BMO Savings Builder Account Review: HISA from a Big Bank

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

Advertiser Disclosure

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 on a regular basis.

This BMO Savings Builder review covers its features, benefits, fees, and alternative savings products from online banks.

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 services 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 account

BMO Savings Builder Account

The Savings Builder Account is BMO’s high-interest savings account. It offers a 0.05% base interest rate plus a bonus interest rate of 0.30% when you add at least $200 to your savings each month.

Here’s what it offers:

  • $0 monthly account fee
  • 0.05% 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 0.05% 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 0.05% currently being offered by some banks, BMO’s best savings account is a fairer deal.

That being said, if you are looking for a great rate, you will have to look elsewhere. An offer that exceeds the 1% threshold is from EQ Bank. Its Savings Plus Account is currently offering 1.25% 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 Smart Saver Account: This account pays 0.05% 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 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 Savings Builder AccountBMO Smart Saver AccountBMO Premium Rate SavingsBMO U.S. Dollar Premium Rate Account
Regular Interest rate0.05%0.05%0.01%0.05%
Bonus interest rate0.30%N/AN/AN/A
Savings requirement for bonus rateSave at least an extra $200/monthN/AN/AN/A
Number of transactions/month1 free transfer out to another BMO account; $5 each after1 free transfer out to another BMO account; $5 each afterTransaction limit based on chequing plan limitBased on chequing plan limit
Interac e-TransferNot permittedNot permittedBased on plan limit; $1.25 each afterN/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 accounts rates, you should compare BMO’s rates with online banks, credit unions, and financial technology companies.

Online banks have lower overhead and are able to pass on these savings to their customers in the form of 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 1.25%* 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.

Open an EQ Bank Savings Account

KOHO Earn Interest: KOHO offers a prepaid cash back card that pays you 0.50% to 2.00% cash back on all 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, 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).

Open a KOHO Account

We compare these accounts with the BMO Savings Builder below:

Savings AccountsBMO Savings Builder AccountEQ Bank Savings Plus AccountKOHO
Base Interest rate0.05%1.25%*1.20%
Bonus interest rate0.30%; must add at least $200 per monthN/AN/A
Monthly fee$0$0$0
Number of transactions/month1 free transferFree and unlimitedFree and unlimited
Number of free Interac e-TransferN/AFree and unlimitedFree and unlimited
Fee per transaction$5 each$0$0
Insurance coverageCDICCDICCDIC
Maximum balance$250,000 for the bonus interest$200,000 for personal savings; $500,000 for joint accountsN/A
ApplyGet this RateGet this Rate

BMO Savings Builder FAQs

What is the best BMO Savings Account?

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.

Is the BMO Savings Builder Account eligible for the Family Bundle?

No. The Savings Builder can’t be included in any BMO bank plan, including the Family Bundle.

How do I open a BMO Savings Builder Account?

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
3.7

Summary

The BMO Savings Builder Account is BMO’s high interest savings account. This review covers its features, benefits, fees, and alternatives in Canada.

Best Banking Offers this month

1.25% interest on every dollar.

Up to 125x interest more than other banks.

Combines savings and chequing account features.

No monthly fees and free unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers.

Free reloadable prepaid card and budgeting app.

Up to 2% cash back on all purchases and 10% at brand partners.

1.20% savings interest on your entire account balance.

Get 3-day early access to $100 of your paycheque.

Earn 2% unlimited cash back in three spending categories.

Get a $150 welcome bonus with $1,000 spending in first 2 months.

0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

Low balance transfer rate and insurance coverage benefits.

Credit score updated weekly and no fees!

Get your free credit report updated weekly.

Access to DIY credit monitoring.

Over 1.5 million members in Canada.

Retirement 101 eBook - 3D

Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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