SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 13, 2006--The stakes in consumer
banking have been raised -- and consumers will be the big winners.
Today WaMu announced it has redefined every consumer's must-have
product by introducing a new free checking product that combines an
unprecedented bundle of features that all add up to convenience and
value never before seen in any checking account.
The new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account offers all the features of
WaMu's original Free Checking account plus: free ATM cash withdrawals,
a free overdraft or insufficient funds fee waiver each year, free
checks for life, cash back for debit card use, free outbound wires,
free low-balance alerts with online banking, Free ID Theft Services --
and much more. (For more information about account features, see chart
The company, a leading bank for consumers and small businesses,
boldly stated this new account will shake up the entire industry. "We
changed the banking industry by bringing Free Checking to consumers
and small businesses more than a decade ago," said Kerry Killinger,
chairman and CEO, Washington Mutual. "After a period of resistance by
most banks, this product eventually became the standard offering
around the country.
"Today, we are once again shaking up the industry," Killinger
continued. "New WaMu Free Checking(TM) redefines what a great value is
for customers. This product will set a new standard in banking, and we
intend to let people know about it through an aggressive nationwide
Steve Rotella, president and chief operating officer, Washington
Mutual, pointed out that most banks offer some version of free
checking, but many put hooks and hurdles in the way to avoid the
monthly fee, such as minimum balance or direct deposit requirements.
This makes banking complicated and confusing for customers who simply
want a truly free checking account.
"We're constantly talking to consumers and it's clear they're
overwhelmed, even annoyed by the requirements embedded in many 'free'
checking accounts," said Rotella. "At WaMu, we're breaking through the
clutter by delivering what consumers are asking for -- 'give me easier
access to my money,' 'give me a break if I overdraw my account,'
'reward me for my business.'"
"But that's not all," Rotella continued. "When combined with
WaMu's friendly, helpful service and award-winning retail environment,
we're convinced that the new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account is the
greatest value in consumer banking. After consumers do the comparison,
we think they'll find our new product is by far and away the best."
According to Killinger, the launch of the new WaMu Free
Checking(TM) account represents a defining moment for the company.
"We've built our business by welcoming everyday customers to WaMu with
our original Free Checking account, and then by winning them over with
our other great products and customer service," said Killinger.
"We had great momentum in 2005, opening 725,000 net Free Checking
accounts. We expect to significantly accelerate this growth with the
new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account," Killinger added. "People looking
for simplicity, convenience and value in their banking relationship
will find it here," he said. "Making it easier for consumers and
providing a great experience -- that's the WaMu way."
Major Advertising Campaign
In support of the new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account, the company
is launching a major advertising campaign on March 13 that will
illustrate the clear differentiation of WaMu from the rest of the
banking industry. The national campaign, created by WaMu's new ad
agency of record, Leo Burnett USA, pokes fun at old-fashioned bankers
enraged with WaMu's new product and its engaging, down-to-earth way of
doing business -- The WaMu Way.(TM)
About Washington Mutual
The new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account is offered by Washington
Mutual Bank and Washington Mutual Bank fsb. With a history dating back
to 1889, Washington Mutual is a leading provider of financial services
for consumers and small businesses. At December 31, 2005, Washington
Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $343.12 billion. Washington
Mutual currently operates more than 2,600 retail banking, mortgage
lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout
the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at
The New WaMu Free Checking(TM) Account Features:
- Free ATM Cash Withdrawals -- Washington Mutual will not charge
for withdrawals from this account at non-Washington Mutual
ATMs anywhere in the world. (Non-refundable ATM operator and
foreign currency exchange and transaction fees may apply).
- Free Checks for Life -- Customers ordering their checks
through Washington Mutual can get them for free; select styles
- Free OD/NSF Fee (one per year) -- One OD or NSF fee refund
each anniversary year; unused refunds can be carried over.
- Free Gold Debit MasterCard(R) with Rewards -- The account
comes with a Gold Debit MasterCard(R) and Washington Mutual
will give a reward (currently $0.03) for each Debit MasterCard
purchase transaction (pin or signature) during the prior year
up to a $250 reward if the account is open and in good
standing on the anniversary date.
- Free Outgoing Wire Transfers -- Washington Mutual will not
charge for outbound international or domestic wire transfers.
(Non-refundable foreign currency exchange charges and
intermediary and beneficiary bank fees may apply.)
- Free ID Theft Services -- Customers will receive recovery
assistance if they ever become the victim of identity theft.
- Free e-Alerts -- Low balance, large withdrawal, and OD event
notification alerts sent by e-mail. (Enrollment in free online
banking service is required.)
- Other features -- No monthly fee. No minimum balance or direct
deposit requirement to avoid the monthly fee. Option of free
check return or check storage, free teller access, no per
check charges, free account access at more than 3,700
Washington Mutual ATMs nationwide, free 24/7 telephone
banking, free personal online banking with Personal Bill Pay
CONTACT: Washington Mutual, Seattle
Sheri Pollock, 206-377-2138 (Media)
Derek Aney, 212-326-6075 (Media)
Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878 (Media)
Alan Magleby, 212-326-6019 (Investors)
SOURCE: Washington Mutual