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How To Close An Account At Washington Mutual

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WaMu SucksBefore Washington Mutual was acquired by JP Morgan Chase, in better times for the bank, they offered a yield on their online savings account that was tops in the land. Since then, the rate as fallen to 2.25% APY, which doesn’t even register on the radar of high yield savings account rates, and so I opted to close my account when I opened a Dollar Savings Direct account.

This is the first online savings account I have ever closed and I had no idea it would be such a headache. I don’t know if this is unique to WaMu’s policies or if it’s universal to online savings accounts but it was a pain. First, let me tell you about my experience and then I’ll explain the easiest way to do it.

How To Improperly Try Close A WaMu Account

In Maryland, there are no convenient WaMu branches to visit so I would have to do it by mail. Yep, they can’t close an account over the phone, which makes sense but is quite infuriating. The first time I called, I was told that I needed to zero out the accounts (I had both checking and savings) and then I could close the accounts by phone. So, I transferred all the funds out of my checking into my savings and then initiated a transfer out of savings. The checking to savings transfer was instantaneous, so I immediately closed my checking. I was told I could just call back in a couple days once the savings was zeroed out and could close that by phone. That was wrong.

What happened was that once the checking was closed, the $300 minimum daily balance requirement kicked in for the online savings account. I was assessed a $4 fee, overdrawing the account! When I called today, I had to fight with the call center CSR, who had no power but the follow the script she was given, to understand the actual process, then escalated to a supervisor who reversed the $4 fee. Overall, the experience with the call center CSR, through no fault of her own, was frustrating and infuriating but the supervisor was accommodating and great.

How To Properly Close A WaMu Account

There are rules as to how you can close out interest-bearing and non-interest bearing accounts, just forget about them. You only need to know the two ways to close a WaMu account:

  1. Visit a branch and close it with a teller. I didn’t have this option, but this is by far the easiest.
  2. Send a letter to WaMu’s Bank By Mail, indicating that you want to close your account. You’ll need to provide your account number (which you can get by viewing one of your statements through online banking) and a return address so they can send you your balance by check.

The mailing address for that letter is:
Washington Mutual BBM
PO Box 659588
San Antonio TX, 78265-9588

Don’t close any accounts over the phone, you’ll just end up decoupling your checking and savings and be hit with fees.

(Photo: Sërch)

{ 32 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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32 Responses to “How To Close An Account At Washington Mutual”

  1. noneusch says:

    I wonder if the full blown online banks are that difficult? I would hope not. It’s good to hear you got the issue resolved though.

  2. jim says:

    I’ll be closing my Emigrant Direct account in January when my CD matures, I’ll be able to give a better answer then. Hopefully it won’t be too bad. :)

  3. Rich says:

    I thought I was the only one with problems trying to close my account. I don’t think they want people to leave

  4. Yeah, I’ve tried to close my accounts via the secure online contact form, and they just ignored me. No response at all, not even to say that you can’t do it that way. Thanks WaMu. Guess I’ll have to write them a letter.

  5. CK says:

    Why close the Emigrant Direct account? It lacks a minimum balance requirement right? I’d keep a dollar in there just for flexibility.

  6. jim says:

    I’m closing it to simplify things, plus, I opened a Dollar Savings Direct account which already has a higher yield.

  7. Ironically, when I needed to close my Chase Checking account, the opposite situation held. In response to my written request to close my Chase checking account, they wrote back saying that they would not close the account because the signatures did not match… frustrated, a quick phone call got the account closed.

    What made the situation even more absurd was that I was only closing *one* of two Chase checking accounts, and asking that the money be moved over…

  8. Eric N. says:

    Woah, timely post Jim!

    I opened my WaMu accounts roughly when you opened yours and I’ve been thinking about closing them for awhile now (see: sucky rate). Luckily though, I do have a WaMu branch near me so I’m hoping to avoid the headache. I wonder if they’ll shred my checks for me too……..

  9. Jackson says:

    Thanks for this tip!

    The same thing for Bank of America. Do NOT try to zero out your balances first or you’ll get hit with an insufficient funds fee.

    Either go to the teller and request them to close the account or you have to send a written letter to them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m having the same problem with WAMU. I don’t live by a branch and am having to close out via snail mail. !!!

  11. Emily says:

    That is very interesting that you had problems, as I just closed my accounts recently by phone and had virtually no problems. I zeroed both my accounts, called them up (I didn’t even remember what my phone password was), asked them to close it, and they said fine. The savings was closed first and the interest was credited to my checking, which I then moved out again. The only slight problem I had, was I had to call again to get them to close the checking. They resubmitted the form and it’s now closed as well. Strange.

  12. Thinking says:

    Hi,

    Couldn’t you just have transferred all of your money to the free checking account, closed the savings account right away, then transferred your money to the new bank from the free checking account, then closed the free checking account. Would fees still have been assessed?

  13. GetinSmart says:

    Today (Calif) Wamu wouldn’t let us close a savings account with $24 in it because they didn’t like my Dad’s id. They also wouldn’t let us close it over the phone. They told me if I zeroed out the balance they would charge me the $12 a month fee anyways and bill us for it. That’s got to be illeagle.

  14. Gloria says:

    A picture says a thousands words. Anyone who has ever seen a picture of J.P. Morgan can clearly see who they’re dealing with. J.P. Morgan soul lives on in child, Chase Manhattan Bank. In my life I’ve had to deal three times with Chase Manhattan Bank and each time they had me in their grips I was put through the ringer. The first time I had arranged for transmittal of money from Germany 30 years ago, they intercepted the funds in New York and kept it there for six weeks. The second time, they bought my mortgage bank and had me trying to figure out where to pay my mortgage for three months. And this last time, again I tried to transmit funds into my WaMu account, but when my German bank found out it was Chase Manhattan, they refused by saying that Chase was not in my best interest and I had to open another account with another bank. In the meantime Chase got NSF crazy while I was trying to close the account by trying to put funds into it. I finally got through to a supervisor after surrendering to the Chase CSR. I gave up and told her, “You’re killing me, you want me dead like a little bug under your huge shoe.” After that I was given a break. I was finally told by the supervisor where to send a check and send a letter to close my account.

  15. Walt says:

    I wanted to close out a CD with a balance of over $50k. I write them two letters, no response. Send them a message via their online banking system and get a response telling me to call the 1-800 number. Call them, answer all the security questions and then get transferred to a supervisor, who tells me due to the amount I have to do it by mail and give me the BBM address listed above. And to top things off – I have to get my signature notarized!

    They must be desperate…

    • philip says:

      Hi Walt, WaMu is doing the same thing to me. They told me to send them a notarized letter, which I did, and now they say they want me to send notarized “confirmation of identification” whatever that is. Did you ever get your money back from these thieving bastards?

      • Walt says:

        I did eventually get my money, but only after speaking to a supervisor. It seems WaMu “never received” my registered letter with the notarized signature! To their credit once the supervisor got involved it only took three days of phone calls and faxes back-and-forth to get them to cut a check. I’m amazed the Fed still allows these guys to pretend to be a bank.

  16. Yikes says:

    I want to close out my account too. Now I know what to expect. Innie Minnie Miney Moe will be my closing method of choice!

  17. Melanie says:

    Jim: I’ve been reading your all your banking reviews. They’ve been so helpful. I’m currently a wamu customer too but I’m planning to close my accounts now that they’re becoming chase (had a bad experience with a chase cc a few years ago that didn’t instill much confidence in their account security). I’m just waiting for my Savings for Success account to mature next month. Anyway, do you still prefer FNBO now that you’ve had it for a while? I’m trying to decide between them and e*trade. I’ve also considered ING Direct but they’re rates just don’t compete. TIA!

    • Jim says:

      FNBO has a better rate than E*Trade (2.6 vs. 2.15), so I would pick that one if the broker aspect doesn’t appeal to you. I haven’t had any problems with FNBO so far.

  18. james says:

    I had problems closing my credit card account with Wamu. I zeroed the ballance at the beginning of the month and called the number on the back of the card requesting to close the account. I then received a bill one month later on interest for five dollars. I went to a teller to pay that after being told on the phone that I was being charged on the balance PRIOR to closing the account. Now I’m still showing the account to be open on line, and am wondering if I’ll be charged interest on the five dollar balance. Will this go forever?

  19. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had read this before. I just called WAMU about them charging me $ 5.00 every month because I only had a savings account left with them so basically I was paying them every month. I was furious! I called a stupid customer service rep who was like, “Maam, I’m sorry but I cannot refund you those fees.” I hate WAMU and they deserve to go under.

    • That’s the exact reason I’m done with this corporate bank. At one point, I had 20 overdraft changes while a paycheck was being processed. I called to see if they could withdrawal at least one of the charges. Instead, they tried to sell me the overdraft protection, which I already had. Screw the big corporate model, I’ve gone with the local bank.

  20. Steven says:

    The address they gave me was
    PO Box 659516
    San Antonio TX 78265-9588

    As you can see the zip code matches the one in the article not the one they gave me. Thanks for writing it.

  21. Michael says:

    I’ve mailed them at the address in the original post two weeks ago and I’m still waiting for a reply. I’m in CA, and the chase branches there say they can’t do anything to close my accounts.

  22. Hey people, I just got off the phone to close my WAMU account that was opened in California. Note the PO Box is different below:

    Washington Mutual BBM
    PO Box 659516
    San Antonio TX, 78265-9588

  23. Here’s the California branch phone as well: (866) 596-7643

  24. james says:

    I have just moved to canada. Are they able to send checks outside of U.S? one cust. service lady told me no, they can only send it to U.S address?…is this true?

  25. Walt says:

    @ James

    That’s a load of rubbish. They’ve done it for me. Ask to speak to a supervisor.


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