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Washington Federal Review

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We maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments. This post contains links from our advertisers, and we may receive compensation when you click these links. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. | Advertiser Disclosure
Washington Federal Bank Washington Federal
0.10% APY

If you live out west and are looking for a place to put your money, Washington Federal has some offerings that are worth consideration. The FDIC-insured bank has branches in eight states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It offers three types of checking accounts, as well as a savings account, money market account and numerous certificates of deposit.

Those who are seeking the highest possible interest rates on their money probably won’t find what they’re looking for at Washington Federal. Rates on savings accounts are fairly low. There are a number of certificate of deposit options with some higher rates, including the CD Specials. 

On the other hand, Washington Federal does have a number of features that will appeal to customers for their convenience, including membership in the nationwide MoneyPass ATM network, and identity theft protection for some checking accounts.

Products Offered

Product Key Details
Savings Accounts
  • Monthly fee of $4 for accounts with minimum monthly deposit of less than $200
  • No fee for minors
Certificates of Deposit
  • Fixed interest rates depending on term length and deposit amount
  • Minimum deposit of $1,000
  • Higher rates for CD Specials with unusual terms such as 7 or 13 months
Money Market Account
  • Minimum deposit of $1,000 required to earn interest. $10 monthly fee if deposits fall below that amount
  • Variable interest rates; higher rates for deposits above $90,000
Checking Accounts
  • Three account options, including one interest-earning account
  • $100 minimum deposit required to open account

Washington Federal Bank Interest Rate Comparison

Washington Federal Overview

Seattle-based Washington Federal has branches in eight states and more than 200 cities throughout the west. The greatest concentration of branches can be found in Washington State, but it also has locations in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, Oregon and Nevada. It is a publicly traded company.

Banking services offered by Washington Federal include commercial banking, small business loans, business checking and savings accounts, personal loans, credit cards and personal deposit accounts. 

Washington Federal Account Features

There are some standard features with all Washington Federal deposit accounts. Most have a minimum opening deposit of $100, with additional deposit requirements on some accounts to avoid monthly fees. Accounts come with free online and mobile banking, including features such as mobile photo deposit and person-to-person payments. 

Most accounts also come with a Visa debit card. Washington Federal customers have access to the MoneyPass ATM network, a national network of surcharge-free ATMs, with over 30,000 ATMs included total.

Compare Washington Federal Bank to Other Competitive Offers

Washington Federal Statement and Passbook Savings Accounts

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $25
Access to Your Savings Account Online, mobile, ATMs and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees $4 monthly fee for accounts that fall below $200
Current Terms and Rates Account balances of $100 and over: 0.10% APY

To open a savings account with Washington Federal you need to an initial deposit of at least $25. However it would be wise to start with more money than that, as account with deposits of less than $200 will be charged a $4 fee every month.

That fee would be more than sufficient to wipe out the interest earned on this account. The interest rate is fairly low, although it does beat out the interest rates on comparable accounts at national banks like Wells Fargo and Chase.

That being said, if you can put down a deposit of more than $1,000, Washington Federal has a number of deposit account options that earn higher interest than the standard savings account, including the money market account or a certificate of deposit (see below). On the other hand, if you have less than $1,000, or want the flexibility to allow your savings to fall below that threshold, then this might be the right account to start with.

Note that your transactions with this type of account are limited. You have up to six free withdrawals or transfers. After that you will be charged a $15 fee.

Washington Federal Certificates of Deposit

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $1,000
Access to Your CD Account Online, mobile, ATMs and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees No monthly fees. Penalties may be assessed if you withdraw your money before the length of your term.
Current Terms and Rates: Deposits less than $90,000
  • 2 - 5 Months: 0.15% APY
  • 6 - 11 Months: 0.45% APY
  • 12 - 17 Months: 0.60% APY
  • 18 - 23 Months: 0.80% APY
  • 24 - 35 Months: 1.00% APY
  • 36 - 47 Months: 1.15% APY
  • 48 - 59 Months: 1.25% APY
  • 60 Months: 2.00% APY
Current Terms and Rates: Deposits of $90,000 or more
  • 2 - 5 Months: 0.20% APY
  • 6 - 11 Months: 0.50% APY
  • 12 - 17 Months: 0.65% APY
  • 18 - 23 Months: 0.85% APY
  • 24 - 35 Months: 1.05% APY
  • 36 - 47 Months: 1.20% APY
  • 48 - 59 Months: 1.30% APY
  • 60 Months: 2.05% APY

If you are willing to set aside your money for a longer period of time, a certificate of deposit represents a great way to earn a higher interest rate than a standard savings account. Longer terms yield higher rates. 

So, for example, the highest possible rate on a Washington Federal CD account is 2.00% APY on the 60-month CD. If you can leave your money untouched for five years, you can earn that return. However, if you need to access your money before the end of your term, you will likely be assessed a penalty that could wipe out any interest earnings.

Even on shorter terms, the rates are pretty good, especially as compared with comparable accounts at national banks. The rate on a 12-month CD at Washington Federal is 0.60% APY, for example. At Wells Fargo, the rate for a similar 12-month CD is 0.10%.

There are a number of other ways to earn higher rates on these account. One is by depositing more money: Washington Federal offers slightly higher rates on deposits of more than $90,000. Another is by opening a special CD. These are CDs with unusual term lengths and higher interest rates. Currently, for example, there is a 13-month CD with an APY of 1.95%.

Washington Federal Money Market Account

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Money Market Account Online, mobile, ATMs and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees $10 monthly service fee, waivable with at least $1,000 in deposits.
Current Terms and Rates
  • Account balances of $1,000 - $89,999: 0.10% APY
  • Account balances of $90,000 and over: 0.15% APY

At Washington Federal, the money market account is quite similar to the standard savings account. The interest rate for accounts with less than $90,000 in deposits is identical, at 0.10% APY. Accounts above that threshold get a slightly higher rate: 0.15% APY.

The money market account has a higher deposit requirement to avoid the monthly fee, at $1,000. The fee on accounts with deposits below that is $10 per month, so it would be wise to avoid this account type if you think you might dip below that deposit requirement. 

On the other hand, the money market account has a few features that the standard savings account does not. It comes with check-writing privileges, which means you can use it like a checking account. But only to an extent — checks and electronic transactions are capped at six per month.

Washington Federal Basic and Green Checking Accounts

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Checking Account Online, mobile, ATMs and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees
  • Basic Checking: No monthly fee
  • Green Checking: $6 monthly fee

Washington Federal offers two associated checking accounts, the Basic account and the Green account. Both accounts have a minimum opening deposit of $100. There is no minimum balance requirement for either account, but the Green account has a $6 monthly fee, regardless of balance.

The way to avoid that fee is to maintain a Basic account. That requires signing up for eStatements (no paper statements) and having at least one direct deposit per month. It has no monthly fee. 

One great feature of both checking accounts is the Visa debit card, which has access to the MoneyPass ATM network. This is a national network of surcharge-free ATMs. There are more than 30,000 ATMs in the network, so you should be able to find a participating ATM in pretty much any U.S. city.

There are some other features that you get with Green checking that you do not get with Basic checking. These include identity theft protection and monitoring, and unlimited checks. The Basic account gets 25 checks per month for free. Beyond that there is a fee of $0.15 per check.

There are other fees to watch out for with your checking account. An important one is the non-sufficient funds fee, which is assessed when you write a check or make a transaction that draws your balance below $0. The fee for each transaction that does so is $25.

Washington Federal offers some good options for avoiding those fees, however. It has an overdraft transfer program, which automatically transfers funds from a linked savings account, at a cost of $5 per transfer.

The other option is an overdraft protection credit line. This requires a $7.50 credit check up front, but individual overdrafts will be free (outside of the cost to repay the overdraft). 

Washington Federal Stellar Plus Checking Account

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $100
Access to Your Checking Account Online, mobile, ATMs and physical branches.
Security FDIC insurance up to the maximum amount allowed by law. 
Fees
  • $8 monthly fee for accounts with balances of less than $10,000.
  • $3 monthly fee for accounts with balances between $10,000 and $20,000.
  • No monthly fee for accounts with balances above $20,000.
Current Terms and Rates 0.05% APY

If you want to earn a little bit of interest on your checking deposits, an interest-earning checking account is the way to go. Washington Federal’s interest-earning checking account, Stellar Plus checking, earns a small amount of interest, at 0.05% APY.

To qualify for a fee-free account, you need to maintain a balance of at least $20,000. The monthly fee on accounts with a minimum balance between $10,000 and $20,000 is $3, while below that deposit level the fee is $8 per month. You can also qualify for the checking account without needing to pay a fee if you have total deposits among all Washington Federal accounts of at least $100,000.

Those are fairly steep minimums to earn a small amount of interest. But the account does come with some additional features that bear mentioning. Like the Green Checking Account, it includes identity theft protection and monitoring. It also includes a free safe deposit box.

 

Where Can I Find Washington Federal?

Washington Federal has branches in over 200 cities, spread among eight western states. It’s principal state is, naturally, Washington — that’s where it has the most branches. It can also be found in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

What Can You Do Online With Washington Federal?

Washington Federal’s website and mobile app have plenty of features to make banking remotely easier. For starters, you can check account balances and transfer funds between accounts. You can also set up automatic bill payments to pay for things like your mortgage, credit card or utilities.

With the mobile app, you can make check deposits by taking pictures of checks. The mobile app has just 2.5 stars on the Apple App store. That is based on only a handful of ratings, however, so take it with a grain of salt.

How Do I Access My Money?

In addition to the mobile app and website, you can access your money through Washington Federal branches and ATMs. Most accounts come with a Visa debit card, and membership in the MoneyPass ATM network. With more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs, you should be able to find one even when you aren’t in one of Washington Federal’s main states.

How Can I Save More Money With Washington Federal?

There aren’t a lot of high-interest deposit accounts at Washington Federal. Your best bet for increasing your savings is a long-term CD, though even those will grow slowly. For instance, a 60-month CD currently has an interest rate of 2.00% APY. If you begin with deposits of $2,000, you would earn a little more than $200 in interest over those five years, or about $40 per year.

Washington Federal also has a number of Special CD deals that offer higher rates for unusual terms. These can change, but currently the best deal is a 19-month CD with a rate of 2.15% APY for accounts linked to a checking account.

What’s the Process for Opening an Account With Washington Federal?

You cannot open an account online with Washington Federal. Instead, to open your account, you need to visit one of the branch locations. You can set up an appointment ahead of time by emailing info@wafd.com, or you can simply drop in. Make sure to have a photo ID with you, as well as the funds you will use to open an account. The minimum deposit for most account types is $100.

Washington Federal also offers something called a “switch kit,” which helps you transfer from other accounts. This includes an automatic form to set up your electronic bill payments, as well as a form you can send to your old bank to close your account.

What’s the Catch?

With Washington Federal, what you see is what you get. Rates on most accounts aren’t especially high, though they usually beat out larger national options like Wells Fargo. Further, Washington Federal only does business in eight western states, not including California, so you won’t be able to open an account unless you are in one of those states.

Bottom Line

Washington Federal is a mid-sized regional bank with locations stretching from Washington State as far southeast as Texas (notably skipping over California). It offers a handful of low-fee options, and some nifty features like automatic enrollment in the nationwide MoneyPass ATM network. Rates on certificates of deposit are good, but otherwise Washington Federal’s deposit rates are fairly low.

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