Banque de Bruxelles, founded in 1871, grew steadily over the next six decades, acquiring interests in other banks in Belgium's major cities, eventually becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ING Group in 1998 and is known as ING Belgium. ING started out in traditional banking and in the management of industrial concerns based mainly in Belgium and Africa, but branched into other areas like real estate. Today, ING Belgium services all customer segments: mass retail and Private Banking customers, small and medium sized companies, institutions and large corporates.
The interesting thing about ING’s credit cards is that there is no APR (Annual Percentage Rate) advertised. In the United States, APRs for credit cards are required to be disclosed up front to consumers; however, Belgium (which is where this card originates and is used) has rules that may differ in this regard, resulting in there being no APR being available.
Note: Upon further review, we found that there is no APR due to ING automatically withdrawing the repayments directly from the cardholder’s bank account, similar to a debit card. This is a huge benefit in that it relieves cardholders from having to pay interest. When compared to other companies we reviewed, this was unique and not offered anywhere in the U.S. (for credit cards).
Annual fee range
ING offers consumers annual fees ranging from € 18 to € 40. For United States residents, this is not an option, making a drawback for non-Brussels or European residents. Compared to U.S. cards, this fee range is on par with most companies that charge annual fees—although many companies offer cards with no annual fees at all.
When it comes to late fees, ING has a different set-up from the majority of credit card companies based in the U.S. While these companies charge a late fee (typically up to $39), with ING your credit card expenses are repaid automatically. The spending period is closed each month on the 7th of the month. The amount due is then automatically debited from the ING current account linked to your credit card approx. 9 days later. The only problem comes in if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the fee. In addition to this, you have to have an ING account. This is less competitive when compared to many credit card banking companies who do not require you to come in to one of their branches to open an account. They also tell you in their sales advertising what amount the late fees are, which ING fails to do on their site.
Foreign Transaction Fees
For payments outside the eurozone, 1.60% of the payment amount is added. This is very competitive with most credit card companies which are based in the United States—most whom charge customers an average foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction made outside of U.S. currency.
ING offers a total of 3 credit cards, including: ING Visa Classic, Flexible Credit Card and ING Mastercard Gold.
Customers concerned about security issues (i.e. fraud) and/or if they disagree with a transaction, can notify ING as soon as possible in writing, indicating the number of your card, the date and the references of the disputed amount. Your complaint will be examined quickly and you will be refunded in the event of an error.
- Secure payments in shops: purchases paid for with an ING Card include free insurance against theft or damage. This free Purchase Insurance is valid for 200 days after the purchase and covers a maximum amount of 3,000 euros a year. ING Card Safe on Line Insurance (insurance for online purchases): The sum insured is limited to 1,250 euros per claim within a consecutive period of 12 months.
- Secure online payments: ING cardholders have MasterCard® SecureCode™, to increase security when shopping online. Your online purchases also include free insurance against non-delivery or incorrect delivery for a maximum amount of 750 euros a year. In addition, you can check your balance safely via ING’s Smart Banking app for smartphones and tablets.
- Insured: purchases that were paid for with this credit card include free insurance against theft and damage. Your online purchases are covered against non-delivery or incorrect delivery.
If your ING card is lost or stolen, ING also has a special number called “Card Stop”, where you report the issue and they will block and replace your card right away.
We found ING’s security features to be on par with the majority of credit card companies in the U.S.
ING’s unique feature is their Flexible credit card. This card has all the features of their other two credit cards but it offers the option of making payments in installments or with a single payment. This is how all credit cards are structured with the other companies we reviewed, but apparently since ING’s card is directly linked to their customer’s accounts (debit cards in the U.S.), this is a unique advantage.
When it comes to customer support, ING has a phone number for customers needing help. Unfortunately, they don’t display their customer service hours. They also let you ask questions on their website through an email submission form. There is no mention of hours, availability or response time. This is inferior to almost all of the credit card companies we reviewed that have phone hours listed.
Options for Rewards
Unlike most credit card companies in the U.S., ING’s cards do not offer rewards benefits or Bonus offers in the same way many American credit cards do. For example, many credit card companies offer cards with rewards options like miles, cash back, gas, points, etc. while ING’s cards have benefits like a higher credit limit and enhanced purchase insurance.
Note: Although not openly found on their website, we did find that ING Belgium’s credit than or equal to 25 euros. Once cardholders have earned five points, they can convert the points into a voucher worth five euros. This voucher can be used for travel or merchandise purchases. However, this was not as superior as many rewards options offered by the U.S. based companies we reviewed.
Building Credit/Student Cards
One thing ING does not offer is an opportunity to help build your credit. They do not currently offer student or “starter” cards or secured cards for people needing to repair their credit. There are several companies we reviewed—including major global banks—who offer at least one secured credit card or card for college students. Some even offer both.