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BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account Review

Learn about the BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account and compare it to other free checking accounts, especially from online banks.
(3 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank, based in Chicago, operates a network of more than 600 branches and 1,300 ATMs across Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, and Wisconsin.

As one of the larger banks in the United States, it is a popular choice of bank for consumers.

BMO Harris offers a number of banking services to its customers, one of which is the BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account.

This account offers a number of valuable services with no monthly maintenance fee, and an easy-to-waive paper statement fee. 

If you’re looking to open a new checking account, in this review learn all about the BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account first.

Manage Your Money with the BMO Harris Total Look Tool

Keeping track of your money can be difficult. It’s easy to wind up with accounts with multiple companies.

You might use one bank for your checking account and another for your savings, have a brokerage account with a third company, and credit cards from multiple other companies. Having your financial accounts so spread out makes it nearly impossible to view your finances in one place.

The BMO Harris Total Look Tool gives you a way to view all of your accounts at a glance, even the accounts at other banks.

When you set up the Total Look tool you’ll be prompted to add all of your accounts. Your BMO Harris accounts will be automatically added. You’ll have to input your account information for your accounts with other companies.

The Total Look tool will take the account information you entered and use it to access your data at other financial institutions. It will automatically import data such as your account balance and transaction history.

You can use to Total Look tool to categorize all of your transactions and spending. Then, you can ask for a breakdown of how you’re spending your money.
This makes it a great way to build a budget. Use the past few months’ data to estimate how much you spend in different areas of your life. Then, use that information to set spending limits.

You can use the Total Look tool to track how much you’re spending so you can try to stick to your budget.

The tool also lets you see your loan balances and your checking and savings account balances. You can track your progress towards savings goals or towards paying off your debts.

Keep Your Money Safe with Account and Security Alerts

People’s lives have grown increasingly digital over the past few decades. Though technology such as online banking and smartphone has made life more convenient, it has also increased the danger of fraud.

People put a lot of information about themselves online and companies track a lot of customer data themselves.

These make companies popular targets for criminals who want to steal people’s identities or passwords.

If someone does get information about you by stealing it from a company you’ve made purchases from, they may be able to use that information to get your bank account password. If that happens, there’s little stopping them from emptying your account.

The BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account offers free account and security alerts. You’ll be automatically notified if anything strange is happening with your account, making it easy for you to take action.

Avoiding overdraft fees can save you a lot of money. If you catch yourself having to pay one with this account, BMO Harris will hit you with a $36 overdraft fee. 

You can also use these alerts to track your account balance. If your checking account is getting low on funds, you’ll be notified automatically. This can give you a heads-up to avoid making more purchases or to transfer some money to the account.

Send Money to Friends with People Pay

BMO Harris People Pay is a service available through the BMO Harris app that lets you send money to friends.

You can send money to almost anyone with a US Bank account and an e-mail address. They don’t need to have a BMO Harris account to receive the money.

Simply open the app, enter the recipient’s e-mail, and tell BMO Harris how much you’d like to send. You can send as much as $1,000 per day using People Pay.

The recipient will receive an e-mail with information about the transfer and how they can accept it. If they do, the money will automatically be debited from your account and sent to the recipient’s.

The service is free to use and the money will arrive in the other person’s account within a few days.

Free Access to Allpoint ATMs

Though BMO Harris’ ATM network may be restricted to just a few states, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you travel elsewhere.

You can use any of the more than 40,000 Allpoint ATMs in the United States, fee-free. That makes it easy to find an ATM that you can use, no matter where you are.

If you do have to use another bank’s ATM, you’ll pay a $3 fee per transaction. This fee is charged on top of the fee charged by the ATM’s owner. Always look for an Allpoint ATM so you can avoid these fees.

Waive the Monthly Fee by Receiving eStatements

The BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account does not charge a monthly maintenance fee, but it does charge a paper statement fee.

Much like a maintenance fee, you’ll pay $2 per month when you receive paper statements.

You can avoid this fee easily. Simply sign up for eStatements, and you won’t receive paper statements in the mail. Signing up for eStatements means you won’t pay any monthly fees on the account.

Other Fees

Though monthly fees are the most common type of checking account fee, there are other fees you should be aware of.

Some the fees you may be charged on your BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account are listed below:

BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account Fees

Type Fee
Monthly Maintenance Fee $0
Minimum Opening Deposit $25
Stop Payment Fee $35
Non-BMO Harris ATM Fee $3
Overdraft Fee $36
Not-Sufficient Funds Fee $36
Paper Statement Fee $2
Cashier's Check $10
Deposited Item Returned Fee $12
Incoming Wire Transfer Fee $0
Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee $30
Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee $50
Non-BMO Harris Customer Check Cashing Fee $10, for checks $50 or greater

Other BMO Harris Checking Options

If you're interested in becoming a BMO Harris banking customer, but aren't sold on this checking account, check out other additional checking account options also offered by this bank:

BMO Harris Smart Money Account

The BMO Harris Smart Money checking account is a solid option for young banking consumers, looking for a minimal fee checking account with tons of special features.

The coolest features of this checking account are the monthly fee waivers for banking customers aged 25 and under, and the ability to only spend what you have available in your account.

Since you can never spend more than what you actually have, this account does not charge overdraft fees or insufficient-funds fees.

The only downside is that if you are the main account holder and over the age of 25, you cannot get the $5 monthly maintenance fee waived.

We've highlighted some of the other main fees and features of the account:

BMO Harris Smart Money Account Fees

Type Fee
Monthly Maintenance Fee $5
Minimum Opening Deposit $25
Stop Payment Fee $35
Non-BMO Harris ATM Fee $3
Overdraft Fee $0
Not-Sufficient Funds Fee $0
Paper Statement Fee $2
Cashier's Check $10
Deposited Item Returned Fee $12
Incoming Wire Transfer Fee $0
Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee $30
Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee $50
Non-BMO Harris Customer Check Cashing Fee $10, for checks $50 or greater


Convenience

The BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account offers many convenience features.

On top of the powerful BMO Harris Total Look tool, you get a full suite of online banking tools.

You can view your account from any computer or smartphone and make a number of transactions without having to visit a branch.

You can view your account balance and transaction history. You can also see future schedule transactions, or schedule new transactions through the app. Mobile check deposits also make it easy to put money into the account.

BMO Harris’ website also makes it easy to pay your bills each month. You can use the free bill pay service instead of writing and mailing checks every month to pay your bills.

Whether you’re paying a utility company, loan, or internet bill, BMO Harris can handle it for you. All you have to do is tell the bank who you are paying and how much you owe. The bank will take care of writing the check for you.

Best of all, it’s easy to open the BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account. The minimum opening deposit is only $25, so most people can open the account without issue. The fact that the monthly fee can be waived regardless of your balance is another convenient bonus.

How It Compares

Checking accounts are incredibly popular. In fact, there the checking account is the most common type of bank account in the United States.

That popularity means that nearly every bank in the US offers one or more type of checking account. That gives you a number of accounts to choose from when you’re shopping for a new checking account.

The downside is that having so many choices can be very overwhelming. Despite that, you should take the time to try to find the best deal.

When you’re comparing checking accounts, fees are the first thing to look at. You want to make sure that you won’t pay any maintenance fees.

If the account does charge a monthly fee, make sure that you can meet the fee-waiver requirements each month.

Other things to consider when comparing accounts are:

  • Minimum deposit requirements
  • Fee waiver requirements
  • Interest rates
  • ATM access
  • Convenience features

The Final Verdict

The BMO Harris Smart Advantage Checking Account is a good choice for most people. Because its monthly fee is so easy to avoid, there’s little reason not to open the account.

The benefits such as the bank’s wide ATM network and the BMO Harris Total Look Tool make it an attractive choice.

The main reason you’d avoid the account is if you can find another option that provides services that are more valuable to you.

Many people might benefit from an online checking account that offers ATM fee waivers, rather than tying you to a specific ATM network.

Online banks are also able to pay interest on checking accounts. It’s up to you to decide whether there’s a better account out there for your situation, or if the BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account is the best choice.