Editorial Review - Virginia

BMO Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

BMO has a large ATM network and mostly free checking, but its regular savings account is lackluster.
Ruth Sarreal
Spencer Tierney
By Spencer Tierney and  Ruth Sarreal 
Edited by Tim Manni

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BMO Bank N.A.
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Money market
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Customer experience
  • Overdraft fees

Overall institution rating

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

BMO (formerly BMO Harris) is a U.S. subsidiary of Canada’s Bank of Montreal with headquarters in Chicago. The bank has good checking options coupled with a large ATM network but still charges overdraft fees — even when other banks have eliminated them. BMO also offers two savings accounts, but the Online Savings account and its highly competitive annual percentage yield (APY) are available only in states where the bank doesn’t have branches. The bank’s regular savings account pays a dismally low interest rate.

Best for: Customers who want a Midwest-based bank that offers basic checking with no monthly fees and access to plenty of free ATMs.

Pros

  • No monthly fees on checking account.
  • Competitive rate on some savings accounts and certificates of deposit.
  • Large, free, nationwide ATM network.
  • Overdraft buffer.

Cons

  • Low rate on basic savings account.

Full review

Checking

BMO Smart Advantage Checking
BMO Smart Advantage Checking

Checking

Member FDIC

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$0
Bonus
$250
Requirements to qualify

The BMO Smart Advantage checking account has no monthly fees. You need $25 to open an account.

The checking account is part of the Allpoint ATM network, so you have access to more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.

The main downside to the account is that it earns no interest.

» Prefer to earn interest? Check out our list of the best rewards checking accounts

Savings

BMO Online Savings
BMO Online Savings

Savings

Member FDIC

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
4.50%
With $0.01 min. balance for APY

BMO's Online Savings account offers a competitive 4.50% APY on all balances. There’s no minimum deposit requirement to open an account and no monthly fee.

We did not consider this account in the bank’s overall rating because it is available only in select states; it’s not available in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri or Wisconsin. You can provide your ZIP code on the bank’s site to see whether the account is available to you.

Alternately, BMO Financial Group (which BMO is part of) also offers BMO Alto, which is online-only and features a savings account that pays the same high rate in all states.

🤓Nerdy Tip

All institutions in the BMO Financial Group are considered to be part of one institution. That means deposits you make at any BMO institution count toward your Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance limit of $250,000 at BMO Financial Group.

» Comparison shop: Check out our list of the best high-yield online savings accounts

Money market

BMO Relationship Plus Money Market
BMO Relationship Plus Money Market

Money market

Member FDIC

3.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
1.00%
With $0.01 min. balance for APY

BMO's Premier Money Market account has a rate of 1.00% APY. (This account did not factor into the bank’s overall star rating; the savings account, which has no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement, was considered instead.) The monthly fee is $10 but is waived if your daily balance is at least $5,000.

» Want a higher APY? See the best money market accounts

Certificates of deposit

BMO CD
BMO CD

CD

Member FDIC

1.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
0.05%
3-year APY
0.10%
5-year APY
0.25%
Minimum deposit
$1,000

BMO's regular CDs range in term from three months to five years and require $1,000 to open. The rates tend to be better than those you'd find at brick-and-mortar banks. BMO has CD specials as well; they have a higher minimum of $5,000 and better rates than its regular CDs.

» See how BMO stacks up: Compare with our picks for this month’s best CD rates

Customer experience

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

BMO has multiple support channels, including live phone support with extended hours on weekdays and weekends, and over 500 branches in the U.S., mostly in the Midwest but with locations in Arizona and Florida, too. For the more tech-savvy, there are online savings tools as well as highly rated mobile apps.

» More for Canadian readers: Check out NerdWallet's review of the Bank of Montreal (BMO)

Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bank doesn’t charge an overdraft fee if your account is overdrawn by $50 or less. But if you overdraw your account by more than $50, BMO charges a $15 overdraft fee per transaction, up to three times a day.

To avoid overdrafts, free overdraft protection transfers are available from a linked checking, savings or money market account or an overdraft line of credit, which has an annual percentage rate (APR) of 18%.

» Tend to overdraw your account? Check out our list of the best banks for overdrafts

Methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, banking experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.