Ally’s Cash Back Card is Not Ready for Primetime
July 21, 2016•799 words
I love Ally and have been banking with them for over five years, so when they announced a credit card with 2 percent cash back on gas and groceries, 1 percent on everything else, and an extra 10 percent on any cash back you deposit into your Ally bank account, I immediately jumped on it.
However, the experience has been far less than ideal.
First off, the card is in a completely different account on a completely different website. I love Ally because all of my checking and savings accounts are in one place, so I expected the credit card to just show up in a new section on my Ally account.
But no, they’re running their credit card service through TD Bank. Now I can’t manage my card alongside my other Ally accounts, which was one of the primary reasons I got the card in the first place.
So after resigning myself to a fate almost as bad as death, given that I now had two accounts to manage, I logged on to the new site to create a brand new account.
Making that account was a pain. I couldn’t get it to register online, so I had to call an actual person (and I hate calling actual people). We finally figured out the problem, which stemmed from a misleading discrepancy on the prompts they give you when you’re applying for an account versus when you’re creating an account. Those actions happen weeks apart from one another, so I’m sure others are getting just as confused as me when trying to enroll.
What they do is ask you to create a security word when you apply for the card. During that process they give you a prompt to help you create the word. However, when you’re creating your account once you’ve received your new card weeks after applying, that prompt is missing. I thought I used a completely different word, so I couldn’t sign up for the online web portal.
Sure, I could’ve mitigated this annoyance by writing down my security word, but I didn’t actually forgot my word.
I was just mislead by the site.
The site primes you to input a particular response (and the prompt did not match my normal go-to word for security purposes) and then they don’t remind you of how they primed your selection when you sign up weeks later. As soon as the service representative on the phone reminded me of the prompt I immediately knew my word, so it’s not that I simply forgot it.
It boils down to terrible user experience design.
If they provided the prompt you saw when applying as you’re creating the account, there would have been no problem. If they simply omitted the prompt when users are applying, again, there would be no problem. But the terrible mix of priming a user for a particular response and then not reminding them weeks later led to an awful user experience.
That wasn’t a terrible inconvenience, but an extra half hour of thoughtful design of their process could have potentially saved them hundreds of hours of calls in their call center.
Ally’s credit card password system is weaker than these rusted locks
But the thing that made me most upset is their artificial limitations on the password for the account.
They have a maximum password length of 8 characters.
Eight. Fucking. Characters.
This is a bank. This is my sensitive financial information. This is thousands of dollars in credit. And they’re protecting it with an eight character password?
I use LastPass, so my passwords are routinely 30 characters or longer since I don’t actually have to know them. But now I have this flimsy 8 character password sitting in my vault, and 8 character passwords can be cracked in a matter of hours now. So now I feel that my data is far less safe with Ally’s new credit card system (even though their main site does allow for long, complex passwords) given this artificial limitation.
So while I’ve been a huge fan of Ally in the past, I have a hard time recommending their new credit card to any current Ally customers until Ally starts managing the card themselves and integrates it into their main site.
And for those who don’t use Ally, their new credit card isn’t strong enough that I would recommend switching banks just to use it (although I would highly recommend switching to Ally for all their other services!)
All that said, I’m still going to be using the card, because (1) the benefits are solid since all my banking is done with Ally, (2) the card is already sitting in my wallet, and (3) the card actually looks pretty cool.
I just hope my account doesn’t get hacked in the meantime.