Update 6/15/2012: Please refer to this post for a new comparison of these two checking accounts.
ING Direct and Ally Bank are both major internet-only banks which offer similar internet checking accounts. I thought it would be interesting to see how these compare. For both banks, the internet checking accounts are relatively new. ING Direct was the first to offer a checking account, the Electric Orange, in late 2006. Ally Bank's Interest Checking Account just launched early this year.
Both Ally Bank and ING Direct offer many of the same services that you would expect from an internet bank. This includes no minimum balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees. Both provide free online bill pay and a free MasterCard debit card. Both accounts pay interest, but both have rate tiers with low rates for small balances. You would be better off keeping large balances in the bank's savings account. However, if you have a very large balance (over $50K), the ING's Electric Orange actually has a higher interest rate than the Orange Savings Account.
The one feature that both banks lack is a remote deposit capture service which allows you to make a deposit by scanning a check at home. That eliminates the need to mail in the check. Currently, you either have to mail in the check for deposit or deposit the check at your local bank, and then initiate an ACH transfer. I think we'll see more internet banks offering remote deposit in the future. One major internet bank that has started offering it is EverBank (see review).
Below is a brief comparison of some of the important checking account features. Which checking account feature is most important for you?
Comparing Checking Accounts at Ally Bank and ING Direct
|Checking Account Feature||ING Direct's Electric Orange Checking||Ally Bank's Interest Checking|
|Writing Checks||No paper checks allowed. Payments can be made online and sent by mail.||Paper checks allowed. Ally standard checks are free.|
|ATM Fees||Free at Allpoint ATMs (network of 35,000 ATMs nationwide). For non-Allpoint ATMs, there's no reimbursement of ATM fees charged by ATM owners.||No Fees. Fees charged by other banks are automatically refunded at any ATM worldwide|
|Maximum number of links to external accounts for ACH transfers||3||20|
|Accept mailed checks for deposit||Yes, but no postage paid evelopes||Yes, postage paid envelopes available|
|Person-to-person payment service||Yes. Requires other person's bank account number.||No|
|Overdraft Policy||No overdraft fees. Provides an overdraft line of credit. Interest charged on the amount borrowed.||NSF fee of $9 per day. Overdraft transfer service provides free automatic transfers from Ally savings account to checking account to cover transactions when you exceed your checking balance.|
If your main concern is interest rates, please refer to my short list of the best internet checking accounts. You can also compare rates on checking accounts from both internet banks and brick-and-mortar banks in our checking account rate table. If you don't mind using a debit card, high-yield reward checking accounts pay the best interest rates. Please refer to our table of reward checking accounts.