High-interest savings accounts (HISA) are not a big bank’s most popular product and this is because the rates on offer are rarely “high” nor are they competitive.
It’s no secret that the best high-interest savings rates in Canada right now are being offered by virtual banks.
That said, when HISA offerings among the Big Five banks are compared, the BMO Savings Builder Account is not so bad after all.
It is also set up to encourage and reward savers who set money aside regularly.
This BMO Savings Builder review covers its features, benefits, fees, and alternative savings products from online banks.
BMO Savings Builder Account
The Savings Builder Account is BMO’s high-interest savings account. It offers a 0.50% base interest rate plus a bonus interest rate of 1.40% when you add at least $200 to your savings each month.
Here’s what it offers:
- $0 monthly account fee
- 0.50% base interest rate when eligibility requirements are met
- 1 free transfer out to a personal BMO deposit account
- Limited to one account per customer
To enjoy the bonus interest rate, you must increase your account balance by $200 or more each month.
The maximum account balance eligible for bonus interest is $250,000. Funds exceeding this threshold only earn the base 0.50% interest rate.
Bill payments, pre-authorized debits, debit card purchases, cheques, and Interac e-Transfers are not permitted on this account.
Compared to the 0.01% to 1.00% currently being offered by some banks, BMO’s best savings account is a fairer deal.
That said, if you are looking for a great rate, you will have to look elsewhere.
An offer that exceeds the 2% threshold is from EQ Bank. Its Savings Plus Account currently offers 2.50% on every dollar in your account!
BMO Savings Accounts
In addition to the BMO Savings Builder Account, the bank has 3 additional savings accounts that are worth checking out.
BMO Premium Rate Savings: This account is opened in conjunction with one of BMO’s chequing accounts and offers a 0.01% interest rate. Transaction limits can be shared with the chequing account in your banking plan.
BMO U.S. Dollar Premium Rate savings: Frequent travellers to the United States can use this account to hold U.S. funds. It pays a 0.05% interest rate and can be paired with a chequing account.
BMO Smart Saver Account (no longer offered): This account pays 0.70% interest on your balance and includes 1 free transfer out to your other BMO accounts. Debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers are not permitted.
|BMO Savings Builder Account||BMO Smart Saver Account||BMO Premium Rate Savings||BMO U.S. Dollar Premium Rate Account|
|Regular Interest rate||0.50%||0.70% (not available to new customers)||0.01%||0.05%|
|Bonus interest rate||1.40%||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Savings requirement for bonus rate||Save at least an extra $200/month||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Number of transactions/month||1 free transfer out to another BMO account; $5 each after||1 free transfer out to another BMO account; $5 each after||Transaction limit based on chequing plan limit||Based on chequing plan limit|
|Interac e-Transfer||Not permitted||Not permitted||Based on plan limit; $1.25 each after||N/A|
BMO Savings Account Fees
While BMO Savings Accounts do not have a monthly fee, transaction fees may apply as follows:
- Pre-authorized debit: $5 each
- ATM withdrawal: $5 each
- In-branch withdrawal: $5 each
- Telephone banking funds transfer: $5 each
- Online Bank funds transfer: $5 each
- Paper statement: $2 per month
BMO High-Interest Savings Account Alternatives
For the most competitive savings account rates, you should compare BMO’s rates with online banks, credit unions, and financial technology companies.
Online banks have lower overheads and can pass on these savings to their customers through higher interest rates.
Some of the best offers available as of this writing include:
EQ Bank Savings Plus: EQ Bank is the online banking arm of Equitable Bank. Its savings account offers a regular 2.50%* rate on your entire balance.
In addition to a great rate, this account also works like a chequing account with unlimited free debits, Interac e-Transfers, bill payments, and mobile cheque deposits.
KOHO Earn Interest: KOHO offers a prepaid cash back card that pays you up to 5% cash back on purchases. When you set up a direct deposit to your account, your balance also earns a 1.20% interest rate.
KOHO users can access several perks, including automatic savings via round-ups, a budgeting app, free access to $100 of their paycheque 3 days early, free financial advice, and more.
Learn more in this KOHO review ($20 bonus).
Simplii Financial: This online bank owned by CIBC offers a promotional high-interest rate on new deposits.
For a limited time, you can earn a 5% interest rate on your savings with Simplii Financial.
We compare these accounts with the BMO Savings Builder below:
|Savings Accounts||BMO Savings Builder Account||EQ Bank Savings Plus Account||KOHO||Simplii Financial|
|Base Interest rate||0.50%||2.50%*||1.20%||0.40% regular; 5% promo rate|
|Bonus interest rate||1.40%; must add at least $200 per month||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Number of transactions/month||1 free transfer||Free and unlimited||Free and unlimited||Free and unlimited|
|Number of free Interac e-Transfer||N/A||Free and unlimited||Free and unlimited||N/A|
|Fee per transaction||$5 each||$0||$0||$0|
|Maximum balance||$250,000 for the bonus interest||$200,000 for personal savings; $500,000 for joint accounts||N/A||$500,000 for the promo rate|
|Apply||–||Get this Rate||Get this Rate||Get this Rate|
About Bank of Montreal
The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is Canada’s oldest bank, having been founded in 1817.
It is one of the largest banks in North America and serves more than 12 million customers.
BMO offers a full suite of financial services, including personal banking (savings, chequing, mortgages, loans), wealth management, small business, and institutional banking.
It is publicly traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges under the symbol ‘BMO’.
BMO Savings Builder FAQs
This will depend on how you plan to use the account and how often you set money aside. Frequent savers benefit from the bonus interest offered by the BMO Savings Builder.
If you conduct transactions directly from your savings, a Premium Rate Savings account may save you money on transaction fees.
No. The Savings Builder can’t be included in any BMO bank plan, including the Family Bundle.
You can open an account online or book an appointment to chat with an advisor at one of their branch locations.
What’s your take on BMO’s high interest savings account?
BMO Savings Builder Account Review
Ease of use
The BMO Savings Builder Account is BMO’s high interest savings account. This review covers its features, benefits, fees, and alternatives in Canada.
- Save at a big bank
- Competitive interest if you save regularly
- Not the best savings rate in Canada