Bank of the West auto loans review: Rate discounts for electric-vehicle financing

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In a Nutshell

A Bank of the West auto loan could come with interest-rate discounts if you already have a checking or savings account at the bank or if you finance a qualifying electric vehicle. And the bank considers people who have recently moved to the U.S. and haven’t yet established a U.S. credit history. But Bank of the West offers auto loans in only 19 states, and you’ll need to go to a branch to finalize your loan.

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Pros Cons
Range of loan options Only available in 19 states
Interest-rate discounts for eligible bank customers and qualifying electric vehicles Two years of verified income required
Considers people who don’t have a U.S. credit history No ability to apply for prequalification, according to a bank representative

What you need to know about Bank of the West auto loans

Bank of the West is an affiliate of European bank BNP Paribas that offers wealth-management services and personal and business banking products — like credit cards, personal loans and home equity lines of credit — along the West Coast and across the Southwest, Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. If you’re thinking about getting a Bank of the West auto loan, here are some features that stand out.

Wide range of vehicle financing options

Bank of the West offers financing for …

Bank of the West also offers other vehicle loans, including new, used and refinance loans for motor homes, travel trailers and boats.

Rate discounts for electric-vehicle financing and bank customers

Bank of the West customers can receive a 0.25% interest-rate discount for setting up automatic payments from a Bank of the West checking or savings account. And if you purchase a qualifying electric vehicle, you could get an extra 0.25% interest-rate discount — for a total savings of 0.50%.

Not available in every state

You can only apply for a Bank of the West auto loan in a limited number of states. If you don’t live in one of the 19 states where Bank of the West offers auto loans, you’ll have to find another lender.

If you do live in a state where Bank of the West operates, keep in mind that you’ll have to visit a local branch to complete the application process. If you prefer the convenience of applying for and finalizing a loan in the comfort of your home, you might want to look for a different lender.

A closer look at Bank of the West auto loans

Here are some other things to know about Bank of the West auto loans.

  • Bank of the West says it prefers credit scores of 600 or higher.
  • Bank of the West requires at least two years of verifiable income to qualify.
  • The minimum auto loan amount is $7,500.
  • Maximum loan term is 84 months, but loan term generally depends on loan amount.
  • If you’ve just moved to the U.S. and don’t have a U.S. credit history, Bank of the West may still consider you for an auto loan for up to 90% of the vehicle’s value, up to $150,000, depending on your relationship with the bank.
  • Bank of the West allows co-signers. A co-signer with good credit may improve your chances of being approved for a loan and receiving a better interest rate.
  • The bank doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so you won’t have to worry about paying a fee if you pay off your auto loan early.

Is a Bank of the West auto loan right for you?

A Bank of the West auto loan may be a good fit if you’re an existing customer who plans to finance an eligible electric vehicle. It could also be ideal if you recently moved to the U.S. and are struggling to get auto financing because you haven’t built a U.S. credit history yet.

But if you’re in the early stages of car shopping and want to shop around and compare loan estimates, Bank of the West may not be right for you. According to a bank representative, the lender doesn’t offer the ability to see if you prequalify for an auto loan, and you’ll need information about the car you want to finance when you apply.

Bank of the West may also not be ideal if you have shaky credit. The bank notes on its website that credit scores of 600 or higher are preferred.

How to apply for a loan from Bank of the West

To apply for an auto loan with Bank of the West, you can get started online, over the phone or at one of the bank’s branches — though note that you’ll have to finish your paperwork at a physical branch if you’re approved. 

It’s a good idea to check your credit and shop around. Understanding your credit can help you figure out what to expect — in general, lower credit scores mean higher interest rates. And shopping around can help you find the best loan rate and terms for your needs.

Read our article on how to get a car loan to learn more about the process.

Not sure if Bank of the West is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Chase auto loan: Chase could be good for people who want to apply for a loan and shop for a car in one place.
  • Bank of America auto loan: Bank of America may be ideal for someone who wants a lender who offers car loans in all 50 states.

About the author: Ashley Chorpenning is a personal finance writer and content creator. In addition to being a contributing writer at Credit Karma, she writes for solo entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 compani… Read more.