“Free money” is a phrase that exemplifies synergy. It’s composed of two of my favorite words and is truly even greater than the sum of its parts.
How can you get free money? Well, there aren’t many ways. When they come along, seize the opportunity. Last week, I wrote about how I’m getting $350 in free money from TD.
ING Direct is an online bank that provides lots of opportunities for new customers and current customers to get free money. Today I’m going to talk about three ways that Canadians may be able to get free money from ING.
First I want to qualify this blog’s title: from an economic perspective, none of the methods I’m about to discuss truly offers “free money”. The main cost to get free money from ING is the “opportunity cost” on your cash. You’ll typically need to deposit some money in your ING account for some period of time to get a bonus. There’s an opportunity cost if you could make more money by investing your money elsewhere — ING has pretty low rates compared to Canadian Direct Financial (CDF) so there definitely is an opportunity cost. There’s also the opportunity cost of your time (assuming you’d spend it in some more productive way — but be honest with yourself about this). ING, in my experience, has great customer service so it’s never taken much of my time or effort to get any given bonus. At the risk of sounding like Trent Hamm (the world’s worst and most disgusting financial blogger), there are also minor costs to get this ‘free money’ — like an envelope, a postage stamp, and a cheque. If any of these “costs” deters you from getting free money, then I don’t think you deserve the free money in the first place. The overall risk-free return from each of these free money methods is completely worth the time and minor costs.
1. $50 in free money for starting a savings account with a $100 deposit (until December 31st, 2012)
Everybody knows about this and, sadly, it only applies to new customers. If you sign up with somebody’s “Orange Key” and deposit at least $100, you’ll get $50 (normally $25). My Orange Key is 34848272S1.
If you sign up with my Orange Key I’ll get $50, too (again, only until December 31st). I think you can get the $50 bonus without using my Orange Key but I promise I’ll use any free money from ING to improve this site. I guess if you hate my site that’s an extra reason to not signup with my Orange Key.
Here’s my ING Direct widget which makes it marginally easier to copy my Orange Key for the laziest people among you. It also includes a convenient signup link.
2. $25 in free money for setting up and continuing a small Automatic Savings Program (offer ends August 31st)
I just got an email last week to inform me that there’s a new bonus available. If you start an ING Direct Automatic Savings Program (ASP) before August 31st and use it to save at least $100 a month for the next 6 months, you’ll get a $25 bonus. $25? Chump change, right? Sorry, I didn’t realize I had so many millionaire readers. I’ll start writing about frugal dressage.
If you transfer the minimum amount ($600 over six months) and keep the money in the account for the least possible amount of time (6 months), that’s like earning 8% interest (annualized). Actually it’s like earning more since you don’t need to put in all $600 on Day One and you’ll be earning some interest on your money throughout the six months. Nice.
I just checked — apparently I can do an ASP from my THRiVE chequing account. Since I don’t go on the ING Direct website a lot, I’ll put $700 in my THRiVE account, setup the ASP, and leave it on “auto-pilot” for 6 months. I’ll book a calendar event to check for the bonus and then close the ASP after I get it.
Yes, if I carefully transferred only the minimum $100 each month into ING and kept the remainder in my higher-interest CDF savings account, I could earn an extra $2 over the six months. But I can’t be bothered. Now you’ve found my frugality threshold — I’ll spend 15 minutes today to get a $25 bonus, but I won’t waste an hour over the next 6 months to save two bucks. Homo economicus? I think not.
3. Free money for setting up a THRiVE chequing account (bonus currently unavailable)
Often, ING will offer a bonus to open a free ING Direct THRiVE chequing account if you change a direct deposit to your new THRiVE account. Sadly I don’t think this bonus is available right now. Last year, ING offered a $100 bonus. I wasn’t a new ING customer but I did open a THRiVE account for the first time. I earned $100 and then switched my direct deposit back to my credit union. If I were a new ING customer (or a current ING customer who didn’t yet have a THRiVE account) I’d wait to see if a similar promotion becomes available before setting up a THRiVE chequing account. They’ve offered this bonus multiple times so if I were a betting man I’d predict that this bonus will return sometime in the future.
Anybody else gotten any free money lately?