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ING Direct Now Offers Paper Checks

This article was written by in Banking. 17 comments.


The internet is a-twitter with the news that ING Direct is now offering paper checks to accompany its Electric Orange “paperless checking” account. Apparently, customers have received emails from the bank confirming this long-needed enhancement, but I have not received an email yet. A box of 50 checks costs $5 through the ING Direct website.

Paper checks, while vestiges of the all-but-obsolete era of twentieth-century banking, are still convenient for making purchases when cash would be inconvenient and credit inappropriate or unaccepted. You generally don’t carry cash to put a down payment on a house, for example. The lack of paper checks meant that ING Direct customers needed to maintain a separate, external checking account, and in many cases, the Electric Orange account could never be a customer’s sole transaction account.

ING DirectING Direct has provided the option to send a paper check from the bank, but for the times that a check is required, it usually means you need to write one on the spot rather than wait for days to weeks for the check to arrive. While checks are declining in relevance — most of the time, they are processed electronically, anyway — this has been the missing piece.

With this announcement, ING Direct is outlining some extra security features. When you receive the checks from the bank — and you can only order one box of 50 checks at a time — they will have more numbers at the bottom than checks from other banks. This is a security feature that ensures that only valid checks will be processed.

Checks are interesting. Technically, any piece of paper that includes your signature and an amount qualifies as a check. If the bank of first deposit can determine the bank that holds the account and that bank can determine the correct bank account of the individual who owns the check, the check can be processed. You can print checks at home or write them on a bar napkin. You might get the evil eye from a bank teller, but if there’s enough identifying information, the check can be processed. You don’t even need to know the bank’s routing number.

That won’t be the case with ING Direct’s checks, because this bank will only process transactions that have the right extra digits in the check number, which I would guess is a checksum that verifies the check number with the account number using some sort of algorithm, like the thee or four digit verification code now popular on credit cards.

To order your first box of checks, log onto your account at ingdirect.com and view your checking account, click on “Account Maintenance,” then click on “Order New Checks.” You’ll need to activate your checkbook when it arrives, and ING Direct will provide instructions for this process.

It’s a little late, but thanks to ING Direct for providing this basic feature. Thanks also to PT Money where I first learned of this development, as I haven’t received the email other customers are reporting. I didn’t receive the message because I still had an old email address on file at ING Direct, and I’ve corrected that oversight.

Be aware of the fees. As I mentioned, each checkbook costs $5 to order, and checks printed by third parties like ChecksUnlimited or your home printer will not be accepted. If you do not have enough money in your account and your overdraft line of credit to cover a transaction, ING Direct will charge you $9. Keep track of the checks you write, as they won’t be reflected in your online balance until they are cashed.

For brand new ING Direct customers, those who do not have a savings or a checking account with this bank, the box of checks is effectively free because there is currently a $50 bonus available.

Photo: pasa47

Updated May 20, 2013 and originally published August 11, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar SteveDH

I chose EverBank over ING a couple of years ago for that very reason – no paper checks with ING. Since I’ve had this secondary account I’ve only written three checks against it but as you aptly point out, there are times you just have to write a darn check. I do like the added security they’ve applied though.

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avatar tbork84 ♦1,867 (Half-Dollar)

Its nice to know that they are adding some extra security features to their checks. I have to admit that not having access to checks is a big reason why I have to keep an open account at a brick and mortar bank and not do all of my banking with an online bank like ING.

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avatar Money Beagle

Ten cents a check is awfully expensive. I will continue to use my free checking account at the local bank and just transfer money from ING to my bank if needed. Good to know there are other options though.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I haven’t gotten the email yet either. I rarely use the account, but I wanted to try it out. You do need paper checks on occasion, so I always maintained another checking account.

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avatar Scott A.

Finally, a missing piece to Electric Orange checking is solved! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will cancel my Bank of America checking account in the next 10 minutes. I love that everything is Free and they don’t nickel & dime you. I will order checks now and only use them when needed. I am ok with the $5 order charge since they offer “Mail a Check” for free AND they pay postage. And, as far as the $9 bounced check fee — that’s better than the $35 other banks charge. Here’s another amazing innovation from these guys. Kudos to the team that came up with this idea — amazing that they can innovate on something so simple as paper checks.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

Good this was one of the things that kept me from using my ING account more. When I needed the money I had to wait for it to be deposited into my other account and then write a check or whatever. I might be putting more money into ING in the future.

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avatar Joe Durika

I hate to say it, but I don’t see this as a good thing. I see this as a strategic move (the first of many) on the part of Capital One to eventually turn Electric Orange into a regular checking account with none of the benefits of EO.

I can (and have) sent paper checks via EO to pay bills that I can’t do an electronic payment for (i.e. a wedding cake). I just set up the payment like an electronic payment, and ING sent the check (they even paid for the postage).

This move to paper checks is going to most certainly affect this. Not only will they stop letting you send paper checks via the website, now they’re going to charge $5.00 for me to have the privilege of writing checks against the account.

I am also fearful that the current overdraft policy (with the line-of-credit and only being charged interest on the amount you borrow from it if you overdraft) will be discontinued. Why not? It’s definitely a money-loser for ING, who could be charging $35 for an overdraft…

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

I think it’s too early to say that Capital One will fundamentally change how the Electric Orange account works, at least in the near term. Considering the paper check offering is a new development, it’s probably been in the works for a long time, most likely since before the sale was announced. I don’t see the electronic check sending feature going away. Even mainstream national brick-and-mortar banks have this feature now.

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avatar Scott A.

I totally agree with this assesment. ING DIRECT and Electric Orange have the opportunity to continue to show why they have been selected as the best Checking Account. They have built their business on great customer service and being fair. Capital One knows they bought a very unique business and will spend a lot of time to make sure that they replicate their service (and hopefully improve Capital One’s) when they merge.

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avatar tom

thanx 4 letting me know about ing checks, being a long time member its awsum news, suprisingly i aint got that news from ing as of this writing but since a big bank took over ing, things are not as smoothly run as ing it self ran their business

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avatar Brianne

This is awesome! I would love to make Electric Orange my main checking account since we do most of our savings there.

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avatar Anthony

If anyone thinks that this is a Captial One move, they are mistaken. Cap One was anounced as the buyer less than 2 months ago (and the deal isn’t even finalized yet) and going from concept to market isn’t something that would happen that fast. My guess is that this is ING’s answer to what customers have been asking for all along. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I have an ING account as well but didn’t know about the paper checks. Good to know you have options.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

This is the thing I’ve been waiting for with ING. I do use 2 checks a month.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i do not know how i feel about this. i mean, i suppose for many, the checks are a good benefit, as they may need to write one here and there. i suppose if i did, i would appreiate the new feature as well.

that said, i really don’t understand why ING would do anything at all to the service since they are just passing it along to capital one anyway. am i wrong to think this? i am really trying to find a replacement for ING just in case i do not like what capital one does to the accounts. in fact, i am thinking of just putting everything i have in all my ING accounts into one saving account, closing everything else and being ready to move. i want to wait until perhaps some details come out, but it is quite some time down the road and i almost just want to move and be done with it.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

I hope that the remote deposit feature gets up and running soon. With the slew of new fees Wells Fargo has decided to charge i think this might be the new checking account for me.

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avatar Gus

I just received my checks but it is one big book of 50 checks. I was expecting 2 books of 25 each so my wife and I can have one each. It will take me a long time to use all 50; probably by then the checks will not be valid since will be Capital One. I know I can order another set but I don’t need 100 checks.

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