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Almost everyone should use Ally as their primary bank. Their 100% ATM fee reimbursements and 0.87% savings rates will both earn you extra cash on the margin and no other bank has better terms.
Reasons to use other banks include:
- If you can’t get an Ally account: Schwab offers ATM reimbursements and can therefore pair nicely with an online savings account from Discover or Everbank.
- If you like free money: You can get a $75 bonus by opening a free checking and savings account with Capital One 360.
- If you want to buy foreign currency:
Everbank offers good accounts for this. Whether you want to buy Swiss Francs because you think the US economy will collapse, or you’re buying 3 month CDs with Brazilian Real because they offer 8% returns, Everbank will let you do whatever crazy hedge you want.UPDATE (Dec 19, 2015): Everbank engages in illegal business practices, carried out by unethical lawyers. They were a good bank 5 years ago but now they’re exhibiting the signs of a company that’s grown corrupt with age and at risk of going under. I withdrew all my funds. I recommend you do the same and get out while you still can.
- If you want to experiment: GE Capital Retail Bank recently changed their name to Synchrony Bank and started offering an account with 0.95% interest called the Optimizer+plus account. Their website looks tacky and they also charge $5/mo if you don’t maintain a $50 balance. I don’t think they’re worth the trouble currently, but others may want to try them to get the absolute highest interest rate available from any online bank.
- If you really never use ATMs: The Discover savings account could be the most convenient if you deposit your paycheck there and link it to autopay on your Discover Card✝.
For those who are curious, here’s how I would rank the banking and credit card companies I’ve worked with:
- High-Yield Savings: Ally >
Everbank> Capital One 360> EmigrantDirect
- Regular Banking: Schwab >
Wells Fargo> Chase> Bank of America
- Credit Cards: Discover >
Citibank> Chase> Bank of America> Capital One
✝ BTW, if you don’t have a Discover Card, you should probably get one as your main credit card or something like the Fidelity 2% Cash Back American Express. Discover and American Express are pretty much accepted everywhere nowadays and they actually give you more cash back *and* charge merchants less. So you’re helping yourself and being a better customer to the businesses you’re buying from. Also, you can automatically pay for Amazon purchases with Discover reward points, so it’s pretty much the easiest cash-back plan to spend of any program ever.