ING Direct Canada to launch no-fee chequing account

If you remember, a while back I interviewed the CEO of ING Direct Canada, Peter Aceto, using questions from the blog readers. The most popular question was “(when) will you be launching a no-fee chequing account?”.

You can see Peter’s original answer here, but his main theme in answering most questions was that they were always listening to what customers and prospective customers were saying. One could infer that a no-fee chequing account was in the cards. (One could also infer they are still looking to purchase a discount brokerage dealer as well! If I were a betting man, I might hope to see that announced in 2011… but that’s just my honest guess.)

Earlier this year I opened an ING savings account and it was a seamless affair. The website is intuitive and the customer service has been impeccable. I’m very happy with ING so far. I’ll definitely open up the chequing account when it is available. I currently handle my main banking at Scotia as I used to work at their full-service brokerage, but I would save about $120/year by switching to ING.

You can read some in-depth reviews here:

Canadian Capitalist

Million Dollar Journey

The Globe and Mail

You may want to read through all the comment threads on those sites as well. It’s been pointed out that after your first book of cheques, you’ll have to pay $10 for 20 cheques. For some, that is a deal breaker. In the last 5 years I’ve written 6 cheques, so I’m not too worried about it myself. To me, the customer service experience is more important than $0.50/cheque after my first free book.

If you want to pre-register, visit Your185.ca – a reference to the average $185 Canadians spend in bank fees per year.

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 11 comments
  • Brian Lang

    It’s an interesting idea – using a strictly virtual bank. How do I get my money out though? I’m going to pay through the nose for bank machine fees…

    • Curtis

      You would not incur fee’s through the bank machines…there is something called “The EXCHANGE Network” now where you can withdraw from almost any bank machine without any fee’s all you simply have to do is check which banks are participating in the exchange network…if you go on ING’s ABM locator you will see which machines in your area are good to use without incurring fee’s…also if anything you can simply cash withdraw when purchasing from your grocery store and so forth without charges…I’m with TD and TD bank has one of the best customer service I’ve seen though when calling them it takes forever to get a hold of someone…but ING has blown even them outta the water as i have not ever wait till this day for ING over the phone for more then 10 seconds to answer…unreal…which is why I have a chequeings account with them and closing my TD account so i no longer will have any fee’s banking :D

  • Jeff Reading

    How is it no fee chequing when you have to pay for the cheques?

  • Miguel

    @ Brian : your post shows clearly you didn’t even mind spending 30 seconds on the website of ING before doing this remark.
    @ Jeff : In your bank, you pay for ordering your chequebook, plus you pay the fees for each cheque.
    At ING you pay just 10$ for 20 cheques and that’s all : I really think this is fair, even more when you know that you will be able to see your cheques online for free too.

    • Jeff Reading

      Hi Miguel, I just think the name of the account or advertising headline needs to be re-thought, how can it be no fee chequing, when you pay for the cheques? It’s a bit of bait and switch to have a headline saying no fee chequing and then charge you for the same item that is in the title that says it will be no fee. If you called it no fee chequing, with free cheques but you had to pay for bill payments, then that would be OK and not be bait and switch since the headline is actually true, unlike here. A suitable change would be “no fee chequing with some fees”. Imagine a customer signing up saying, I’d like my no fee chequing – the response will be “that’ll be $10 for your cheques”. This is like the bizarro world that not enough people are noticing. Maybe this can work in Alberta, where there are no taxes, but rather, levys on just about everything, as long as you don’t call them taxes, people will not notice.

      • Miguel

        Hi Jeff,
        I do agree with your point and I would say that is the only weakness of ING compared to PC Financial concerning the free chequing account. PC Financial really provides its chequebook for free.
        But in looking at the concurrence, you will find many banks charging you around 12$/month for unlimited operations… but you still have to pay for your chequebooks.
        For me, the way ING explains the launch of this new chequing account, is that it is free on the operations: like for the other banks, they don’t consider the printing of a chequebook as a financial operation.

        When we look at the website of ING, here is their definition on the Thrive Chequing Account:
        “THRiVE Chequing is an online account that has no monthly fees. No really. With THRiVE Chequing, you can deposit, withdraw or transfer your money fee-free.
        With THRiVE Chequing, you’ll also get unlimited bill payments and transactions so you’ll be able to pay all your bills or go shopping without having your money fee’d away.
        Need to write a cheque? No problem. We’ll even provide your first chequebook for free. You can write, deposit and view your cheques online at no extra cost.
        All of this, plus your monthly online account statements will be provided…yes you guessed it. For free.”

        As you can see, what are free are all the financial operations/payments/transactions.
        PC Financial calls his chequing “No Fee bank account” : but you have to pay 1.50$ for each email transfer. With ING this is free.

        That’s the way I try to explain it; I might be wrong. Now, I am eager to see ING providing a new credit card, the same way they do in many other European countries…

  • Personal Finance

    There is no such a thing as no-fee when it comes to banks. Financial institutions have employees and they have expenses. Those expenses are paid by their customers. With my bank now I have to pay monthly fees and $54 for 100 checks. So it comes down to the simple question how many checks do you really write a year? Personally, not many. Definitely no more than 20 checks. If I will have to pay $20 for the checks, but I have no monthly fees, it’s worth the move.

  • Canadian Capitalist

    ING Direct’s No-Fee Chequing is a welcome development because I like to see competition in this space. We have so much choice when it comes to high-interest savings, so it is nice that PC Financial isn’t the only game in town.

    Thanks for the mention Preet!

  • Rebecca in Canada

    I have a THRIVE chequing account with ING Direct. I received my bank card in the mail and the PIN number in a separate envelopped. I got my free cheques and customer service was amazing… UNTIL YESTERDAY !!!!

    I went to one of the ATM’s which is affiliated with ING Direct (in this case, HSBC) that way I can bank for free: well believe it or not, I was unable to withdraw money or deposit a cheque at all. I was so upset!!! I spoke to customer service after trying a few times, they had me tried a million times and I kept getting various error messages (transaction denied, transaction not allowed at this terminal, transaction denied at the request of your financial institution) !!!!!!!!!! I spoke to a supervisor, NOBODY knew what was wrong or anything! No explanation was given. The only thing they could offer me is to transfer back my money into my other bank account and funds would not be available till next evening. I was so upset!! They are supposed to investigate the matter today… I don’t think ING Direct has their books in order yet, in order to do what they are trying to do. Personally, I am seriously thinking of closing up everything… because I need an account that’s reliable. Anyone else had some experiences to share??

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