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Debit Cards Suddenly Stopped Working For Ally Bank Customers

This morning, customers of the online-only Ally Bank couldn’t use their debit cards, which is the only way they can access their funds.

Posted on January 11, 2019, at 3:11 p.m. ET

Gpointstudio / Getty Images / Via Ally

On Friday morning, people who do their banking with Ally, an online bank with no physical locations and over 1.5 million customers, discovered that debit Mastercards tied to their checking accounts had stopped working. “It’s a big problem to not have debit access with an online bank, because it holds up all of your money,” Danyell Thillet of New York told BuzzFeed News. “My spouse also has the same debit card linked in Apple Pay, so it was an issue for him too,” Thillet said.

Apparently all of @Ally's debit cards have just stopped working today. So I am unable to pay my bills. Or like, go get lunch.

Ally customers like Thillet, who say the bank hasn’t directly told them when their cards will start working again, are voicing their frustrations on Twitter:

@Ally @infojunke How is this not a bigger issue? The worst thing a bank can do is lose your money. Step below that is no access to it. Thats what is happening right now. Ally better off a very public apology and explanation for this. If we can't trust the bank, why should we keep our money there?

@Ally this is ridiculous. I was told 2 hours at 8:15am this morning while I was stuck at a gas pump trying to figure out what to do. Now we are well into the afternoon. Still no joy and no access to my money. "Sorry for the inconvenience" is not cutting. This is not ok.

Oh well that's fucking great... use on online bank like @Ally and their card system goes down?!?!?!? WTF.

In a statement, Ally spokesperson Andrea Puchalsky said, “Unfortunately, a debit card processing center at our vendor was impacted by a widespread power outage at approximately 5:45 a.m. ET today that was not within our control and affected multiple vendor clients. Power was restored to the area at approximately 6:59 a.m. ET, and debit card processing and ATM connectivity have begun to return to normal operations. It may take a bit longer for customers to see transactions post to their accounts. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused to our customers.”

According to a customer service representative, the company became aware of the debit card issue at 10 a.m. ET. Other types of accounts, like savings accounts, are not affected, the representative said.

On Twitter, some customers reported getting their cards declined at businesses, and not being able to pay their bills or go to lunch because access to their funds was cut off.

Ally’s official Twitter account has replied individually to customer complaints, but as of publication time, it has not publicly stated that debit cards aren’t working on any of its social media channels.

Ally customers who need to withdraw their funds can move their money to another bank institution for free, through an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfer. However, the transfer will take at least one business day, and could take up to three business days.

Ally, which has been previously touted as “the best bank for millennials” and the “best online bank,” claims to offer customers better service and interest rates “by eliminating the costs associated with traditional brick-and-mortar banks,” as stated on the bank’s website.

But after this experience, Thillet said she’s rethinking online banking: “I don’t know if I’m reconsidering online-only banks entirely, but definitely this one. I understand that technology breaks down, but they aren’t even keeping customers informed. If they had made some announcement, at least people can make adjustments to their day.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.