ING Direct is an online only bank with prominent marketing which has been building lots of deposits as of late. The orange ball really gets consumers' attention. Below, I've reviewed the product to my understanding. If you have any questions or you're thinking of using their service, you should visit their website and read the fine print. Because the rates constantly change, I won't be quoting rates.
ING Direct is a basic online savings account with a few extra bells and whistles thrown in. The main attraction for opening an account is the Annual Percentage Yield, or APR. Because of this high value, you can typically earn more than real world based banks. Not to say the money you put here isn't real. Another draw of ING Direct banking is the fact that there are no fees for the service and there's only minimum balance requirements. You can open an ING Direct banking account with as little as $1 to start with. The way the service works is pretty simple. You keep your existing checking account with your regular bank and you link it to ING Direct. If you want to move money back and forth, you simply login to your ING Direct account and request a transfer. The transfer is fee free from the ING Direct side, but you should also check with your bank to make sure you won't be assessed a fee for the transfer from their side.
If you're in need of a CD, you can also get one of these, ranging from 1 to 5 years. The rates are pretty competitive, which is great if you've got some cash you're not going to spend for awhile. ING Direct also does mortgages and home equity loans, though I've no researched those offerings fully.
If what you've read above is of interest to you, you can open an ING Direct account in several different ways. The first option is to open the account online and skip out on any paperwork involved. If you'd rather have a paper trail, you can print the application and mail it in. Either way, in order to start an account with ING, you'll need your basic personal information and a checking account number. Once you've started the process, it can take several weeks before your account is created and approved. To verify your information, ING will create several small transactions in your linked checking account which you'll need to verify and validate your PIN number you'll receive in the mail. Once you've done this, you're ready to go.
Because of ING Direct's urging of users to 'do it themselves', you should sign up for their program for the financial value, with no expectations as to the customer service. There are some great customer service stories floating around the web, but the service isn't all peaches and cake. It was reported in 2004 that ING Direct fires customers which are too high-maintenance. It's hard to judge the accuracy of the claim, but it stands to reason ING Direct is offering you a service, not the other way around.
One of the biggest things you can worry about in banking online is the security. ING Direct has you covered. They offer top notch security Area 51 would be proud of. Each time you change any of the information on your account, your online banking account is frozen for a few days and you're contacted by letter. This can be a hassle and slow things down for you, but it keeps your account safe from hackers or other malcontents who would be content to make off with your information.
Originally posted 2008-09-27 16:29:00.