ING Direct Electric Orange Review — The Paperless Checking Account

If it wasn’t the rate increase announcement from ING yesterday, I probably won’t check my INGDirect account any time soon as ING is no longer my primary savings account and I only have about $500 with them now. However, when I logged in last night, I noticed something new: the ING Direct Electric Orange Checking Account. I haven’t accessed my account for quite a while, so I am not sure how long this new product has been out. It isn’t on their Products & Rates list and only appeared once I logged in. In their FAQ section, it says that you do need an ING Direct account in order to get this checking account.

Following the link under My Account, there are some more details about this new offering, which ING claims to be “America’s first all–electronic, paperless checking account.”

Interest Rate

The new Electric Orange pays interests at three different levels

The 5.30% APY is certainly very attractive, but the bar is too high ($100,000) to get in. Otherwise, for a balance of several thousands like I usually keep in my checking account, the 3.00% APY is better than nothing from my Bank of America checking account. However, I don’t think I will use this as my day-to-day checking account. 3.0% APY is not worth the hassle of switching all the deposit and payment services I already set up with BoA.

(The Effective Data of the above interest rates, 11/29/2006, may suggest the Electric Orange only became available since yesterday.)

MasterCard Debit Card

Nothing new here.

Free ATM Access

This probably is the most appealing part of this new product to me. According to ING, Electric Orange customers can make free ATM cash withdraws through the AllPoint Network, which self-claims to be “America’s largest surcharge-free ATM network.” I never uses this network before (because I only withdrew cash from my own bank) and don’t know if there’s really no surcharge from both AllPoint and my own bank (some banks do charge fees for cash withdraw from other bank’s ATMs). I ran a check with AllPoint and found about 20 ATMs located within five miles of where I live, in places such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aide, and Costco.

Electric Checks

This may be where the “paperless checking account” statement comes from. ING says that

… you can send money to an individual’s bank account with Electric Checks for free. Simply enter the person’s information, the details of the payment, and an email will be sent to the recipient. The person can click on the link within the email to go to a secure page to enter their account information and the money is transferred!

The information you need to enter include the recipient’s name, email address, bank account number, and routing number. The requirement of banking information may make this service useless as these information is impossible to get even you want to send them money. Sounds good, but not very practical.

The FAQ section also says customers can have the option to send paper checks and it’s free for first-class mail delivery. But you will not get a box of checks when opening the account.

Automatic $1000 Overdraft Line of Credit

Again, this is a very nice feature.

When you open your Electric Orange, you’ll automatically get a $1,000 line of credit that’s connected right to your Electric Orange and is accessed anytime your balance goes below $0.00. There’s no fee to use the line of credit

Finally, Electric Orange also offers free bill pay.

My Take

My first impression of the Electric Orange is quite good actually. The service has some nice features that I may not get from other banks. There seems to be no minimum balance requirements (or did I miss it?) to keep the account free of maintenance fees. However, for 3.0% APY with up to $50,000 deposit, it’s not really very attractive. However, if you want to open your first checking account, then the Electric Orange may be worth some serious consideration as the money in the account earns you interests. Also, the paperless check service is quite handy if you want to send money to somebody you know and is willing to give you the bank information; otherwise, the paper check option works just like writing a check from your check book except that you can’t write a check on the fly.

Interested? Open a ING Direct Electric Orange Checking Account and start to save now.

Open an account

Update: Check out more discussions on ING Electric Orange from Readers’ Feedbacks. Also find out more on bank interest rates at Best Online Savings & Checking Accounts Interest Rates.

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42 Responses to “ING Direct Electric Orange Review — The Paperless Checking Account”

  1. Kira |  Nov 30, 2006 at 11:19 am

    They must only be showing it to certain customers cause I don’t see it ;)

    If that online check-sending feature didn’t require you to enter their banking info, I would be ALL OVER THAT for paying people on CashDuck. Much more secure than mailing a paper check and no “I didn’t get the check, please send another”.

  2. Growth in Value |  Nov 30, 2006 at 11:23 am

    MasterCard Debt Card

    I assume you meant “debit” card there. But that was quite the funny typographical slip. Mastercard pretty much is a debt card, isn’t it?

  3. The Sun |  Nov 30, 2006 at 11:33 am

    Kira: I am not sure if it’s only available to some selected customers as it was there when I logged in my account. And the FAQ only says you have to have an account with them already to have the checking account. Try to log in your account first, then click the “Products and Rates” button on the left see if you can see it. Yes, the banking information for electric checking is too much to ask for and pretty much makes it useless.

    Growth in Value: Thanks for pointing out the typo. Well, maybe “debt” was really what I meant to say :D.

  4. Flexo |  Nov 30, 2006 at 11:48 am

    I don’t see the Electric Orange offering in my account, which is a shame because I was looking forward to it.

  5. The Sun |  Nov 30, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    Flexo: Then it’s really frustrating on who gets the offer and who doesn’t. I didn’t notice any condition on my account about this new product. It’s definitely has nothing to do with the size of the balance since I only have several hundreds. Or could it be the time you have been a customer? I used ING since early 2002.

  6. Flexo |  Nov 30, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    I was a customer since July 2002 and I have several automatic deposits set- up, I’m an active user. Ah well. Eventually, I’m perhaps roll it out to more customers, though its sounds like a loss-leader product.

  7. Flexo |  Nov 30, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Yeah, that last comment I left doesn’t make much sense. Sorry.

  8. Will |  Dec 02, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t know that this is a loss-leader product. I think it’ll wake everyone up to see how much their regular checking accounts have been ripping them off all this while… Anyway, ING is rolling the Electric Orange account out to about 400K customers for now and see how it flies. I don’t know what the selection req’s are. They have told the press it’ll roll out full scale early ’07. I signed up. I have no use for checks anyway.

  9. The Sun |  Dec 03, 2006 at 1:26 am

    Flexo: I signed up with ING in March 2002, but it doesn’t seem to be a factor. It’s probably just a random selection from existing customers.

    Will: I also plan to sign up the checking account, but am only interested in the free ATM withdraw so far. I don’t want to keep to much in another checking account which only earns me 3%. Let’s see how the test run goes.

  10. Joey |  Dec 04, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for the review? Did you notice if they have an online billpay option? It was my understanding that ING allowed you to print checks on your home printer or use online billpay.

  11. The Sun |  Dec 04, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Joey: After I checked ING website and read their FAQ one more time, I didn’t notice any thing about printing your own check. As a matter of fact, their FAQ specifically says that they will not accept any paper checks from a third party provider. With Electric Orange, you do have the option to send paper check, but I assume that with this option ING will print the check and send it on your behave other than letting you print the check and sending it yourself. In the FAQ section, I didn’t find any more details about free online bill pay, but this information is on the front page of the Electric Orange. So I believe this bill pay is indeed free.

  12. jeff |  Dec 16, 2006 at 10:59 am

    When I logged onto my account last week I saw the option to sign up for Electric Orange. I’ve done so and here are initial comments:

    Paper check – is really part of the bill pay function. ING will debit your account for the amount specified and sent a paper check to the recipient. You can not use paper checks, even if you buy them from a supplier, with this account.

    Simple – If you have used Citibanks eSavings account you know that their web site has a lot of functionality and options. ING is taking the opposite approach. Very simple and clean to use. Not a lot of options but the simplicity makes up for it. Very intuitive to use.

  13. The Sun |  Dec 17, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    Jeff: Thanks for your experience. From ING says on its website about paper check, it seems like a bill pay function other banks already provided (they do send paper checks to the recipient if the electronic option is not available) and you experience just confirmed that. Though I haven’t used this service from ING yet, but I guess it will a little difference between bill pay and paper check as with bill pay, all banks require your account number with the recipient, making it more business oriented, With ING’s paper check, I think you probably can send the check just to anybody, not necessarily those you have business with.

    I like ING’s simple interface as well. I don’t need a lot of fancy functions to get some simple jobs such as transfer funds in and out done.

  14. peter |  Dec 18, 2006 at 2:47 am

    I signed up for electric orange last week and it is the coolest account ever, no more need for regular checking accounts, no need for savings accounts, no need for credit cards and no need for cd’s, it’s all in one. And I sent a check to myself the other day to see what it looks like, I’m guessing by the looks on the site that it is very professional looking.

  15. jeff |  Dec 23, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    Here is a little more info after using the account. Sent a bill pay to myself. The payments are processed through Metavante. ING deducts the amount from your account at check issuance and cuts the check on a corporate account. This is good for those who track their balances online (you can forget about those checks you’ve sent and have not been cashed) but bad for those who try to float all of the interest in the account they can. Debit card arrived promptly.

  16. Jewel |  Dec 26, 2006 at 5:56 am

    Thanks to all for comments on the Electric Orange account. After detailed research, I have found a number of accounts paying more interest an offering similar to the same account functionality. The EverBank FreeNet checking account is paying 6.01% APY for 90 days and then 3% APY or higher with the same functionality as Electric Orange and more. I am moving forward with the EverBank account as it also offers bill pay, bill presentment, debit card (6 free no-surcharge fee uses per month) and account aggregation. The account aggregation feature is most important to me as it allows me to look at all of my accounts at EverBank and other institutions including brokerage and credit card from the one EverBank site.

  17. The Sun |  Dec 26, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Jewel: It’s true that there are many online banks offer high rates than what you can get from ING and the 3.0% APY is not very competitive. However, I think the difference is that you don’t have to go through the whole application process to open an ING checking account as you should have a savings account with ING to get the checking account. For other banks, however, the account open process can take several days to complete and there may be a hard credit inquiry as well. Also, other banks high interest rates may require a high minimum balance, while with ING you can have a little as $1 and still earn 3.0% APY. There’s always a balance between rate and convenience and from what other people have said so far ING checking account is quite convenient, though they don’t offer top rates any more.

  18. jeff |  Dec 31, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    After a couple of weeks of test I’ve changed direct deposit to Electric Orange. With one of this year’s goals being allocating more $’s to savings the convenience and simplicity of ING seems to be a good choice.

    There are a couple of interface enchancements I’ve recommended e.g. there doesn’t seem to be a way to get a history of bill payments by vendor. There seems to be a bug in that all bill pays show up as going EFT when scheduled. If the payment actually goes out by paper check a little check icon shows up in the transaction history by the item and a lightening bolt shows up if going EFT. Another helpful item would be to show the check/lightening bolt icon by the vendor name before the payment is scheduled. These are minor issues to me.

    While the above changes would be helpful, the interest rate and convenience of the Orange Savings Account offset the issues for me.

  19. bankaholic |  Jan 12, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    ive just signed up for electric orange. did you figure out how to get it to direct deposit from employer?

  20. jeff |  Jan 14, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    bankaholic,

    If your employer requires a voided check for direct deposit, you can print one off of the ING website. After you logon to ING direct, click on the orange arrow by your electric orange account (not the Electric Orange Tab) then click on “Account Maintenance” on the next screen. You can print out a copy of a voided check to use with your payroll department. There is also a direct deposit form you can print off.

  21. The Sun |  Jan 15, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Jeff: Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I was wondering how to answer it as I didn’t use that feature. The only thing I can think of is getting a routing number if that’s what’s required for direct deposit. Your comments have made a difference for this post.

  22. Arlinda |  Jan 19, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Man!! I didn’t have see that option either. ‘Tis a shame. I have a new job that requires 50% international travel. I wanted a checking account where I wouldn’t have to pay the 2% or 3% international fees.

  23. joe |  Jan 23, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    it doesn’t pay 3% like it says.
    Read the fine print – under the covers it’s structured as a no-interest checking account plus a 3% savings account. at the begining of the month, everything is in the savings account. the first 5 transactions have the proper amount transferred from savings to checking. the 6th transfers the entire balance out of the 3% savings account. Basically – it’s 3% interest until your 6th use of the card every month – then it’s 0% It’s great for occasional use/ emergency. It’s not so great for a primary account

  24. me |  Jan 24, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Read the fine print – under the covers it’s structured as a no-interest checking account plus a 3% savings account. at the begining of the month, everything is in the savings account. the first 5 transactions have the proper amount transferred from savings to checking. the 6th transfers the entire balance out of the 3% savings account.

    joe: Wachovia Bank does the exact same thing with my interest checking and money market accounts with them, regardless of the fact both currently get less than 1% interest. Even after the transfer limit is reached, I still get paid interest – note it says that you only deal the main account, but they split into two for “accounting purposes”.

    It’s apparently a common internal thing among banks, whatever legal skirmish or advantage it gives them.

  25. The Sun |  Jan 24, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Joe: Thanks for sharing your experience. Since I haven’t used the ING checking account myself, I am not aware of this savings to checking switch. But if it’s indeed structured as savings+checking, then I can understand the 6 transaction limits as most banks have this limit on savings account (my HSBC savings account has it). However, this does make the account less appealing as for checking accounts, there are supposed to be no transaction limits.

    me: Thanks for answering the question for me. But I don’t see why this practice helps for “accounting purposes.” To me, it seems they are trying to limit the use of the interest-bearing checking account. If you use it a lot, you lose the interest. If you don’t use it much, you get less interests than what you could get from a true savings account.

  26. mew |  Jan 24, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    I recently switched to an ING Direct electric orange account. So far, I think it’s a great thing.

    1. Contrary to the comments above, there is no limit on transactions with ING’s checking account. Quoting from the Electric Orange FAQ:

    Is there a limit on the number of transactions (deposits or withdrawals) I can do in a month?
    No. You can do as many transactions – card purchases, transfers, payments, deposits, etc. – as you like. This is different than the rule for the Orange Savings Account, which has a limit of 6 withdrawals per month.

    2. Regarding eChecks and bank routing and account numbers:

    I’ve already sent an eCheck. They work like a charm. There shouldn’t be a problem with getting bank routing and account numbers…except an irrational fear on the part of consumers that something unsavory can be done with those numbers. Everytime you write a check to someone you’re handing them your routing and account number (they’re printed right there on the check!). Everytime you leave your checkbook sitting on a table, you’re leaving your routing and account number lying around. Telling someone your routing and account number is as safe as handing him (or him handing you) a check. Normal checking isn’t safe because there is hidden information on checks. Checking in general is only safe because banks and legislatures have put measures in place to detect fraud and correct errors when unauthorized payments are made. So, people should feel totally safe with giving you their routing and account number to pay them…at least, if they would trust you enough to write you a check.

    3. A feature that I would really like to see added to Electric Orange is remote check deposit. A lot of banks are doing this now (big example: USAA). They let you scan indorsed checks at home to deposit them in your account, then you shred the check. With this feature, the electric orange account would complete the electric banking circle.

  27. Me |  Jan 24, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    mew:

    If you read ING’s Terms and Conditions for EO, they (as at other banks) state:

    For legal and accounting purposes, your EO is broken-down into two subaccounts (one savings account and one checking account, both of which earn interest at the same rate). However, these subaccounts are treated as a single master account – a checking with interest account – and as such, you won’t have direct access to them.

    (Emphasis added is mine)

    No where does it say you will not get interest after 6 transfers – in fact it explicitly says that they get the same rate.

    To answer why banks might do this, 6 transfers out per month is the Federal Reserve’s “Regulation D” limit allowed for an account classified as savings account. If you exceed this more than a few times (or even technically possibly once), the bank is not allowed to classify your bank account as a “savings” account.

    However, with savings accounts, it is presumed that you are not removing your money on a regular basis, and hence the amount in the savings account likely(?) can be presumed to actually be there for purposes of determining the sum of all deposits the bank has available to back its lending.

    So arguably and without knowing much, this might be a way to semi-artificially inflate the amount of money an institution has on record as savings deposits so they look more financially sound, and can lend more. As said though this seems to be something everyone does; google “interest checking” and “subaccounts” to find a whole bunch of banks that do this.

    Personally, I don’t like ING’s “voided check”; it is always the same sequence number, and kind of obviously a fake :)

  28. Rienk |  Feb 15, 2007 at 1:31 am

    I am so glad that the convenience of Dutch banking is slowly making it into the USA. I found the banking system in the USA very oldfashioned, unclear and with a lot of hidden fees when I got here. I thought checks were things that people used until 20 years ago (a notion I share with most other Europeans), but my landlady seems to like like them.. The $1000 overdraft is something the Dutch have found very convenient. Also, paying extra fees for ATM withdrawals was something I wasn’t used to. Now I hope that soon fees for international transfers will drop so I can move freely between my Dutch (ING) account and my American one..

  29. Tony Roberts |  Jun 09, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Coulee Bank ( http://www.couleebank.net ) offers an incredible 6.01% APY with their Rewards Checking account. The rate is easy to earn. All you have to do is make 10 check card transactions a month, use e-statements, and do 1 automatic payment a month (they call it ACH). Coulee Bank pays 6.01% on the first $25,000 and 1.01% on anything above that. The best thing about this account besides the rate is it is FREE, you can apply online, and it is from a great bank with real people that answer the phone. And as they like to say, Banking Green has its Rewards. The Rewards Checking account saves paper and preserves our natural resources. No wonder I feel good about recommending this to everyone I know. Check it out. I guarantee you will love it.

  30. Cathy Flick |  Nov 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve had the ING Direct checking acct (Electric Orange) since it was first offered, and have been very happy with it. I just send $$$$ from my local bank (which gives only 0.2% interest…) to my ING Direct Orange Savings acct for upcoming expenses and periodically feed the Electric Orange checking acct from that to pay bills online and via the billpay feature. Transfer from the savings acct to the checking acct is instant, although you still have the limit on savings withdrawals to remember.

    I needed to send my brother’s bank acct $$$ via their eCheck service, and my only advice is to make sure the recipient gives you the right routing and account numbers…. He read them off his checks, and they weren’t right, the numbers had changed! I called ING Direct’s customer service, and the rep instantly realized he had the wrong account number for his bank (too short, needed some leading zeroes). But once I got the right numbers from him (from his statement, not the old checks…), the transfer was pretty quick.

    I don’t have the right ATMs nearby, but the local grocery store gives cash back on debit card transactions, which is good enough for my simple needs (I only have to pay the kid who mows the lawn with cash…).

    I also needed to get a voided check to set up a link between Emigrant Direct savings and Electric Orange checking, and that worked very well just printing out the voided check from the Orange site.

    So my box of checks from my local bank should be a lifetime supply now!