One of the changes that put the financial world into a frenzy in 2012 was the announcement that Capital One would buy ING Direct. ING Direct has long been a favorite of savers, and the announcement prompted a great deal of trepidation. Would Capital One ruin ING Direct?

So far, Capital One has kept things pretty much the same for customers of the former ING Direct. Capital One has been making changes slowly over the past months, culminating in the branding switch, at the beginning of February, from ING to Capital One 360.

Capital One 360 Has Some Nice Upgrades

One of the biggest fears that savers had was a drop in interest yields. However, ING had been dropping rates prior to the branding change, so things are really more business as usual. As of this writing, the annual percentage yield on a savings account is right around 0.75%. It’s not great, especially when compared with some banks offering between 0.90% and 1.01%, but it’s not terrible.

Some of the nice upgrades that come with a Capital One 360 account include:

  • More free ATMs: Capital One has added its own ATM network to the one ING Direct belonged to. The result is that customers now have access to about double the fee-free ATMs.
  • No foreign transaction fees: One of the benefits that has long been available from Capital One is the absence of foreign transaction fees with its credit and debit cards. Now that ING Direct is Capital One 360, you can use your debit card without foreign transaction fees.
  • Remote deposit: Since Capital One bought ING Direct, it has introduced some new things, like person to person payments and remote deposit. Capital One 360 allows you to deposit your money remotely, using a special app on your smart phone, or by scanning the check and uploading it via your computer.
  • Cosmetic changes to the web site: While it’s been a little odd getting used to the new colors (red and blue instead of orange), other changes have been great. Navigation is easy, and the new account details pages let you see, quickly and easily, the current terms of your account. You can also easily navigate to make changes to your account.

Capital One 360 still carries on the ING tradition of no account fees, free checks for the checking account, low mortgage rates, attractive accounts for teens and kids and $50 if you open a new account.┬áIt’s possible to get business accounts, open retirement accounts, and access high-yield CDs.

In many ways, Capital One 360 is just like the old ING Direct. Many of the same people stayed on, and customers can use all of their same login information to access their accounts. Even my security image and the PIN pad shown on-screen was exactly the same when I went to login to Capital One 360 for the first time since the branding change took place.

Sharebuilder can still be accessed from your Capital One 360 account, since that was part of the deal, too. Sharebuilder recently announced that it will soon drop trades from $7.95 to $6.95. While Sharebuilder isn’t the best or cheapest of the discount brokers, it remains a solid choice for beginners, and the connection with the Capital One 360 accounts can make it convenient and easy to use. But it seems like Capital One is trying to shake things up over at Sharebuilder anyway.

It’s important to realize, though, that for FDIC purposes, all of your Capital One accounts are at the same bank. So, if you have Capital One deposit accounts, and you were an ING Direct customer, you need to take into account that they are now the same bank when considering your FDIC coverage.

What’s Next for Capital One 360?

Even though things are mostly the same for now, skeptics are wondering what happens in a year or two. Will Capital One continue to stick with an ING type model? Or will Capital One 360 be made over, by degrees, to look like a major bank?

Capital One 360 has taken pains to try to keep the continuity with ING. And, some of the changes made to the service haven’t been bad. Wider access to fee-free ATMs, and the absence of foreign transaction fees are highly in Capital One’s favor. But it’s still wise to consider the situation, and watch to see if things change for the worse later.