Speaking of good local bank account combos, if you have Washington Mutual banks in your area, combining their Free Checking and their new 4.00% APY Savings account (updated rate 8/08, only available online) also makes a great option. You get the convenience of local branches and ATM withdrawals and deposits, plus the high interest rates and online fund transfers of online banks.
I’ve had the Free Checking for about half a year and the Statement Savings for a couple of months now, so I thought I’d post up my experiences with them:
The WaMu Free Checking account has:
- No minimum balance or direct deposit requirements, open with $1
- Free basic checks for life
- No ATM fees on their end
- One free overdraft per year
- Free outgoing wire transfers.
The Statement Savings account has:
- A competitive 4.00% APY on all balances (as of 5/08)
- Rate is only available online
- No minimum balance requirements, open with $1
- Instant transfer to/from the Free Checking
Opening (and Closing) Process Review
I opened up my initial Free Checking account in-branch, and posted about that previously. However, you must open the savings account online, and in connection with a (separate, new) WaMu Free Checking account. The good thing is that you can open them both in 5 minutes and even fund using your existing WaMu accounts! Here are step-by-step instructions for existing WaMu customers.
If you didn’t already have a WaMu Checking account, you’re all set. But if you did, now you have two Checking accounts. But you have to keep the 2nd one open to maintain that happy 4.00% rate, otherwise it drops to something piddly like 0.25%. So, I decided to close my initial 1st checking account and just use the 2nd one. You know what the paradoxical thing was? I couldn’t close it online or via phone. I had to go into a branch and see a teller. How backwards is that? Be sure to bring all your old checks because they can shred them all for you.
The lack of almost all common fees is great. No minimums, no direct deposit needed, free checks, and so on.
The account is also very convenient. I can deposit checks directly into the savings account at an ATM, maximizing my interest. Can’t do that with an online bank. I can then move money into the checking account instantly online as I need it (limited to 6 times a month I think). WaMu has ATMs all over my area as well so withdrawals are easy too.
The online interface overall is good. It’s simple and it works, so I’m satisfied. The Online Billpay is the same way. I personally like BofA’s system better.
One nice feature that they only added in the past few months in online funds transfer! So now you can link up external accounts using just routing number and account number. They link via the usual two trial deposits. Note that WaMu yanks the spare change back. Transfers are free both in and out, making things very convenient.
If you have a good Washington Mutual bank presence in your area, the lack of fees, convenience, and very competitive interest rate make this checking/savings combination very hard to beat.
With their high-yield certificates of deposit as well, it makes a convenient package: