Free Checking has a new owner in Sacramento
It wasn’t that long ago that Washington Mutual (WaMu) owned the free checking market in Sacramento. For several years its entire marketing campaign centered on its ubiquitous free checking account.
You couldn’t escape it.
Its free checking newspaper ads dominated the local newspaper. WaMu free checking messages appeared on billboards throughout the area. It was tough finding a bus that wasn’t sporting a WaMu free checking sign. And drive-time radio listeners all knew they could get free checking at Washington Mutual.
Yes, you could get free checking at many other banks and credit unions in the Sacramento area. But, through its aggressive and consistent marketing campaign, Washington Mutual owned the free checking market.
Unfortunately, this ongoing free checking campaign came to an abrupt end on September 25, 2008 when it was announced that the federal government had arranged a quick deal for WaMu to be acquired by JPMorgan Chase or simply Chase – one of the four too-big-to-fail banks.
For the next 27 months the Sacramento market was without a free checking leader.
Fortunately, this changed on Sunday, January 23 of this year when a larger, state-wide credit union headquartered in Sacramento stepped-in to fill this void.
So far, it appears the Golden1 Credit Union is the new owner of the free checking market in Sacramento – at least from a marketing perspective.
Here’s the latest version of its free checking ad appearing consistently in The Sacramento Bee. The most recent ad appeared two days ago in the Sunday edition of the paper.
Golden1 quickly added its free checking message to billboards located throughout the greater Sacramento area. This particular billboard is located just off a busy freeway exit in downtown Sacramento where it is seen by thousands of drivers every day.
So far, it appears the area’s other credit unions and community banks are taking a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to aggressively promoting free checking. This is great news for the folks at Golden1.
Consumers can only hope that Golden1 has the staying power previously exhibited by Washington Mutual when it dominated the free checking market in Sacramento during the late 1990s through August, 2008.