We all wish that saving money was easy, but with rising gas prices, inflation, and a plunging stock market, its difficult for anyone to meet their savings goals. However, there is an orange beacon of hope for the average consumer who wants to make their bottom line grow: ING Direct.
ING direct was among the first entrants to the online banking industry, and because they don’t have the operational costs and overhead required to support physical bank buildings, they are able to provide some of the best interest rates to their customers, whether the individual has five or five million dollars in the bank.
I have been saving with ING for over 5 years, and despite setbacks due to medical emergencies, family expenses, and the other crises we all face, my bottom line is still growing.
The best thing about ING is that the system is set up to reward you for saving your money. There are no fees for setting up your account, and if you were referred by a friend, you receive $25 in your account. Once you are a member, you have the option to refer more friends and family – and for every one who opens an account, you are rewarded with $10. While an extra ten dollars isn’t going to allow you to retire early, ING also offers opportunities to increase your account by more than one thousand dollars, by holding prize drawings in which every account holder who uses direct deposit or transfers at least $100 into savings each month has an opportunity to win cash prizes. Even when money is tight, I feel good about automatically saving money each month, because it may pay off sooner than I planned!
When I log into ING’s website, I immediately see my checking, savings, CD accounts, and my bottom line. Each account can have a meaningful nickname attached to it, so that I can save toward specific goals. For example, I’ve been hoping to save enough so that I can travel to Africa, and I have started a CD specifically to keep earning interest on the money I’ve allocated toward that goal. I also see the maturity date for all of my CDs, so I can plan to renew them or transfer the money to a different account. ING, by far, has the best website for managing your accounts online. I have accounts at other banks and credit unions, and my ING account is the easiest for moving funds, downloading my recent transactions and tax documents, and seeing how much money I have.
While other online banks may offer higher interest rates, ING Direct typically provides the highest interest rate to savers with less than ten thousand dollars in their savings account. While current interest rates are not particularly high, I know that ING still maintains higher interest rates than my other banking institutions, and when the economy improves, my interest rate will rise quickly.
The addition of the Electric Orange checking account to ING’s services has made it easy to transfer money between checking and savings, and I know that my money is always earning interest! Also, it has been very convenient to use INGs free check service; I just enter the amount, and ING mails the check for free, saving me the cost of the stamp and the hassle of stopping by the post office.
The most recent service acquired by ING is Sharebuilder.com. It allows members to purchase and trade stocks easily, and transfer money directly from their ING account to their sharebuilder account for purchasing investments. What I love is that I can finally get into the stock market. For years I have felt like I couldn’t afford to put money in the stock market because of share buying requirements and high fees. ING Sharebuilder allows you to purchase fractional shares of stock, so you can invest small amounts regularly, rather than having to risk a large portion of your existing wealth. The fees for purchasing stock are very modest, just a few dollars per transaction, and all new accounts are given six free trades to start. While I doubt that my few dollars in the stock market are going to turn into extreme wealth, it has given me the feeling that I am in control of my investments, and with wise choices I can maximize the return on my investment, even with the uncertain economy.
I am thrilled with my experience using ING. From earning high interest on my savings account and certificates of deposit, to saving postage and time using their free paper and electronic check service, I know that I have been able to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more over the past five years with ING than I would have with another bank. The value, ease of use, and great customer service that ING Direct supplies ensures that I will be their customer for a long time.