BMO Harris Premier Account Review — Maximize Your Checking


If you’ve built up a bit of a nest egg and you’re ready to upgrade your banking experience, you have plenty of options. One that should definitely be on your radar is the BMO Harris Premier™ Account, a premium bank account that gets even more rewarding as your balance grows. 

Let’s be clear: The BMO Harris Premier Account isn’t the best fit for every banking customer. Before you apply for one, make sure you understand what you’re getting into.


What Is the BMO Harris Premier Account?

The BMO Harris Premier Account is a high-end checking account from BMO Harris Bank. It has a $25 monthly maintenance fee that BMO waives when you meet a minimum balance requirement.

There’s no minimum balance to qualify for this account, but higher balance tiers — starting at $25,000 and ascending from there — qualify for additional perks and benefits, like credit card spending bonuses and discounts to BMO mortgage closing costs. The balance requirement is cumulative across all eligible BMO accounts, including savings, money market, and CDs.

Even if you have less than $25,000 with BMO, the Premier Account is quite generous. Benefits include up to $25 in non-BMO ATM surcharge rebates and a $10 monthly credit when you spend a minimum amount on a linked BMO credit card.

Note that the BMO Harris Premier Account is not the same as BMO Harris Premier Banking Services. Premier Banking Services is a private banking service that requires at least $250,000 in combined eligible deposits with BMO. Premier Banking Services clients also qualify for Premier Banking Accounts, but they’re also entitled to a wider range of benefits, including financial planning and wealth management.


What Sets BMO Harris Premier Apart?

The BMO Harris Premier Account has a few notable features that many competing accounts lack:

  • Quarterly credit card spending bonuses. When you spend at least $3,500 in purchases on an eligible BMO credit card during a calendar quarter, you qualify for a spending bonus of at least $10. At higher relationship levels, the bonus ranges as high as $75 for the same amount of spending.
  • Closing cost credits and interest rate discounts on BMO home loans. As a BMO Harris Premier account holder, you’re entitled to two valuable benefits when you get a mortgage loan through BMO: a $500 discount on your closing costs and a 0.50% interest rate discount when you set up automatic payments.
  • Generous ATM fee reimbursements. As at most banks, BMO Harris customers pay no fees at the bank’s own ATMs. But BMO Harris Premier goes farther and reimburses up ATM fees charged by other banks up to $25 per month. That’s enough to offset this account’s monthly maintenance fee (if you haven’t done that already). 

Key Features of BMO Harris Premier

The BMO Harris Premier Account has all the features you’d expect from a traditional checking account, including multiple ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee and potentially valuable perks for heavy users.

Account Opening Bonus

Open a new BMO Harris Premier Account by July 14, 2023, and get a $350 cash bonus when you receive a total of at least $7,500 in qualifying direct deposits within the first 90 days your account is open.

Monthly Maintenance Fee & Waiver Options

The BMO Harris Premier Account has a $25 monthly maintenance fee. BMO waives this fee in any statement cycle where you meet one of the following criteria:

  • An average daily balance of at least $10,000 in your Premier Account
  • A monthly combined balance of at least $25,000 across all eligible BMO accounts, including savings and investment accounts
  • Participation in BMO’s employee benefits program, which is limited to certain BMO employees and thus isn’t a common waiver option for the general public

ATM Network & Fees

BMO is part of the Allpoint ATM network, which has tens of thousands of ATMs around the United States. As a Premier Account customer, you pay no ATM withdrawal fees at Allpoint ATMs.

BMO also reimburses third-party ATM surcharges up to $25 per month. So unless you make a lot of cash withdrawals each month, you don’t have to worry about ATM fees with BMO Premier.

Interest on Balances

All BMO Harris Premier Account balances earn 0.01% APY. Balances held in linked savings and money market accounts earn at higher rates, depending on your relationship level.

Credit Card Spending Bonus

As a Premier Account holder, you get a $10 bonus credited to your account in any quarter where you spend at least $3,500 in eligible purchases on a linked BMO credit card. You need to qualify for the credit card separately — having a Premier Account doesn’t entitle you to one automatically.

Mortgage Lending Benefits

The BMO Harris Premier Account comes with two benefits for mortgage borrowers who set up autopay out of the account:

  • A $500 credit to the loan’s closing costs
  • A 0.50% interest rate discount

The interest rate discount can add up to many thousands of dollars over the life of the loan, so it’s a big incentive to pay your mortgage out of your Premier Account.

Relationship Tiers & Balance Requirements

The BMO Harris Premier Account has three higher relationship tiers based on your total combined balance in eligible BMO accounts. Each tier offers benefits on top of the ones you get just by being a BMO Premier customer:

  • Premier Gold: Requires $25,000 to $99,999.99 in combined eligible balances. Additional benefits include up to $30 in domestic and international wire transfer fee rebates, a $25 quarterly credit card spending bonus with $3,500 in qualifying purchases, and a 0.75% bump to the base yield (currently 1.00% APY) on a linked BMO money market account.
  • Premier Platinum: Requires $100,000 to $249,999.99 in combined eligible balances. Additional benefits include up to $60 in wire transfer rebates, a $50 quarterly credit card spending bonus with $3,500 in qualifying purchases, and a 1.50% bump to the money market base rate.
  • Premier Platinum Elite: Requires $250,000 or more in combined eligible balances. Additional benefits include up to $90 in wire transfer rebates, a $75 quarterly credit card spending bonus with $3,500 in qualifying purchases, and a 2.25% bump to the money market base rate.

Advantages

The BMO Harris Premier Account has several notable advantages that can collectively offset the monthly fee (if it’s not waived already). The advantages grow along with your balance.

  • Above-average account opening bonus. BMO Harris Premier’s account opening bonus is worth gunning for. You do need to receive at least $7,500 in direct deposits during the first 90 days your account is open, but that should be doable for many users.
  • At least $25 in ATM surcharge fee reimbursement per month. If you regularly withdraw cash from ATMs, regardless of who owns them, you could qualify for a monthly ATM fee reimbursement big enough to offset this account’s maintenance fee.
  • At least $10 in quarterly credit card spending bonuses. Meet spending requirements set by BMO and you can earn at least $10 in quarterly bonuses. You earn even more at higher relationship levels, up to $75 per quarter.
  • Lending benefits for all relationship levels. All BMO Harris Premier account holders enjoy two mortgage lending benefits: $500 off closing costs and a 0.50% interest rate autopay discount.
  • Additional benefits at higher relationship tiers. BMO Harris Premier’s benefits grow as your balance increases. North of $25,000 in combined balances across all eligible BMO accounts, you qualify for potentially valuable perks not available to entry-level account holders.

Disadvantages

The BMO Harris Premier Account has some important downsides, starting with a monthly maintenance fee that requires a five-figure balance to waive.

  • Has a $25 monthly maintenance fee. BMO Harris Premier has a $25 monthly maintenance fee that requires a hefty minimum balance (at least $10,000 in the account or $25,000 across all eligible BMO accounts) to waive. This is fine if you have a lot of extra cash, but it doesn’t work for many people.
  • Very low yield on balances. This account has a microscopic yield: just 0.01% on all balances. If you want to earn substantial interest on your checking balances, look to a legit interest checking account instead.
  • Lending benefits remain the same as your balance grows. All Premier Checking customers get the same lending benefits on BMO home loans: $500 off closing costs and a 0.50% interest rate discount with autopay. These are nice for entry-level users, but other banks offer more generous benefits for higher-asset borrowers.

How BMO Harris Premier Stacks Up

Before you open a BMO Harris Premier Account, compare it against other full-service checking accounts. One popular competitor is Chase Total Checking, which has some overlapping features but is different enough to warrant closer inspection.

BMO Harris Premier Chase Total Checking
Monthly Maintenance Fee $25, but can be waived $12, but can be waived
Waiver Requirements Yes, based on BMO balance Yes, based on direct deposit or balance
ATM Fee Reimbursement Up to $25 per month None
Credit Card Benefits Up to $75 in quarterly spending bonuses None
Mortgage Benefits Closing cost and interest rate discounts None
Interest on Balances 0.01% APY None

Final Word

As its name implies, the BMO Harris Premier™ Account is somewhat exclusive. It has a hefty monthly fee that requires a balance of at least $10,000 to waive, so it’s not appropriate for folks just starting out on their financial journeys. 

But if you can clear the waiver requirement, BMO Harris Premier is a very good bank account. It has generous benefits like up to $75 in quarterly credit card spending bonuses, up to $25 in monthly ATM fee reimbursements, and valuable loan perks like closing cost and interest rate discounts.

BMO Harris Premier offers strong incentives to do more with BMO too. Its relationship tiers offer progressively more attractive benefits, with the best reserved for people who have at least $250,000 across all BMO deposit and investment accounts. If you don’t have that kind of money yet, it’s at least something to aspire to.



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