Why I Like ING Direct

Posted by Jill on September 7, 2009

Many financially-savvy people have turned to online banks for their savings (and sometimes even checking) account needs. Online banks often provide higher interest rates and better customer service than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Of course, the lack of a physical branch makes it harder to access your money immediately.

Here’s my personal experience with one of the leading online banks – ING Direct.

ING Direct: Background

ING Direct has existed in the United States since 2000. It is the domestic outpost of the ING Group, a worldwide financial institution that began in the Netherlands. ING offers the following services:

  • Savings (Personal and Business)
  • Checking (Personal and Business)
  • Certificates of Deposit (Personal and Business)
  • Mortgages
  • Mutual Funds – through Sharebuilder
  • Home Equity Line of Credit

My ING Experience: The Good

I opened a savings account with ING about two years ago, and opened an Electric Orange checking account about a year ago. I have also held three CDs through ING, although I only hold one today. Here are some of the things I like about ING:

  • Competitive interest rate: Although all interest rates are low right now, ING stays competitive with other online banks. It’s not the best, but it’s nowhere near the worst!
  • Easy online interface: I find the ING website incredibly easy to use. If by chance I can’t figure something out, the FAQ section provides detailed answers to the most common user questions.
  • Tips and Tools: This section of the website offers resources to help you on your financial journey – ING feels like real partner to me.
  • No fees: All ING savings, checking, and CD accounts are absolutely free with no minimum.
  • Customer referrals: ING offers me the chance to earn up to $500 by referring my friends and family members.
  • Security: ING is FDIC insured, so I know my money is safe. And their security policy makes me confident that my personal information is safe as well.
  • Association with Sharebuilder: I have a brokerage account with Sharebuilder, and appreciate the ability to see that account balance when I log into ING. Additionally, I am able to transfer money from ING to Sharebuilder instantly with no charge. And I can invest in ING no-load mutual funds with the click of a button.

The Not-So-Good

While I’ve been generally happy with ING, a few things do bug me at times:

  • Slow log-in process: ING’s commitment to security means that I have to go through a few extra steps each time I want to log into my account.
  • Interaction with financial aggregator sites: Because ING requires you to answer security questions each time you log in from a new computer, it’s difficult to see your ING balance/transactions using a website like Mint.com.
  • Slow transfers: It takes up to 4 days to transfer ING money to an outside account, so plan your transfers ahead of time – or make sure to have an ING checking account with debit card! This one is a characteristic of all online banks, not unique to ING.
  • No paper checks: This is about the only thing that keeps me from using ING as my only bank – instead of writing paper checks you can do electronic checks or have ING send a check in the mail for you. If you need to write an unplanned check, you’re out of luck.


My personal experience with ING Direct has been mostly good – and the positives far outweigh the negatives. While I don’t get the absolute best interest rate out there, I feel confident that my money is safe and in the hands of a good company. If you’re looking to open your own ING account, be sure to get a $25 sign up bonus.

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Comments to Why I Like ING Direct

  1. I’ve also have had good experiences with ING. I’ve had my savings account for about a year and just opened a Sharebuilder account.

    You mentioned my biggest pet peeve which is the delay in access to my savings when transferring it to my brick and mortar bank.


  2. @Bucksome

    The delay is an unfortunate consequence of online banking, but as long as you plan well (and have a back-up credit card – that you will then pay off in full – just in case!), it shouldn’t be too big of a deal

    Sharebuilder is not necessarily the best or very cheapest discount broker, but it’s a great way to get started with investing! When I started I could only afford $50 a month, so that was the best place. I’ve been very happy so far and hope you are too!


  3. Another plus for parents: ING is the only online bank I found that lets you open savings accounts for your kids… everywhere else you need a driver’s license for the primary account holder, and none of my kids are old enough to drive…

    Not only did we get the referral bonuses when opening savings accounts for each of our four kids, they had a cross promotion with Sharebuilder last year to get a $50 bonus when a new brokerage account is opened. So we were also able to get bonuses totaling $250! (I also opened a brokerage account for my wife)


  4. I too have an account with ING Direct. Initally I signed up to invest in their CDs. But lately their CD rates haven’t been too competitive.


  5. I love ING. I have a brick & mortar bank to deposit my checks in to transfer them to ING anyway so I use that account to write whatever few local paper checks I need.


  6. @matthew d Custodial accounts are definitely an ING plus. If I ever do another similar article I’ll make sure to include that! Stacking referral bonuses is a great way to make some extra dollars – that’s free money you can put towards debt or savings to help you reach your goals even faster.

    @Patrick No, their CD rates aren’t the best, but at least you know your money is safe. I tend to stick with 6 month CDs so that I can reinvest at a higher rate if one becomes available. I ladder smaller amounts in multiple CDs for this purpose.

    @SimplyForties that’s pretty much what I do too – keep a “normal” bank to write checks and make in-person deposits, but use online transfers to get most of my money to ING


  7. It’s that slowness of transfer, I think, that makes ING a good bet for spendthrifts: You can’t get at the money! If you have “extra” cash in savings or checking in a regular bank, you can use the ATM or cash a check.
    I’d certainly recommend that people keep a cushion in a regular savings account, in case they suddenly need to move it into checking — if your car breaks down or your kid loses his glasses, you’ll be able to pay cash. On the whole, though, I rather *like* the fact that the ING money is hard to access.

    Donna Freedman

  8. @Donna Interesting perspective! Definitely never thought of it that way. I use lots of little psychological “tricks” to save money – telling myself I just can’t access the cash is definitely one to add to my list.


  9. I personally like the slow transfers. It gives you a good 3-4 days to think, ‘Hmmmm, do I really NEED to buy this?’ When I realize I don’t need to, I transfer the money back to ING.


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