October 18, 2018

Bank of the West Review: Account Good for You?

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If you live in the West, you've likely heard of Bank of the West. Is it worth putting your money at this bank or is it just another "low interest" big bank that has little to offer unless you have a lot of money to deposit?

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Bank of the West has been around since the 1870s. It started operating in just California, but quickly expanded. Today it operates in 19 states and offers checking, savings, CDs, and IRAs. Like most banks, Bank of the West charges monthly maintenance fees and offers low interest rates for the "average consumer."

Keep reading to see if Bank of the West is a bank you may want to consider.

Services Offered

Bank of the West offers your typical checking and savings account, although their options are somewhat sparse. They also offer a couple of investment options, including CDs with a variety of maturity dates and IRAs.

Checking

Bank of the West offers two checking accounts:

  • Any Deposit Checking: This account earned its name from the method where you can waive the monthly maintenance fee. As long as you make a deposit in the account each month, the fee is waived. It's also waived if you are under the age of 25. It comes with a complimentary MasterCard debit card and free online banking/bill pay. Keep in mind, though, that this account does not earn interest.

  • Premier Checking: If you have a significant amount of money to deposit, you may get more out of the Premier Checking account, but you'll need a minimum monthly balance of $25,000. Along with the usual checking account services, you'll be able to make fee-free withdrawals from ATMs, including non-Bank of the West ATMs. You'll earn interest on your money and you may get discounted rates on loans. You may even be eligible for higher interest rates on CDs and Money Market accounts. As an added bonus, Bank of the West offers commission-free trades for online equity and ETFs per month.

Savings

Bank of the West also has two savings accounts:

  • Classic Savings: You need just $25 to open this savings account. You can access your account/funds online, at a Bank of the West ATM or at a Bank of the West branch. It does have a small monthly maintenance fee, but you can get it waived by setting up auto-save with at least $25 for each deposit. You could also have the fee waived by carrying an average balance of $300.

  • Choice Money Market Savings: With $100, you could open a Money Market savings account. In order to avoid the monthly maintenance fee, you'll need a monthly average balance of $5,000; to have a Premier Checking account, you'll need to have auto-save set up with deposits of at least $75. You may earn tiered interest rates on this account, which means you can earn more interest on higher balances.

    Note: For both savings accounts, any withdrawals in excess of six per month are subject to the excessive withdrawal fee.

CDs

If you are looking for a predictable return on your money, rather than putting it in the market, a CD may be the answer. Bank of the West offers three options:

  • Flexible Term CD: With $1,000, you can open a 32-day to a 60-month CD. You'll earn a fixed interest rate on your money and you have the ability to have your CD automatically renewed at maturity. It will be renewed at the market rate at that time.

  • Premium Money Market CD: With $2,500, you can open the Premium CD with terms ranging between 91 days and 60 months. This CD also offers a fixed interest rate and can be renewed at maturity. You have a 10-day grace period to decide if you want to renew it or withdraw the funds.

  • Relationship CD: If you have a Premier Checking account, you can open a Relationship CD, which offers higher interest rates. It's only available in a 12-month term and also has the ability to be automatically renewed at maturity.

IRA CDs

If you need a predictable return on your retirement funds, the IRA CDs at Bank of the West may be a viable option. They offer three options:

  • Premium Money Market IRA CD: You need just $100 to open the CD and have terms between 91 days and 24 months to choose from.

  • Flexible IRA CD: You only need $100 to open this CD as well. You can choose between 12- and 60-month terms.

  • IRA Add-On CD: This CD is available only in 12-month terms; however, you are free to add money to the CD at any time with this option.

What's the Bank of the West Routing Number?
The Bank of the West routing number for checking accounts is 121100782. If you need a routing number for any other account, contact the bank.

Reasons We Like Bank of the West

  • You can do much more than check your balances or transfer funds with their online banking services. You can compare your spending habits, create budgets, start savings goals, and send money to friends and family electronically.

  • Bank of the West doesn't require minimum opening deposits for their checking accounts. This may make it easier to open an account if you are looking for a place to have your paycheck direct deposited.

  • The Bank of the West mobile app is intuitive and feature-rich. Not only can you conduct the same tasks you could with online banking, but you can also pay bills and deposit checks on the go. Simply snap a picture of the front and back of your check and you can deposit a check right from your phone. Have a bill to pay? Just snap a picture of the bill and walk through the prompts to pay your bill in a snap.

  • Bank of the West will waive one overdraft charge on many of their checking accounts annually. You can request a one-time refund of the overdraft or returned item fee, which can help in those instances when you over budget.

  • Bank of the West offers a $5 overdraft "buffer." If you overdraft your checking account by $5 or less, you won't face the harsh financial penalties they normally charge. This can save you the $35 per overdraft item Bank of the West charges.

  • You can avoid ATM fees if you open a Premier Checking account. Bank of the West will reimburse you for any third-party fees charged when you use a non-Bank of the West ATM. Keep in mind, though, that if you use an ATM overseas, foreign transaction fees may apply.

  • Bank of the West allows you to send money to friends or family almost instantly with Zelle. All you need is the recipient's email or mobile phone number to send the money to their US bank account. Bank of the West doesn't charge a fee for this service.

  • You have two options for overdraft protection coverage. You can open a Gold Line Account, which is a line of credit and is subject to approval. You can also link your Bank of the West savings account to your checking account for automatic overdraft protection. Note that both accounts incur transfer fees in the event that you overdraft your account.

  • If you open a Premier Checking Account, you may be eligible for a Cash Back World MasterCard, which provides up to 3% cashback on eligible purchases. Note: See the fine print on the fee disclosure to learn which purchases may qualify.

  • Bank of the West focuses on how they can help make changes in the world. They put their effort into investing in communities, women in entrepreneurship, saving the planet, and corporate social responsibility, just to name a few of the causes they support.

Where are the Bank of the West locations? Bank of the West branches are located in each of the following states: Wyoming, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Oregon, North Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho, Arizona, California, and Colorado.

Reasons to Look Elsewhere

  • The bank's branch and ATM networks are small. You may have a hard time finding a branch or ATM if they aren't located within your local vicinity. This may mean paying third-party ATM fees just to access your own money.

  • The best rates Bank of the West offers are on their 5-year CDs. The other accounts offer minimal interest that hardly compares with their online competitors. If you are using the bank for convenience rather than earnings, it can be worth it. If your goal is to earn a large amount of interest, though, you may have to look elsewhere.

  • They only offer two checking account options. The first is very basic, providing you with checks and an ATM card. The second offers a variety of benefits, including relationship interest rates (higher interest rates), but you need a minimum average of $25,000 in the account to receive the benefits. There aren't any "in between" choices for checking account customers.

How They Compare

Bank of America
Bank of America is located in more than 35 states and has 4,400 branches in those states. They have extended customer service hours and a variety of ways to waive the monthly maintenance fees on their accounts. Their offerings are about the same as Bank of the West and their interest rates are comparable to Bank of the West as well.

Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is also much farther spread out than Bank of the West. They have 5,800 branches in 39 states, and more than 13,000 free ATMs. Wells Fargo offers a few more choices for checking and savings accounts. They also have options just for teens or those looking for "second-chance checking."

US Bank
US Bank operates in approximately 26 states and has more than 3,000 branches. US Bank does have a wider variety of choices for bank accounts, as they have seven checking accounts and eight savings accounts to choose from. Like most big banks, though, they do charge monthly maintenance fees and pay low interest rates.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a big bank that offers a "personal touch," Bank of the West may be a good choice. If you have complex banking needs or want to earn interest on your checking account but don't have $25,000 to deposit, you may want to look elsewhere. If it's simple checking and savings you need and you live in one of the states they serve, though, it could be a viable option for you.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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