Bank of the West is a financial services company in the United States, and a subsidiary of the BNP Paribas group. If you are based in America and curious about the best banks for international money transfers, this guide will help clear things up. We will inform our readers about everything they need to know about the bank in order to make a swift and secure cross-border transaction.
Bank of the West refers to themselves as “your local bank with global connections.” This North American bank has a long history that spans back to 1874, having originally operated as the Farmers National Gold Bank of San Jose, California. However, since 1979, BNP has been at the helm, and this has allowed the company to grow exponentially. Although not one of the United States top banks - in April 2021 it was ranked 34th in terms of biggest asset size - Bank of the West provides services to 1.8 million customers across the country.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the bank’s international services are limited when compared to global money transfer counterparts like Wise, Azimo and WorldRemit. While the bank does offer a number of products and solutions for “international clients” these are designed primarily to suit the needs of individuals who are moving to the United States from overseas, rather than customers who need to transfer money abroad from the United States.
Yes, customers can send an international wire transfer to overseas recipients with Bank of the West. However, using Bank of the West for overseas payments is not the easiest available option; as customers will find out when learning more about the overall cost, convenience and speed of these transfers.
In this section we will evaluate the various costs involved in an international transfer with Bank of the West, assessing how competitive the rate of exchange is and what kind of fees are incurred for this service.
Disappointingly, there isn’t a huge amount of information available about Bank of the West international wire transfers: the exchange rate, for example, is not specified online. This is a potential red flag as many banks offer marked-up versions of the mid-market rate of a foreign currency in a bid to make a small profit - often 4 - 6% - but this means your money will be worth less in the grand scheme of things.
Bank of the West exchange rates are not transparent. Customers have to visit the bank to get the prevailing exchange rate.
Banks typically don’t offer mid-market rates for international wire transfers. Customers can expect markups on exchange rates to range between 2% to 7%, which adds to the transfer cost.
We would advise contacting Bank of the West directly, to enquire about the specific exchange rate you will be receiving, before arranging an international transfer.
According to Bank of the West’s fee structure, each outgoing international wire transfer will cost the customer $50 in transfer fees; while incoming wire transfers, domestic or international, cost $15 in fees. This is extremely expensive when compared to competitor money transfer companies who offer fee-free or low-fee services to their customers.
On top of the basic fees for sending and receiving transfers, Bank of the West lists various fees that will be charged for repairing, returning or adjusting an international transfer. As well as these additional costs, an international bank transfer of this kind may also result in further fees charged by intermediary or receiving banks that handle the money at different times during the transfer process. These costs should be considered before you decide whether to use your bank to make an international transfer.
Transfer fees for international payments are typically calculated as a fixed flat fee or a percentage of the transfer amount. As outlined in the previous section, many money transfer specialists offer zero or low fees for international payment services, which means Bank of the West pales in comparison. See below for a clearer comparison of the transfer fees for various service providers:
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To gain a better understanding of how Bank of the West handles international payments, we will present a list of the leading pros and cons of their products and services.
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Prospective customers can apply online to open a Bank of the West checking account, however visiting your closest bank branch will be quicker and allow you to ask any additional queries you may have regarding international transfers.
To make an international wire transfer with Bank of the West customers should visit their local branch; business customers may have access to this service via their Online Banking. For individuals with a personal checking account, it is not possible to set up an international wire transfer over the phone or online.
When visiting Bank of the West to set up a cross-border transfer, be sure to collect all the relevant information you will need to execute a successful payment. This includes your account details, the recipient’s account details, their address and contact information.
Once you have all this information, find your local Bank of the West branch, request an international wire transfer and complete the relevant forms with the help of an advisor.
The following customer service options are available to Bank of the West customers:
Review the FAQs section of the website
Book an in-person appointment with an advisor at your local branch
Access information via Online Banking or mobile app
Call customer service on 800-488-2265 or TTY 800-659-5495
Bank of the West advises customers to consult all existing customer support options before reaching out via phone, due to extended wait times: phone lines are open Monday to Friday 4am-10pm PST, and Saturday, Sunday, and most holidays 5am-10pm PST.
Bank of the West has been around for a very long time and undoubtedly knows how to look after their customers across North America. However, if your customer needs extend beyond the borders of the United States, Bank of the West is not as well equipped to handle these kinds of financial requirements. Customers who arrange an international wire transfer service with Bank of the West will have to fork out for fees of $50 per transfer - in addition to a presumed mark-up for the foreign currency - and their recipient may also have to wait up to 5 working days to receive the funds. Add to this the fact customers can only set up international wire transfers in-person by visiting their local bank branch, and it is obvious this bank is not the best option.
Instead, for sending or receiving money abroad, we would recommend customers take advantage of the numerous money transfer companies available online; have a read of our reviews to learn more about each.