Updated December 13, 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 only has branches in 22 states.

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.

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 branches in 22 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 - $350 Cash Bonus

Expires 9/9/2024

Get a $350 cash bonus when you open a new Smart Money Checking or Smart Advantage Checking account and have a cumulative total of $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of 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® - $300 Bonus

Expires 7/24/2024
  • New Chase checking customers enjoy a $300 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account with qualifying activities
  • 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 Advantage Banking - $200 Bonus Offer

Expires 9/30/2024
  • The $200 bonus offer is an online only offer and must be opened through the Bank of America promotional page.
  • The offer is for new checking customers only.
  • Offer expires 9/30/2024.
  • To qualify, open a new eligible Bank of America Advantage Banking account through the promotional page and set up and receive qualifying direct deposits totaling $2,000 or more into that new eligible account within 90 days of account opening. Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® for Family Banking accounts are not eligible for this offer.
  • Once all requirements are met, Bank of America will attempt to pay bonus within 60 days.
  • Additional terms and conditions apply. See offer page for more details.
  • Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.
Discover Bank
Member FDIC

Online Savings Account - Earn 4.25% APY

  • No fees
  • No minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum balance required
CIT Bank
Member FDIC

CIT Bank Platinum Savings - 5.00% APY

  • 5.00% APY with a balance of $5,000 or more
  • 0.25% APY with a balance of less than $5,000
  • $100 minimum opening deposit
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • Member FDIC

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Which of the BMO Harris products interest you the most?
22% Money market accounts
15% Checking accounts
12% Savings accounts
8% Credit cards
42% CDs
Source: CreditDonkey. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
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