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BMO Harris: 2024 Banking Review

You'll have plenty of accounts to choose from, but you may miss out on high interest rates that other banks offer.

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BMO Harris

BMO Harris, the US subsidiary of Canadian bank Bank of Montreal, offers just about every kind of financial service you may need, from deposit accounts to investment tools to mortgages, credit cards and lines of credit. However, when it comes to traditional checking and savings accounts, the bank offers very low annual percentage yields, or APYs -- with a few exceptions on select terms.

If you want access to in-person assistance, BMO Harris is worth a look. It has a sizable footprint in the US, serving more than 2 million people, more than 500 branches in eight states and access to more than 40,000 ATMs. That number is set to get much bigger, thanks to the bank’s recent acquisition of Bank of the West, which will expand BMO Harris to new markets.

What we like

  • More than 500 branches and more than 40,000 ATMs
  • Select CDs pay competitive interest rates
  • Easy ways to avoid fees on select accounts

What we don’t like

  • Branch network is currently limited to eight states
  • Low rates on savings and checking accounts
  • Poor feedback from past customers
  • Still charges $15 overdraft fees on some accounts

Who is BMO Harris suited for?

BMO Harris operates branches in eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida and Wisconsin. So, if you live within close distance to a branch and you’re looking for the ability to do your banking in person, BMO Harris can be a good fit. The network will likely grow, too, given the bank’s recent acquisition of Bank of the West.

BMO offers several good options for checking and savings accounts with no maintenance fees or onerous minimum balance requirements -- a major advantage over competitors like Chase or Bank of America. Most online banks offer better interest rates as well as no fees, but if you’re specifically looking for an in-person bank, BMO Harris can give you the service you need without charging you monthly fees. 

However, BMO Harris is not a great fit if you’re looking for high earning potential on your deposits. While there are a few good CD specials, the rest of BMO Harris’ product lineup don’t compete with the APY you can find at online banks. 

BMO Harris products



BMO Harris offers three different checking accounts, and the Smart Advantage is the most attractive of the three because it’s totally free if you opt for electronic statements -- although you could still be slapped with a $15 overdraft fee on this account. If you have had issues with overdraft fees in the past, the Smart Money account may be a better bet: There are no overdraft charges associated with the account, but the $5 monthly price tag -- waived if you’re under 25 years of age -- means you’re paying $60 each year for a checking account.

Like many big banks, BMO Harris’ Premier tier feels inappropriately named. Sure, there are a few perks -- discounts on closing costs if you get a mortgage with the bank and rebates on ATM surcharges -- but the account only earns a paltry 0.01% APY and you’ll need to maintain a high account balance to avoid the $25 monthly maintenance fee. 

Looking at interest rates alone, BMO’s checking account lineup offers far less value than you can get from an online bank. But if you think of in-person banking services as the value in and of itself, the Smart Advantage checking account is a good way to get access to those services without paying a monthly maintenance fee. 

Account features

BMO Harris Smart Advantage™ Account

Minimum balance to open$25
Monthly maintenance fee$0

BMO Harris Smart MoneyTM Account

Minimum balance to open$25
Monthly maintenance fee$5 (no fee if you’re under 25)

BMO Harris Premier™ Account

Minimum balance to open$25
Monthly maintenance fee$25 (waived with a minimum daily balance of $10,000 in this account, a $25,000 combined balance across all your BMO Harris accounts, or a fee waiver through the BMO Harris employee benefits program)
Rates as of May 9, 2023.

BMO Harris Savings Builder


BMO Harris offers one savings account. The Savings Builder offers the most value in your first year: For every month you deposit at least $200, you’ll score a bonus of $5. There are no monthly maintenance fees to worry about, either -- a nice touch when it comes to most of its big bank competition. Plus, there are no transaction limitations or excessive transaction fees. Many other banks, both online and traditional, will charge a fee if you have more than six transactions from a savings account in a month. 

However, the Savings Builder falls short of the best savings accounts due to its 0.01% APY, in a time when most online banks are paying APYs upwards of 4.00%. While you won’t earn any meaningful interest on your account balance with an APY that low, the $5-per-month bonus reward can net you $60 a year if you meet the requirements every month -- a respectable 2.5% return on the $2,400 you’d need to save in the account to get the full bonus. 

Account features

Minimum balance to open$25
Monthly maintenance fee$0
Rates as of May 9, 2023.

Premier Money Market


For entry-level customers, the BMO Harris money market account pays a 1.00% APY -- well short of the yields you’ll find at Ally, Sallie Mae and the other best money market rates. Plus, you’re going to need to keep a daily balance of at least $5,000 in the account to avoid a $10 monthly fee. Another big drawback to this account: a $15 excessive transaction fee. If you make more than six withdrawals via check, ACH, wire, point-of-sale terminals or online or telephone banking, you’ll pay $15 per transaction over the limit. However, there’s no limit on withdrawals made in person at a BMO branch or at an ATM. 

The only way for this account make sense is if you’re a BMO Harris customer with a lot of cash. For example, if you meet the requirement for hitting Premier Platinum Elite status -- a combined balance of at least $250,000 across all your accounts with the bank -- you can get a 2.25% APY bump from the base interest rate, for a total of 3.25% APY at this time. 

Account features

APY1.00% (Premier checking account customers are eligible for a rate increase between 0.75% and 2.25% for higher account balances)
Minimum balance to open$25
Monthly maintenance fee$10 (waived with a minimum daily balance of $5,000)
Rates as of May 9, 2023.



BMO Harris offers CDs with terms as short as three months and as long as five years for most account balances, though account balances over $100,000 also have the option of one- and two-month CDs. The bank offers special promo rates on select term lengths -- 13-month, 25-month, 35-month, 45-month and 59-month -- and these are the only products worth considering right now. All other traditional terms have very low rates.

It’s important to be absolutely certain you won’t need to access the money prior to maturity, too. BMO Harris charges some of the highest early withdrawal penalties we have seen -- as much as 545 days’ worth of interest for long-term CDs. 

If you’re saving for retirement, you can also opt to include the bank’s CD offerings in your IRA. However, the current rates are so low that you’re better off putting your money just about anywhere else to work to meet your long-term savings goals.

Account features

Minimum balance to open$1,000
Early withdrawal penaltyCDs between 7 and 59 days: All interest earned
CDs between 2 months and 11 months: 90 days of interest
CDs between 12 and 23 months: 180 days of interest
CDs between 24 and 35 months: 270 days of interest
CDs between 36 months and 47 months: 365 days of interest
CDs 48 months and longer: 545 days of interest

CD termAPY
1 month (available on balances of $100,000 and above)0.05%
2 months (available on balances of $100,000 and above)0.05%
3 months0.05%
6 months0.05%
9 months0.05%
12 months0.05%
13 months4.50%
18 months0.05%
24 months0.05%
25 months4.50%
30 months0.05%
35 months4.30%
36 months0.10%
45 months4.30%
48 months0.15%
59 months4.30%
60 months0.25%
Rates as of May 9, 2023.

Overdraft fees

BMO Harris charges an overdraft fee of $15 per item (maximum of three overdraft fees charged per business day) on its Smart Advantage checking account if your account is overdrawn by more than $50. You can also ask a customer service representative about linking your savings account to automatically cover the expense or apply for a line of credit to cover transactions. And, you can opt out of overdraft protection on ATM and debit card transactions -- meaning BMO will decline the transaction instead of fulfilling it and charging you an overdraft fee -- although recurring debit card transactions, ACH payments and checks that overdraw your account will still be subject to overdraft fees. Ultimately, it’s an easy fee to avoid, but it would be even better if BMO Harris simply eliminated it altogether.

The Smart Money account charges no overdraft fees -- it simply declines any transactions that would overdraw the account -- but its $5 monthly maintenance fee makes it a worse option in general than the Smart Advantage account.

Other financial products

Besides deposit accounts, BMO Harris offers a range of other products and services including:

  • Mortgages: Fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, low down-payment and jumbo home loans
  • Credit cards: Four different consumer cards, including cash back and balance transfer options, plus two business credit cards
  • Home equity: Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit
  • Other loans: Personal loans, auto loans and private student loans
  • Investing and wealth management

Banking experience

If you live within range of one of BMO Harris’ more than 500 branches, you’ll be able to get in-person assistance. The bank also offers a highly rated digital banking experience with a mobile app that earns 4.6 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Apple Store. 

However, it’s not all good news for BMO Harris: The bank earns just 1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, based on more than 700 reviews from people who’ve banked at BMO. Most of the negative reviews on Trustpilot are due to negative experiences with customer service. 

Customer service

You can speak with a BMO Harris customer service representative by calling 888-340-2265 during the following hours:

Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT

Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT

It’s important to note that the customer service line offers 24-hour service for reporting lost or stolen debit cards and resetting your online banking password.
If your request isn’t urgent, the bank’s online support tool can offer some guidance. You can also visit your nearest BMO Harris branch for in-person help.

David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. Based in Chicago, he writes with one objective in mind: Help readers figure out how to save more and stress less. He is also a musician, which means he has spent a lot of time worrying about money. He applies the lessons he's learned from that financial balancing act to offer practical advice for personal spending decisions.
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