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Navy FCU vs. Fidelity vs. Ally?

DrCheap 252 August 17, 2013 at 09:42 PM in Finance (2)
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We're looking for a basic checking with no minimum balance / etc.

We can arrange 1 direct depo/mo into the account.

We need basic checking with auto bill pay, atm, etc.

This is for a spending account for a family member who is on fixed income and not great at money management. We're helping transition from a small local credit union that is just raking him over the coals in fees.

He travels internationally a little, orders items from overseas frequently (his current credit union is a pita about overseas charges), and doesn't keep much balance in the account. Thoughts? From my research it looks like it breaks down so:

Navy Federal Credit Union -- Best Brick & Mortar Option
(He is eligible).

Fees:
No monthly fee, $1 for use of out-of-network ATM (plus whatever that ATM charges), overdraft fee $20, max 3/day, only if overdrawn by more than $15,

Advantages: Local brick-and-mortar branch; 24/7 customer service; largest credit union in the country; can do cash deposits, deposits available next business day on most deposits, excellent financial health.

Disadvantages: Fees higher than other options, limited free atm options, no refund of ATM fees.

Fidelity Investment -- Tied for Best On-Line Option

Fees:
No monthly fee; no minimum balance; no fees to use any atms; no nsf/overdraft fees (but does not pay checks that cause account to go negative).

Advantages: Refunds ATM fees charged to you by any ATM anywhere in the world; globally accepted and recognized as credit and atm card (rated best international atm/debit card); 24/7 customer service (very highly reviewed); earns interest; ach deposits (his monthly check) show up instantly; free checks; very well reviewed bill-pay/ebill system; excellent financial health; holders can apply for the best AMEX card available 2% cash back.

Disadvantages: No cash deposits (but can work around this pretty easily); check deposits can take 2 days to clear (under$2500) or up to 4 days to clear (over$2500); no brick and mortar location; a little cumbersome to set up at first, but excellent operation once set up; overdraft protection must be "self-funded" (via another account or line of credit) -- more likely that they will actually return checks and not send autopays that cannot be covered by the account.

Ally Bank (The Other Best On-Line Option)

Fees:
No monthly fee; no minimum balance, no fees to use atms, $9/item overdraft fee, max 1 fee per day, +1% fee for foreign transactions, some minor fees for rare customer service stuff like replacement atm cards, etc.

Advantages: Refunds ATM fees charged to you by any ATM (at least in the US); Very low overdraft fees, 24/7 customer service, earns interest;

Disadvantages: No cash deposts (can work around); More fees than Fidelity; less international acceptance; good but not great reviews; used to be GMAC and some concern about financial stability from leftover investments.

I appreciate any experience or input you all might have and am also open to other suggestions.

Oh, one other thing, he keeps odd hours so he needs someplace with 24/7 (or at least weekend and late night) live customer service reps (this eliminated USAA and some other options).

11 Comments

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#2
I personally prefer Ally over Fidelity and have both. Navy, no clue.
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#3
I've had accounts with all 3 only closed Fidelity because I rolled over my 401k to Vanguard. I think Ally is currently the best for ATM's, but NFCU would be you best choice for borrowing down the road.
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#4
look into NavyArmyCCU
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#5
NFCU will refund your ATM fees under $10 or so. Up to $20 if you have active duty checking. I have flagship checking or whatever its called and it has an okay interest rate also. I think it's .45% or something depending on your balance.

I just checked and they will refund ATM fees if you have direct deposit. No monthly fee if balance is over $1500. For flagship, which I have. I like it and I don't even have a branch near me in NYC.
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#6
Correct. NFCU has e-checking that refunds ATM fees. Everyday checking doesn't.
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#7
In almost every case I'd recommend a CU over a traditional bank for one simple reason:

Banks are in the business of making money from their customers
CUs are in the business of providing services for their members

So while some CUs are certainly better than others, I'd focus more on comparing CUs & set aside the banks altogether. I've used CUs exclusively my whole life & I've always had awesome customer service & never seen any unreasonable fees, short payment periods or ridiculous overdraft charges.
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#8
I bank partially with NFCU (not my main account), but like a poster said earlier, if you ever want to borrow from them, ESPECIALLY if you don't have perfect credit they will still take care of you. I have there cashrewards card with a $25k limit and got my auto loan from there for a great rate. the customer service has always been top of the line as well.
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#9
Navy Fed is a good group, I'd recommend them.
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L5: Journeyman
252 Reputation
Original Poster
#10
Thanks much for the input, folks. We've opened an account at Navy and are going to give it a good solid look before shifting all his banking over. If it's as good as folks say we may see if his account can serve as referral to get us in!
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#11
NavyFed also has a referral program, $50 for both the referrer and the new member.

https://www.navyfederal.org/membe...s/80yr.php
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L5: Journeyman
252 Reputation
Original Poster
#12
Thanks! Will look into the referral.

Looks like the are also part of the Co-Op shared ATM network.
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