credit & debt

Ally Bank Rolls Out Debit-Card Rewards Program

The online bank is offering its account holders perks at a time when many banks are taking them away.

At a time when many banks are eliminating debit-card reward programs, one bank has just created a new one. Today Ally Bank introduced Ally Perks, a cash-back program for customers with the online bank's Interest Checking Debit Card.

The program is simple. Ally debit cardholders don't have to rack up points and redeem them to get their cash reward. Instead, when they spend a certain amount on purchases at any of the 20 participating merchants, cash is automatically deposited in their Ally checking or savings account (they can choose which account).

Merchants include Target, Best Buy, iTunes, PetSmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Sur La Table. The cash-back amounts vary. For example, Ally debit cardholders who spend $50 at Target get $5 back, and those who spend $2 more at iTunes get $1 back.

Several large banks have eliminted debit-card rewards to compensate for revenue they expect to lose when a new cap on debit-card fees goes into effect later this year. Many banks also have eliminated free checking or have imposed requirements to qualify for this type of account (see Free Checking Is Tougher to Find). Ally's Interest Checking Account, however, does not require a minimum balance or charge a monthly fee.

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