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35 1st Avenue, N.E.
Watertown, SD 57201

Great Western Bank is headquartered in Watertown and is the 4th largest bank in the state of South Dakota. It is also the 106th largest bank in the nation. It was established in 1935 and as of June of 2016, it had grown to 1,640 employees at 182 locations. Great Western Bank has an A health rating.

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Reviews (2)

Pretty Decent Checking Account Options.

Posted by: requiem | Sep 21, 2011

I finally had enough of Wells Fargo re-enrolling me into overdraft protection without my consent, closed the account, and walked across the street to Great Western.  I checked out another few banks before I settled on Great Western, but I was pretty happy with them from the start.  When I signed up, I got that typical gift given to new accounts (reusable metal water bottles).  They purchased all my old checks from Wells Fargo, and added that to the account (roughly 20 bucks, which is more than I paid for the checks, ironically).  

They asked if which checking account I wanted, and there was no discernable difference between their "totally free checking" and their "VIP checking", except vip had online, direct deposit, billpay, and payed you interest (with no minimum account balance).  "Totally free" has none of those things.  Also, for the VIP checking (but not Totally Free checking), for every direct deposit you set up your first month with the bank, they will add $10 to your account.  Every automatic billpay you set up also adds $10, so long as you set the billpay up in your first 30 days.  After my wife and I had our direct deposits and billpays set up, I got a full tank of gas for something I was going to do anyways.

I declined overdraft protection (just like I did at Wells Fargo), and have not been automatically signed up (unlike Wells Fargo).  If you do opt for overdraft protection, however, overdrafts here cost less than it does at any of the other banks I spoke with (Great Western charges around $32, everyone else I checked out was at least $35).

I have no problem encouraging people to at least check this bank out.  The reason that I am giving the bank 4 stars, instead of 5, is because my wife got her debit card, and we got the checks we ordered, both within a week.  I never got my debit card until I went back into the bank 1 month later and enquired, at which point it arrived 2 days later.  I wasn't angry, but it wasn't quite perfect, so I couldn't give it a perfect score.

Worst Banking Experience Ever

Posted by: LS | Sep 26, 2012

I made GWB my bank two years ago, and from the beginning it was a taxing, aggravating, even dangerous experience, financially speaking.  The online banking site never worked:  it did not support Safari, and I had a new IMac.  I kept getting messages that said they were working on it, but I could never access my account, even though I called tech support numerous times.  They kept charging me fees for my Money Market Account, then withdrawing them, but charging them again the next month because the fee made my account under the minimum so the fee would kick in--and they could never fix the problem.  I finally got sick of it and all the times I had to go in to the bank, and canceled all of my accounts:  business and personal.  After several months, I got a demanding letter saying I owed money from one of those closed accounts and would have to pay it immediately or else. . .  It was for 17¢, and THEY had written the check from their own records for the balance that was in my account.  When I went in to the bank, they admitted it was their mistake, and I have a written receipt to that effect, but it was just one more infuriating thing.  Then I discovered that a loan that I had taken out years before on a piano and paid off before it was due, in 2011, had a lien on it and that the lien would stay there for 5 years, unless I paid--of course--$18 to get it off the books.  I was furious and called them up, and now they say that the lien expired and I don't have to pay the fee, but they still sent the letter demanding payment to get the so-called lien removed.  There was never any notice about it, not in the contract--not anywhere.  So when I fuss, they fix it, but it is the most unorganized bank I have ever used or heard about.  It has been a banking nightmare for me.  I switched to Chase and it has been a huge difference.  Don't use this bank.  The tellers and manager of the bank were great.  IT WAS THE BANK ITSELF.


Health Grade Components

FDIC Certificate #15289
Year Established1935
Primary RegulatorFDIC
Profit Margin
Return on Assets - YTD1.17%
Return on Equity - YTD7.56%
Annual Interest Income$192.8MM
Assets and Liabilities
AssetsQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$11.44B$9.76B
LoansQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$8.54B$7.19B
DepositsQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$8.49B$7.39B
Equity CapitalQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$1.74B$1.55B
Loan Loss AllowanceQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$64.2MM$55.9MM
Unbacked Noncurrent LoansQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$97.4MM$53.9MM
Real Estate OwnedQ2 2016vs Q2 2015$11.7MM$14.9MM

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Great Western Bank has 177 locations. Click to view all Great Western Bank locations.