ING Direct’s Four Responsible Banking Features

I believe mostly people right now have more than one ATM. That is why the card wallet now becomes one of an item that you usually see on people’s bags. Maybe it is considered by the bankers so that’s why some banks now have tecnology ‘cardless’ ATM. If we talk about this, have you ever thought how to minimalism to many cards in your wallet?

Have you ever tried to open up a second bank account at your existing bank? Usually, you need to go in, fill out some paperwork, and go through the dog and pony show you went through the first time. They take your ID, they do a thirty-second credit check, and they basically waste a ton of your time doing something they were going to approve you for anyway. Why would a bank ever say “No, we don’t want you to put your money here? We don’t want to charge you overdraft fees and we don’t want to charge you account maintenance fees.”? If that’s the case, why waste your time by forcing you to actually show up somewhere to do something that’s absolutely meaningless? Well, that’s only one of the reasons why I like ING Direct despite its laggard interest rates compared to other online banks.

After a little poking around recently, I noticed that they had a whole bunch of very simple features (none of which are really “wow OMG I can’t believe they offer this!” type of features, but all of which are make it easy for someone to be a responsible banker) that were definitely pluses if you’re thinking about opening an account somewhere and getting the highest interest rate (and rate chasing) isn’t your thing.

Creating New Accounts

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Saving for something special? Creating a firewall bank account? All you need to do is log in and go to “Open An Account,” which will take you through an abridged version of the account opening process since they already have your information. I’ve created a firewall account to interface with my PayPal account, keeping only a dollar in there just in case something bad happens.

Automatic Savings Plan

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The whole “pay yourself first” mantra is so easy with their interface of an “Automatic Savings Plan.” Granted, it’s really just automatic debits and many banks offer this but the fact that they put it out there and make the interface so simple is a plus.

Laddering CDs

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Many people know that Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and Money Market Certificates (MMC) are one of the safest investment vehicles out there, but who wants to tie up their money all those years for the more attractive rates? The answer is no one. That’s why one of the “plans” that many financial advisers advocate is a laddered CD/MMC investment strategy where you purchase multiple certificates are different maturing dates so that you can lock in the best rates for your money. The net effect is after a few years, you own the best possible rates on your CDs that you could get.

Example: You have $5,000 to invest. In the above plan, simply invest in the following:

  • $1,000 in a 1 Year MMC at 3.00% APY
  • $1,000 in a 2 Year MMC at 3.50% APY
  • $1,000 in a 4 Year MMC at 4.25% APY
  • $1,000 in a 5 Year MMC at 5.00% APY
  • $1,000 in a 7 Year MMC at 5.15% APY

What happens is in a year, your 1 Year MMC matures, so you want to invest in another 7 Year MMC with that original investment to get the best rates. After another year, your 2 Year MMC matures and you invest in yet another 7 Year MMC. This continues and you keep locking in the best prevailing rate at the time for the safest investment. And these CDs are federally insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for credit unions.

Opening up a Certificate of Deposit takes maybe a minute (it’s considered another account, so really it’s a similar process to the above) once you learn the process and I currently have set up laddered CDs using their ultra-competitive 6-month CD rates. I’m currently two months into the process with two CDs, one earning 5.25% and maturing on 08 March and one earning 4.90% and maturing in 01 April of next year.

Interface

While the bulk of my funds currently reside at Emigrant Direct (they are slowly being laddered into ING CD’s month after month), who recently dropping their rates from 5.05% to 4.75%, ING really does make things remarkably simple through their online interface. I think ING sets the bar when it comes to interfaces among online banks and I challenge anyone to point out one that’s any better.