Washington Mutual Offers Better Free Checking

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Washington Mutual Bank has a new and improved WaMu Free Checking Account, and it looks pretty good. Features include:

» No minimum balance or direct deposit requirement
» Free checks for life
» Free outgoing wires (great for funding brokerage accounts fast)
» Free ID Theft Recovery Service

All you need now is a nice opening bonus, ha! But seriously, for me the free outgoing wires (most banks charge about $25 each for this) and the ID theft protection may make it worth it by themselves, since there are no other real maintenance fees. For those that just want a simple checking account, it works well too, as they have a decent ATM network, free checks, and no fees. Here is their branch locator, on the west coast it seems like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Washington Mutual branches are always found clustered together.

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  1. Nice little card with the account also.

    Free Gold Debit MasterCard? with Rewards?get a $.03 reward for each debit purchase transaction up to $250 per year

  2. Good catch! Hmm.. 3 cents? That would only beat 2% cash back with a credit card if the purchase was less than $1.50. Seems like a reply to Bank of America’s Keep The Change promotion.

  3. yeah I’ve been reading about that 3 cents deal. there’s a few more details on it at consumerist.com and fatwallet too

    the free outbound wires are definitely nice.. I duno about wamus in my area though, customer service seem to be subpar from what I gather. But then again its not like I bank in person that much anyway.

  4. I have had nothing but good experiences with Wamu. Some of their tellers are slow, but this is a problem you will experience no matter where you go. It seems like all of their employees are reasonably pleasant. I haven’t had any problems with ATMs or online banking.

  5. One more point to consider regarding the $.03 reward:

    **Applies to purchases made by phone, online, in person or by mail. If your account is open and in good standing on your ANNIVERSARY DATE, you’ll receive a $.03 reward for each Debit MasterCard purchase transaction made within the last year up to a $250 reward.

    The max reward is $250/yr (to earn 250$ you need to spend approx $8333). Even if you spend more than $8333/yr you will just get $250. So you have to keep a track of how much you spend using the debit card.

  6. Spend $8333 or make 8333 purchases? Do you get $.03 for each dollar spent or is it $.03 for each purchase made? 8333 purchases seems a bit excessive. Maybe if I pump gas w/ the card and only pump a dollar’s worth of gas. And then doing that about 35 times to fill my tank…. but that would just be crazy…. right??

  7. Seems like it’s 8333 purchases. Pumping gas like that would be the hardest $250 I’ve ever made! I think it’s safe to say this promotion is pretty much useless if you have a decent cashback credit card.

  8. Definately better options if it is purchases. Though in my case it might be good since I will max out my citi,chase and gm card rewards by July.

  9. Yesterday when WaMu announced the better free checking I was spending the day driving around town getting replacement checks for an ATM deposit that WaMu had lost! And this was 3 weeks after they refused to accept my deposit because they couldnt verify my relationship to the company that wrote the check. I’ve been with them for 10 years and dont want the hassle of switching banks, but I’m not very impressed with WaMu right now.

  10. I just read the fine print on the WaMu website, the new free checking benefits including the rewards debit do not apply to existing customers:

    “WaMu Free Checking? benefits not available with Free Checking accounts opened prior to 3/11/06”

    So I would have to close my account and reopen it to get the benefits new customers get? Seems kind of rude to not let existing customers have the same benefits.

  11. kassy – I think that just means it doesn’t automatically switch over to the new version. You have to go to a branch and request that your account be converted to this new WaMu Free Checking. I agree they should just switch everyone over, but I bet lots of people don’t know about it…

  12. I opened an account, and I must say that WaMu’s online banking is very primitive compared to that of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and even my credit union (The Golden 1). The bill pay does not even offer a database of billers, and every single payee takes 5 days minimum to reach (it seems they send out paper checks to everyone, rather than utilizing electronic payments and e-bills like B of A and Wells Fargo). The site also does not work properly in Firefox or Safari, and it just lacks many features that the others offer. Come on WaMu, now you have the account, so compete with the website!

    The better sites alone are enough reason for me to stay w/ the others… and I haven’t heard the best things about WaMu’s service lately either.

  13. I just got back from opening a new free checking account with them and the guy asked if I also wanted a saving account. I said yes without thinking and put some money in each. Good thing I decided to read all the paperwork right away. BEWARE! The savings account is NOT free. The guy didn’t mention anything and said yes when I asked if everything was free of charges. I called their toll free number 866.236.7766 and I was told that the guy should have told me it wasnt free. 30 mins with them and already I have been lied to and misinformed. I don’t know if he was trying to sucker me or if he was just incompetent.

  14. Alex:

    Judging by my experiences with WaMu employees, I’d say he was just incompetent. Of all banks I’ve used (B of A, Wells Fargo, WaMu, and CalFed back in the day), WaMu’s employees (even the “personal bankers”) are uninformed and not confident. I feel as though I know more than they do.

    Wells Fargo doesn’t always have the sharpest tellers either, but they personal bankers know they’re business. And B of A consistently has the most well-informed and quick employees of the bunch.

    I’ve decided, assuming you have direct deposit, WaMu’s free checking is not worth the free checks. Go with B of A or even Wells Fargo (although Wells likes to charge for bill pay… bad).

  15. I have experianced nothing but great people at WaMu. Very friendly, helpful, knowledgable and consistently looking out for me as a person not just an account. As opposed to experiances I have had with Citibank, BofA, and Wells. All of these have been nightmare scenario’s with emphasis on Citibank for NIGHTMARE! All of these, including WaMu are big companies so I explains why previous posts say the opposite of what I say. The new account is by far the best ‘free’ account that I have seen bar none. So I am sure there are good people that work for Citi, BofA, and Wells just as there must be some bad people that work for WaMu but I have been to alot of different branches in and outside of California and really am hard pressed to come up with a ‘bad’ experiance. Same goes for my friends and family who for the most part all love WaMu too.

  16. Last week Wamu was advertising the 5% savings account on their login page. Insult to injury for established customers. I sent wamu an email politely asking why, as a existing customer in good standing, I couldn’t take advantage of the 5% rate. Wamu responded with an equally polite email apoligizing for everything except the Iraq war, but regrettably could not allow this unless I was a new customer. I will call their customer line Monday to repeat my question. I have no expectations of getting satisfaction but I will voice my opinion nonetheless. I know I can just add a new account but I want Wamu to know their customers aren’t a bunch of idiots.

  17. wart remover says

    I’m looking into getting an account with WAMU right now, thanks for the info – can never really trust the corporate websites.

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