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Washington Mutual Launches Paperless Checking Account Openings on the Web; WaMu Offers Instant Checking via Proprietary Origination Process

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 account.

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 account.

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

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 are available.

-- 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.