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ING Direct’s Electric Orange Checking Account

This article was written by in Banking. 17 comments.


As it was finally offered to me recently, I signed up for the new paperless checking account at ING Direct. Since I am a current customer of this particular bank, the account opening process was quick and straightforward. Right now, the account offers 0.20% APY interest on the first $50,000, which is great for a checking account.

ING Direct logoOver the next few months, I’ll be testing the feasibility of using this account as my primary checking account. If all goes well, I can get rid of my accounts at Wachovia. That brick-and-mortar bank requires me to keep a savings account of at least $400 earning 0.25% APY interest in order to qualify for free checking, and their rules change too often for me. I’d rather keep everything at ING Direct (for the features and service) and HSBC Direct (for the higher interest rates) if possible.

To access your cash, ING Direct has partnered with Allpoint, an ATM network. It’s free to use ATMs on this network. I took a quick look and there are locations that are relatively convenient to my home, my girlfriend’s home, and my office.

Over the weekend, I received my ATM card in the mail. In order to activate the card, I must still wait for a separate mailing containing my PIN. This seems like a bit of a hassle, but it makes sense not to package the card with the PIN in the off chance that the mail is intercepted or sent to the wrong address.

While I look forward to using ING’s Electric Orange as my main checking account, there are some situations when I can foresee life without a checkbook being troublesome. Put simply, problems may arise when shopping for large items (cars, house, etc.) in which credit cards are not accepted and the deposit amount may not be known with enough lead time to have a check generated by ING and sent to me. I’ll end up keeping my pathetic Wachovia accounts with a minimum of $400 in the savings account.

Read more about ING Direct’s Electric Orange Checking at pfblogs.org.

Updated May 20, 2013 and originally published March 19, 2007. 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 Lulu

I am using Electric Orange as my primary checking account. I decided to keep my Wells Fargo checking account for those awkward times when you do NEED to have that type of regular checking…like when someone writes me a paper check since it is easier to deposit to Wells Fargo than to try ING. I also have it for when I am in a rush and need to pay someone who does not accept electric checks or cash..like my crazy apartment complex. I just LOVE my ING and would not trade it for the world.

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avatar tinyhands

I’ve been ‘virtual banking’ for a couple of years now. My current accounts are with E*Trade, which does not have any bricks & mortar locations around here. Since E*Trade considers ALL of my accounts when determining the assets, I have my IRAs and a regular brokerage account there too. This way I avoid the ‘account minimums’ fees. The interest rate isn’t quite as good as ING’s but I can keep my cash in other, higher-rate bearing, accounts until needed.

They haven’t partnered with anyone’s ATMs, but they refund all ATM fees. (Although I get all my cash through debits.) They also provided a book of free checks, for those times when I might need to write one, which is increasingly rare these days.

The best thing is being able to move money between accounts with 2-3 clicks. The worst thing is either having to mail-in deposits or stick them in an ATM (fortunately, this is also pretty rare).

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avatar Thomas

I’ve had ING for several years now and really like their site. Never had problems with them other than them having lower interest rates.

I’ll probably always have a brick and mortar. My car loan is through a Credit Union and my only fee is $1 a month, which I make up for in interest. it’s also nice having those paper checks.

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avatar Toby

I have Electric Orange as well. On the surface it looks like a great system. They’ve set it up to minimize their costs so they can pass the 4% interest onto the customer. But I’ve been spoiled by Bank of America and their e-BillPay system (aka Yodlee) which I’ve been using for several years. Once you’ve experienced that system, Orange looks crude by comparison. At BofA, the system automatically collects electronic bills from most of my creditors, displays the balance (and minimum payment if it’s a CC) and gives me the chance to schedule an electronic payment. It tracks each bill and when it was paid.

Through a combination of this system and paying utilities with a CC I pay off every month, I pay 99% of my bills electronically. I write a couple paper checks a year (like to the DMV).

For those of you who are wary of electronic bills, let me put it this way: The only bills I have forgotten to pay in the past few years have been ones that were physically mailed to my house. Nuff said.

Flexo, as far as your qualms about Wachovia and wanting to give it up: Are there no other banking options nearby that are more agreeable? If Electric Orange can fill in the ATM duties then you could switch to a bank or credit union that has a better “free checking” option but may have less convenient ATMs (because you won’t be visiting them that often). Electric Orange cannot (at this point) fill in for a regular checking account for the exact reason you mentioned. You simply cannot write a check whenever you want and that could put a damper on a major purchase. Furthermore, keep in mind that when you buy a house, they will not accept a personal check at closing, they usually require a cashiers check. This will be hard to obtain if you don’t have a relationship with a brick and mortar bank or credit union.

-Toby

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avatar Patty

I realize in different parts of the country Wachovia may have different requirements but both my son and I have free Wachovia accounts with no balance requirements. Most of the time my son has a couple of dollars in
the account. You might want to call them and ask them to see if there are any really free accounts they could rename your account to. We did havv e to do that with my son. SOmeohow after no charges they cahrged him a maintence fee, we called, fee removed, account now free no bal req.
That said I have been wanting to close my Wachovia account for other reasons but so far test runs with other local banks have been unsatisfactory. I do have several online accounts but like to maintain a local B and M too.

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avatar oregonrae

I was uneasy, as well, with the idea of giving up my check book. Then I realized that for at least two years now, I have written only two checks. Both were for impulse items I would have been better off not buying! I was reading recently about their send a payment plan that works by email and look forward to trying it. If it turns out that it’s almost instaneous – an email on how to collect the payment goes to the payee as soon as I complete the payment transaction on line, then I will try and use it as a virtual checkbook, if the payee has immediate computer access (I can use my cell phone)

I have one complaint about ING’s bill payer – I was unable to set up a recurring payment for anything other than monthly payments. I have several bills that are paid on a schedule other than monthly; I will have to remember those, I guess.

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avatar brody

Unfortunately, you still need a B&M bank to deposit cash and paper checks and get money orders, but electric orange is a great checking account. The only thing I have questions about is the atm fees. What happens if you withdraw money from a non-allpoint atm machine? Do you still get hit with a surcharge, or just the atm fee at the machine? Also, when you take out money from an allpoint atm machine, do you get hit with an atm fee at the machine sans surcharge?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

Brody: ING Direct won’t charge you if you use a non-Allpoint ATM, but the ATM or its operating bank might charge you. From their FAQ:

*Are there any charges for using the Card?*
In addition to worldwide cash access, we provide free access to your cash at over 32,000 ATMs in all 50 states through our partnership with the Allpoint™ Network (ATM Locator). We do not charge an ATM fee, however, other ATM owners may charge you a transaction fee for using their ATMs (Money Saving Hint: whenever a merchant asks if you want cash back, say yes to take advantage of getting cash for free). If you use your Card in a foreign country, we may charge you a fee of up to 2.00% of each cash advance or purchase that you make in a foreign currency after it is converted to U.S. Dollars. This fee is in addition to the fee that MasterCard® may charge as part of converting the purchase to U.S. Dollars.

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avatar brody

Thanks for the quick reply flexo. That sounds great, I could just use cash back to avoid all atm fees. The next think i’ll look into is getting rid of my B&M wamu account. I wonder if ing accepts mailed money orders or cashier’s checks as a deposit?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

Brody: Again from the FAQ:

How do I make deposits into my Electric Orange?
You can make deposits by setting up a Direct Deposit into your Electric Orange. You can also transfer money from another ING DIRECT account or a linked checking account into Electric Orange. This is done by clicking on the Transfer Money tab while you’re logged into ingdirect.com or by calling the Interactive Phone Service (1-888-ING-7868). Or, you can mail in checks to us at ING DIRECT, P.O. Box 60, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0060. If you choose to mail us a check, remember to write your Customer Number and account number on the front of the check.

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avatar Patrick

I just opened an Electric Orange Account and will make this my primary checking account. I plan to change my current B&M account to a free account and use that account to deposit checks and then transfer to ING. I will also keep this as a backup if I cannot find an Allpoint ATM or if I need to write a paper check.

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avatar None

First I’d say STAY AWAY COMPLETELY from ING Direct.

Back in September 2001 I opened an account with $10K. Within 2 months I added another $10K to the account. Then I tried to get my money out 18 months later and for over 3 months ING DIRECT kept sending me in the postal mail system a notice saying “Invalid Account Number�. Even though I called them numerous times to correct the problem, ING Direct continued to site the “Invalid Account Number� excuse and sent rejects via mail even though ING DIRECT had both my work and home numbers (both with answering systems attached). The folks at 1-888-ING-0272 were of no help. Mostly excuses and more excuses but they never solved the problem.

I had to write them two checks for one dollar to finally get my needed money. The first check resulted in the account number being updated according to the letter but when I requested the transfer I got the “Invalid Account Number� excuse again. The whole thing took a second check for a dollar (with a letter from my new lawyer) before they got me my money 6 months after I needed it. (We lost the house because I could not get the down payment out of ING DIRECT from my account.)

Then in 2004 I emptied the account down to $40.00. I changed my will to include the ING DIRECT account as a gift to my granddaughter when she turns 65, she is 8 now and was 5 then. I left the account in my name so that I was responsible for the taxes on interest until my death. Then I proceeded to forget about the account and talk anyone I hear talking about ING DIRECT out of doing business with ING DIRECT. I think I was mostly successful in my attempts.

This month I received a letter from ING DIRECT out of the blue. Since September 2005 ING DIRECT stopped sending me quarterly statements.. In the letter ING DIRECT states account was closed. The statement says “Since your Orange Savings Account has had little to no activity it looks like we weren’t able to help you save. As a result we closed your account.� Yet on the same statement the “Year to date interest� is $1.10 at an “Annual Percentage Interest Yield� of 4.47%. So it has had activity through 3 quarters of the year.

So now an 8 year old girl lost her future account. The almost $50.00 was transferred to my checking account and now I have to go back to the lawyer to remove the account from my will. Yet THEY NEVER GAVE ANY WARNING or ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT ME before closing this account. I’d have easily transferred as much as necessary to keep it open. And I have a great credit score so I know they could not have decided to can me due to bad credit rating.

ING DIRECT has no concern for you as a customer, they just want your $25.00 to start and then more. But if you don’t keep adding to it ING DIRECT will just throw you out without any warning at all.

My advice to one and all, STAY AWAY FROM ING DIRECT!!! Go to any other on line bank and you will be much better off.

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avatar rudeboyrg

I realize that this reply is to a comment written 2 years ago. I hope you have become smarter since then.
Perhaps you should educate yourself about the banking system, the rules, and regulations. If you would have done that, you’re entire comment would not sound as asinine as it did.
You complain about ING, yet it is your fault that your account was closed. You recommend people go to other banks, yet you fail to realize that the closing of your account due to inactivity is actually a FEDERAL REGULATION. It is not exclusive to the bank. ALL banks and financial institutions are required to comply to this regulation. If you have no activity for (typically) 2 years, your funds may undergo escheatment by the state. Likewise, your account can be closed. ING at least closed your account and returned the money to you instead of having the state eschea them. Furthermore, the fact that you were gaining interest, is insignificant. Interest is not considered account activity. Only a customer initiated transaction is considered an account activity (eg: making a deposit, withdrawal transfer (interest doesn’t count). This rule pertains to ALL financial institutions. Not just ING. So before you recommend or not-recommend a bank make sure its not for stupid reasons. For example, when you tell people to stay away from ING because ING is following a government policy that all other banks follow it kills your credibility.

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avatar Martha Meadows

I attempted to open an account in which a certain amount would be transfered to an ING account monthly. I gave my bank information. This has been maybe about 6 mos to a year ago. I never received any information back and I thought that an account was never opened. Now I am finding that ING is taking money from my account 2Xs a month and I do not know for how long nor have I been able to get information on my account from your web site. Thats my comment! My question is HOW DO I ACCESS THIS ACCOUNT AND FIND OUT HOW MUCH MONEY IS IN IT AND IF I CHOOSE TO REDO THE AGREEMENT HOW DO I DO THAT? I have not seen anything on this web site that tells me how to access my account!

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avatar Vic

If anyone needs questions answered about their ING DIRECT account and is in the NYC area, there is a cool cafe in Manhattan. The staff is cool and knowledgable. If not just call them at
800-ING DIRECT.

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avatar joseph

Is there a non-interest checking account at ING? Is it possible to disable the ‘interest’ feature thru the website or customer service call once the electric checking account is opened?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

The answer to both questions is no. The checking account does not come without interest or without a credit check for the line of credit (overdraft).

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