By AnnaMaria Andriotis
UPDATE (Feb. 17th): New details released today suggest banking for ING Direct customers could get easier.
Banking could get easier for ING Direct customers.
Capital One announced today that it completed its acquisition of ING Direct, after the Federal Reserve approved the merger earlier this week. And new details provided by Capital One today suggest that helpful changes could be on the way.
ING customers can now access more ATMs at no cost as a result of this acquisition. As of today, ING debit-card holders can make free cash withdrawals from Capital One ATMs in addition to the existing ATM network they have used up until now, says Amanda Landers, a Capital One spokeswoman. More updates on possible other features could be announced later on, she says.
As it did earlier this week, Capital One maintains that it has no current plans to change ING customer accounts. “Customers will still enjoy the competitive rates, no fees and the same online experience they’ve come to know and love from ING Direct,” says Landers.
Experts are split about what kind of impact this merger will have on consumers going forward. On the one hand, both banks have been offering relatively decent rates on their deposit accounts. And in some cases, Capital One’s rates are even better than those at ING. For example, Capital One is currently offering up to a 1% annual percentage yield on its so-called high yield free checking account. ING Direct’s “Electric Orange Checking” account offers up to 0.90% APY. “This is not a situation where you’ve got a bank that has had some very attractive deposit offers being taken over by some notoriously uncompetitive bank,” says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. It’s also possible, he says, that the merger may actually lead to better rates for those customers who stick to banking only online.
On the other hand, some experts say it’s possible the merger could lead to lower rates and higher fees for ING clients. One major reason ING is able to offer higher savings rates on accounts than many competitors is because it doesn’t have the additional costs of a bricks-and-mortar bank. The merger of the two banks could make banking there more expensive, says Dan Geller, executive vice president at Market Rates Insight, which tracks deposit accounts. “It’s possible it could have an impact on rates or fees or both,” he says.
Another downside of the merger for all consumers, say advocates: Fewer banking options. Less competition, they say, can lead to fewer deposit accounts and loans to choose from and possibly fewer places to comparison shop interest rates and fees.