BMO Harris Bank Review

BMO Harris Bank

Overall Rating

9

Bottom Line

Within the 9 states that BMO Harris Bank has physical locations, it has a lot to offer. Plenty of locations, tons of ATMs, numerous account options, and robust online services making it a solid all-in-one banking option.

Pros

  • Solid presence in the Midwest
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Wide selection of account options and credit cards

Cons

  • Locations in just 9 states
  • Lots of fees, especially with overdrafts

BMO Harris Bank is the American subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal. Headquartered in Chicago, the bank’s roots go back to 1882.

With over 15,000 employees, 600 physical branches, and 1,300 ATMs, BMO Harris is the 20th largest financial institution in the United States.

In this post, you’ll learn all about BMO Harris Bank’s best products and features so you can get a sense of whether or not you should be a customer.

In This Article

BMO Harris Checking Accounts

All BMO Harris checking accounts offer customizable debit cards, check-writing, and online banking with bill pay.

Let’s take a look at what each specific account has to offer:

Smart Money Account

Smart Money is a solid entry-level checking account with a $5 monthly maintenance fee, which is waived if you’re under 25 years old.

You won’t pay any overdraft fees with Smart Money, and it takes just $25 to open an account.

Smart Advantage Account

Smart Advantage is the bank’s most popular checking account and comes with all of the basic features that you might expect from a checking account, such as a free debit card, check writing, free in-network ATM access, and free Allpoint ATM network access.

The $5 monthly maintenance fee is avoidable if you elect paperless statements.

Premier Account

Premier is a premium, interest-bearing checking account.

here is a $25 monthly fee, which you can avoid by maintaining a $10,000 minimum daily balance, or a $25,000 minimum balance across combined accounts.

If you have at least $5,000 in your account, you can earn a 0.03% APY on your deposits. Balances below $5,000 earn 0.01% APY.

Otherwise, all fees on things like cashier’s checks, money orders, and paper statements are waived, and you’ll get a $25 rebate for non-BMO ATM surcharges each month.

BMO Harris Savings Accounts

Statement Savings Account

Statement Savings is a starter savings account that helps track your savings goals and earns a bit of interest.

The account easily links with your BMO Harris checking account, and you can set up automatic, recurring transfers between accounts.

The minimum initial deposit is $25, and the current APY is 0.03% for all account balances.

Premier Money Market Account

Premier Money Market is the closest thing that BMO Harris offers to a high-yield savings account (HYSA).

You can earn a base APY of 0.05%, and you’ll need a daily balance of at least $10,000 to waive the monthly maintenance fee.

You will need an initial deposit of at least $25.

BMO Harris CDs (Certificates of Deposit)

BMO Harris has a few different options when it comes to CD accounts:

Standard CD

The BMO Harris Standard CD has a minimum deposit requirement of $1,000 and term lengths ranging from 3 months to 60 months.

Interest rates are tiered, and the longer you commit your funds, the more money you can earn. The highest current APY (0.25%) is only available with the longest 60-month term.

Bump Rate CD

You can open a Bump Rate CD is a 1-year CD and have the option to change your interest rate one time during the term.

The minimum initial deposit is $5,000, and you can choose between a 3 or 4-year term.

BMO Harris Retirement & Investment Accounts

BMO Harris offers options for both short-term and long-term retirement planning.

IRA Certificates of Deposit (CD)

For short-term retirement planning, BMO Harris has a CD account that also functions like an IRA.

It essentially works the same way as a standard CD, but with term lengths from 3 to 60 months. You’ll also need at least $1,000 to open an account.

IRA Premium Savers

Premium Savers IRA requires just $100 to open, and you can opt for a Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA.

There’s no monthly fee, and you can make contributions at whatever pace you choose, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or in lump sums.

BMO Harris Credit Cards

Next, let’s take a look at BMO Harris Bank’s most popular credit cards:

Cash Back Mastercard

Cash Back is the bank’s entry-level cash rewards card pays 2% cash back on groceries and gas, and 1% on any other purchases.

There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get a 12-month 0% APR on balance transfers after you sign up.

New cardmembers can earn a $200 sign-up bonus by spending at least $2,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Platinum Mastercard

Platinum is a no-annual fee card that’s best used for anyone looking to rebuild their credit or pay down the debt from a previous card.

You won’t see any cash back or rewards points here, but you can get 15 months of no-fees on balance transfers, plus 6 months of no interest on purchases.

Platinum Rewards Mastercard

Platinum Rewards is a no-annual-fee rewards card that offers 25,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 within the first three months of account opening.

There’s also a 10% points bonus on your enrollment anniversary every year, and balance transfers come with an intro APR of 0% for 12 months.

Premium Rewards Mastercard

Premium Rewards is BMO’s top-tier credit card that pays three points for every dollar spent on dining, hotels, and flights.

All other purchases earn one point per dollar, and there’s a 15% point bonus added every account anniversary.

This is the only BMO Harris credit card with an annual fee ($79), though it’ll be waived during your first year.

You can also earn 35,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in your first three months of account opening.

Premium Rewards also comes with no fees on foreign transactions, making it the best of the pack for frequent travelers.

BMO Harris Bank Features

  • 600 Branches In 9 States: BMO Harris operates local branches in 9 U.S. states — Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, Wisconsin, and California. These locations provide access to banking products and wealth management services with BMO Harris financial advisors.
  • 1,300 BMO Harris ATMs: BMO Harris has 1,300 of its own, branded ATMs. It also has a partnership with Allpoint, giving account holders a total of 40,000 fee-free options when they need to get some cash.
  • BMO Digital Banking: BMO Harris offers a full-service online platform with all accounts. You’ll be able to able to pay bills, manage your accounts with eStatements, and move money around for free with Zelle.
  • Mobile App: The BMO Harris mobile app is available on both iOS and Android and is well-received on both platforms. The app currently holds a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) in the App Store and a 4-star rating (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.

BMO Harris Bank Fees

The good thing about BMO Harris is that the bank is pretty transparent about the fees it charges.

Each account page has a detailed list of the fees that you can expect to pay (rather than making you dig through the fine print to figure out what you’ll be charged, as is common with some large national banks).

Here’s a look at the most common fees that you’ll run into:

Monthly Maintenance Fees

Here’s a breakdown of the monthly maintenance fees that BMO Harris Bank charges (and how to avoid them):

Bank Account Type Fee Avoidable?
Smart Advantage Checking Account $2/monthly Yes, with paperless statements
Smart Money Checking Account $5/monthly Yes, if under 25 years old
Premier Account $25/monthly Yes, with min. $10,000 account balance
Statement Savings Account $5/monthly Yes, if under 25 years old, or with $100 min. balance

ATM Fees

BMO Harris has a ton of options when it comes to free ATMs. If you do have to use an out-of-network ATM, the ATM fee is $3.

Premier Checking account holders are reimbursed for out-of-network fees, up to $25 each month.

Overdraft Fees

Unless you’re a Smart Money account holder, there’s a fee of $36 per overdraft, with an additional $7 fee for each consecutive business day if the account remains overdrawn.

This can add up in a hurry if you’re having a tough time settling your balance.

For overdraft protection, you can draw funds from a linked account or open up a line of credit, though both options come with fees of their own.

Premier Checking account holders have to pay $10 for each overdraft protection transfer, whether it’s from an account or your line of credit.

If you go with the credit option, it’s important to know that it comes with an 18% fixed APR, in addition to a $15 late payment fee.

With overdraft fees this high, it's uber-important to keep your account balance in the positive. If you slip up, try giving the bank a call and ask them to waive the fee. Overdraft fees are often refundable, especially if you're in good standing with the bank.

Paper Statement Fees

Most accounts come with a $2 fee for paper statements. You can avoid this fee by signing up for paperless statements in BMO Digital Banking.

Other Fees

Here are some additional fees you can expect to see across all accounts, with the exception of Premier Checking:

  • Wire Transfers: Free for incoming, $30 for outgoing domestic ($50 international)
  • Check Images: $3 per request (waived if you enroll in paperless statements)
  • Cashier’s Checks: $10
  • Money Orders: $5

Getting Started

Signing up with BMO Harris can be done in person, online, or over the phone.

To sign up online, all you need to do is enter your basic contact details, Social Security Number, and employment information.

Once you’re enrolled, you can sign up for BMO Digital Banking, which gets you access to all of the bank’s online and mobile banking services.

BMO Harris Bank Promotions

BMO Harris is currently offering the following bank promotions:

BankAmountExpiresRequirements 
BMO Harris Bank LogoBMO Harris Business Advantage Checking $500 October 29, 2021
  • Direct Deposit
  • Minimum Balance
  • Card Spend
  • Bill Pay
BMO Harris Bank LogoBMO Harris Essential Business Checking $200 October 29, 2021
  • Direct Deposit
  • Minimum Balance
  • Card Spend
  • Bill Pay
see all bonuses

Security

BMO Harris offers some useful tools to help you avoid phishing scams and other cybercrime.

Here are a few of the things that are in place to protect your money:

  • 128-bit minimum encryption
  • Online and Mobile Banking Guarantee: If an unauthorized transaction is made on your account, BMO Harris will cover it.
  • Secure Login
  • FDIC Insurance

Customer Service and Support

Overall, BMO Harris seems to have a pretty good reputation for customer service.

If you need help, the general customer service line is 1-888-340-2265.

As a customer, you can also pop into a local branch to sign up for an account, or meet with a banker in person to discuss your banking needs.

At the time of this writing, BMO Harris is saying that call volume is unusually high and is encouraging customers to utilize online support tools, which include FAQs, an interactive troubleshooting survey, and a secure “Contact Us” form.

This is just something to keep in mind if you plan on calling in for support.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Solid presence in the Midwest
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Large ATM network
  • Wide selection of account options and credit cards

Cons:

  • Lots of fees, especially with overdrafts
  • Locations in just 9 states
  • Low-interest rates on most accounts

Alternatives to BMO Harris Bank

Do you like what BMO Harris has to offer, but don’t live in one of the states that it serves?

If so, you might want to look into a big national bank such as:

Alternatively, you could check out TD Bank or BBVA, which are regionally located, and smaller than the biggest national banks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that people are asking about BMO Harris Bank:

Is BMO Harris a real bank?

Yes, BMO Harris is a real bank, and it’s the 20th largest bank in the US in terms of total assets. Its parent company is the Bank of Montreal, which is the fourth-largest bank in Canada.

Is BMO Harris Bank FDIC insured?

Yes, as with all legit banks, your deposits with BMO Harris are protected by FDIC insurance.

What is the best BMO savings account?

Statement Savings is the best option for those that just need a basic savings account.

Is BMO Harris Bank Right For You?

The bottom line is that if you live in one of the nine states where a BMO Harris Bank has a physical branch, BMO Harris Bank has a lot to offer.

Plenty of locations, tons of ATMs, numerous account options, and robust online services make this bank a solid all-in-one option.

You won’t get the fee-free banking experience of an online bank, and the interest rates leave a little to be desired.

However, if you value the presence of physical branches, you’ll still be better off than the microscopic rates that large national banks tend to offer.

That said, residents outside of BMO Harris Bank’s service area are probably better off banking somewhere else. Without access to a local branch, there are more than a few online-only banks with more attractive perks, lower fees, and better interest rates.

Now that you know what to expect with BMO Harris, the next step is up to you. Here’s to finding the best bank that suits your personal financial situation. Good luck!