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  • Review: ING Direct

    I know I was waaay late opening an account with online bank ING Direct. In the world of high rate savings accounts, the best rates are almost invariably online, yet I avoided opening such an account because Marc and I didn’t want to complicate our finances.

    What changed our mind last year was the financial instability of several major brick and mortar banks. Suddenly, diversifying our accounts seemed more important than being able to track them in the easiest way possible. After all, even though our accounts were all FDIC-insured, we didn’t want to be in the position of not having access to enough money to pay a month’s worth of bills. It didn’t seem likely to happen, but we didn’t want to take any chances.

    A friend happened to ask for an Ebates referral and mention her ING Direct account in the same conversation. So we traded referrals: she signed up for Ebates through the link in the email I sent her, and we both got a bonus. And I opened an ING Direct Orange Savings account through the link in the email she sent to me, and we each got another bonus.

    I have to say, though, that after reading all of the positive reviews about ING Direct on just about every personal finance blog, that I thought ING Direct would be easier to use. For instance, one of the reasons I was happy to have an ING Direct account was that I knew it was possible to set up “subaccounts” – an easy way to keep track of money intended for a specific purpose. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it just by looking at the web site – I actually had to do a search for instructions (I found good ones at I’ve Paid for This Twice Already and Five Cent Nickel).

    I also opened an Electric Orange checking account in November, when there was a bonus of $50 for new accounts when you used your debit card for three signature-based transactions. The best part of the checking account turned out to be that debit card – it’s a Mastercard, so I was thrilled to have it when I needed a Mastercard to take advantage of a special promotion at CVS.com in December.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t go out of my way to open these accounts – especially with interest rates plummeting as they have over the last few weeks. The rate on the Orange Savings account is just 2.2% – better than most brick and mortar banks, and better than my credit unions too. But you can get 2.6% at FNBO, so there are still better rates out there. The rate on the Electric Orange account is a mere 0.5% – better than nothing, which is what I get for my brick and mortar checking, but I hardly keep any money in my checking accounts anyway. (They do offer up to 2.5% for higher balances, but who keeps more than $100,000 in a checking account?!)

    But overall, I’m very happy with our ING accounts. The $25 bonus I got for opening the savings account through my friend’s referral link more than makes up for any interest I’m losing by not moving to a bank like FNBO. We’ve accomplished our mission of diversifying our emergency fund, and I’ve created a subaccount to hold the money that I’d originally intended to send toward my student loans. When there’s enough in the subaccount to pay off my loans in full, I’ll send in one large balloon payment unless things have changed between now and then. And I now have a Mastercard, which allows me to take advantage of certain shopping deals.

    Note: I’m not an ING affiliate, and I have no relationship with FNBO. If you’d like to learn more about Ebates, read my original review.

    Comments

    1. We’ve had savings accounts and a mortgage through ING and we have always been very happy with them.

    2. We’ve been very happy with ING for a few years now. We also opened IRAs with them and it was so easy.

    3. BE CAREFUL ! I had my mother set up with ING for 2 years to get interest on her money. She has Alzheimer’s and I have a power of attorney for her. Since I set up the account and had all the passwords this was not a problem until we needed to file for Medicaid and I made the mistake of transferring the last funds back to her Regions Bank account and chose YES when asked if I wanted to close account. DO NOT EVER DO THIS is you want to ever get your data again. ING locks out your account and you can no longer get your transaction history or statements. It has taken me 5 phone calls, 2 secure emails and a fax just to get a letter for my Medicaid package that said the account was closed with a zero balance. It’s taken 2 more phone calls and 2 more faxes to finally get them to send to my mother her statements. They do not recognize a power of attorney. I have NEVER had this much difficulty with a financial institution to provide documents for which I am legally entitled.

      BE CAREFUL the current low interest rates are not worth the fact that you have to deal with them by phone and their onerous policies. All their correspondence to me basically said TS.

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