Updated on 05.01.15

Two Banks Enter, One Bank Leaves: ING vs. HSBC in … Direct Thunderdome

Trent Hamm

All we want is what's beyond the thunderdomeOver the past few months, I signed up with both ING Direct and HSBC Direct in order to try out their online savings offerings. I had heard many positive reviews of the service at ING, but I was also stunned at the 5.05% APY interest rate being offered at HSBC. To make up my mind, I decided to give both online savings plans a try – I sent them in to battle each other in my own personal financial Thunderdome. Two banks enter … one bank leaves.

Round 1: Getting an account
I signed up for an account at each bank at roughly the same time. ING offered a $25 signup bonus at the time, whereas I could not find a similar deal from HSBC. Both accounts allowed me to create the account online, but both required additional verification before I made my first deposit. ING’s additional verification was much easier, however; all I had to do was verify a pair of small deposits in my checking account (which I was easily able to do online) and I was in. HSBC insisted on using the postal service, sending me my username and password in two separate letters before I could complete my account sign-up. Plus, there were issues with this: both the username and password were extremely long and non-intuitive and I eventually had to call the bank because I couldn’t get in with the mailed password. No such problems with ING.
Advantage: ING Direct

Round 2: Banking Interface
Once I was able to access both accounts, I spent time using the interface for both banks. Logging in was similar for both banks, though ING’s login has some unique security features (a self-verification image). Checking transactions and account balances is similar at both banks as well. The differences become apparent when you attempt account maintenance: ING’s interface makes tasks such as setting up an automated deposit easier than HSBC’s interface. This was especially important at first, as I was trying to set these up for the first time at each bank.

Another feature that I really liked with ING was that they showed you your daily interest accrual (though like HSBC, it is not actually deposited until the end of the month). This enabled me to log in regularly and see that my savings was making money for me, a key motivator as I was getting started. HSBC does not provide similar information.
Advantage: ING Direct

Round 3: Earnings
Currently, HSBC Direct is offering a 5.05% APY interest rate with no minimum balance, while ING Direct is offering a 4.4% APY interest rate with no minimum balance. This means that on my initial deposit of $250, HSBC Direct will earn $1.63 more than ING will, and the difference becomes even more pronounced over time. Of course, both banks have regularly been changing their rates over the past few years, but HSBC Direct is offering an amazing rate right now considering that it is a standard savings account.
Advantage: HSBC Direct

Round 4: Ease of Deposit/Withdrawal
I have attempted both scheduled and unscheduled deposits and withdrawals with both banks and they’ve all occurred within two business days. There is no decided advantage that one bank has over the other one.
Advantage: Moot

If you are a new saver who has never signed up with an online account before, I recommend starting with ING Direct. They are easy to sign up with, give you $25 free with a $250 initial deposit if you have a referral (leave a comment in this thread and I’ll give you one!), and the interface is very easy to manage. Plus, their interest rate is currently 4.4%, which blows away the basic savings at most brick and mortar banks.

On the other hand, if you’re considering switching, HSBC‘s rate of 5.05% APY is absolutely stellar. Their interface is a bit tricker to navigate and account signup is more of a hassle, but if you have a large amount that you want to transfer from an existing savings and then not worry about it, HSBC might be the one for you.

Right now, I find myself with most of my money still in ING. I find their interface incredibly easy and comfortable to work with, plus it makes watching my money grow much easier than HSBC, something that’s very important to me. If HSBC tweaked their interface a bit, I might switch my primary savings to there, but for now, ING Direct is the winner for me.

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  1. Sun says:

    Is it a good decision to choose 4.4% over 5.05% just because of the interface? I don’t know, but I will (and I actually did) go for a higher rate. Since I only do a couple of mannual transactions the most in any month with HSBC, I don’t mind too much about their interface. Most of the time, I only login to check the balance. Of course, if you have more transactions, convenience may be important. However, with a savings account, the most transfers you can make every month is 6.

  2. Rich Slick says:

    You left out a few things IMHO. First HSBC give you an ATM card to withdraw your money. I didn’t get one from ING. HSBC is a global company with branches all over the world – a plus if you travel internationally. HSBC offers a variety of credit cards with reward programs. I don’t know that ING has any credit cards. HSBC is also a full service bank. ING has limited banking.

    I agree that the HSBC sign up process is a bit onerous but how often do you really go through that? once?

  3. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Both banks have been variable in their interest rate over the past few years; simply because HSBC is ahead right now doesn’t mean that they’ll be ahead in six months. Is it worth the effort to switch money back and forth between banks to always get the highest return? That’s up to you to decide. For me, the ease of use of ING is worth the momentary difference in interest rates.

  4. Him says:

    In Chicago, ING actually DID give free coffee to a lot of poeple. They also gave free parking and free lunches to a lot of people, all a part of a huge promotion to get people to sign up.

    A huge barrier for technology is at the point of entry. ING Direct is a good choice for internet techno-phobes, although some recent security initiatives have irked me lately.

    Signing up for HSBC was a nightmare, considering I’ve been doing this internet thing for quite a while now. Although the signup was a pain, everything else within its interface isn’t too bad.

  5. VG says:

    ING is more than just an interface. It’s a whole company policy they run by to help their customers. Their savings account has no fees and no minimums. The other great thing about ING is orange checking where you get 3.5% in your checking account. Plus, for Orange checking, you get a $1,000 line of credit that doesnt require a credit pull. I love ING and HIGHLY recommend them.

  6. Sven says:

    I just added an HSBC acct already having one from ING and have been disappointed in HSBC so far, despite the higher rate.

    One objection is that HSBC takes several business days to transfer a new deposit. The money is deducted from the source account days before it is credited to the HSBC account. There is no reason for this other than that they want to collect interest for themselves (i.e., “ride the float”.)

    In contrast, if I ask ING to move money from checking on a Friday, it is added to my balance on that day and does not actually leave the checking account till Monday. This feels much more honest. (It’s so honest that they have to have a hold time in order to prevent people from trying to earn double the rate just be transferring money back and forth, aka “kiting”.)

  7. Kristin says:

    I’ve been looking into a more profitable account than my Wells Fargo CDs. Ing Direct’s saving account gives better rates than Well’s Fargo’s “special” CD rates! Please send me a referal code so I can open up my Ing Direct account right away!

  8. dgotsill says:

    Thanks for the informative post. After reading it and the replies, I’ll think I’ll opt for ING. From looking at the application process for both banks, HSBC seems to require a state drivers license as well as password sent by post, both troublesome since I have been abroad now for 5 years and although I keep a permanent address I no longer have a US license. Score one more for ING. And if you’re curious, both banks are available here in Japan, with yen savings of course. If you have the refferal information I would love to get it, I just hope the offer is still valid.

  9. Victor says:

    Thank you for the honest and valuable information. You’ve made the choice quite clear.

  10. Nailah says:

    I was interested in HSBC, but ease of use with online banking is very important to me. I would love to get a referral from you for ING Direct! Thanks!

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  12. Donna says:

    you have persuaded me to go with ing…thanks for the referral

  13. Amelia says:

    I am going to sign up for ING. I would love a referral from you! Thanks!

  14. Katie says:

    Please send a referral for ING. I’ve also researched them vis a vis HSBC. My thought is that time is money and the “hassle factor” should always be in the equation. Thanks for some very useful advice!

  15. Anthony says:

    Thanks for your great insight into ING’s online savings account. You literally cut out 90% of the time I had planned to spend researching other banking options. Please send a referral. Thanks!

  16. neecy says:

    Thanks for your advice. I think I am going to choose ING as a starter. Can you please send me a referral. Thanks!!!!

  17. Louis says:

    Thank you for your opinions. I have been trying to decide for a long time about which is the best online savings account. It sounds like ING Direct is the way to go. Could I please have a referral? Thank you

  18. Sharon says:

    Could I have a referral? Even though it is a little late on the thread? Thanks, Sharon

  19. Arturo says:

    Thanks for the info, I had researched a little on online banking, but I wasn’t sure which one was better. I think I’m going to go with ING as a starter. I don’t know if it’s too late, but you think I could get a referral?

  20. ChiaLynn says:

    I’d love a referral code, if you’ve got one. I’ve been weighing ING against HSBC, and for now, I think I’m going with ING. There’s something about HSBC I don’t quite like, and I’m not sure exactly what it is — but seeing that 63% of their mortgages are of the super-high interest, sub-prime variety didn’t much help. (Source: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14440 )

  21. lyra kamoku says:

    Thanks for the info. I would like a referal code for ING.

  22. TONY says:

    I would love a referral code. i have been following the Andrew Jackson plan and i am now ready to open up a ind direct account please help me out to better manage my finances. Thanks

  23. Kory says:

    I know I’m late to this party, but just FYI…my big deal is that I want to transfer a small custodial account out of Washington Mutual. ING offers custodial accounts, and HSBC doesn’t. I was wondering if I should send our in-laws’ account to HSBC because of the higher rate, but this post and thread have tilted the decision back in ING’s favor. Thanks for the research, Trent, and the comments from the rest of you!

  24. Joanie says:

    This is a great article. I’ve been looking for a place to set up an emergency fund and ING sounds like a good fit for me. Thanks for the help.

  25. Jason V. says:

    Trent, would you please send me an ING Referral.


  26. Jennifer says:

    hello – great blog! i’ve found lots of helpful things, not the least of which is this tip about the ING Referral. would you send me one? thanks!

  27. Rico says:

    Great site! Is it too late to ask for an ING referral? Thanks

  28. Carrie says:

    Hi, just found this blog through a friend. It’s a great read! Like the person above asked, is it too late for an ING referral? Thanks very much

  29. Jeremy says:

    I’ll take an ING referral as well… about time to move the emergency fund out of the 0.15% (or something like that) savings account. Thanks.

  30. Kanak says:

    Hi Trent

    I’m an underground, and i’ve been reading your articles to get a good grip on my financial future. I really loved this article and i’ve decided to open an account with ING mainly because my current bank (Bank of America) is very measly with its interest rates. I’d really love a referral from you. Thanks for all the time you’ve put into the article. You’ve really put a lot of things into perspective from me.

  31. Kanak says:

    um my previous entry should read: i’m an undergrad.

    bad bad typo!

  32. Amanda says:

    I’ve just recently been introduced to the simple dollar and I really enjoy it. =)

    I’m currenty with HSBC, but I’d like to switch to ING after reading your article. I really do hate logining in with those massive userid and password they give you. And the time it takes for a transaction is a hassle for me.

    Could I get a referral from you?

  33. Tracy says:

    Loved the article and would like to sign up with ING using a referral link from you.


  34. Daniel says:

    Wow thank you so much for helping me out I heard about other banks out of the country with like 7% interest or higher but I wouldn’t be able to trust them with my money and ING pays you to keep your money wow very good thanks for the info…

    can i get a referal plase??

  35. Ashley says:

    Hi, I’m a junior in college who’s trying to build up good savings habits. I’ve been weigh the pros and cons of HSBC and ING for a few weeks now, but I think I’ve decided to go with ING. If you have any of those referrals left, I’d love one. Thanks!

  36. Ronin says:

    I really appreciate how ING and HSBC were compared on this website and I have decided to go with ING as a starter. Thanks for the infor and could you send me the referral that you promised. Thanx!

  37. Carlos says:

    Hey thanks for the information. Ive been thinking about opening an account with ING but now i think i will do it. Can you refer me please..


  38. Tony says:


    Thanks for the comparison. Please send me an ING referral.

    Thank You


  39. Anna says:

    Hi Trent,

    I’m signing up with ING, and I’d love a referral if the offer is still good. Thanks!

  40. Rachel says:

    Thank you for a good comparison!!
    I tried to look for somebody who can help me out for finding good saving acct, and you are the person!
    I want to sign up with ING, and if the referral program is still valid, please send me the ING referral.
    Thanks again. :)

  41. Natan says:

    Anyone who wants an ING referral for the $25 bonus can email me here:


  42. Guillermo says:

    Are you all kidding me? A lower interest rate for a better interface? You act like the interface is archaic. HSBC has the best security on the web, and in this day and age of online piracy, you should be grateful.

    Do the math – after all, this is a financial decision.

  43. Diana says:


    I am late to the post, the reply’s for the other posts convinced me to go with ING as well. Can you please mail me a referral as well. Thanks

  44. Betty Ann of New York City says:

    Hi.. please send me an INC referral. Thank you.

    I love your website.

    I am a 46 year old single mom who works freelance; and scraping by each month with a super high mortgage from buying my ex out of this house.. YIKES>. I was a stay at home mom for decades. (being super frugal has helped; but I should get rid of this house and get a condo.. just don’t wan to change my 11 year old life so dramatically .. and so kept it the last 6 years..

    Betty Ann Macaluso-Baratta

  45. Hi, can you please send me an ING referral? Thank you.

    Thanks to the advice you gave on this great site I will be ending my nightmares with Bank of America. I didn’t think there was a decent alternative to a brick and mortar bank. I will be opening an Electric Orange account with ING Direct. It’s great because I moved to Philadelphia for college, but my family is back in Los Angeles. It just happens that an ING Direct branch is in both cities. Thanks again!

    Jake Washburn
    Freshman at Drexel University

  46. Corey Parrish says:

    I have been a faithful reader of your column for quite some time, and just wanted to let you know to keep up the great work. I was also writing to inform you that the tide is turning in HSBC’s direction. Their interest rate is now .4% better than ING. I also didn’t read the whole part about the ING referral, so I didn’t get one before I opened it, but you inspired me to start saving. My church read the Dave Ramsey book Total Money Makeover, and I am on Baby Step 3. At the beginning of the year, I was 7,000 in debt.

  47. Rossana Caraballo says:

    Great info. Please send me an ING referral.


  48. Rachel says:

    A referral for me too, please! I’m finally working toward my goals for the new year, and this seems like a dummy-proof way to start!

  49. Zach says:

    I love my ING Direct account. It doesn’t have the highest APY but you won’t get better customer service anywhere else. Also, their online interface is just easy and aweseom.
    I also do still have many referral links left if anyone would like to contact me to receive a link (either for an orange savings account or the electric orange checking/savings account) to sign up for an account. You receive $25 for signing up with a min. of $250 or more. A nice little bonus for nothing! Just shoot me an e-mail @ z3trkrnr@gmail.com and I’ll send the link right back to you!

  50. Jo says:

    Thanks for the comparison — I was searching for exactly that, and have decided to go with ING for sure. Would you mind sending me a referral as well? Thanks so much!

  51. Donald says:

    I have recently stumbled across The Simple Dollar and am learning and thinking so much about altering my lifestyle some to make the most of it. I really appreciate the info about ING and am going to open a savings account. Do you still have the $25 bonus referral link?


  52. Taryn says:

    Great post; just what I was looking for! I think I’ll go with ING.

    I’d love to get a referral link to ING, if you still have one.


  53. Chessiq says:

    HSBC just ticked me off because they got the money out of my US Bank account last week, and they have not posted it to my account. I spoke with customer service a few minutes ago, and they are blaming it on the weekend… hello?! If you grab people’s money before the weekend, and you claim to do things electronically, then make the money available to them ASAP. So my money has been in limbo for about 5 days now. Not very happy. I have been with HSBC for about two years now, but I am going to switch to ING. I will let them keep my two accounts… just in case.
    Well, I guess after venting like this, I should ask for the referral, if you don’t mind.

  54. Lazarus says:

    I can vouch strongly for ING as well. Their customer service is excellent, their user interface is top notch, and their savings rates are competitive. After using both HSBC and ING, I would definitely recommend ING.

    If anyone still needs a referral, I have a few left. Shoot me an email at LVittas@gmail.com.

  55. Madalina says:

    I had problems with HSBC as well, and I decided to open my second account with ING. I have referral codes as well. If someone needs any, send an email at madalinax@hotmail.com. I wanted to open an account with HSBC today, and I first started with me as the main applicant, and my husband as the joint one. Than, I changed my mind, and wanted to put him as the main one, and there was no way I could switch the names. They kept tell me that I already have an application and I have to submit that one. I just gave up and opened the second account with ING, even though I could not benefit of the referral code, having already another opened account. Once again, I have 50 referrals. :)

  56. Nate says:

    Thanks for the info Trent! I have had an HSBC account for a good year now, with no MAJOR complaints, and I’d be interested in giving ING a try.

    Shoot me over a referral please. :)

  57. eric says:

    of course, now ING’s percentage is at 3.0% and HSBC is at 3.5%.

    unfortunate that they’ve gone down so much…

  58. Dave says:

    Great summary. ING for me…

  59. lauren says:

    i opened an account with HSBC online several weeks ago, but after the initial $1 deposit i haven’t done anything with it. this is mainly because i haven’t had enough extra cash floating around to deposit in the account. however, i received a little under $300 this week unexpectedly, and now plan to put $250 into an ING account to start my emergency fund – something i’ve been putting off for months.

  60. Chris says:

    Could I get a referral code? I think your advice makes a lot of sense, and I’d like to finally follow through.

  61. Kevin says:

    Great review — since I was debating between ING and HSBC, this was just the type of review I was looking for. Please send me a referal code if you still have any — thanks!

  62. gk says:

    May I have a referral code please?

    Also, I noticed that this article is about 2 years old. Has your opinion on the 2 banks changed significantly since then?


  63. Erik says:

    ING Direct interest Rate just changed from 3.00% to 2.75 %
    This is not good, havent checked HSBC.

  64. Healey says:

    I just stumbled across this blog yesterday and have been thoroughly enjoying it.

    I’m glad to see an article on ING, slightly outdated though it may be. I’ve been with ING first with a savings account and I signed up for the electric orange checking account shortly after it became available. I do virtually all of my banking (including some mutual fund investing) with ING.

    If any readers, like me, are getting to this article late and would like a referral to get a $25 ING bonus, please drop me an email and I’ll be happy to send you one.


  65. Quynh says:

    I have referral codes. Send an email to quynh149@gmail.com for one.

  66. smanoli says:

    Do you still have referral codes? If so I’d love one.

  67. David says:

    Appreciate the info. Made up my mind. If theres any valid referral codes send it my way. Thanks

  68. James says:

    any more referrals? I need to open a new checking account and I think I’m going with ING

  69. Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for all of your advice, your blog is exactly what I’ve been looking for as far as advice and financial inspiration.

    Do you happen to have any more referral codes? Also, ING Direct is currently at 1.40%. Is this a reasonable rate given current market conditions and will it fluctuate as the market improves or am I locked in at 1.40% for the life of the account?

  70. Sean says:

    Hey Trent, thanks for the advice, you’re the one who got me interested in doing high-yield stuff for my cash reserves. I’m going to go with ING for the moment. Can I get a referral?

  71. Kathy says:

    Hey Trent – I’m finally ready to set-up an ING account… can I get a referral link?


  72. Brent says:

    Very informative and most of all useful.

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