I wasn’t so sure how well I would take to an online checking and savings account set up. I use PayPal frequently and like it; but I wondered how it would all work with an actual online checking account that didn’t have the convenience of allowing me to make deposits at a brick-and-mortar bank location. I got my answers after signing up with ING Direct. I’ve had both an Electric Orange (ING’s online checking account) and an Orange savings account for two years now. I thought I would focus on ING Direct’s Electric Orange payment features and discuss its versatility.
4 Ways to Make Payments From An ING Direct Checking Account
#1 Electric Orange Card
When I signed up for the ING Direct Electric Orange checking account, I received a free MasterCard debit card that lets me buy things at local stores and online. This card allows me to withdraw up to $1,000 per day from an ATM in the Allpoint network. ING Direct won’t charge you fees when you withdraw from any ATM (although the non-Allpoint ATM you draw from might). In fact, if you get charged in error, you can always get a refund. You can also use this debit card anywhere a MasterCard is accepted.
#2 Person2Person Payment (or Electronic Checks)
My favorite feature includes the ability to send an “electronic check” to someone. Basically, it’s a lot like transferring money between PayPal accounts, or wiring money into someone else’s bank account. The Person2Person Payment feature can be a time saver if you need to split a rent payment or your portion of dinner out with friends, for instance. There are no charges or fees when you to send a payment to someone else’s bank account. And if you’re sending money to another ING Direct member, then the transfer happens instantly. Otherwise, the transfers should only take about two business days if your recipient doesn’t have an ING Direct account.
To make a Person2Person Payment, you can head to the Payment section of your Electric Orange account. To make a payment, you’ll need to know the recipient’s email address and the last four digits of their bank account number. You can send a personal message with the payment. You can either make the payment now or schedule it to happen at a later date. Then ING Direct will send the recipient an email notification about your payment.
Person2Person Payment can be more convenient than payment services like PayPal, which requires both sender and recipient to be PayPal members. Also, by using Person2Person Payment, you skip the fee that PayPal charges people who use credit or debit cards for their payments.
#3 Paper Checks
Personally, I rarely write an actual check anymore. I transact a lot using my debit card and have set up automatic payment withdrawals drawing from my accounts in order to make bill payments. With ING Direct, if you want to send an actual written check, you can literally fill out the check online and ING Direct will mail it to the company or person you want to mail it to. You don’t pay for the stamp, the envelope, or have to take it to your mailbox or post office. The service is free, unless you need to send the check by overnight courier, in which case you pay $15.
#4 Online Bill Pay
You can also use the free online bill pay service to really save some time each month. Instead of writing a dozen or more checks for your bills each month, Bill Pay allows you to log in to make electronic payments through your Electric Orange account. There are no fees associated with using the service, and everyone is automatically enrolled when they open their ING Direct account.
Bill Pay is included as a part of your Electric Orange account and you can access it by going to the Make Payments section. Here you can add one bill or multiple bills. If you have an account number for the bill, adding it will help your payment get credited. You can search for a company or add the address by hand. If these companies allow you to receive your bills electronically, you can set them up as eBills with your ING Direct checking account. You can look at your eBills, print them, or save them — and skip the trouble of checking your mailbox each day.
When you’re ready to pay a bill, you can enter an amount and payment date for your creditors. You can also set up your eBills to become highlighted when they become due. There’s a section for pending payments to help you stay on top of recurring bills and their due dates.
Account Features: Overdraft Line of Credit & Fees
If you are someone who plans to use the electronic check feature often, you would benefit from using the address book feature. With the address book, you can record people’s names and enter their bank account information — that way, whenever you want to send them a payment, you can just choose their name from the address book, enter the amount and hit “send”.
I use this feature frequently in my business. When I have to pay subcontractors who do not use PayPal, I use the Person2Person Payment feature. If I happen to come across an individual who is fearful of giving out their bank information (which by the way, is silly because the routing number and account number are on the bottom of every check you write and mail out!) then I just use the regular printed check option.
Overdraft Line of Credit. There are no fees for having the accounts, unless you make a mistake and cause an overdraft. However, with ING Direct, if you overdraw your account, you don’t get hit with a $35 overdraft fee like most banks — instead, the amount you overdraw is taken from the “Overdraft Line of Credit”, which is a line of credit connected to your account that is used anytime your balance falls below $0.00. Subsequently, you get charged a competitive interest rate on that amount used from your line of credit until you pay it back. Pay it back in a few days and you’ll pay pennies for the mistake — a better deal than forking out the typical $35 fee!
The only other fees associated with the checking account are related to replacing your debit card with an overnight delivery fee, requesting a stop payment, using your debit card at a foreign ATM, or having a check mailed out overnight.
As someone who performs a lot of business transactions using PayPal, I appreciate the fact that ING Direct accounts can be directly linked to PayPal. It’s something I find important as I do a lot of electronic transactions through PayPal and need a way to get that money over to an online checking account.
One more thing to keep in mind about the Electric Orange checking account: it pays interest. The APY is 0.25% to 1.15% based on your balance. This may be a higher rate than you can find at your local bricks and mortar banks. Don’t forget that your checking account is covered by FDIC insurance.
Created May 17, 2008. Updated June 9, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.