BMO Harris Bank Review

Regional bank that offers competitive interest rates on higher balances

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BMO Harris

BMO Harris Bank is a traditional retail bank headquartered in Chicago that offers a full range of deposit, lending, and investment products. Founded in 1882 and now a subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal—hence, the "BMO" in its name—it is the eighth largest bank in North America, with $138 billion in assets, 12 million consumer and business customers, and more than 500 branches across eight states. This in-depth review of this major regional bank can help you decide if its deposit accounts are right for you.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low or easy to avoid fees

  • Low minimums to open accounts

  • Several debit card options

Cons
  • High balances required to earn competitive interest rates

  • Limited geographic footprint

Company Overview
  • Year Founded 1882
  • Official Website www.bmoharris.com
  • Banking Products Offered Savings, checking, CDs, MMA, credit cards
  • Customer Service 24/7 Phone: 1-888-340-2265

Pros Explained

  • Low or easy to avoid fees. Customers opening the basic checking account incur no monthly fee if they sign up for electronic statements. Other checking accounts do not charge for overdrafts or rebate outside-network ATM surcharges. The savings account charges a $5 monthly fee, but it can be waived by maintaining a minimum monthly balance of $100.
  • Low minimums to open accounts. There are three checking accounts and one savings account that can be opened with as little as $25. 
  • Several debit card options. Harris offers three debit card options. When using your debit card to make purchases, you'll enjoy a variety of perks, including purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranties on eligible items.

Cons Explained

  • High balances required to earn interest. Although you can open a savings account with just $25, you'll need significantly larger balances to earn competitive interest rates—at least $5,000 for the money market account and $1,000 for the CDs. Plus, the money market account does not pay interest at all if your minimum daily balance falls below $5,000.
  • Limited geographic footprint. The bank is regionally focused: while it boasts numerous branches, they're restricted to eight states in the South, Southwest, and Midwest. If you live outside these states, your ability to transact business in person is limited.

Who Is BMO Harris Bank Best For?

BMO Harris Bank is best for customers who live in one of the states where it has physical branches: Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, or Wisconsin.

The bank may also be a good fit for customers who:

  • Want to open a checking or savings account with a small opening deposit
  • Can maintain four-figure account balances to earn the most interest
  • Use a debit card for everyday purchases
  • Want to a large, full-service bank that can meet all of their financial needs
  • Are 25 years old or less

What Does BMO Harris Bank Offer?

BMO Harris has its own ATMs and partners with Allpoint to offer over 40,000 ATMs nationwide that customers can use without a fee. If you use an ATM outside its network, BMO Harris charges $3 per transaction.

As you might expect from a financial institution of its size, BMO Harris Bank offers a wide array of all the usual banking products and services for consumers and businesses, including:

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

Checking Accounts

Customers have three checking account options to choose from.

  • The Smart Advantage Account is monthly-fee-free if you sign up with paperless statements.
  • The Smart Money Account carries a $5 monthly service charge but waives overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees. The fee is waived for customers who are under 25 years old.
  • The Premier Account earns interest, waives non-BMO Harris ATM fees, and reimburses up to $25 in ATM fees charged by other banks.

Each checking account offers three different debit cards to choose from. The BMO Harris Bank Debit Mastercard provides return protection up to $250 and extended warranty on eligible items. The World Debit Mastercard adds purchase protection in case your item is damaged or stolen within 90 days. Sports fans can show their pride and save 10% on team gear with Bulls, Blackhawks, or Bucks-themed Debit Mastercards.

BMO HARRIS BANK CHECKING ACCOUNTS
ACCOUNT NAME MIN OPENING DEPOSIT MONTHLY FEE APY
Smart Advantage Account $25 $0 (with paperless statements) None
Smart Money Account $25 $5 None
Premier Account $25 $25 0.01% if < $5,000

0.05% if $5,000+
as of September 4, 2020

Money Market Account

The Platinum Money Market Account from BMO Harris Bank carries no monthly fees. But it requires a minimum deposit of $5,000 and you need to maintain that balance to earn interest.

BMO HARRIS BANK MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT
ACCOUNT NAME MIN OPENING DEPOSIT MONTHLY FEE APY
Platinum Money Market Account $5,000 $0 0.00% if <$5,000

0.05% if $5,000-$24,999

0.10% if $25,000-$49,999

0.15% if $50,000
+
as of September 4, 2020

Savings Account

A BMO Harris Bank Statement Savings Account can be opened with a minimum of $25. There is a $5 monthly service charge if your minimum balance falls below $100. Customers under the age of 25 are not charged this fee.

BMO HARRIS BANK SAVINGS ACCOUNT
ACCOUNT NAME MIN OPENING DEPOSIT MONTHLY FEE APY
Statement Savings Account $25 $5 0.05%
as of September 4, 2020

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are available from three to 60 months with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Customers that deposit $100,000 or more have access to one- and two-month CD terms as well. BMO Harris Bank offers higher rates at $100,000.

The bank occasionally offers special-term CDs with attractive interest rates to meet its funding needs. An Add-On CD is also available for customers that want to augment an existing certificate, without affecting its maturity date.

At maturity, CDs automatically renew at the current market rate. Customers are sent a notice of maturity by mail and have 10 days from the maturity date to withdraw funds without penalty.

Early withdrawal penalties vary based on the CD's term and can be waived if the owner passes away or is judicially declared legally incompetent.

BMO HARRIS BANK CD RATES
TERM APY with $1,000 minimum
3-month 0.05%
6-month 0.05%
9-month 0.05%
12-month 0.05%
18-month 0.05%
24-month 0.05%
30-month 0.05%
36-month 0.10%
48-month 0.15%
60-month 0.25%
as of October 9, 2020
BMO HARRIS BANK CD WITHDRAWAL PENALTIES
CD TERM INTEREST PENALTY
<59 Days All interest earned
60-364 Days 90 days interest
12-23 Months 180 days interest
24-35 Months 270 days interest
36-47 Months 365 days interest
48+ Months 545 days interest
as of September 4, 2020

Credit Cards

BMO Harris Bank has several credit card options, all of them part of the Mastercard network. These choices include cards that earn cash back, rewards credit cards, and balance transfer cards. Here are some of the cards it offers:

Rewards Credit Cards

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

Cash Back Credit Cards

  • BMO Harris Bank Cash Back Mastercard

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

  • BMO Harris Bank Platinum Mastercard

Other Financial Products Offered by BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank offers additional financial products, including:

  • Car loans
  • Purchase mortgages
  • Refinance mortgages
  • Home equity loans
  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
  • Personal loans
  • Personal lines of credit
  • CD-secured loans
  • IRAs
  • Managed investment portfolios
  • Private banking
  • Financial advisors
  • Business loans

BMO Harris Bank Customer Service

To connect with BMO Harris Bank customer service, you have several options. You can visit any of the over 500 branches in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, and Wisconsin. Customer service can be reached by phone 24 hours a day at 1-888-340-2265. Automated phone banking is also available 24 hours a day.

You may also contact BMO Harris Bank through online banking and its mobile app. The high-ranking mobile app is available for both Apple (where it scores 4.7 out of 5, based on 17,400 ratings) and Android (4.3 out of 5, based on 4,329 ratings). Through the app, you can also pay bills, view transactions, deposit checks, and more.

How to Bank With BMO Harris Bank

To open an account with BMO Harris Bank, the best options are in-person or online. If you live in one of the eight states where BMO Harris has branches, you can open an account in-person. Opening an account online from anywhere is also available.

Verdict

Given its full menu of financial products and accounts, BMO Harris Bank offers a truly one-stop-shopping experience. And it appeals to a variety of consumers, from those who can invest five or even six figures in a CD to those who have only $25 to open an account with. Its modest minimums, along with its fee waivers for those under 25, suggests it's sensitive to students and young savers, and wants to encourage them in building good financial habits. On the other hand, while there are no and low-fee deposit options, if you want the best perks and highest interest rates, you'll need to deposit some serious money—and maintain account balances of $5,000 or more. Also, while BMO Harris can handle almost every banking need under one roof, it doesn't offer that many roofs—if you live outside the eight states with branches. As a regional bank, it is most appealing for customers located in one of the states where it has a brick-and-mortar presence. Although accounts can be opened online and serviced through the mobile app, there are better digital banking alternatives that offer competitive rates without the high minimums BMO Harris requires.

Methodology

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  12. BMO Harris Bank. "BMO Harris Premier™ Account." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  13. BMO Harris Bank. "BMO Harris Bank World Debit Mastercard." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  14. BMO Harris Bank. "Bulls, Blackhawks or Bucks: Which Card’s for You?" Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  15. BMO Harris Bank. "BMO Harris Handbook," Page 8. Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  16. BMO Harris Bank. "Certificate of Deposit (CD) Deposit Account Disclosure and Bank Fee Schedule." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  17. BMO Harris Bank. "BMO Harris Bank Credit Cards." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  18. BMO Harris Bank. "BMO Harris Bank Platinum Mastercard." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

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