Forget ING, I’m switching to HSBC

November 29, 2008

A few months ago, I wrote that I’d look into opening a high interest savings account at ING.  I mean, I thought it was pretty cool that a bank could exist purely online.  But in spite of its rave online reviews, my user experience with ING has been disappointing.

First, the blaring, ad-like home page just won’t stop asking me to buy more products to “Save Your Money!”  From product descriptions all the way down to the license agreement, ING talks to its customers like they’re simpletons looking for an easy way out.  I may be a lowly beginner, but stupid I am not.

Secondly, their layout is a mess.  At least 70% of the home page contains links I don’t need.  The go-to left menu is wasted on product advertisements.  Key links for accessing my account are strewn across an awkwardly horizontal menu.  And their Microsoft Publisher graphics need serious reconsideration.

To be fair, the Orange Savings Account is only a gateway to more expensive (and profitable) financial products.  They offer great deals for online CDs, mortgage and investment services, and an award-winning high interest checking account.  Should I open one of these, I might find that ING is the best bank around.  But honestly, my investment account is already set up, I’m really rather poor, and all I want is to get 3 to 4% interest on my meager savings.

So what am I looking for?  I want a bank that will respect its beginners, present relevant options for growing my money, and provide me with the tools I need to become a more sophisticated saver.  Of course, all these requirements are rather immaterial feel good effects of a well-designed user interface.  But what can I say, I like design.  If I’m getting the same service, I might as well choose the prettier one.

I’ve decided to go with ING’s competitor, HSBC Direct.  They have a clean, well-organized interface that’s appropriately monotone and rectangular.  All the links I need are neatly stacked in a left menu.  Like ING, I can transfer funds to and from my regular checking account for free and watch my interest grow.  But unlike ING, I’m not bombarded by silly advertisements and product offers.  What’s made me really happy is their neat customer service.  Instead of muddling through 10 minutes of robot phone menus, they call you!  A customer service representative can dial you at a chosen number, at any time of day.

Finally, a couple quirky details about HSBC that are not great, but not deal breakers:

  • This post has been so long in coming because of the two week lag time between registration and the snail-mail arrival of a temporary password, blech!
  • HSBC presents the additional formality of signing up for online transfers apart from your account, which is strange, but it’s no trouble at all.
  • HSBC accounts have two complete number/letter passwords, whereas ING requires a regular number/letter password and a number code.

2 Responses to “Forget ING, I’m switching to HSBC”

  1. Monica Says:

    Thanks for the mention.

  2. Patricia Says:

    I am with HSBC too!

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