ING Direct's new Electric Orange Checking Account is now available to the public. Information on the features and rates is available here. The rate is 4% APY for balances up to $50K. Balances between $50K and $100K earn 5.05% APY. Balances over $100K earn 5.30% APY. Like the Orange Savings Account, there are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. There are some fees that you could potentially incur.
I describe some of my experiences with this account in this post and provide a full description of the account here.
Can you live without a checkbook?
I find it ironic that ING Direct's instructions for the Electric Orange application states "Before you start: Have your personal checkbook handy." The important new feature of the Electric Orange account is that you'll get no checkbooks and you can't write paper checks. ING believes check writing is inefficient and outdated. With online bill pay, ATM/debit card and electric checks, you should be able to do without paper checks. If you still need a paper check, you can send a paper check from your account. In this case ING will mail the recipient a paper check. You can also mail yourself a paper check and hand it to the recipient. If you don't want to wait for the check in the mail. you can always use your existing checking account that you used to fund the account.
This Bankrate.com article discusses the issues with this new trend of going without paper checks. It mentioned the same thing as many of my readers mentioned. There'll always be at least a few occasions in which you need to write a paper check. So you'll probably want to keep your local bank's checking account.
Refer to this post for other high yield online checking account alternatives.