Today and tomorrow, ING Direct is having a “Financial Independence Days Sale”.
It’s a good sale. If you open a checking account or Sharebuilder account and you’ll get $76. Apply for a mortgage and you’ll get $776 off of the closing costs.
I have accounts at 4 different banks. Two of those were opened for specific debt-reduction purposes. Of the others, one is used for most of my cash flow and bill payments, and the other is ING. As of this moment, I have 15 accounts or sub-accounts with ING Direct.
Opening an account is painless and only takes a few minutes. They are currently offering up to 1.25% in an interest-bearing checking account, though I’ve never qualified for more than .25%. That account comes with overdraft protection, so you are charged interest instead of overdraft fees.
Once you have your first account set up, sub-accounts can be created in literally seconds. Why would you want a bunch of sub-accounts? I have a number of saving goals. Each of these goals has its own account at ING. I can tell at a glance how much we have saved for our vacation next month and far away we are from affording my son’s braces. My kids each have an account here because, currently, the interest rate is at 1.1%, which is miles ahead of most traditional banks. Combined with the convenience of total online control, there’s no contest.
Money transfers are smooth. I use one of my accounts as a transfer account to get money to and from two separate banks.
I also have a Sharebuilder account. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it is a stock brokerage with low fees and a low barrier to entry. If you set up an automatic investment, you get $4 stock trades with no minimum. I’m not aware of any place cheaper.
That all sounds like a lot of ad copy and the links are affiliate links, but the truth is, I am just that happy with ING. I’ve never had an accounting error, or any problems at all.
The downside? Paper checks are verboten. They will not accept paper checks, but you do have a check card to use. You can hit 35,000 ATMS for free withdrawals, but any deposits are held for a few days before you have access to the funds. It can also take 3-4 days to transfer money from ING to another bank. I keep enough in the accounts that I’m always spending or transferring older deposits while I wait for the new ones to clear.
Even if you don’t like the bank, get a checking account, use it a few times and get $76 for very little trouble. Open a Sharebuilder account, buy some stock and collect $76 for it. Without an automatic payment, it will cost you less than $20 to buy, then sell the stock, netting you $56.
Who doesn’t like free money?