SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 11, 2006--On the heels of its recent
launch of the new WaMu Free Checking(TM) account, the best-value
consumer checking account in banking, Washington Mutual, Inc.
(NYSE:WM) today announced a groundbreaking account opening experience
that couples 100% online approval and opening, and eliminates the need
to mail a traditional signature card.
"Consumers around the U.S. with access to the Web can now take
advantage of the great new features of the WaMu Free Checking account,
including no Washington Mutual fees for ATM cash withdrawals, free
checks for life, free outgoing wire transfers, cash back on debit
purchase transactions and one free overdraft or bounce check fee per
year," said Steve Rotella, president and chief operating officer of
Washington Mutual. "The account can be opened in minutes at
Washington Mutual, through its banking subsidiaries Washington
Mutual Bank and Washington Mutual Bank fsb, is the first major bank to
offer consumers the convenience of opening a checking account entirely
online and eliminate the need to send a traditional signature card.
Other banks require forms be printed and sent in before an account is
opened. WaMu has introduced technology that can process the
information online, verify identity, and open the account instantly.
After funding, a customer uses the first check in their checkbook,
which has been specially designed so that once written and processed,
it is scanned and used to serve as the sample signature for the
The process is simple and fast. Anywhere they can access the Web,
consumers can open a checking account and combine it with free online
bill pay, e-alerts, direct deposit, and much more. This online
capability expands WaMu's reach beyond its more than 2,100 retail
banking stores in 15 states, so consumers stuck with inferior checking
accounts elsewhere in the country can now get a new WaMu Free Checking
Authentication technology similar to the process used to access
credit reports online verifies identity when opening the account. WaMu
relies on information typically not used or carried by the customer to
validate the identity of the applicant. The account can then be funded
electronically from another institution or a WaMu account, by check in
a branch or by mail if preferred. Once the account is funded, a
customer will receive a Gold Debit MasterCard(R) allowing access at
more than 3,000 Washington Mutual ATMs and, can get cash withdrawals
at other banks' ATMs with no WaMu fee.
"While other banks throw up roadblocks and make banking more
complicated, we're making it simpler and straightforward," said
Rotella. "We continue to innovate in this industry and bringing new
WaMu Free Checking approval entirely online is just one more way we're
making banking easier for consumers around the U.S."
About Washington Mutual
Washington Mutual is one of the nation's leading consumer and
small business banks. At March 31, 2006, Washington Mutual and its
subsidiaries had assets of $348.67 billion. The company was
established in 1889 and currently operates more than 2,600 consumer
and small business banking stores throughout the nation. Washington
Mutual's press releases are available at newsroom.wamu.com.
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 direct deposit
requirement, option of free check return or check storage,
free teller access, no per check charges, free account access
at more than 3,600 Washington Mutual ATMs nationwide, free
24/7 telephone banking, free personal online banking with
Personal Bill Pay Service(R).
CONTACT: Washington Mutual, Inc.
Derek Aney, 212-326-6075 (Media)
Alan Magleby, 212-326-6019 (Investors)
SOURCE: Washington Mutual, Inc.