Update 6/26/13: ING DIRECT is now called Capital One 360, and the Electric Orange Checking Account is now called 360 Checking.
Both ING Direct and Ally Bank have made several improvements to their internet checking accounts since my last comparison of these two accounts in 2010. So I thought it was a good time for another comparison. ING DIRECT was the first to offer a checking account (it calls Electric Orange) in late 2006. Ally Bank's Interest Checking Account was launched in early 2010.
I'm sure I'll need to do another comparison next year. We may see more changes at ING DIRECT as it completes the merger into Capital One. Ally Bank released the first phase of its mobile banking earlier this year, and its second phase is planned for later this year.
One thing new at both banks is online check deposit. This can almost eliminate the need to mail checks that you want to deposit. It may not be able to completely eliminate the need since both banks have limits on the size of the checks that can be deposited online. Some may prefer to deposit checks at their local banks which are linked to their internet bank accounts. They can then log into their internet accounts and initiate an ACH transfer to deposit the funds.
Ally Bank released its eCheck Deposit service for all customers last October. As you can read in my eCheck Deposit review, it can be a little difficult to use. Also, it's not yet available in mobile banking.
ING DIRECT released its online deposit service, called CheckMate, last April. Checks can be deposited with a PC/scanner or with a smartphone. Just like Ally's service, readers have reported some difficulties in depositing the checks. You can view the readers' comments in my CheckMate review.
Not all of the changes were related to new technology. One important change since 2010 at ING DIRECT was the addition of paper checks. ING DIRECT had intended for the Electric Orange to be a paperless checking account. However, they realized that most people always find a need for an occasional paper check. Thus, ING DIRECT finally started to allow customers to write paper checks in August 2011.
As I described in 2010, 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 debit card. So in the comparison below I focus on areas where there are some differences. 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|
|Interest Rates||Higher rates for balances over $50K (rate tiers of $50K and $100K)||Higher rates for balances under $50K (top rate requires $15K balance)|
|Customer Service||Offers secure message service. Available by phone 8AM–8PM, 7 days a week. No online chat service||Offers secure message service. Available by phone 24/7. Online chat service available|
|Paper Checks||Only checks ordered from ING DIRECT accepted. Checkbook of 50 checks cost $5||Paper checks allowed. Ally standard checks are free.|
|ATM Fees||Free at Allpoint ATMs (network of 35,000 ATMs nationwide) & Capital One ATMs. For other ATMs, there's no reimbursement of ATM fees charged by ATM owners.||No Fees. Fees charged by other banks are automatically refunded at end of month at any ATM nationwide|
|Maximum number of links to external accounts for ACH transfers||3||20, Ally may allow higher limit on request.|
|Accept mailed checks & money orders for deposit||Accept checks but no money orders. No postage paid evelopes||Accept checks and money orders. Postage paid envelopes available|
|Person-to-person payment service||Yes. Sender must have recipient's last 4 digits of bank account number.||Yes. Popmoney service. Sender doesn't need to know any of recipient's account number|
|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.|
|Mobile Banking||Yes, full featured||Yes, not full featured. 2nd phase scheduled for later in 2012|
|Online Check Deposit||Yes, PC & mobile||Yes, PC only. Mobile scheduled for later in 2012|
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.