It's a bank toss-up: ING Direct vs. Capital One

Stacks of coins

Lately, I’ve been reading Web commentary bemoaning the acquisition of ING Direct by Capital One. For my needs, there's just not that much of a difference between the banks.

The sale of ING’s U.S. online banking operations allows the Dutch insurance and banking giant to pay off government bailout loans from 2008 and comply with demands of European antitrust regulators.

My own online banking needs are basically limited to CDs and savings accounts.

I’m not into interest checking accounts, debit cards, ATMs or bill-pay services. No bells and whistles for me.

In that context, I’m indifferent to the Capital One-ING combination.

I opened CDs at both back when they offered relatively decent rates.

When their CD rates became uncompetitive (Capital One’s current 24-month rate is a whopping 0.65% APY, while ING’s is a slightly more respectable 1.00% APY), I established savings accounts with maturing CD monies.

Presently, Capital One’s savings rate (1.10% APY on $1,000-plus balances, with a quarterly bonus of 10% of interest earned on $10,000-plus balances) beats ING’s 1.00% APY.

But since we’re talking savings accounts, not CDs, a spread like this isn’t a big deal.

My customer service experiences with both banks have been positive.

ING offers me features that Capital One doesn’t, which I hope will survive the merger.

One is IRA accounts. I use an IRA savings account at ING to park money from IRA CDs maturing at other banks.

Another is the ability to close a CD online, without talking to anyone.

On the negative side, ING restricts ACH transfers to three "linked" checking accounts. Capital One also allows links to savings and money market accounts, with no numerical limit.

All in all, between the hirsute Viking and the bouncing orange ball, it’s pretty much a toss-up.

I understand, though, that ING Direct is more popular than Capital One among the younger set (i.e., those not yet enrolled in Medicare).

ING, I’m told, is more "fun" than Capital One.

I decided to check this out by visiting ING’s "café" in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate it.

It’s supposedly at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and the 405 Freeway. But traffic there is perpetually snarled, and you can’t safely take your eyes off the road to find a sign.

That’s not "fun."

I’ll stick to navigating developments on the Internet instead.

I hope Capital One and ING retain the best features of each bank -- which, I suppose, given the recent history of banking, may be asking a lot.

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