BMO Harris Bank Review

Is BMO Harris Bank a good bank?

Young woman checking her bank accounts.
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Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images 

Founded in 1882, BMO Harris is the 8th largest bank in North America based on assets. There are now more than 500 branches in eight states and the bank serves individuals, families, and businesses. This in-depth review of BMO Harris Bank helps you learn more and decide if the bank is right for you.

What We Like
  • Checking with easy requirements and no monthly fee

  • An impressive money market account for a brick-and-mortar bank

  • Fee-free access to more than 40,000 ATMs nationwide

  • Respectable CD rates for a big bank

What We Don't Like
  • Branches limited to Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin

  • Unimpressive savings account rate

Who Is BMO Harris Best For?

BMO Harris may be a good option for anybody wanting to work with a large bank while keeping costs low. It may be especially appealing to those who:

  • Need checking at a brick-and-mortar bank and without a maintenance fee
  • Have at least $5,000 to qualify for the best money market rate
  • Use ATMs frequently and enjoy access to a nationwide network
  • Want a credit card with cash-back rewards or other perks

What Does BMO Harris Offer?

Given the size of the bank, it’s no surprise that BMO Harris offers a broad array of financial products and services.

Accounts

  • Savings account
  • Money market account
  • Checking accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Credit cards

Services

  • Banking experience
  • Customer service

Statement Savings

The Statement Savings account is a place to keep cash secure and earn a small amount of interest.

  • $25 minimum to open
  • Pays 0.05% APY
  • $5 monthly fee, waived with a balance of $100 or more
  • No monthly fee for those under age 25

This account makes a brick-and-mortar savings account relatively accessible. With a low minimum initial deposit and a fee waiver at $100, it’s competitive with other banks. For example, Chase Bank requires at least $300 in your account (among other fee waiver options) to avoid monthly fees.

Federal regulations limit your savings account withdrawals to six per month. If you exceed that number, BMO Harris will assess a $15 fee per withdrawal.

Platinum Money Market

The Platinum Money Market account is competitive with online banks.

  • Minimum $5,000 to open
  • Pays up to 0.25% APY
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No minimum balance requirement, although your rate drops to 0.05% when you fall below $25,000
  • Zero balance may result in account closure
  • Debit card for spending and cash withdrawals
  • Online bill pay
  • Checkwriting available

Money market accounts pay interest on your cash. Accounts like this make it easy to use your funds with a debit card or check. But certain types of withdrawals, including payments, are limited to six per month due to federal regulations. At BMO Harris, you pay a $15 fee for each transaction over that limit.

Smart Money Account

The Smart Money checking account is a checking account that does not let you overdraw your account. 

  • $25 minimum to open
  • $5 monthly fee, waived for those under age 25
  • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
  • Debit card for spending
  • Checkwriting available
  • Online bill pay
  • $2 paper statement fee, waived with online statements

This account might work well for those who are just beginning to manage their own finances. For example, students and young adults can write checks or use a debit card, and the bank will reject transactions that won’t clear at no charge. But once you’re 25 or older (or if you never overdraw your account), the Smart Advantage account might be a better option.

BMO Harris has fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs nationwide. Many of those are on the Allpoint network, located in various retail locations. For out-of-network ATM transactions in the U.S., you pay $3 to BMO, plus any fees that the ATM owner charges.

Smart Advantage Checking Account

The Smart Advantage Account, a basic checking account, is the bank’s most popular account. There’s no monthly fee if you use paperless statements, making it easy to qualify for free checking at a brick-and-mortar bank.

  • $25 minimum to open
  • No monthly charge
  • Debit card for spending
  • Checkwriting
  • Online bill pay
  • Paper statements for $2 per month
  • Optional overdraft protection, with costs at $36 per item and $7 for consecutive days of overdrafting

If you need a brick-and-mortar checking account and BMO Harris branches are convenient for you, this account could be an attractive option. You get access to instant in-branch services like cashier’s check purchases or cash deposits and withdrawals.

Premier Checking Account

The Premier Checking account is designed for customers who keep substantial assets with BMO Harris. In return, you receive interest earnings as well as extra perks like rebates for using non-BMO Harris ATMs.

  • $25 minimum to open
  • $25 monthly fee with potential waivers
  • Earn between 0.01% to 0.10% APY on your balance, as of July 20, 2020
  • Debit card and checks for spending
  • Online bill pay 
  • No charge from BMO Harris to use other banks’ ATMs (ATM owners may charge fees)
  • ATM fee rebates, up to $25 per month 
  • Free paper statements with check images
  • Free standard checks
  • Optional overdraft protection, with charges as high as $36 per transaction
Premier Checking Rates (as of July 20, 2020)
Term APY
$0.01 to $4,999.99 0.01%
$5,000.00 to $24,999.99 0.05%
$25,000.00 or more 0.10%

If you’re a fan of interest-earning checking and ATM fee rebates, take a look at Ally Bank’s Interest Checking account. Ally offers up to $10 per month in reimbursements for ATM fees and has an APY that’s five times higher than BMO’s best rate. The only catch is that Ally is an online-only bank, so there are no branches.

Standard CD

BMO Harris offers certificates of deposit (CDs) with terms ranging from three months to five years, including promotional CD specials. CDs require at least $1,000 to open, and earn interest on balances below $100,000 starting at three months. Rates and CD options may vary by your location.

BMO Harris CD Rates (as of July 20, 2020)
Term APY on $1,000 APY on $5,000 APY on $100,000 Early Withdrawal Penalty
3 months 0.05% 0.05% 0.05% 90 days of interest
6 months 0.05% 0.15% 0.15% 90 days of interest
9 months 0.10% 0.20% 0.20% 90 days of interest
12 months 0.15% 0.15% 0.15% 180 days of interest
18 months 0.25% 0.25% 0.25% 180 days of interest
24 months 0.30% 0.30% 0.30% 270 days of interest
30 months 0.35% 0.35% 0.35% 270 days of interest
36 months 0.40% 0.40% 0.40% 365 days of interest 
48 months 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 545 days of interest
60 months 0.75% 0.75% 0.75% 545 days of interest


You also have the option of Special CDs, which require at least $5,000 and are available for a limited time.

BMO Harris CD Specials (as of July 20, 2020)
Term APY Early Withdrawal Penalty
11 months 0.60% 90 days of interest
55 months 0.80% 545 days of interest

Add-On CD

The Add-On CD is a 1-year CD that allows you to build up savings while locking in a guaranteed rate. You can start with as little as $1,000 and add to the certificate when you have extra funds.

  • Pays 0.40% APY
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days of interest

The Add-On CD might be a good option for you if you already have a BMO CD but don’t have $5,000 to open a new CD and earn interest. The Add-On option allows you to earn a higher rate than you can get from a standard CD. Over time, you can add to your balance and earn even more.

BMO Harris has respectable rates for a brick-and-mortar bank. If you decide to open a checking account here, it could make sense to use the CDs and enjoy one-stop-shopping, assuming you have a relatively small balance and don’t benefit much from a higher rate. But if you really need to maximize your earnings, check out our list of the best CD rates available (updated weekly).

Credit Cards

BMO Harris offers four different Mastercard credit cards. They offer a variety of rewards, cardholder benefits, and promotional offers.

  • BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard
  • BMO Harris Bank Cash Back Mastercard
  • BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard
  • BMO Harris Bank Platinum Mastercard

Other Financial Products From BMO Harris

BMO Harris also has a wide range of other offerings:

  • Home purchase mortgages
  • Home equity loans and lines of credit
  • Mortgage refinancing
  • Personal loans
  • Auto loans
  • Secured loans
  • IRAs
  • Investment management
  • Financial advisors
  • Business banking
  • Business loans and lines of credit
  • Business credit cards

BMO Harris Customer Service

BMO Harris gets decent ratings on customer service. The bank ranked “Better Than Most” in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study (Midwest category). In addition to using branch locations, you can get help through online chat or request a call from customer service.

Customer service by phone is available 24/7.

How to Bank With BMO Harris

To get started, visit BMOHarris.com or call 888-340-2265. As with any financial institution, you need to provide personal information when opening a bank account.

The Bottom Line

BENEFITS

BMO Harris provides brick-and-mortar banking without all of the typical drawbacks. It should be relatively easy for most people to qualify for free checking, and the national ATM network doesn’t hold you back when you travel. Plus, CD rates are respectable, given the fact that this isn’t an online bank. If you have BMO Harris branches in your area, it may be an excellent choice for your local checking account.

DRAWBACKS

As with most banks with branches, the deposit rates at BMO Harris look paltry when compared with online banks. The CDs are decent, but the savings account—where you might keep emergency cash—pays a very low rate compared to banks with the highest savings APY. If you have a substantial amount in cash, it’s worth exploring alternatives, even if you decide to keep a local checking account at BMO Harris. Our list of the best savings accounts may provide some ideas that meet your needs.

Article Sources

  1. BMO Harris. "Statement Savings." Accessed April 9, 2020.

  2. BMO Harris. "Money Markets." Accessed April 9, 2020.

  3. BMO Harris Bank. "Smart Money Checking Account." April 9, 2020.

  4. BMO Harris Bank. "Smart Advantage Checking Account." April 9, 2020.

  5. BMO Harris Bank. "Premier Account." April 9, 2020.

  6. BMO Harris Bank. "CD Interest Rates." April 9, 2020.