BMO Harris Bank: 2021 Home Equity Review

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Courtesy of BMO Harris Bank

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Like many modern banks, BMO Harris Bank, headquartered in Chicago, is the product of a number of mergers and acquisitions of other banks throughout the years. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) acquired Harris Bankcorp in 1984, and BMO Harris Bank is a U.S. subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal. Along with its parent company, BMO Harris Bank is North America’s eighth-largest bank.

BMO Harris Bank has over 500 branches in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin, with access to over 40,000 ATMs. It offers a variety of lending products, including home equity loans and both variable- and fixed-rate home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

BMO Harris Bank snapshot

Loan types offered Home equity loan, variable-rate HELOC, fixed-rate HELOC
APR range Home equity loan: Starting at 4.54% (with autopay)
Variable-rate HELOC: Starting at 3.54% (with autopay)
Fixed-rate HELOC: Starting at 2.99% (with autopay)
Loan amount range $25,000 to $150,000
Minimum credit score required 700
Repayment terms Home equity loan: 5 to 20 years
Variable-rate HELOC: 10-year draw period with 20-year repayment period
Fixed-rate HELOC: 5- to 20-year repayment term
Average time to approval Not specified

Benefits

BMO Harris Bank offers home equity loans and HELOCs with the following benefits:

  • No application fees: At BMO Harris Bank, home equity loans and lines of credit come with no application fees and low to no closing costs.
  • Convenient payment options: You can make your payments online, by mail or in person at a branch.
  • Fixed-rate HELOC: This option gives you the flexibility of a line of credit with the benefit of knowing your interest rate won’t rise during the term.

Drawbacks

Here are a couple things to consider before applying for a home equity loan or HELOC with BMO Harris Bank:

  • Restrictions on property types: BMO Harris Bank doesn’t offer second-lien home equity loans or HELOCs for investment properties or second homes.
  • Good credit required: You’ll need a high credit score (typically at least 700) to qualify.

Types of fees charged

BMO Harris Bank advertises both home equity loans and HELOCs with no application fees and low to no closing costs. This can be a big advantage when you’re looking to use one of these lending products to get extra cash. One important thing to note is that if you close your account within 36 months, you’ll be charged a fee for the bank to recoup the closing costs paid on your behalf.

The variable-rate HELOC comes with a $75 annual fee during the draw period, and there’s a $75 fee every time you convert a fixed-rate lock option after closing.

Loan products offered

You can get either a home equity loan or a HELOC with BMO Harris Bank, and the terms and conditions vary between the two. Borrowers receive a 0.5 percent interest rate discount for setting up autopay from a qualifying BMO Harris account. BMO Harris Premier Services customers may get an additional 0.25 percent rate discount for HELOCs.

BMO Harris Bank publishes rates on its website for properties in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin; for all other states, you’ll need to call to get rates.

Home equity loan

With a home equity loan, you’ll choose a term from five to 20 years. Fixed APRs start at 4.54 percent, with loan amounts ranging from $25,000 to $150,000. Having your rate and term fixed at the beginning of your loan ensures that you have a set monthly payment for the life of your loan.

HELOC

With HELOCs offered by BMO Harris Bank, you have the flexibility to borrow as much or as little as you need (subject to line limits of $25,000 to $150,000). You’re only charged interest on the amount that you actually borrow, and APRs start at 3.54 percent. There is a 10-year draw period where you can access your available credit. After the draw period ends, you’ll pay the remaining balance over a 20-year term.

BMO Harris lets you choose to either make interest-only payments with a variable interest rate or lock in a fixed rate and term. A fixed-rate HELOC requires a $2,000 minimum withdrawal and has a 5- to 20-year repayment term with an APR starting at 3.94 percent. You can have up to three fixed-rate lock options at a time.

The bank is offering variable-rate HELOCs at 1.79 percent introductory APR for 6 months (the autopay rate discount doesn’t apply during the intro period).

How to qualify for a home equity loan with BMO Harris Bank

The qualifications for a HELOC or home equity loan with BMO Harris Bank are very similar. For both loan products, you’ll need to have a credit score of around 700 or higher. You’ll also need to have sufficient income and home equity, and the more equity you have, the lower your interest rate will be.

How to get started

To get started with a home equity loan or HELOC from BMO Harris Bank, you can apply online, over the phone or in person at a branch. You’ll need to provide your name, Social Security number and other identifying information. The bank will pull your credit report in order to determine what rates and terms to give you. You must also provide two years of tax returns, copies of recent pay stubs and other financial information.

You’ll also need to provide information about the property, including its address and estimated value and the amount that you are requesting for your home equity loan or HELOC. That information will be used, along with a formal or informal appraisal, to determine how much of a loan you’re eligible for.

How Bankrate rates BMO Harris Bank

Overall Score 4.1
Availability 3.3
Affordability 4.6
Customer Experience 4.3

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.

Written by
Dan Miller
Points and Miles Expert Contributor
Dan Miller is a contributing writer for Bankrate. Dan writes about loans, home equity and debt management.