BMO Harris Bank Review

BMO Harris bank has been around since 1882. It was first known as N.W. Harris and Co., but after a series of changes, this bank merged with Bank of Montreal and became BMO Harris, as it’s known today. BMO Harris is headquartered in Chicago, but this bank also has over 500 branches in eight states. If you don’t live in one of those states, you can still open a BMO Harris account online. One of the things that makes BMO Harris stand out is its outstanding money market rates, even in states where the bank does not have a physical presence. With the ability to write checks and withdraw funds at an ATM, the money market account offers more flexibility than similar ones offered elsewhere.

BMO Harris at a glance

Bank Min Savings Deposit  Max Savings APY  1-Year CD Rate  J.D. Power Survey Score  Key Benefit
BMO Harris $100 .05% .15% APY N/A High interest money market account

What we like about it

At a rate of 2.05% APY, the Platinum Money Market account definitely sets BMO Harris apart. With 1,400 of their own ATMs and a partnership with Allpoint, you can access your money, free of fees, from nearly 43,000 locations. If you opt for eStatements, checking is free and only requires a small minimum balance to open. The bank also offers some great financial tools, from savings and investment tools to other convenient features via their mobile app. The APY on their CDs is also pretty impressive, and they offer special CDs with some significant returns.

Things to consider

BMO Harris has three types of checking accounts. Two of the three can be fee-free, but they do not earn any interest. Overdraft fees are significant at $36 each, and there is no overdraft offered with their Smart Money checking. If you don’t have the money, the item will not be paid. Statement savings rates are low, and the Platinum money market account requires a minimum balance of $5,000 — not the highest around for a money-market account, but certainly not the lowest, either. Unless you have substantial funds that you can leave untouched, you won’t earn interest in money market or checking accounts.

BMO Harris checking accounts

There are three types of checking accounts offered by BMO Harris. The first is the Smart Money account, which is best for young people and students. The only way the $5 maintenance fee can be waived is if you are under 25 and opt for paperless statements. Paper statements will cost you $2, and you will age out of the fee exception at 25.

The second and most popular account is the Smart Advantage account. As long as you opt for eStatements, you won’t incur a fee, but you also don’t earn any interest with this account, either.

The third and final account type is the Premier Account, which does earn interest. However, if your balance falls below $25,000, you will pay a hefty $30 maintenance fee. This fee can also be waived if you have more than $50,000 in two BMO accounts combined. The tiered interest rates are good, but you’ll need some cash you can leave alone to avoid any fees.

BMO Harris savings accounts

Statement Savings accounts can be opened with just $100. Interest rates are relatively low when compared nationally, and if you don’t have a $500 minimum balance or at least a $25 a month in the bank’s Auto Save program from your checking account, you’ll get hit with a $5 account maintenance fee.

If you have other BMO Harris banking products and can park a minimum balance in this account, it’s a great place to put some money aside.

BMO Harris money market accounts

The Platinum Money Market account is perhaps BMO’s best offering. With a rate of 2.05%, which is high above than the national average — even in states where it does not have any branches – this account is well worth looking into. You’ll need a $5,000 minimum to open an account, but that is not the highest around. It’s also not the lowest, but the account does come with check writing and ATM options, which other similar accounts often do not offer.

BMO Harris CDs

BMO Harris offers three types of CDs. The standard CD comes in a variety of terms, and while interest rates don’t vary over time, any interest you do earn is automatically reinvested. An opening deposit of $1,000 is required.

The add-on CD works much the same way, except that it’s only offered in 1-year terms, and you can add money as often as you like. You’ll still need $1,000 to start with.

Special CDs are also available, and they offer higher interest rates and unique terms. However, they require a $5,000 minimum deposit to open.

BMO Harris IRA accounts

There are two types of IRA accounts: one for the conservative investor, and one that’s more traditional. For the conservative retirement investor, retirement CDs are available and can be opened starting with just $1,000.

The IRA Premium Savers offers either Roth, SEP, or traditional IRA accounts. You can start with just $100 and add money as you are able, or even set one of your accounts up to transfer money automatically.

BMO Harris credit cards

BMO Harris offers a variety of credit cards based on whether you’re looking for a rewards or cash back card, or other options. The rates and fees are relatively low, but the perks are also not particularly impressive. However, if you often carry a balance and need a low interest option, these cards are well worth a look.

BMO Harris investing

BMO Harris investments fall under BMO Harris Wealth Management. Most accounts involve a wrap fee that includes all brokerage fees and commissions and is based on the amount you have invested, your risk tolerance and how often you make changes to your investment portfolio. There are several tiers of minimums for investment accounts, starting at $20,000 and going up from there. There are several portfolio options, and the fees vary but usually go down in percentage as your balance increases.

The bottom line

If you have money to invest, or plan to, or if you’re looking for a great money market solution, BMO Harris may be right for you. You’ll reap the greatest benefits if you live in one of the states where the bank has physical branches. If you tend to have simple banking needs, typically maintain low account balances or are looking for high-yield savings accounts, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. For investors, young people just starting out, and those looking for specific investment services, BMO Harris may just be the bank you’re looking for.

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