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Bank of the West Ends its Free Checking Account

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Bank of the West

Bank of the West is following many other large banks in ending its free checking account. On its website, the free checking has been replaced with Easy Checking. Bank of the West (BotW) customers are being notified by mail that their free checking accounts will soon be converted. According to a BotW customer service representative, not all customers are being converted at once. I was told that California conversions will take place in March, and letters to CA customers went out on January 3rd.

I've posted on several Bank of the West checking account promotions over the years. Last year they offered $100 bonuses for opening their free checking account, and in 2010 they had offered the iPod touch as a bonus. If you had opened the free checking account in one of these promotions, make sure you avoid the fee by either closing the account or meeting the requirements to have the monthly fee waived.

The Easy Checking has a $10 monthly fee if you receive paper statements or $8 if you receive e-statements. To avoid this fee, at least one of the following is required:

  • $1,000 average monthly balance in this account, OR
  • Single direct deposit of $250 or more per statement cycle, OR
  • Ten or more debit card POS purchases (signature and/or PIN) per statement cycle

Those who are 55 or over can qualify for 55 Plus Checking which has no monthly service fees. You can compare these checking accounts at this BotW checking page.

It's interesting to see that debit card usage is one of the options to waive the monthly fee. Since BotW has over $10 billion in assets, its debit cards fall under the Federal Reserve cap on interchange fees. This cap was part of the Durbin Amendment that went into effect last year. The banks had lobbied hard against this regulation claiming that it would force them to end free checking.

Bank of the West is one of the large regional banks. It has $62 billion in assets and over 650 branches in several western and mid-western states. It has an overall health rating at DepositAccounts.com of 5 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 11.45% (above average) based on September 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).

  Tags: Bank of the West, checking account

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Comments
12 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just called them after reading this noticed, BOW told me any existing checking accounts will be grandfathered in.

Cd's count toward  free checking.

I also quailfy for a free 55 plus account

thanks for all the hard work you do updating this blog every day. I check it  everyday first thing, it is a very valuable resource for me

6
Comment #2 by Sarah (anonymous) posted on
Sarah
Bank of the West is absolutely the most scumbag bank I've ever banked with in my lifetime. I've been banking with banks for 20 years. The Pearl branch in Portland, Oregon ****ed me over big time on fees. When I tried to point the error out to the manager of the branch she was very rude. I called the main customer service number and explained the problem but they said only the local branch manager can help.

I just closed my account with Bank of the West. I hope that all of you will too especially if you don't like getting unexpected and unwarrented fees to your bank account.

I say switch to a local credit union and **** the big banks. I'm fed up with Bank of the West (the worse of them) and the rest of the big banks.

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Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I agree with sarah...BOW is the very worst bank i have ever encountered,  Rude manager here in las Vegas refused to pay me $100 sign up bonus after i opened checking account.  Said she could do this if she wanted to.  Local BOW manager then said that not only would I not get my sign up bonus but also I had to keep the BOW checking account open for 6 months in order to avoid penaly fees! 

Absurd! 

I complained to federal banking agencies and state attorney general and better business bureau. 

Finally the the government agencies put pressure on local BOW manager and she let me close my account but never gave me my $100 bonus.  She said I could never open another account with BOW and I said good ridence!

5
Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Bank of the West is the worst and dishonest bank that I ever experienced. When I opened the account, the banker forgot to put my social security into the system, and later I received a call from the branch for the information. Worst of all, the banker didn't mention that I had to set up one single monthly direct deposit of $250 or more to qualify for the $100 bonus. Their intention is to have you open an account and not to give you the sign in bonus. They are very deceptive. I close my account and never want to have any banking business with them.

 

5
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
We can stick it to B of the W the same way the public stuck it to Bank of America over the $5 debit card fee.  It only too B of A one month to drop that fee.  Chalk one up for the customer.  

So here´s what we can do.

Sign the petition:  http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/i-demand-that-bank-of-the-west-keep-its-free/

If they don´t drop the fee, we all move banks on March 1st, 2012.  

3
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I opened my account in the last millenium, under the Free For Life promotion. I just checked today, and I was told "You're still Free For Life." At least, for now.

2
Comment #7 by Stolden From (anonymous) posted on
Stolden From
I wanted to let you know what the bank of the west did to me. I had a free checking account with them since 2004. They changed it from free checking to easy checking. I was never informed of the change. They assess a 10 dollar a month fee. Since I've had the same amount of money in it since 2004, I just open the statement and put it with my other financial information. Tuesday I received a statement and since it was the only mail I received I opened it and read through it. Bank of the west had completely drained the account. I contacted the branch which happens to be only 1 block away from my home, told them the situation, and was told at the branch manager Eric Snyder would to contact me within 1 hour. I received no phone call, so I called back today. I was told that Eric was busy and had a customer in is office. Since I only live half a block away, I decided to walk into the office to meet with Eric. when I arrive moments later there was nobody in his office and I sat in the waiting area. When I met with eric he said he received no message from my call yesterday. I explained the situation to him and he chose to do nothing. I realize that I should have seen them taking 10 dollars a month away from me over the last for months, but an extra checking account 40 dollars in it is not 1 of my highest priorities. but a bank not notifying you changing the terms of your checking account especially 1 that is practically across the street from you just seems wrong. this is the same bank that can get a phone message across the room. I told him I thought it was wrong and I want to contact 6 on your side and that you can set up camera in my backyard and see their bank seemed to have a little to no effect on Eric

1
Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I opened my account when they had free for 100 years promotion and now they are trying to charge me. Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else remember this promotion?

1
Comment #12 by Scott (anonymous) posted on
Scott
I've been a Bank of the West customer before it was even called Bank of the West. Actually I've been through three name changes. All this time I have had the lifetime free checking, which includes a no fee debit card, since this was the terms under which I originally opened my free checking account. Stating eleven months ago BoW refuses to honor my free checking and now charges me 10 dollars per month. When I complained they told me they were not obligated to honor the terms of the accounts for banks that they have purchased, and I was lucky to have gotten free checking for so long. And they were rude about it too. This is an outrage. That would be the same as changing the terms on your home loan if the mortgage gets sold to a new company. Equally as outrageous is that some months I have no activity on my account at all, except for a 10 dollar service charge on my so called free checking. That's right, ten dollar fee for no activity. Is there any class action lawyers, or state Atty Generals out there listening? As I said I've been with my bank for well over two decades, and this is how I'm treated. So I'm saying "**** you Bank of the West", and changing to US bank where I have a no fee business account, and the people are not a bunch of rude jerks and actually return phone calls from customers. Good riddance to Bank of the Worst!

1
Comment #13 by sarge (anonymous) posted on
sarge
I have also had my Bank of the West account for 20 some years. This is the first time I have heard about this "ending the free checking account" Is this a scam or the truth?

1