Sunday, November 14, 2010

ING THRiVE Chequing vs BMO

I've been an ING Direct saver since early 2010, having made a cool $2000 with the their Orange Key referral program. I also invest monthly into a TFSA (the streetwise mutual fund, to be exact). Earlier this year, ING Direct opened what they call THRiVE Chequing.

Given that I've had a BMO Chequing account for over two years, switching to THRiVE wouldn't be something I do without due diligence. ING Direct list their primary selling points for their new chequing account on their website. I decided to dig a little deeper and discover how BMO compares before making my decision.

No-fee daily chequing
I pay for the BMO Plus plan a a cost of $8.50 a month. This fee is waived if I don't let the balance dip below $2000.

THRiVE, however, is free – you don't pay a monthly fee. But there are fees associated with other services.

For example, replacement debit cards with THRiVE are $15 but you get one free a year. BMO provide free replacement cards no matter how many you lose (I wasn't charged either time when I lost my debit card twice in one year).

ING charge $10 for Canadian drafts, but BMO charge $6.50 (in any currency).

A book of twenty cheques will cost THRiVE customers $10 (but the first twenty are free). This could add up considerably if you write a lot of cheques. BMO, however, don't charge at all for cheques.

In summary, given that I'm careless with debit cards, BMO are the winners. Maintaining my chequing balance above $2000 to avoid the $8.50 fee isn't a problem.

Pays Interest
THRiVE pays 0.25% on balances below $50000. Perhaps it's just me, but I don't think people who could afford to keep $50000 in their chequing account would be swayed by the paltry interest rate on offer. Most people would be better served by keeping amounts this large in high interest savings accounts. ING's high interest savings account currently pays 1.5%

BMO pay no interest on their chequing accounts, but you can connect chequing accounts to the Smart Saver account paying 1.35% and switch money in and out online (you're allowed unlimited deposits, but only one free withdrawal from the Smart Saver account each month)

Given the small difference in rates on the high interest savings accounts, we're tied on this point

Free email alerting
THRiVE customers get email alerts for specific account transactions (like payments, balances etc). That's a pretty neat service – BMO do not offer anything similar.

Free ABM Access
ABM access is pretty important if you're an online bank, and THRiVE customers can use the THE EXCHANGE® Network to withdraw cash. I searched for ABMs in my home town of Waterloo and found eight. BMO just edge them out with ten.

Free Whoops! Protection
ING offer free overdraft protection up to $250 (but you have to pay this back in 30 days, otherwise you'll be charged $2.50 a month). This is amusingly called the Whoops! service.

BMO offer overdraft protection of up to $2500 (upon application) but charge you interest on the total.

I'm pretty savvy with money and I've never been in the red, so this isn't a factor for me.

Mobile Banking
If you're a proud owner of an iPad, iPhone or Blackberry, you can bank while mobile with the THRiVE account. BMO are technological Luddites and don't offer this service.

ING primarily advertise THRiVE as a no-fee chequing account. Since I effectively don't get charged for my BMO chequing account (as long as maintain a balance of $2000), this isn't a factor. So ING's offering has to stand on its other merits.

I currently hold a BMO credit card, and their online services allow me to see my balances across all my accounts. This unified website is a very big plus for me. ING Direct don't (yet) offer a credit card, so I'd have to constantly switch between two websites to keep track of my day-to-day finances.

THRiVE's other benefits, however, aren't enough for me to shift my banking to ING. I still value the presence of a physical BMO branch barely a mile from me more than I do THRiVE's other selling points like free overdrafts and email alerts.

In short, I'll keep my chequing account with BMO until ING decide to raise their game.

ING Direct Canada Orange Key Promotion

If you open any ING account with an initial deposit of $100, and specify any of these working Orange Keys during the online application, you (and the owner of the Orange Key) will get $25 each.


You'll also get your own Orange Key so you can make your own referrals, and get $25 each time, up to a maximum of $2000. Here's a rundown of the referral scheme

Refer 10 friends - get $25*10 + $50 bonus = $300
Refer 20 friends - get $25*10 + $100 bonus = $350
Refer 30 friends - get $25*10 + $150 bonus = $400
Refer 40 friends - get $25*10 + $200 bonus = $450
Refer 50 friends - get $25*10 + $250 bonus = $500
TOTAL = $2000

Once you have your own Orange Key, visit this site and post it in a comment. I'll then feature it in a new blog post!