One of the main reasons I’ve never really promoted the ING DIRECT Checking Account is that I personally liked my Bank of America account more for one simple reason: their online banking. Specifically, the option to receive eBills directly from utilities, credit cards and other companies set up in the program with BoA. Oh, and the branch locations are useful for that one time every 2 years that I need to do something in person.
As for the eBill feature, I get my gas and electric bill through BoA’s online billing site. I can view the bill without having to log in elsewhere. But Bank of America isn’t the only one that has this feature. I noticed my Chevy Chase Bank (soon to be Capital One) offers eBills. And now ING Direct offers eBills.
So now ING DIRECT Checking Accounts have enough positives to provoke me to switch banks:
- You earn interest on your checking balance. BoA, and most other banks, don’t offer interest-bearing checking accounts without minimum balances of astronomical sizes. At ING Direct, there’s no minimum and you earn interest (currently around 0.25% APY). It’s a small sum, but it’s at least something!
- Access to over 35,000 ATMs on the Allpoint network. Unfortunately, you can’t make deposits via these ATMs (more on that later).
- Need a check? Don’t bother with a checkbook because you can just request free checks from them. You can’t request a stack of them, and some planning is required but if you needed a physical check, you can get one. Again, more on this later.
- You can now get eBills in addition to online bill pay. ING Direct has always had the ability to send money to others (you tell them to whom and for how much and they’ll send the check), but now you can also get your bill sent directly to you electronically from participating companies.
- You get a check card to make purchases just like with any other bank. Personally, though, I don’t use check/debit cards for purchases as they’re less secure than credit cards, but it’s a nice alternative to have.
Personally, I don’t like setting up automatic withdrawals (i.e. EFT) because it means less control over how much they withdraw. Instead, I set up recurring bill payments in my online checking account (currently BoA). Therefore, if someone commits fraud on a credit card, or someone bills me incorrectly, I don’t have to worry about it being sucked out of my checking account and causing me to miss other bills. But that’s your call on what you like best; ING Direct supports both methods.
But as I mentioned, there ARE some downsides to the ING Direct Electric Orange checking account:
- Can’t deposit money except through transfers. Update: Turns out you CAN mail them a check. That means you’ll still need a linked account at a physical bank. However, you CAN use direct deposit for your paychecks so it’s just those random check and cash deposits that will be multiple steps.
Actually, that’s the only downside to the account I can think of. There’s no physical bank locations for ING Direct, so if you tend to use your bank quite often, then perhaps ING Direct isn’t for you, but for the majority of Americans (with internet access), it will work just fine.
How do you feel about your ING Direct Electric Orange Checking Account if you have one? I haven’t made the full switch yet, so I’d like to hear your opinions too!