Before Chase, there was Washington Mutual; you know the bank with the gold and navy blue colors on its logo, and “free lifetime checks?” Well, as of September 25, 2008, all of that had come to a grinding halt. JPMorgan Chase had acquired Washington Mutual (or “WaMu” for short), and things have really changed for every single WaMu customer. Now, I am not saying it is a bad thing, but it took some time getting used to all of this change after being a Washington Mutual customer for a number of years. Well, at least the actual branch location and its interior had not changed, so that is a plus for me, I guess.
As far as the checking accounts are concerned, everything, to me, had been the same as always: Free checking, online bill pay, direct deposits, etc. One of the different things that I have noticed is different is the ATM/Debit card and how you use them. Back when Washington Mutual was around, customers were given a gold ATM card, and when someone uses his or her ATM/Debit card at certain retailers, supermarkets, etc., every transaction purchase gives him or her 3% transferred to his or her savings account (ex. $10.50 at Ralphs – 3 cents into the savings account); I know, it is crazy, but that was how WaMu played the game. I thought that big banks similar to Bank of America can do a lot better than just three cents per transaction.
Now that we have Chase, like I said, a lot of things have changed. What I really love about Chase than Washington Mutual is not only the customer service, but also the rewards that we get for using both their credit and debit cards. Call me crazy on this, but I am one of those people who usually leave the cash in the bank, and use my debit card for almost 90% of my transactions (groceries, fast-food restaurants, etc.). Why? First of all, if you sign up for the correct debit card that fits your needs, you actually get rewards (and possibly cash back if you are lucky) whenever you swipe your card at any retailer.
For example, if you sign up for the Ultimate Rewards card like I have done so, Chase will give you 4 points for every $5 you spend on your card. Now, let us say that you spend something less than $5, you may not get the full 4 points, but there is a way to get around that; say you spend around $4.50 at McDonald’s for lunch, and you spend another $3.75 for a tall caramel mocha at Starbucks in the evening, your total will come out to a total of $8.25, so you will have a total of 6.6 points (6 points rounded) as your points balance. Yes, I know that does not seem like much, but once you keep swiping that blue card, those points do add up. Yes, a $25 annual fee is slammed onto your checking account; but trust me, it is really worth it.
Of course, like all other “big banks” such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, etc., Chase does not offer “free checks” anymore like how Washington Mutual did back in the days. I have a feeling that paper checks now are starting to slowly become obsolete now that we have electronic checks and electronic this, and electronic that. I guess saving trees and the environment is a good thing after all.