Will ING customers stay happy with CapOne accounts?

June 16, 2011

ING Direct customers seem to love their online-only bank, and reports that it may soon be taken over by Capital One Financial Corp. have a few of them worried.

The tenor of reaction comments posted on The Consumerist web site ranged from “I’m sad” and “Noooooooooo…” to unprintable epithets. ING has won a following with competitively high interest rates on savings and checking, and no-fee checking accounts. And CapOne drew complaints from some discontented customers of Bethesda, Maryland-based Chevy Chase Bank after it took over that Washington-area institution.

But some analysts suggest that they may not suffer under the deal — which hasn’t yet been confirmed and would, at any rate, take some time to conclude. “Capital One has some pretty competitive online offerings in their own right,” said Greg McBride of Bankrate.com.”They’ve been a mainstay on our top-tier awards list.”

So, no need for immediate garment rending. But here are a few things for ING cultists to watch if and when the reported acquisition moves forward.

Expect a credit card offer. ING has built a big following with young consumers, and it doesn’t even offer a credit card. Capital One has a miles card — the Venture One Rewards Card — that has proven popular with younger consumers because of the portability of its rewards. So it’s kind of a no-brainer to expect CapOne to promote its card to all those ING customers.

Rates are comparable. In the current low interest rate environment, no bank is really running away with the prize for paying consumers big bucks. A one-year CD at ING currently pays 0.75 percent at ING and 0.3 percent at Capital One, according to rates posted on Google Advisor. But the checking account rates are almost exactly opposite that: 0.75 percent for Capital One and 0.25 percent for ING. Both offer free checking; ING’s account is completely free; Capital One’s requires a $1,500 minimum balance.

It’s not just the rates, its the services. ING offers one cool service that not many banks do, reports Robert Rubin of FindABetterBank.com. Savings customers can create as many as 25 different sub-accounts. So you can save for your vacation in one account and your estimated tax payments in another and your clothing allowance in yet a third. “Then you don’t have to feel guilty about buying the expensive jeans,” says Rubin. He’s cautioning bank consumers to wait and see what Capital One does with the various services that make ING convenient as an online-only institution. “If they mess with the model too much, then ING customers should look elsewhere,” he said. After all, the next online bank is just a few clicks away.

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