Advertiser Disclosure

Bank of the West Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
Bank of the West Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Bank of the West
NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0

3.0 stars out of 5

Bank of the West doesn’t offer anything extraordinary in its basic checking, savings or CD accounts, except for students. Some fees can be easy to avoid, but ones like overdraft are steep. The regional bank has retail branches only in Western states.

The bottom line

  • Solid sign-up bonus (by March 3) but comparatively low returns on savings.
  • Easy-to-waive monthly fees for basic checking and savings, but accounts earn little to no interest. Checking for students is really easy to get fee-free.
  • Not many retail banking branches in most of the 19 states it covers. Its largest concentration is in California.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Our Ratings
Checking accounts3.5 stars out of 5
Savings accounts2.5 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit2.5 stars out of 5
Customer experience4.0 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees2.0 stars out of 5
Overall3.0 stars out of 5

Read on for more details about Bank of the West’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.

Checking

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

The sign-up bonus for opening a Bank of the West’s Easy Checking account is good, but you won’t earn any interest from the account itself. For that, you’d need to choose one of the bank’s other checking accounts. Even then, the rates range from only 0.01% to 0.06%, varying by state. Another downside is the limited ATM network, which consists of only about 600 ATMs nationwide.

On the plus side, Easy Checking gives you three ways to waive the bank’s $10 monthly fee. You can maintain a minimum of $1,000 as your monthly average balance, have a direct deposit of $250 or more each month, or make 10 or more monthly purchases with your bank debit card. If none of these works, you can at least shave $2 off the fee by enrolling in online banking and opting into online bank statements.

ProsCons
  • Possible $150 sign-up bonus: to get $100, open by March 3 and set up monthly direct deposit of at least $250. Earn another $50 by making 10 debit card purchases within two months.

  • Flexible options for waiving Easy Checking's monthly fee.

  • Student checking fees waived if you present a valid student ID and opt out of paper statements.
  • No interest earned and low rates for other checking accounts.

  • High minimum opening deposit of $100.

  • Small ATM network, limited to western United States.
 Account reviewed for rating: Easy Checking.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best free checking accounts

Savings

2.5 stars out of 5
2.5 / 5.0
Bank of the West’s Classic Savings account earns just 0.01% APY in most states and 0.02% in Arizona, Utah and Wyoming, and there’s a $5 monthly fee. The bank waives the fee in three instances: for customers 18 or younger, those who keep an average balance of $300 a month, or Bank of the West checking customers who set up automatic transfers into their savings. Not all banks charge a monthly fee for savings accounts to begin with, and you may end up losing all interest earnings from fees.

ProsCons
  • Low minimum opening deposit of $25.
  • Monthly fees.
  • Low interest rate.

 Account reviewed for rating: Classic Savings.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Certificates of deposit

2.5 stars out of 5
2.5 / 5.0
Bank of the West’s Flexible-Term CDs vary in length, but the rates aren’t as diverse. The annual percentage yield averages around 0.50% across states for 2-year CDs and not much better for 3- or 5-year terms. The CDs’ minimum opening deposit of $1,000 is reasonable, but you can find CDs with rates of 1% APY or higher with no minimum deposits at other banks.

ProsCons
  • True to its name, Flexible-Term CD available for terms of 32 days to 5 years.
  • Earnings on 2-year CDs: between 0.30% APY and 0.85% APY, depending on state.
  • Earnings on 3-year CDs: between 0.40% APY and 0.95% APY, depending on state.
  • Earnings on 5-year CDs: between 0.45% APY and 1.15% APY, depending on state.
 Account reviewed for rating: Flexible-Term CDs.

Customer experience

4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0
You can easily navigate the bank’s homepage for different accounts, but the FAQ page is not readily visible or robust. Customer support is convenient thanks to the live chat feature on the site, a Twitter account for customer questions and extensive phone hours that stretch into weekends.

The current version of the mobile app, though, receives 1.5 of 5 stars on the iTunes app store and 3.4 stars on the Google Play store. As for physical locations, the bank’s network favors California heavily, with more than 200 branches, but few other states have more than 30 locations.

Overdraft fees

2.0 stars out of 5
2.0 / 5.0

Overdraft fees vary by state, but the average cost is around $30 per item on the first day you overdraw. For any overdraft after that in the subsequent 12 months, the fee is $35 in most states. There’s a $12 fee for an alternative service, overdraft protection transfers. Those occur when the bank transfers money to your checking account from a linked savings or money market account to cover a purchase.

» MORE: Best banks and credit unions on the West Coast

Not a gold mine, but good for some

Getting a Bank of the West checking or savings account isn’t a golden opportunity, considering the fees it charges, the generally low interest rates and its limited ATM network. But if you’re a student or a resident in California who wants to be able to visit a branch, you might find an account here that can serve you well.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.

Verified Jan. 30, 2017.


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each category: checking, savings, CDs, customer experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing tech and customer service. Several Nerds contribute to each financial institution’s ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.

What the ratings mean:
5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best
4.5 stars out of 5 — Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
4 stars out of 5 — Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
3.5 stars out of 5 — Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
3 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution
2.5 stars out of 5 (or below) — Best to avoid