BMO Harris personal loan review: Small loans and broad terms

A couple interested in a BMO Harris personal loan sit at a table with a loan rep and review documents.Image: A couple interested in a BMO Harris personal loan sit at a table with a loan rep and review documents.

In a Nutshell

BMO Harris offers relatively small loan amounts with a wide range of loan terms, including as short as 12 months. But there’s no online application — so you'll have to visit a bank branch or call in to apply.
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Pros

  • No origination fee
  • Wide range of loan terms
  • Credit-builder loan program available

Cons

  • No online application
  • Rate quotes are only available in eight states

What you need to know about a BMO Harris personal loan

BMO Harris is a large, full-service commercial bank based in Chicago owned by the Bank of Montreal. The bank’s business is concentrated in the Midwest, with more than 500 branches across Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The bank offers a full range of personal banking products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, mortgages and retirement accounts. It also offers personal loans at fixed interest rates.

No online application

Many personal loan lenders allow you to complete an application online, potentially allowing you to receive loan offers within a few minutes without the need to speak to a human. But with BMO Harris, there are only two ways to apply for a personal loan: In person at a BMO Harris bank branch or over the phone.

Relatively small loan amounts, but wide range of loan terms

BMO Harris personal loans can range from $1,500 to $35,000. This is lower what than some other lenders offer.

Along with small personal loans, BMO Harris offers a wide array of loan terms. You can select a loan term as short as 12 months or as long as six years. This can give you more control over your monthly payment.

Credit-builder loan available

If you can’t qualify for a personal loan, BMO Harris offers a different type of loan designed to help you improve your credit score while building up your savings at the same time. With the bank’s Credit Builder Loan Program, you borrow money to buy a certificate of deposit. As you make your payments on time, your credit may improve. At the end of the loan term, you get the money you saved in the CD, plus the interest.

A closer look at a BMO Harris personal loan  

  • Difficult to find rates online — On the BMO Harris website, you can only see your potential minimum interest rate if you live in the states where BMO has branches. If you live in any other state, you’ll have to call to find out what rate you may receive.
  • Quoted rates include discounts for autopay — Any rate you’re quoted will include a 0.5% discount, assuming you’ll use autopay. To qualify for the discount, automatic payments must come from a BMO Harris checking account.
  • Option to receive loan money by check — When you’re approved for a BMO Harris personal loan, you can opt to have the proceeds deposited into your bank account, or you can get a check.
  • Funding in a few days — BMO Harris doesn’t promise same-day or next-business-day loan funding. Instead, the bank says you’ll have your money in a few days.

Who is a BMO Harris loan good for?

BMO Harris may be a good option if you’re already a BMO banking customer with a checking account and regularly visit a bank branch. You may be able to apply for a personal loan while you’re already at the bank for other business. You’ll also be at an advantage since you need a BMO checking account to get the autopay rate discount.

And a BMO Harris credit-builder loan may also be a good option if you’re working on improving your credit score. You may be able to use the bank’s Credit Builder Loan Program to increase your score high enough to qualify for a personal loan in the future. This loan doesn’t have a minimum credit score to qualify.

How to apply with BMO Harris

To apply for a BMO Harris personal loan, you’ll need to visit a branch in person or call the bank. BMO Harris recommends you bring valid personal identification with your current address.

To qualify, BMO Harris says you must demonstrate a “positive credit history,” which the bank determines by pulling your credit report. If you don’t have meet the requirements for a personal loan, you may be eligible for the bank’s Credit Builder Loan Program.

Not sure if BMO Harris is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • SoFi: If you prefer an online personal loan application, you might consider SoFi.
  • Wells Fargo: If you’re drawn to the security of a big bank, you might look at Wells Fargo, but you’ll need to be a Wells Fargo customer to apply.

About the author: Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor at North Carolina news organizations, including the Charlotte Observer and the StarNews in Wilmington. In those roles,… Read more.