Started in 1874, BancWest began as Farmers National Gold Bank in San Jose, California helping people build homes, finance farms, and grow their businesses. After several years of building a strong and expanding local customer base in the California Bay area, Farmers National Gold Bank became First National Bank of San Jose in 1880.
Another name change followed in 1979 when the bank changed its name to Bank of the West to better reflect its expansion beyond the Bay area. By that time, the newly named Bank of the West had 35 San Francisco Bay Area locations and $350 million in assets.
In 1998, Bank of the West joined forces with San Francisco and First Hawaiian Bank of Honolulu to form BancWest Corporation. It eventually became fully owned by financial giant BNP Paribas.
Today, BancWest Corporation serves more than 3.39 million customers at over 670 branches and commercial banking offices in all 50 states.
- Relationship banking
- Savings account
- Checking account options
Although it is one of the nation's largest banks, BancWest still prides itself on having a "local feel" and more specifically on what it calls "relationship banking". The concept of relationship banking refers to offering quality, flexible financial products and services that build trust and a solid relational model between customer and bank.
As an illustration of relationship banking, BancWest offers a variety of personal checking, savings accounts, IRAs and loans with flexible options to its customers.
Their most popular account through Bank of the West is the Easy Checking Account
The monthly maintenance fee is $10 if you receive paper statements
This fee is waived when you:
- Maintain an average monthly balance of $1,000 or more each statement cycle
- Receive at least one direct deposit of $250 or more during each statement cycle
- Use Bank of the West Debit Card for 10 or more purchases during each statement cycle
BancWest also offers a classic Savings Account
through Bank of the West. It is designed for people wanting an interest-earning account they can open easily with a low minimum deposit.
- Minimum deposit to open account: $25
- Monthly maintenance fee: $4
The $4 maintenance fee is waived when at least one of the following conditions are met each month:
- Maintain an average monthly balance of at least $300 ($50 in Minnesota)
- Use Auto-Save to set up recurring monthly transfers of $25 or more from any Bank of the West personal checking account to Classic Savings account
- Primary account holder is 18-years old or younger
Checking Account Options
For business owners who are looking for a basic checking account that provides daily banking convenience and options to waive monthly service charges, BancWest (Bank of the West) offers a Classic Business Checking Account
with the following features:
- 100 transactions each statement cycle (checks, deposits, deposited items)
- Access to funds with a MasterCard Business Debit Card
- Mobile Banking and Online Banking with Bill Pay
Account holders can avoid the $10 monthly service charge with:
- a minimum daily balance of at least $3,000 in this account
- a combined average monthly balance of $6,000 in linked combined money market, savings or CD balances
Individuals wanting to save for retirement can choose from BancWest's Traditional and Roth IRAs.
- Customers won't pay taxes on earnings until they make withdrawals
- Customers may get immediate tax benefits when they contribute, such as:
- Potential gains accumulate tax-deferred.
- Pay no taxes until you make withdrawals in retirement.
Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars and include these benefits:
- Tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
- Ability to make contributions at any age.
- After 70.5 years of age, you won't have to make mandatory withdrawals.
Another highlight is BancWest's Fraud Protection Online Guarantee, which promises:
With this Online Guarantee customers receive:
- Reimbursement for the amount of any covered fraudulent or unauthorized transaction that occurs on a customer's account during an online banking session at bankofthewest.com
- $0 liability if any unauthorized funds transfer occur without customer's consent (Provided they notify the Bank within 60 calendar days after the bank or account statement on which the transaction first appeared was made available to them.
- $0 liability if any unauthorized bill payment transactions occur without his or her consent
- Guarantee includes any overdraft fees incurred or interest lost as a result of unauthorized transactions.
BancWest's Online Guarantee is for consumer accounts enrolled in Online Banking only. Eligibility is dependent on the following criteria:
- Customers meet their responsibilities.
- Account must be open, in good standing and not overdrawn at the time the fraudulent or unauthorized transaction is posted to the account.
BancWest also offers Certificate of Deposit (CDs).
- Fixed interest rates; interest is calculated daily and compounded monthly
- Terms of 32 to 365 days and 12 to 59 months
- Automatic renewal at maturity, with a 10-day grace period
- Deposits FDIC insured up to the maximum established by the FDIC per depositor and ownership type
- Convenient Automatic Deposits. CD interest payments can be linked to customer's Bank of the West Checking account for automatic deposits
- Loopholes in fraud protection
- Bank online
Loopholes in Fraud Protection
Unfortunately, there are loopholes in the Bank's fraud protection guarantee that do not benefit all customers. Here are the stipulations:
- Customers must be enrolled in Online Banking.
- Eligibility is dependent on account holder meeting their responsibilities.
- Account must be open
- Account must be in good standing
- Account must not be overdrawn at the time the fraudulent or unauthorized transaction is posted to the account.
If customers choose not to bank online, they are left without recourse.
The Online Guarantee does not apply to:
- offline transactions
- online transactions conducted outside of bankofthewest.com
- business or other non-personal accounts.
The Bottom Line
Customers have entrusted their money with BancWest for over 135 years. After many decades of multiplied growth, mergers and acquisitions, it still claims its focus to be on relationship banking with a local feel. Their financial products all have fees-many that can be easily avoided without jumping through too many hoops. BancWest does offer more than one option for checking, savings, CD and IRA accounts, making it more flexible for customers. Although BancWest offers full Fraud and Identity Theft protection, customers should be aware of the disclaimer in the Online Protection Policy that leaves offline customers unprotected.