CDs. Just a partial amount (I’ll share more details of my CD holdings once they’re finalized).

My move isn’t yet complete. I’ve moved some money, but before I send it all I want to get my debit card and checks in the mail.

I had to confirm my Capital One bank account info through two small deposits Ally made into the account. I ran into trouble when I logged into Ally — I couldn’t find where I needed to confirm those amounts. I was thisclose to calling customer service, when I finally clicked around enough to find it:

Transfers >Transfers between Your Ally and non-Ally Accounts >Manage Accounts > My Other Accounts > Activate (I forget if this last word is Activate or something similar, but it should be next to your external bank)

I’m not sure why it was so hard to find.

Do I think every Capital One 360 customer should find somewhere else to do business? No. You have to do what’s right for you. If you use the bank for a lot of your day-to-day business, it might not be worth it to you to set up shop somewhere else.

The interest rates at Capital One 360 are still competitive with other online offerings. If you wanted to do CDs, then yeah I’d suggest switching.

This is just one gal’s decision. If you switch, consider all of your options. If you’re looking at Ally, verify all that I’ve said here (rates, terms, etc.) are still the same.

How about you? Are you switching banks?


Mar 06 2013

Saving time and money with Amazon Subscribe & Save?

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Back in the day on this blog when I had way more time than I had money, I hit those drugstore deals so hard. I drove across town to other drugstores so I could maximize my savings. I had a stack of coupons and a plan of attack. It was awesome. I still remember the thrill of getting so many toiletries for free or almost free. It really was worth it for us while we were digging out of debt and aggressively saving money before our son was born.

That’s so not where I’m at right now. I have more money, but waaaay less time. I like to get a deal wherever I can, but time really is at a premium.

Lately, I’ve been thinking again about a Costco membership or something similar. My reasoning: I could save some money by buying in bulk, and I could go shopping less often. Save time and money, right?

But these days I just plain don’t like going shopping. It’s not the easiest trip with two little kids in the winter, and when I’m trying to mind them, it’s harder for me to bargain-hunt. And, if I do have some time to myself, I can think of other things I’d rather do than go to the grocery.

Costco membership isn’t free, of course, and then there’s that whole 30-minute one-way drive, plus untold time in the store.

We’ve been loving our Green BEAN grocery delivery and plan to continue that. It offers a variety of grocery items — excellent produce, meats, dairy and some bulk dry goods. But it doesn’t have everything I need.

I need to supplement somewhere else, so I thought I’d take another look at my tried-and-true Amazon.

Amazon’s subscription program has changed some. Your subscribe & save items now arrive on one day per month, rather than a delivery on the 5th, and another on the 12th, and so on. It keeps Amazon’s costs down that way.

Also, if you subscribe to 1-4 items for delivery in a given month, you’ll receive 5% off. But, subscribe to 5+ items to be delivered in a given month, and you’ll get 15% off everything. Note that certain s&s products within the Amazon Mom realm (namely diapers and wipes) can receive 20% off if you also have Prime and join Amazon Mom.

For more info on the Subscribe & Save program*, visit this page on Amazon

I subscribed to a few products that we’re always running out of:

  • toilet paper (I’m thrilled to have two kids who are potty-trained, but wow do we go through a lot of TP these days!). $17.77 with discount and clipped e-coupon, for 3 packs of 6 mega rolls
  • contact lens solution (at the moment this product is sold out, but I subscribed and with discount it’s $11.88 for those 2 bottles) $13.98 for the same at Walmart.com
  • dishwasher detergent ($11.79/85 ct) ($13.87 at Walmart.com) ($17.99/100 at Costco, so the Amazon is cheaper per unit)
  • toothpaste for the kids ($2.97 with discount) ($5.13 at Walmart.com)
  • Pull-Ups for night time ($31.15 with 20% discount and $2 off ecoupon. This is $0.34 each) Compared to Walmart.com’s best price of $0.42 each.
  • calcium supplement ($14.68) The cheapest I could find elsewhere for this size was $18.71 with free shipping
  • dishwashing liquid ($12.15/6 25 oz. bottles with $3 off coupon and discount for the lavender and floral scent) $17.82 for the same quantity at Walmart.com

Some of these items I won’t receive (or need) each month. Some I’ll only need every 5-6 months, and I can set my subscription to that for each item. Next month, I’ll add a few other items such as shampoo, body wash, mouth wash, razors…I don’t even know yet. My thinking is, perhaps I can stagger what we need so we’re always stocked, yet always getting that sweet 15% discount.

I can add grocery items as well.

Browse various subscribe & save categories, including grocery, beauty, health & household, pets, etc.

I used prices at Walmart.com to compare since it was easy to find identical items. With Walmart, shipping is free with certain orders over $45. But, it’s Walmart. Pfft.

I’m optimistic that if I do this right, I can indeed save a lot of time and maybe some money, too. We’re fortunate that we have some storage shelves in our garage for surplus items not ready to be stored inside.

How about you? Do you use the Subscribe & Save program? Which types of items?

___

*links to Amazon are affiliate, which means if you click them and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thank you!



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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