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ING Direct Brings Free Chequing Account to Canada

Updated on August 22, 2010

For years Canadians have been asking the people at ING Direct to add a chequing account to their list of services. U.S. customers have been using their high-yield Electric Orange accounts for years. In Canada, it seems we always have to wait longer for new advancements.

Finally, on August 18 I received an e-mail from ING announcing their upcoming chequing product, called THRiVE. The headline read “It’s time to THRiVE Savers!” As a saving account holder for years, this actually was exciting news unlike most of the junk that gathers in my inbox. The type was surrounded by pennies, nickels and dimes to signify the big bank’s tendency to “nickel and dime” the public. The imagery also offered a promise of gaining money in interest for once, instead of getting hit by a constant string of service charges.

The e-mail contained a link to a video blog, featuring CEO Peter Aceto. In it, he grabs an orange cab to make his way to the product launch at the Eaton Centre.

Even pocket change adds up.
Even pocket change adds up.

Aceto addresses the long wait stating that ING products “have to be up to a certain standard. They need to save our customers money. They need to simplify their lives, and they need to make things easier for you. It took us some time to figure that out.”

Just admit it Aceto. You were slacking.

So what makes THRiVE different from dealing with the big banks? There are several key items to note.

Free Daily Chequing: No monthly fees. No deposit, withdrawal or transfer fees. Unlimited bill payments and Interac transactions. On balances below $50k, you get a modest 0.25% interest rate. Although it won’t make you rich or even keep up with inflation, competitors such as Royal Bank or TD Canada Trust don’t pay out anything.

ABM Access through the Exchange Network: Perhaps this is what took ING some time to achieve. Apparently you can use ABMs not only at credit unions but also the National Bank of Canada or HSBC.

Free e-mail Money Transfers: This one is exciting for people that buy plenty online or do business online. PayPal’s charges certainly can add up.

Free Overdraft Protection up to $250: That isn’t much and it you go past it, ING Direct will charge you $25. Again, not perfect but still better than the big banks.

Why ING Direct Isn’t for Everyone

As great as the benefits sound, plenty of people like to walk into their local branch and deal with a teller in person. If this kind of interaction is important to you, stay away from ING Direct.

ING’s services are geared towards a younger, web-savvy crowd. If you find yourself paying bills, making transfers to credit cards and generally doing most of your banking online, you may have finally found a way to stick it to the big banks by moving to ING. If you need an issue straightened out, customer service will take care of it over the phone.

Think of it this way. Those friendly tellers don’t come cheap and neither do bank buildings situated in the most expensive downtown locations. ING Direct is a “virtual bank” while the big banks are “brick and mortar” businesses. That saves ING a truckload and they are passing those savings on to the customer.

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