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Capital One 360 review: as good as its predecessor?

By Justin Boyle

Most people can't tell you where they were when they first heard about online banking. After all, U.S. consumers got the news back in 2000 during the dot-com bonanza, when so many services were migrating online that people couldn't really be expected to remember every little innovation.

The bubble did eventually burst, and only a few of those new virtual institutions were strong enough to stick around. Thanks in part to a robust customer-care policy, ING Direct was one of the companies that weathered the storm.

Things don't stay the same forever though, and the acquisition of ING Direct USA by Capital One was approved by the Federal Reserve on Valentine's Day 2012. The service emerged as Capital One 360 about a year later, and Capital One announced its intentions to do right by ING's customers.

The new bosses have likely had time to get most of the kinks worked out by now, so it seems fair to ask: Does Capital One 360 measure up to the venerable online bank it replaced?

Capital One 360 accounts

The basic personal banking products available through Capital One 360 appear to have experienced little more than nominal change under the new guard. The basic online savings account still charges no fees, requires no minimum balance and features a variable annual percentage yield (APY) among the highest online savings account rates available, as of this writing (see the current Capital One 360 rates in the table below). The rebranded 360 Checking account promises no hidden fees or minimums as well, and offers an APY even higher than the basic savings account on balances of $50,000 or more.

Click here to open a Capital One 360 savings account

Capital One 360 also carries over the Kids Savings Account and the MONEY checking account for teens that ING Direct had developed before the transition. Customers can also expect ultra-low overdraft fees on their 360 Checking account, as the bank charges a variable interest rate on overdrawn amounts in lieu of a traditional overdraft fee. CheckMate, ING Direct's mobile check deposit feature, is also still available to Capital One 360 customers.

All in all, the services offered through the rebranded online bank seem to mirror the options that ING customers were used to. Facts on paper are just one part of the picture though. What about the intangibles?

Capital One 360 customer reviews

Consumer reviews of Capital One 360 have varied since the rebranding. Some customers reporting good experiences have lauded easy access to the sign-up and referral bonuses, and others have expressed their appreciation for the negligible overdraft fees.

Bad reviews to date tend to focus on the parts of the banking experience that ING Direct reportedly went out of their way to deliver. Some dissatisfied customers have taken aim at changes in the online experience between the old system and the new, citing additional steps in their mobile banking apps and problems with web browsers refusing to accept PIN input. There have also been some customer-service complaints throughout the transition, though few banks make it through any kind of merger unscathed in this regard.

Again, customer service was one of the key strengths that carried ING Direct through the dot-com bust and beyond. While it's hard to gauge precisely how much the customer-service side of things has shifted since the merger -- Capital One did say it retained ING's customer-service team through the transition -- the on-paper nature of the Capital One 360 banking experience appears largely unchanged from the ING days.

So is a Capital One 360 account right for you? If you're ready to enter the word of direct banking and you've been impressed by the tales of how good ING Direct was, Capital One 360 is probably at least worth a look.

Justin Boyle is a writer and journalist in Austin, Texas.

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