BMO Review

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is the fourth largest bank in Canada with $852.2 billion in total assets under management. Customers have access to a full range of financial products, but BMO is best known for their programs catering to students, recent graduates, new Canadian residents or foreign workers and those who serve in the armed forces. Being a large bank, BMO offers an array of services to meet all your financial needs.

BMO Advantages and Disadvantages

Every bank has its corresponding advantages and disadvantages. Below are some points to consider when deciding if BMO is the right bank for you.

Advantages

  • Great products designed for active students, recent graduates, permanent residents or foreign workers who have been in Canada for less than five years and for members and their families of the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Significant discounts and waived fees for the above groups and seniors
  • Discounts on monthly and annual fees by bundling BMO products

Disadvantages

  • Lower interest rates for savings accounts and GICs as compared to the other Big 5 banks
  • Online presence and platform is not strong
  • Customer service can feel impersonal due to the large size of the bank

Bank of Montreal Financial Product Overview

Below is a list of the most popular finance products offered by BMO. For further details or to start the registration process, simply click on the link.

Bank of Montreal Bank Accounts

  • Chequing Accounts. There are three types of chequing accounts available: Plus which comes with 25 transactions per month, Performance which comes with unlimited transactions, and Premium which comes with unlimited transactions worldwide and product discounts. The respective monthly fees of $10.95, $15.95 and $30 per month are waived when the minimum balance thresholds for each account are met. Special offers are available for students, newcomers to Canada, the Canadian Defence Community, seniors, and those under 18.
  • Savings Accounts. Available savings accounts include the Premium Savings account for everyday savings, the Savings Builder account for higher interest rate when saving $200 or more per month, the Smart Saver account for long term savings, and the S. Dollar Premium Rate account for USD savings.

BMO Credit Cards

  • BMO CashBack Mastercard. New members will receive 5% cash back for the first three months and up to 3% on eligible purchases afterwards. There is no annual fee and an introductory interest rate of 1.99% applies on balance transfers for the first nine months (with a 1% transfer fee). The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. The annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year and new applicants will receive 2,000 Air Miles as a welcome bonus. The earn rate for the rewards program is 1 Mile for every $10 spent. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO World Elite Mastercard. A welcome offer of 35,000 BMO Rewards Points awaits new cardholders and the annual fee of $150 is waived for the first year. You can earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases and 2 points per dollar on everything else. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO Air Miles Mastercard. This no-fee credit card offers 1 Mile for every $20 spent and lets cardholders earn twice the miles when shopping at Air Mile partner locations. As a welcome offer, new members will receive 800 Air Miles and an introductory interest rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for the first nine months with a 1% transfer fee. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard. A premium cash back option, this card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The annual fee of $120 is waived in the first year and new members will also be eligible for a 10% cash back for the first three months. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard. This card features lower interest rates at 12.99% for both purchases and cash advances. The annual fee is only $20 which is waived for the first year. New members will also receive an introductory interest rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for the first nine months with a 1% transfer fee.
  • BMO Rewards Mastercard. A no-fee option which offers a generous rewards program, new members will receive a welcome bonus of 20,000 points and are eligible for an introductory interest rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for the first nine months with a 1% transfer fee. The earn rate for the rewards program is 1 point per dollar charged to the card. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard. For those that frequently make purchases in U.S. dollars, this credit card offers the benefit of not having to deal with fluctuating exchange rates. The annual fee of $35 USD is rebated upon annual purchases of $1,000 or more. The interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard. The annual fee is only $6.95 for this prepaid option, which allows cardholders to reload up to $10,000 to the card. There are no interest rates for purchases or cash advances.
  • BMO CashBack World Mastercard. This credit card features extensive benefits including complimentary roadside assistance and offers 1.25% cash back on all purchases. The annual fee is $79 while interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.
  • BMO Air Miles World Mastercard. Members will earn 1 Mile for every $15 spent with this credit card and can earn extra miles when using the card at Shell or at participating car rental locations. The annual fee is $99 while interest rates are 19.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.

BMO Mortgages

For amortization periods of 25 years or less, BMO is currently offering mortgages at 2.64% for a three year fixed term and 2.84% for a five year fixed term. Variable rate mortgages are based on BMO’s prime lending rate which is currently posted at 2.45%. Convertible and open mortgages are also available at higher rates for those who are looking for more flexibility with their repayment schedule.

BMO Lines of Credit & Loans

  • Line of Credit (Secured and Unsecured). Lines of credit are a great option to borrow larger amounts while only paying interest on the portion that you actually use. To reduce borrowing costs, you can secure the line of credit against the equity in your home. The Homeowner’s Line of Credit starts at $5,000 and can go up to 65% of the value of your property. A RRSP-focused line of credit, the RRSP ReadiLine, is also available for those who wish to borrow funds to capitalize on unused RRSP contribution limits.
  • Loan (Personal or Home Equity). Loans offered by RBC allow borrowers to take out a lump sum and pay it back in fixed instalments. If you secure the loan against your property, the term of the loan can be extended up to 25 years and you can borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. A RRSP-focused loan option is also available for those looking to borrow to maximize their contributions.
  • Student Borrowing. BMO offers a line of credit for post-secondary students to borrow up to $45,000 over four years. For professional, post-graduate students, you may be eligible to borrow up to $110,000 depending on the program. A line of credit with extensive limits is offered for medical or dental students up to $325,000, depending on the program.

BMO Investments

For those looking to invest in-person under the guidance of professionals, BMO offers investing advice, financial planning and private wealth management options suited to your needs and the size of your portfolio. Online options include the BMO SmartFolio which is managed by global experts and the InvestorLine where customers can execute trades themselves.

Mutual funds are a great way to keep a diversified portfolio without having to deal with the complexities of the financial markets. Funds offered at BMO include:

  • BMO ETF Portfolios. Diversified ETFs focusing on a variety of different industries, the minimum investment is only $50.
  • BMO Ascent Portfolios. Pension-style investment fund which focuses on low-cost ETFs. The minimum investment is $75,000.
  • BMO Retirement Portfolios. Recommended for those investing for retirement as these funds provide options for tax-friendly withdrawals.
  • BMO Target Education Portfolios. Recommended for those investing in their child’s education as these funds will gradually transition to more conservative holdings as your child nears their post secondary pursuits.
  • BMO SelectTrust Portfolios. A low-cost option for those looking for an investment fund that matches their risk level. The minimum investment is $500.

Other investment accounts offered at BMO include:

  • Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). A registered account where investment income is exempt from taxes. Financial products such as stocks, bonds, GICs, mutual funds, portfolio solutions and savings deposits can be held in a TFSA.
  • Continuous Savings Plan (CSP). A CSP allows you to commit to your savings by having scheduled amounts transferred to your investment account. You can start with as little as $50 per month.
  • Education Savings Plan (RESP). For those looking to save for education, an RESP is a tax-free investment account that can be used for expenses such as tuition, books and living expenses.
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). This is a registered account that allows you to grow your savings free of taxes.
  • Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). Upon retirement, funds in an RRSP can be converted to an RRIF where you can make withdrawals while your investments remain tax free.
  • Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Canadians with disabilities can use this account to save and invest free of taxes.

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