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Bank of Montreal (BMO) Review

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The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is one of Canada’s oldest and most prominent financial institutions, and has been in business for more than 200 years.

Established in 1817 in Montreal, Que. as BMO Financial Group, it has a rich history and a strong presence in Canadian and international markets. We’ve taken a comprehensive look at BMO, including a deep-dive into its chequing and savings account options, credit cards, as well as its investment and mortgage opportunities. Read on for our Bank of Montreal review below and decide if this financial institution is right for you.

BMO: an overview

BMO is the eighth-biggest bank in North America, with assets worth $1.14 trillion. It’s one of Canada’s Big Six banks and serves every province and territory in the country, except for Nunavut. As of April 2023, BMO holds the distinction of being the third-largest bank in Canada by market capitalization.

BMO offers personal and business banking, wealth management, global markets, and investment banking to 12 million customers in Canada and the U.S. You can find a range of banking products at BMO, including chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and investment offerings.

BMO chequing accounts

BMO offers several chequing accounts. Each has its advantages for different consumers and their spending habits.

BMO Performance Chequing Account BMO Premium Chequing Account BMO Plus Chequing Account BMO Air Miles Chequing Account BMO Practical Account
Monthly fees $16.95 $30.00 $11.95 $16.95 $4.00
Sign-up bonus Earn up to a $600 + 5.5% promotional interest rate when you open a performance chequing and a Savings Amplifier Account Earn up to $400 + 4% promotional interest rate for 120 days Earn up to $100 bonus N/A N/A
Features Add accounts for family members for free and up to $40 off eligible BMO credit cards Add accounts for family members for free and up to $150 off eligible BMO credit cards. Preferred U.S. exchange rate. 25 free BMO transactions per month and free Interac e-Transfers. Earn 1 Air Mile per $30 spent on your debit card and unlimited transactions. Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
Minimum balance $4,000 minimum monthly balance to waive the monthly fee $6,000 minimum monthly balance to waive the monthly fee $3,000 minimum monthly balance to waive the monthly fee None None
Monthly transactions Unlimited Unlimited 25 per month Unlimited 12 per month

BMO accounts for students, newcomers, and seniors

Students, newcomers to Canada, and seniors can often receive preferential rates when opening a chequing account with BMO.

For example, students, recent graduates, kids, and teenagers don’t have to pay monthly plan fees, except for the Premium Plan, for which they receive a discounted rate of $13.05/month.

Seniors also receive discounted monthly bank plan fees on the Premium ($26), Performance ($12.95), Air Miles ($12.95), and Plus ($7.95) Plans. The fee is waived for the Practical Plan.

New permanent residents to Canada and foreign workers (within their first five years in Canada) can take advantage of BMO’s NewStart program. The program waives monthly account fees for the first year, offers a Family Bundle plan, as well as the ability to earn up to $600 (subject to criteria).

BMO savings accounts

Below is a comparison of BMO’s savings accounts.

BMO Savings Amplifier Account BMO Savings Builder Account BMO Premium Rate Savings Account BMO U.S. Dollar Premium Rate Savings Account
Monthly fees $0 $0 $0 $0
Sign up bonus $600 + 5.5% promotional interest rate for the first 120 days 2% bonus interest rate when you deposit $200 a month N/A N/A
Features Free transfers to your BMO accounts and earn 1.8% interest Up to 2.5% interest rate when you deposit $200 a month and earn 0.5% interest if you don’t meet the $200/month requirement 0.01% interest Earn 0.05% interest
Minimum balance N/A Deposit $200 monthly to earn the bonus interest rate N/A N/A
Monthly transactions Unlimited 1 free transfer out per month, $5 each after Combine transactions with your chequing account Varies by your plan

BMO credit cards

BMO offers 13 different credit cards:

BMO mortgage offerings

If you’re in the market for a new home or looking to switch over your mortgage to lock in a lower rate, BMO has a number of options to help. It offers three and five-year fixed mortgage rates, as well as a variable-rate mortgage, where the interest rate fluctuates based on the market.

Best of all, BMO offers a 130-day mortgage rate guarantee, a welcome bit of extra security in what is always a hectic time for new homeowners.

BMO GIC rates

Here are the current BMO GIC rates as of October 31, 2023. Keep in mind that GIC rates can change frequently. Your interest rate will also vary depending on the payment option you choose:

Annual / annual compound interest payment option:

  • 1 year – under 18 months: 5.35%
  • 18 months – under 19 months: 5.30%
  • 19 months – under 2 years: 5.30%
  • 2 years – under 3 years: 5.30%
  • 3 years – under 4 years: 5.00%
  • 4 years – under 5 years: 5.35%
  • 5 years – under 6 years: 5.00%
  • 6 years – under 7 years: 5.00%
  • 7 years: 5.05%
  • 10 years: 5.10%

Monthly / semi-annual interest payment option:

  • 1 year – under 18 months: 5.25%
  • 18 months – under 19 months: 5.20%
  • 19 months – under 2 years: 5.20%
  • 2 years – under 3 years: 5.20%
  • 3 years – under 4 years: 4.90%
  • 4 years – under 5 years: 5.25%
  • 5 years – under 6 years: 4.90%
  • 6 years – under 7 years: 4.90%
  • 7 years: 4.95%
  • 10 years: 5.00%

BMO mutual funds

BMO offers 120 mutual funds, with MER fees ranging from 0.33% to 2.87%. You can view a full list of BMO mutual funds on the BMO website.

What is the Bank of Montreal?

BMO provides a wide range of financial services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management, and investment banking.

With its headquarters in Toronto, BMO operates an extensive network of branches and ATMs across Canada and has a growing footprint in the United States. The bank is known for its commitment to customer service, innovation in digital banking, and community involvement, making it a key player in the North American financial landscape.

Compare Bank of Montreal alternatives

BMO Scotiabank CIBC
Credit Cards 13 17 25
Savings Account Interest Rate 0.050%-25% 0.010%-2.75% 0.05%-3.4%
GIC 1-Year Rate 5.25%-5.35% 4.92%-5% 5.35%*
Mobile App Yes Yes Yes
TFSA Yes Yes Yes
RRSP Yes Yes Yes
FHSA Yes Yes Yes

BMO fees

BMO chequing account monthly service fees range from $4 to $30.

Interac e-Transfers are free on all BMO plans. The foreign currency exchange rate is 2.5% of the converted total, which is standard for most financial institutions.

Here are some other important BMO fees to be aware of:

  • Paper statements: $2.25/month; free with the Practical Plan
  • Interac debit transactions: $1.25 for the Plus and Practical Plans; free for all other plans
  • Withdrawal from a non-BMO ATM: Unlimited with Premium Plan, 1 per month with Performance Plan, $2/ea. for all other plans
  • Overdraft protection: $0 for Premium Plan; $5/month for every other plan
  • Non-sufficient funds: $48

Pros and cons of BMO

Pros

  • Established reputation

  • CDIC member, meaning your deposits are insured up to $100,000 per eligible account in the event of a bank failure.

  • Digital Banking Security Guarantee, reimbursing you for 100% of any losses incurred by unauthorized transactions.

Cons

  • Less competitive interest rates

  • Digital banking not as feature-rich as other newer, online-only institutions

  • Limited branch and ATM access outside North America

Our final thoughts

BMO caters to a diverse clientele. It’s ideal for individuals and families seeking personal banking, small to medium-sized businesses in need of commercial banking services, and high-net-worth individuals looking for wealth management solutions.

Its expanding U.S. presence also makes it attractive to international customers. While BMO isn’t the youngest bank on the block, or an online-only institution, its focus on digital banking will appeal to more tech-savvy folks.

Learn more about how we rate banks and credit unions by visiting our methodology page.

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