ING Direct Electric Orange Checking Account
Pioneers of the Online Checking Account
Update: In 2012, Capital One bought ING Direct and converted all Orange Checking accounts to Capital One 360 accounts. For most accountholders, the change is merely cosmetic. Capital One 360 provides similar services, including a low-cost, high-yield checking account similar to the Electric Orange account. Read more about Capital One 360 accounts, or continue reading for a record of how things used to be.
If you’re not a fan of Capital One, several other online banks offer interest-bearing checking accounts. Ally Bank is just one example, and numerous other competitors have similar offerings.
For situations where you don't need to spend often, a money market account might also be a good option. Those accounts pay competitive interest rates, but they set limits on how many times per month you can spend from the account.
Electric Orange Checking (Pre-2012)
ING Direct doesn't just do savings: The bank now offers a free online checking account. Your money earns interest while it's in the account, and you can spend easily without monthly transaction limits that come with savings accounts. This account is great for online bill pay, and ING eventually allowed customers to write checks out of their accounts and request printed checks in the mail.
The good news is that it's easy to qualify for a competitive rate. It may not be as high as reward checking account rates, but you don't have to jump through hoops to earn interest.
Access to Your Money:
You have access to your money in the following ways:
How to Make Payments Online:
To make a payment from your account, you can do one of the following:
- Have ING Direct electronically pay for you.
- Have ING Direct print and mail a check for you.
- Transfer the money directly to your payee's bank account.
ING Direct can mail checks directly to your payee, or you can have them sent to your home and hand the payment over personally.
Electric Check (transfer to payee’s account): You need your payee's bank account information if you want to use the third option above. It may be hard to get that information, depending on whether or not the payee is willing to provide those details to you. Also, you can't make these transfers to business accounts.
If you're considering this account, be aware of these potential drawbacks:
- You can't walk into a brick-and-mortar bank branch (here's why that matters).
- Electric Checks require effort and exchange of bank information.
No brick-and-mortar: As with any online-only bank, you will face challenges if you rely too heavily on this account. Without access to a branch, it's harder (or takes longer) to get a cashier's check for important transactions, and branches provide other benefits. Keep a brick-and-mortar account open at a local bank or credit union—and keep some emergency cash in that account.
Also, customers historically did not have checks for this account, making it harder to spend from the account (ING Direct did not offer or allow you to use paper checks before 2011).
The account does not charge fees for routine use: There's no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fee. However, you may have to pay fees in special circumstances. ING Direct provides an overdraft line of credit available at no charge, but you'll pay interest if you end up borrowing money.
Be prepared for a credit check. The ING Direct website says "we will obtain information about you from a consumer reporting agency" (although elsewhere it says "we may or may not obtain…"). Either way, they may decide not to open an account for you based on your credit history. For more details, see How Credit Scores Work.
This Electric Orange Checking Account is a good deal. You can earn interest on your cash while keeping it readily accessible. A highlight of the account is that you can make payments from your interest-bearing money. At most other banks, you must transfer funds from a high-yield savings account into a no-interest checking account to make payments.
Return to Online Banking 101.