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Washington Mutual and the Rodeo Grandmas Celebrate a Decade of Free Checking in Seattle

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 13, 2004--Thousands of dollars in $10 bills were handed out on the streets of downtown Seattle today as Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) celebrated a decade of Free Checking.

A crowd of fans, customers, and consumers joined the noontime celebration at Westlake Center, cheering the return of the Rodeo Grandmas -- four women from Ellensburg, Wash., who made their public debut in Washington Mutual's ad campaign a decade ago that launched Free Checking.

"We thought what better way to celebrate Free Checking than by putting money into people's pockets," said Bob Bond, retail bank division manager at Washington Mutual. "Free Checking has been a wonderful success for us, it's something people really want - and that's what Washington Mutual is all about - delivering what everyday people want: friendly service, great products, and good value."

Washington Mutual has offered its flagship consumer product - Free Checking - since 1994. Today, more than 4 million households currently banking with Washington Mutual opened a Free Checking account as their first product with the company.

"Washington Mutual has been a leader in the nationwide free checking trend," said Jim McCormick, president of First Manhattan Consulting Group in New York. "Free Checking and other customer-friendly initiatives have resulted in outstanding market share gains and growth relative to other banks."

Driving that growth is Washington Mutual's belief in giving customers choices. They can access their Free Checking account with no direct deposit or minimum balance requirement to avoid a monthly fee, and without teller fees, per-check charges, check card annual fees, or fees for talking to a telephone banker. Customers can then choose to add services to their account, such as free Personal Online Banking and Personal Bill Pay(TM) service, and Free ID Theft Services. They can even choose to help out their local school by signing up for the WaMoola for Schools program, which gives money back to schools based on Visa Check Card purchases.

About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At June 30, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $278.54 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at

    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Olivia Riley, 206-377-3636
             Mobile: 206-280-5017
             Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot, 206-377-3635
             Mobile: 425-444-2500

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual