BMO Business Checking: 2023 Review

BMO offers strong branch access in certain areas, but its fees and transaction limits may be a turnoff.
Kelsey Sheehy
By Kelsey Sheehy 
Updated
Edited by Robert Beaupre

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BMO (formerly BMO Harris) offers four main business checking accounts, plus a separate free checking option for nonprofit businesses. These accounts may appeal to a variety of business owners, especially if they can maintain a balance high enough to skirt the monthly maintenance fee. While BMO offers a digital-only business account, all customers have access to free online and mobile banking.

FEATURED

 
Bluevine Business Checking
Bluevine

Bluevine Business Checking

NerdWallet Rating 
5.0
APY 

2.00%

BMO business checking is best for small-business owners who:

  • Want the benefits of branch access with the convenience of online banking.

  • Run a nonprofit organization and can take advantage of the bank’s free checking option.

  • Don’t anticipate large volumes of transactions.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • More than 500 branches across BMO’s eight-state service area.

  • Free checking account option for nonprofit organizations.

  • Fees are temporarily waived after account opening.

Cons

  • Limits on fee-free transactions for non-digital-only checking accounts.

  • Overdraft and other incidental fees could prove expensive for some business owners.

  • Monthly maintenance fees charged on all accounts unless minimum balance requirements are met.

BMO business checking at a glance

Digital Business Checking

Simple Business Checking

Premium Business Checking

Non-Profit Small Business Checking

Elite Business Checking

Monthly fee:

$10, waived with an average balance of $500 per monthly statement period.

$10, waived with an average balance of $100 per monthly statement period.

$15, waived with an average balance of $1,500 per monthly statement period.

$0.

$25, waived with an average balance of $10,000 per monthly statement period or $25,000 in combined balances when linked with other BMO accounts.

Minimum opening deposit requirement:

$100.

$100.

$100.

$100.

$100.

APY:

None.

None.

None.

None

Tiered interest rates based on collected balance.

Transactions:

Unlimited fee-free ACH transactions per statement period.

Up to 100 fee-free transactions per statement period, including online banking transactions, then 40 cents per item.

Up to 200 fee-free transactions per statement period, including online banking transactions, then 40 cents per item.

Up to 200 fee-free transactions per statement period, including online banking transactions, then 40 cents per item.

Up to 500 fee-free transactions per statement period, including online banking transactions, then 40 cents per item.

How BMO business checking works

Headquartered in Chicago, BMO has more than 500 branches across eight states — Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida and Wisconsin — but serves businesses in all 50 states via online banking.

You can open a BMO business checking account over the phone or in person (if you're located near a branch). The bank offers four main account options: Digital Business Checking, Simple Business Checking, Premium Business Checking and Elite Business Checking. There is also a Non-Profit Small Business Checking account, which is a variation of Premium Business Checking without a monthly fee.

To open an account, you’ll need to provide:

  • Two forms of identification.

  • A tax identification number (an EIN for businesses and nonprofits, a Social Security number for individuals).

  • A physical address and date of birth for all owners, key executives and partners.

  • Depending on your business type, you may also need to supply additional documents, such as articles of incorporation or partnership agreements.

  • Nonprofit organizations need to provide a letter of authorization that notes who is authorized on the account. A certificate of good standing may also be obtained by BMO for nonprofit corporations.

All BMO business checking accounts come with free online and mobile banking. Customers can use the bank’s app or online banking portal to pay bills and transfer money between accounts. Mobile check deposit is also available via the BMO mobile app, but will count toward your account’s transaction limit.

Where BMO business checking stands out

Branch and ATM access: BMO has more than 500 branches across eight states, which can be appealing if you favor face-to-face banking. But research your closest branch before enrolling: In some states, BMO branches are largely concentrated around major urban areas, like Chicago, Indianapolis and Kansas City, which could make it difficult for business owners in smaller cities to access brick-and-mortar locations. BMO customers can also use more than 40,000 Allpoint and BMO ATMs for free.

Free checking for nonprofits: BMO’s Non-Profit Small Business Checking has no monthly maintenance fee, but otherwise mirrors the bank’s Premium Business Checking, with 200 free transactions, a $100 minimum opening deposit and up to $5,000 in free cash deposits.

Fees temporarily waived: Want to see if BMO is a fit for you? The bank will waive its monthly fee — along with wire transfer fees and other transaction fees — for your account's first 90 days (Simple Business Checking) or 93 days (Digital Business Checking, Premium Business Checking and Elite Business Checking) after account opening. But there is a catch: You'll have to fork over a $50 fee if you close your account within the first 90 days.

Where BMO business checking falls short

Monthly maintenance fees: BMO offers a free checking account for nonprofit small businesses, but all of its other accounts are assessed a monthly maintenance fee ranging from $10 (Digital and Simple Business Checking) to $15 (Premium Business Checking) to $25 (Elite Business Checking). You can avoid this fee by maintaining the minimum required average balance per statement cycle. But if monthly fees are a deal breaker, consider a free business checking account.

Transaction limits: BMO's Digital Business Checking account comes with unlimited free ACH transactions. But all other options limit the number of free transactions you're allowed. Customers enrolled in Simple Business Checking get a scant 100 free transactions per cycle, while Premium Business Checking and Elite Business Checking customers are capped at 200 and 500, respectively. Nonprofit business checking account holders are also subject to a transaction limit of 200 items before fees kick in. Anything beyond your account limit is charged at 40 cents per item. Transactions that count toward your limit include non-ATM deposits, checks deposited, checks paid and ACH credits and debits. Digital banking transactions, such as transfers and online bill pay, count toward the limit.

While transaction limits are common on business checking accounts, there are several options that offer unlimited transactions. Consider Capital One Spark Business Checking or an online business checking like Bluevine or LendingClub if you want to avoid transaction limits.

Incidental fees: Dig into the product disclosures for BMO business accounts and you’ll notice a slew of potential fees that could impact your account, should you request a stop payment ($35), use a non-BMO ATM ($3 per transaction) or overdraw your account ($15).

Those overdraft fees kick in if your account is overdrawn by more than $5 after all items are posted to the account. No fee is charged if the account is overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day.

Additional charges include wire transfers — $15 per incoming and $30 per outgoing (domestic) for Simple Business Checking and Non-Profit Small Business Checking accounts. Elite Business Checking customers enjoy free incoming wire transfers (domestic and international) but are charged $30 per outgoing wire transfer (domestic).

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NerdWallet rating 
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Monthly fee

$15.00

Waived with $1,500 minimum balance

Monthly fee

$15.00

Waived with $2,000 minimum balance

Monthly fee

$0

APY

N/A

APY

N/A

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

$500

Requirements to qualify

Bonus

$100

Requirements to qualify