Bank of the West has just started a new checking account promotion with a $100 bonus that's scheduled to last until 9/16/2011. Here's the link to the offer. Unlike previous Bank of the West promotions, this one requires direct deposit. There doesn't seem to be online bill pay option. Like previous promotions, only those who reside in their market area are eligible (see below for the eligible states). The bank is still advertising a free checking account with no monthly service charges or monthly fees. This is becoming rare for large banks.
Below is the important part of the offer's small print:
Offer not available for existing Bank of the West checking customers with an open account as of 8/7/11. Offer valid for new personal checking accounts opened from 8/8/11–9/16/11 with a minimum checking account opening deposit of $100 or more, with funds new to Bank of the West. New personal checking account customers must establish a monthly direct deposit of $250+ each deposit (two or more direct deposits that add up to $250 do not qualify). Direct deposit must be payroll, Social Security, pension or other government benefit. The first 2 deposits must be posted to the account within 60 days of account opening. Bonus will be paid within 60 days of meeting requirements. Limit of one $100 bonus per address per 13-month period. Customers who received a bonus from Bank of the West between 7/6/10–8/7/11 are not eligible. Offer subject to change or termination without prior notice at the Bank’s discretion. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer and does not apply to second or multiple checking accounts. Accounts with a zero balance, overdrawn or closed at the time the bonus is awarded are not eligible. Any applicable taxes are the responsibility of the account holder.
Many readers participated in Bank of the West's iPod touch promotion last year. Most have reported receiving the iPod.
Regarding a hard credit pull, I was told last year that they don't do a hard credit inquiry in the application (only a soft pull). So you shouldn't have to worry about a ding to your credit score. However, ChexSystems could cause an issue. One reader reported last year that it's their policy to deny applications when ChexSystems report more than 6 inquiries in the previous 6 months.
There's an online application, however, the small print states that Bank of the West products are offered to the residents of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Another thing to note is that the free checking isn't available in all of these states. The states without free checking include Arizona, New Mexico and Iowa.
Bank of the West Overview
Bank of the West is a large bank with $58 billion in assets. It has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 4 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 14.79% (above average) based on March 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Bank of the West for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 3514).