ING to change savings criteria, making it harder to earn bonus interest

ING is shaking up its terms and conditions and will soon require its customers to add more money to their savings accounts each month in order to earn any bonus interest. That means people who withdraw more from their savings than they put in or keep their balance the same won’t receive the full interest rate available.
ING bank building
ING is changing its bonus savings conditions in March, 2021. Image source: kolbet, Shutterstock.

Canstar can reveal ING will change how customers can earn bonus interest on its popular Savings Maximiser account on 1 March, 2021.

The bank will require that a customer’s balance must grow each month on the Savings Maximiser account they have nominated to earn bonus interest. This means they will need to make sure there’s more money in the account at the end of the month, excluding interest, than there was at the end of the previous month.

The new bonus condition will be in addition to the requirements ING already has in place for customers to earn bonus interest, namely that they must make at least five settled card purchases each month and deposit at least $1,000 from an external source into their transaction account.

Currently, customers are able to earn the bonus interest rate of 1.30% on top of the base rate of 0.05% each month so long as they meet these two conditions, even if their account balance goes down or remains the same. The full savings rate is currently 1.35%, after having been cut by 0.15 percentage points last month.

Canstar’s research analysts found that 65% of bonus savings accounts on our database require customers to increase their balance each month to earn bonus interest.

Interestingly, they found that the condition to increase your balance is often worded differently on different banks’ bonus savings accounts. For example, some banks may say customers need to make a certain monthly deposit with no withdrawals, which in effect also means they need to increase the account balance.

This could be something for savers to look out for when comparing the conditions on bonus savings accounts, particularly if being able to withdraw money or not top up the account every month is important to your saving needs.

Savers urged to “stay on their game” and review accounts regularly

Canstar money expert Effie Zahos said she wasn’t surprised ING had joined the bandwagon of providers with ‘increase your balance’ conditions on bonus savings accounts.

“It just goes to show consumers really have to stay on their game when it comes to their cash accounts,” Ms Zahos said.

“If it’s the nudge you need to force you to save, then great. But it might leave some customers feeling not only disappointed, but short-changed.

“The tip here is to review your savings regularly, as the account you sign up for today may not necessarily be the same in one month’s time.”

When considering a savings account, it’s important to check its interest rate as well as any bonus conditions, Ms Zahos said, given the official cash rate is sitting at just 0.10% and has helped push interest rates down on both home loans and savings products.

“The reason for these low rates is pretty simple – banks profit when the rates on the money they lend out are higher than the rates they pay people who deposit money with them,” Ms Zahos explained.

Unfortunately, lower rates have come at a time when we’ve got more money than ever stashed away, with IBISWorld research from September showing the savings rate in Australia surged to 7.90% of overall disposable income in 2019-20, compared to just 2.70% a year before.

Canstar’s latest Consumer Pulse Report reflected this rise, finding 46% of people surveyed said they saved the same or more than last year in 2020.

“You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to get competitive rates, and the longer rates stay at record lows the more hoops will be added,” Ms Zahos said. “It’s great for business, but confusing for customers.”

A spokesperson for ING told Canstar the change to bonus conditions was designed to reward those who can save at the moment.

“We appreciate not everyone may be in a position to be able to save when the changes start in March next year,” the spokesperson said.

“ING customers that are on a payment pause are encouraged to reach out and speak to one of our staff members about how we could potentially help them.”

Top bonus savings account rates where you don’t have to increase your balance

The highest-rate bonus savings accounts on Canstar’s database do not currently require customers to increase their balance each month in order to earn bonus interest. See below for the bonus conditions on each account and check with providers for more details.

Top 6 bonus savings accounts

Provider Account Base Rate Bonus Rate Monthly Bonus Conditions Total Rate
MyState Bank Bonus Saver 0.15% 1.20% Deposit $20 and make five settled VISA Debit card transactions 1.35%
ING Savings Maximiser 0.05% 1.30% Deposit $1,000 and make five settled card purchases (and from 1 March, 2021, grow your balance compared to the previous month) 1.35%
UBank USave Savings Bonus 0.25% 1.00% Link a USpend transaction account and deposit $200 from a non-UBank account 1.25%
86 400 Save Account 0.10% 1.10% Deposit $1,000 into any of your Pay or Save accounts 1.20%
CUA eSaver Reward 0.05% 1.15% Deposit $1,000 from a non-CUA account into your transaction account 1.20%
ME Online Savings Account 0.05% 1.15% Have an Everyday Transaction Account and make four settled tap & go purchases 1.20%

Source: – 2/12/2020. Based on a deposit of $10,000. Table sorted in descending order by total rate, followed by base rate, followed by alphabetically by provider. Total rate includes the base rate plus any conditional bonus rate. Bonus accounts include those accounts where a bonus rate is payable when certain conditions are met each month.

The comparison table below shows some of the Savings Accounts on Canstar’s database for a regular saver in NSW with links to the providers’ websites. The results shown are based on an investment of $100,000 in a personal savings account and are sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), then provider name (alphabetically). For more information and to confirm whether a particular product will be suitable for you, check upfront with your provider and read the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision.

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Tom Letts before it was published as part of our fact-checking process.

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