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Simple is as Simple do
Member Name: freediveheaven
Advantages: Simple to operate
Disadvantages: Currently could be better on rate
The million customer mark was quite a significant thing for my relationship with ING. I was attracted to them by the fact that they always offered a competitive rate, often topping the best buy tables, and they were also recommended due to the quality of their service and the security of their operating system. Well once they hit that million customer mark they actually reduced the rate on their saving account much more than their closest competitors, now I’m not a total rate tart, 0.1% is not going to make me move but in this case the difference was 0.3% which on a five figure balance was enough to make it worth switching, I still maintain an account with them it is just that the amount in the account is not significant and is there as an alternative source in case of an emergency. Currently the direct saver pays 5% gross interest on all balances and is a variable rate so is probably due to rise soon however this still leaves it slightly behind some of the other major players in the savings market.
I was impressed with how smooth the account opening process was, the application is made online and the website is well set out with the minimum of fuss. The links to the direct saver are prominent and on the home page so you cannot miss it. As well as the online option you can also choose to open the account by phone or by post by requesting an application pack, both of these options are via a free phone number.
I used the online option, the main criteria for opening an account are that you must be 18, a UK resident, have a UK bank account with a cheque book and direct debit facilities and access to a touch tone phone. There is no minimum balance required to open the account other than a cheque for £1. The actual application process is simple to follow, once you have provided both personal and bank details you receive a conformation e-mail, a few days later you receive an information pack which you need to check the details on and then return with proof of identification and a cheque for £1 to complete the opening of your account. Within about ten days I then received notification of my account details and the return of my identification documents (Inland Revenue tax forms will suffice). This was only required as at the time I was not yet on the electoral roll at my address, if they are able to confirm these details electronically then ID may not be requested.
Once the account is fully open you are able to transfer money into the account using the direct debit facility from your bank account or alternatively send a cheque however direct debit is the more efficient way as the funds are cleared immediately into the account.
You also receive a welcome pack which confirms both your customer and account number and a quick guide to operating our account as well as a small credit card sized reminder.
Operating the Account
One of the things that I like about this account is the security that is used. You need to input your customer number and surname initially then you will be asked for three numbers from a five digit pin number you choose and a memorable date however rather than use your keypad you actually use the mouse to click on numbers on the screen which are set out in a random pattern which changes each time you log on.
You can opt to either transfer money into or from your bank account and it takes about three working days for funds to transfer, every time I have carried out transactions there have not been any problems and the money is available on instant access with no withdrawal fees or maximum transaction limits. If you have a cheque deposit you can send the cheque using a freepost address. Interest can be paid monthly either directly into the account or to your bank account.
Apart from deposits and withdrawals the only other transaction I have had to complete on the account has been to register the account for gross interest about 12 months after opening it. All it took was one simple phone call and I needed my NI number with me and everything was sorted out for me, it was very simple which is a great word to use when describing any transaction with ING, “Simple” as they really have looked at everything they do and made it as simple as possible for the customer.
Statement are sent quarterly either by post or you can opt to have them sent online however as you can view your transaction history at any time online I opted out of the paper option.
I have not used their interactive phone banking service which sounds like a lot of button pressing which I do not like hence the reason I have my cheque account with First Direct.
It must be said that as a provider of online savings they have a very well run efficient operation. The website is well set out and free from clutter, much better than the other two providers I use which are Bradford and Bingley for savings and First Direct for banking. The only real issue I have is the fact that for the past few months they have not been as competitive on rate, now I can accept this from a cheque account provider but not when it comes to my savings.
Operating the account is simple and the security system is up to date and I like the variable nature of the number input system on the pin number and memorable date.
ING are regulated by the FSA and subscribe to the Banking Code of Practice which means they are part of the financial services compensation scheme.
For more information check out their website at http://www.ingdirect.co.uk/
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Summary: Good online savings account provider