WaMu Banker Confessions, Part Two

Another Washington Mutual insider has stepped forward with a slew of tips to help save your ass from overdraft fees, check deposit holds, and talking to Filipino bankers. Details, inside…


The Wamu Free Checking acct gets 3c per swipe for Debit Rewards. The total occurred from all your swipes gets credited to the account on the anniversary date of the account opening or being converted to a Wamu Free Checking.

If you have the old Free Checking account which doesn’t have debit rewards, or any other kind of checking for that matter, it can be upgraded by the 1-800 number. Filipino bankers are unable to process that request but a US based banker or supervisor can, and it will be switched within 1 bus day.


ATM deposits can be a lot more difficult that in-store deposits. ATM deposits are ALWAYS placed on hold, not 80% of the time. First $100 immediately available, then the rest above $100 goes on hold. BIG TIP! If you want it all available, make separate deposits of $100 (if its cash you’re depositing). If the deposit is made after 3PM PST, or 1PM CST, it will be on hold 2 business days, if before, 1 business day. If it is ever placed on hold longer, that will be because our risk operations department, who review the deposited item scans, cannot properly verify the item, and they will adjust it to 5-7 bus day hold. If you do the deposit in the branch all this trouble can easily be avoided.

We CAN usually see the item deposited. Just call the 1-800 number and ask, if the banker says they cannot, ask for a supervisor. We can. If it’s a cash deposit, and it’s still on hold, the supervisor can remove the hold immediately if we can pull it up in the system.

Our ATMs do have a fee for customers of 3rd party banks. It is $2 in most states and is increasing to $3 shortly.


The puppy commercial is horribly wrong. The 1 overdraft/NSF fee waiver is automatic and you don’t have to call/stop in the branch to get it waived. The commercial makes it seem like we will waive all overdraft fees, and we wouldn’t be a bank that way would we.

Overdraft charges depend on state because it depends on state laws and the average market going rate of an overdraft fee as far as other competing banks go. This depends on what state you OPENED the account. For example, California is $33, Texas is $27 for the first 5 fees occurred in the rolling year cycle, then $35 for all above the 5 mark.

You can only get courtesy fee waivers from the branch the account was opened at, or the 1-800 number by speaking to a supervisor ONLY. If it’s a bank error anyone should be able to waive it. At the 1-800 number courtesies are judged from an internal checklist. The account has to be opened for at least one year, have no returned deposit within the last 90 days, or have any kind of block on the account for account abuse/deposit fraud etc. The account cannot have had a fee waiver between the time you are calling and the last anniversary date of the account opening. As long as everything checks out we go by a typical grid to determine how many fees:

$0-$3000 – gets one fee waiver (such as OD/NSF/SERVICE)
$3000 – $5000 – gets two fee waivers
$5000 – $10000 – gets three fee waivers
$10000 or more – gets four fee waivers

Fees that cannot be waived unless bank error:
$100 legal fee (when levies etc hit account)
$10 Excess activity fee (for breaking the rules of Regulation D in a savings/money market acct)
$12 Return Deposit Item Fee – because that would mean an RDI within last 90 days.

There is a little-known secret about overdraft fees too. You will only get one if your CURRENT balance goes overdrawn. If you have a deposit hold for example, the account available balance will go overdrawn but your current balance won’t, so any debit card transactions that post will not charge the account unless they take the current balance over too. Now this doesn’t work for checks or electronic debits. If the funds aren’t available with the overdraft protection, they WILL get rejected based on the available balance and charge an NSF fee.

The overdraft transfer service can bite you in the ass, because it goes by your AVAILABLE balance, unlike overdraft protection. If your available balance slips the system will kick in and transfer the amount you went overdrawn plus $12 fee from your savings. Because it goes by your available balance, ANYTHING that affects your available balance will ding the service if it goes below zero. If a merchant charges you incorrectly for example, and it pends against your account and takes the account overdrawn, it will activate overdraft transfer, but if the merchant doesn’t carry through with the authorization and debit the account, you’re out $12.

Check Holds

It doesn’t really matter what the check is, it will be placed on hold depending on:
A) The amount (Anything over $5,000 is typically held longer)
B) Recent overdrawn activity
C) Recent return deposit item activity
D) Whether it is in-state or out-of-state
Nice branch managers will call the other bank to verify the check, so that they can release it all for you. It is manager discretion at the branch to release any deposit hold.

Here’s some extra tips:

-All US bankers go home by 10PM PST. Supervisors after this point are all in the Philippines, and don’t have as much power as US supervisors. When you call during US banker hours ALL supervisors are American.

-We will fedex a replacement debit card free within 2 business days if you say that you are traveling within a week and say your card is lost/stolen.

-If a banker accesses your account, they leave a record of their employee ID and activity. If someone is pissing you off, make sure they at least give you your balance (so they live a mark), then speak to a manager to file a complaint. When we do this, we send an email to their manager.

-Even if a supervisor doesn’t resolve your situation, you can go higher. Contact the executive response team. They can bend the rules further than the above fee guidelines also.

-Other banks ATM machines will cause a $2 balance inquiry fee if you use it to check your balance. Don’t do it! Just pick up the phone and call instead, it’s free.

PREVIOUSLY: 36 Confessions Of A WaMu Banker