In the world of online checking account wars, three gladiators are constantly striving for your business, Perkstreet, ING Direct, and Ally Bank. Each offers many free services for customers but they all have distinct advantages. All offer free accounts and all are FDIC insured up to the current maximum of $250,000.
One of the only “rewards” checking accounts, Perkstreet offers customers multiple reward options for simply using your debit card. Customers can choose from cash back, music downloads or coffee.
Customers can easily earn $600 in cash back each year without any changes in spending habits. That means you can keep the majority of your cash reserves earning bigger interest rates than those offered on other checking accounts and STILL earn cash back rewards. So put your money into an ING Direct Savings Account or an Ally Bank CD and use PerkStreet to conduct your everyday business.
How to make deposits with Perkstreet:
- Regular mail: Using a postage-paid envelopes.
- Free overnight delivery: Send your checks overnight for free from 3,400 UPS Stores and Mailboxes Etc. locations nationwide (get a tracking number to ensure delivery).
- Direct deposit: Sign up for direct deposit with your employer and have all or a portion of your paycheck deposited into your account automatically.
- Online transfers: Move money easily between your PerkStreet account and outside accounts.
- MoneyGram® ExpressPayment: Deposit cash free at 18,000 locations nationwide, including Wal-Mart stores. You’ll need some specific information from Perkstreet to use this deposit method.
How to withdraw money
You can withdraw money without a charge at one of 37,000 ATMs within the STARsf® surcharge-free network or at any merchant that offers cash back with purchases such as grocery stores or department stores like Walmart or Target. You may also use ATMs outside of the network but you’ll pay a $2 fee plus any fee the ATM owner may charge.
ING Direct Electric Orange
Electric Orange is sort of a strange name but that’s what ING calls their checking account. ING’s biggest claim to fame is that they have been involved in the online banking world for a long, long time and instead of paying rewards, they pay interest. Depending on how much you have on deposit, you can earn more in interest with ING than you do in most traditional grounded bank savings accounts! Since rates change frequently check out ING Direct’s website for rate details.
How do I make deposits into my Electric Orange checking?
- Set up Direct Deposit
- Sign in to your account 24/7 at ingdirect.com and click on the ‘Transfer Money’ tab.
- Call their Interactive Phone Service with 24/7 access.
- Mail a check for deposit.
How do I withdraw money from my Electric Orange checking?
You have several options:
- Use your Electric Orange Debit Card anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
- Access cash for free at over 35,000 ATMs with your Card; or from merchants that allow cash back as a part of a PIN-based purchase.
- Get a cash advance from a participating local bank using your Card for up to $5,000. Keep in mind the bank may have a lower withdrawal limit than ING DIRECT.
- $0 monthly fee
- $0 to open and no minimum balance – you can open it today and begin using it when you want
- Free checks
- No ATM fees at any ATM
- Variable rate account where balances $15,000 or more get an even higher rate
Ally even has a nifty little setup that shows you how much interest you’ll earn based on your average daily balance. Plus Ally’s Interest Checking account has a great safety feature called Overdraft Transfer Service. Simply link an Ally Online Savings or Money Market account to your Interest Checking account. If you exceed your checking balance, they will automatically transfer available funds from your savings account to cover the transaction(s) – all at no charge to you. Other banks may charge you for this Overdraft Transfer Service.
How do I make deposits into my Ally Bank checking account?
- Use eCheck Deposit (being rolled out in phases), simply transmitting your checks to deposit.
- Send a check using free postage-paid envelopes available through Online Banking
- Move funds online between Ally accounts for free
- Make free online transfers between your Ally account and your accounts at other banks
- Set up free Direct Deposit for your paycheck or Social Security check
- Use a wire transfer — we won’t charge you to wire funds in, but check with your other bank for any fees they may charge to wire funds out
How to withdraw money from my Ally Bank checking account?
That’s easy. Seriously. You can get money from any ATM nationwide and you won’t be charged. And if other banks charge you, Ally will reimburse you. Guess how many ATM’s there are …
- More than 400,000 ATM locations
- Use your debit card and get cash with your purchases
So which one is better?
Honestly, I’m going to tip my hat to Perkstreet. ING and Ally bank both offer substantial opportunities to earn interest on your checking account balance, but the highest rates are reserved from someone with 6 figures in their account. To me, anyone who keeps that kind of cash in a checking account is insane.
At 1.15%, that customer is only earning $1,150 per year in interest but for a Perkstreet customer who runs everything through his or her checking account can earn almost that much with only $50,000 in purchases and expenses put on their debit MasterCard (assuming 2% cash back rewards).
So for me Perkstreet wins!