Updated July 27, 2023

Is BMO a Real Bank

Read more about BMO Bank
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BMO, is a U.S bank, part of the Bank of Montreal. It offers solid basic checking options and a large ATM network. But, is it legit? Read on to find out.

With BMO being one of the largest national banks, it is most definitely a legitimate bank. It is also one of the oldest banks in North America.

The bank offers an array of different accounts and has fee-free transactions at more than 40,000 Allpoint® network ATMs nationwide. However, it's only located in 8 states. If you are from the Midwest, you'll be in luck as it is located in that area.

What is BMO?

BMO is a fully functional retail bank. Founded in 1882 with headquarters in Chicago, the bank is currently the 8th largest by assets in North America. They provide a range of services, from deposits and loans to investment options.

A little history: BMO was founded in 1882 as N.W. Harris & Co. and was named Harris Trust and Savings Bank in 1907. Fast-forward to 1960, the bank merged with Chicago National Bank. A few years later, in 1972, it was rebranded as Harris Bank, N.A. It was eventually re-established as BMO Harris Bank in 2011. Finally, In 2023, BMO Harris Bank changed its name to BMO.

Being a fully functional bank, it offers numerous services and benefits to different customers. So, let's dig into that.

BMO: Pros and Cons

If you don't want to read in detail about the bank, here's a scoop of what's good and not so good about BMO.


  • Low/avoidable fees
  • Debit card options
  • Cash bonuses for new customers
  • Low minimum for account opening


  • Limited locations
  • High balances needed to gain high-interest rates
  • Overdraft fees

What is BMO Best For?

BMO is best for people looking for checking accounts with low fees. It's also suitable for those looking for different CD options to suit their interests.

And lastly, it's best for people who live in the Midwest, considering it's only open in 8 states.

BMO banking is not for you if you are likely to overdraft. Either you get an account that doesn't offer overdraft, or you will pay fees of $15 and upwards.[1]

What Services Does BMO Offer?

As with most banks as big as BMO, it offers various services and accounts. As a result, the bank will be beneficial for many people, considering the CDs they have to offer.

To give you an idea of what you can do with a BMO account, here are some services they offer:

  • Car, personal, business, & CD-secured loans
  • Purchase & refinance mortgages
  • Home equity loans & lines of credit (HELOCs)
  • Personal lines of credit
  • IRAs
  • Managed investment portfolios
  • Private banking
  • Financial advisors
  • Customer service
  • Money market, checking, savings, certificates of deposit & credit cards

Read more: BMO Bank Review

BMO Bank Accounts

There is a variety of bank accounts you can open with BMO. You have numerous choices at BMO, from savings to credit accounts. A recommendation for you: go for a checking account (and don't overdraft if you can help it).

Below we will elaborate and explain what kind of accounts BMO has and what they offer.

Money market accounts
Money market accounts can be opened with as little as $25. However, expect to pay a fee if the minimum daily balance falls below $5,000.[2] These accounts are good if you keep high amounts of money in them, as interest rates go up the more money you have.

Checking accounts
You can open three types of checking accounts at BMO:

  • Smart Money Checking: $5 in monthly fees for people 25 and older. Overdraft is not possible; the transfer doesn't go through in case of insufficient funds.[3]

  • Smart Advantage Checking: No monthly fees as long as you opt for paperless statements. A $15 fee if you overdraft over $50. It doesn't apply for items $5 or less, or if your account is overdrawn by $50 or less at the close of that business day.[4]

  • Relationship Checking: $25 monthly fee that can be waived with a high balance. Takes up to $25 of non-BMO ATM charges and allows earning interest.[5]

Savings accounts
BMO Savings Builder Account has $0 monthly fee and requires just $25 to open. BMO will reward you with an extra $5 for each month your balance grows by at least $200.[6]

Credit cards
BMO offers four types of credit cards:

  • Platinum Rewards Mastercard
  • Cash Back Mastercard
  • Platinum Mastercard
  • Premium Rewards Mastercard

Certificates of deposit
BMO offers three types of CDs:

  • Standard CD: The opening deposit minimum is $1,000 and offers numerous maturity dates.

  • Special Rate CD: The opening deposit minimum is $1,000. You can choose from many options and get high-interest rates.

  • Add-on CD: The opening deposit is $1,000. They come in one-year terms and you can add as much money as you want after opening it.

Mobile Cash
BMO offers a feature that allows you to directly withdraw from ATMs using your phone. This is especially handy for those who tend to go out with just their phones!

Which of the BMO Harris products interest you the most?

What Bank Owns BMO?

BMO Harris was acquired by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in 1984, hence the name BMO Harris. Since then, BMO Harris has acquired a number of banks across America and grown into the 13th largest by assets in the United States.[7]

Although they operate under the same name, BMO and BMO Harris are not to be confused. Though the bank has been known as BMO Harris Bank to U.S. customers, BMO Harris has rebranded as BMO in 2023.

Is BMO Harris part of the Bank of America?
No, BMO Harris is part of the Bank of Montreal (BMO). BMO acquired BMO Harris back in 1984, hence the name BMO Harris.

What is the Difference Between BMO and BMO Harris?

BMO Harris is a subsidiary of the BMO bank. It's the oldest Canadian bank operating in Montreal, Quebec. In addition, it's also the fourth-largest bank by assets in Canada.

Essentially, they provide the same services and cater to the same people. There are no distinct differences other than the fact that BMO is larger and operates at a higher level. Also, BMO operates in Canada, and BMO Harris operates in the U.S.

In 2023, BMO Harris rebranded as BMO to make its name simpler and shorter.

Bottom Line

BMO is a legitimate and full-service bank. It operates in 8 U.S. states with a variety of features and benefits to offer to different customers. BMO may be the right bank for you, if you're looking for basic checking and savings with low requirements.

However, if you're interested in savings account with high interest rates, or you're likely to overdraft, consider other options which offer less overhead and higher yields.


BMO Bank
Member FDIC

BMO Smart Advantage Checking - $400 Cash Bonus

Expires 12/8/2023

Open a new BMO Smart Advantage Checking online and get a $400 cash bonus when you have a total of at least $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within the first 120 days of account opening. Offer is limited to one per customer and is not available for existing BMO personal checking customers (including signers on joint accounts) or those who have closed a BMO personal checking account within the past 12 months. Conditions apply.

Member FDIC

Chase Total Checking® - $200 Bonus

Expires 10/18/2023
  • New Chase checking customers enjoy a $200 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
  • Access to more than 15,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
  • Chase Mobile® app - Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more -- all from your device.
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC
  • Open your account online now
  • Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.
  • Chase Overdraft Assist℠ - no overdraft fees if you're overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day or if you're overdrawn by more than $50 and bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day*
Bank of America
Member FDIC

Bank of America Business Advantage Checking Account - $200 Bonus Offer

Expires 12/31/2023
Earn a cash bonus in three steps:
  1. Open a new eligible business checking account by December 31, 2023
  2. Make Qualifying Deposits* of $5,000 or more in new money within 30 days of opening the new eligible business checking account
  3. Maintain an average balance of $5,000 for the next 60 days (day 31-90) during the maintenance period**
*Qualifying Deposits are deposits of new money, which is money not currently or previously held in any account at Bank of America or Merrill
**The maintenance period begins thirty-one (31) days after account opening and ends ninety (90) calendar days after account opening.
Member FDIC

Citi Priority - Earn up to $2,000 Cash Bonus

Expires 1/9/2024
  • Earn up to $2,000 when you open a new eligible Citi checking account and enroll in the offer the same day
  • New to Relationship customers can choose their Relationship Tier.
  • Within 20 days of opening, deposit the minimum amount of new-to-Citibank funds.
  • Maintain a minimum balance for 60 consecutive calendar days from the 21st day.
  • If your balance falls to a lower Balance Level at any point during the maintenance period, the bonus changes.
  • Bonus will be paid within 30 days after you successfully complete all required activities.
  • Restrictions apply.
Discover Bank
Member FDIC

Discover Online Savings - $200 Cash Bonus

Expires 12/14/2023

To get your $150 or $200 Bonus: What to do: Apply for your first Discover Online Savings Account, online, in the Discover App or by phone. Enter Offer Code CY923 when applying. Deposit into your account a total of at least $15,000 to earn a $150 Bonus or deposit a total of at least $25,000 to earn a $200 Bonus. Deposit must be posted to account within 30 days of account open date. Maximum bonus eligibility is $200.

What to know: Offer not valid for existing or prior Discover savings customers or existing or prior customers with savings accounts that are co-branded, or affinity accounts provided by Discover. Eligibility is based on primary account owner. Account must be open when bonus is credited. Bonus will be credited to the account within 60 days of the account qualifying for the bonus. Bonus is interest and subject to reporting on Form 1099-INT. Offer ends 12/14/2023, 11:59 PM ET. Offer may be modified or withdrawn without notice. See advertiser website for full details.

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Read Next:


Which of the BMO Harris products interest you the most?
23% Money market accounts
18% Checking accounts
12% Savings accounts
5% Credit cards
41% CDs
Source: CreditDonkey. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
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