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Bank of Montreal (BMO) International Transfers

Originally founded in 1817, this long-standing and reputable banking group offers diverse financial services to customers in North America and beyond. In this bank review we will provide an outline of the international transfers offered by BMO, to gauge how expensive and efficient these services are when compared to money transfer companies.

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About Bank of Montreal

Founded in Montreal, this Canadian multinational bank and financial services company provides personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment services to a customer base of more than 12 million. It is one of the Big Five banks in Canada, well-known for its impeccable dividend payment history, having not missed a dividend payment since 1829. 

BMO employs over 45,000 staff in 14 countries around the world, including Canada and the United States. The bank offers various investment plans and trusts, tailored to various geographical requirements, which suit the unique goals of different customers. In 2019, the bank was recognised as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, for the second year in a row. BMO is often lauded for advancing the standards of ethical business practices in banking.

Can I use Bank of Montreal for international bank transfers? 

The bank offers a number of products and services specially tailored to customers with cross-border financial requirements, such as international students and expats in Canada. 

Email money transfer services provided by Interac are widely used across Canada for domestic transfers. For this reason, BMO has established an international service where funds can be transferred using the Interac network, in partnership with Western Union Money Transfer. We will refer to this type of transfer as an Interac Transfer. 
The other option for BMO customers looking to send money abroad is to set up an International Wire Transfer and arrange money to be sent overseas to the recipient’s bank account.

Exchange rates and fees

The main points of contention surrounding international bank transfers are the excessive fees some financial institutions charge for their services. We want to take a closer look at the different fees associated with BMO international transfers, to get a better understanding of the total cost.

Exchange rate

BMO customers can choose to arrange international transfers online in 29 different currencies, with more currencies available for pre-order to your local bank branch. To gain an understanding of the exchange rates offered by BMO, we compared them to the mid-market rate displayed by the XE Currency Converter and discovered most foreign exchange rates appeared to incur mark-ups of 2 – 11%, with an average profit margin of 5.02%. 

During our research we also noted that exchanging Canadian Dollars for Mexican Pesos was the most expensive conversion, with a whopping 10.5% added on to the mid-market rate.  

When arranging an international money transfer through the Interac option, fees and exchange rates are determined by Western Union. To learn more about Western Union fees and exchange rates, check out our review of the company. Customers can find the full list of foreign exchange rates posted on this page of the BMO website which is updated everyday.

Transfer fees

In the case of BMO international transfers, fees are determined by the size of the transfer. For wire transfers, 0.2% of the total amount will be added on as a fee and for Interac/Western Union transfers, 1% will be added to the total amount. A minimum charge of $15 and maximum charge of $125 is applicable to every transfer: even for a bank, this is very expensive.

Additional costs

Other charges for transferring money internationally include:

  • A fixed fee of $5 added to every Interac transfer
  • A communication charge of $10 added to every wire transfer
  • All incoming wire payments will incur a $14 charge
  • Correspondent/intermediary bank fees between $10 – 100 may also apply

How do Bank of Montreal transfer fees compare to using a money transfer provider?

BMO does not offer favourable fees or exchange rates and it is possible to find far more competitive deals elsewhere. We recommend customers who are sending money to or from Canada use our comparison tool to find the best deal for their currency pairing.

Bank of Montreal pros and cons

Customers interested in making an international money transfer with BMO will want to review any advantages and disadvantages prior to sending an overseas remittance. In this section we will present these in a clear and concise way, so you can weigh up your transfer options.

Pros
As the oldest bank in Canada BMO is a well-trusted and protected financial institution with branches in 14 countries worldwide
Simple mobile user interface; onboarding new customers and setting up new payments is made easy
Cons
Transfer fees are very high: every transfer is subject to a minimum transfer fee of $15 and maximum fees of $125
29 currencies available online and 60 currencies available when arranging a transfer in-branch; this is a lot less than money transfer companies like Azimo and WorldRemit
CAD/MXN transfers receive a very poor rate of exchange; we encourage customers to check out Remitly for this remittance route instead

Answers to key questions about Bank of Montreal

In this section we will address the most common questions related to BMO international money transfers.

Can I open a Bank of Montreal account in any country?

You can register for a BMO account in Canada and the United States. You must be over 18 to open an account and will be required to provide the following: 

  • A government issued photo ID 
  • Proof of residential address
  • Proof of whether you are a tax resident in Canada, the United States, or other international countries

Does Bank of Montreal have an app?

Search for BMO in the Google Play or App Store and you will find the Bank of Montreal mobile app for your country. This can be downloaded for free and is accessible via smartphone or tablet device.

Are there transfer limits?

There is a daily transfer limit of $999.99 (or equivalent), a weekly limit of $2,999.97 and monthly limit of $6,999.93 for every 30 days. The minimum limit for international transfers is $10.00 a day, which must be sent from a Canadian dollar account.

How long do transfers take with Bank of Montreal?

Typically international transfers arranged with BMO take between 1 – 3 days to arrive with the overseas recipient. Customers using the Western Union Money Transfer option may be able to collect the funds from the designated Western Union location within 30 minutes of initiating the transfer, depending on the size of transfer and destination country.

Can I use a Bank of Montreal debit card when travelling abroad? 

Overseas withdrawals at BMO ATMs are generally free of charge, but $5 per transaction is charged for withdrawals made from non-BMO ATMs.

How to open an account and transfer money with Bank of Montreal

Opening an account

Registering for a BMO Online Banking account is quick and easy for existing customers; here’s how to do it.

Step 1: You will be asked to enter your card number and the phone number associated with your account; once entered, click Verify. You will receive the verification code via text, call or email, this code needs to be entered to proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Once you have confirmed the verification code, you must create a strong password which is between 8 – 32 characters includes at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number and one special character. Hit Next when you have created a password. 

Step 3: Your BMO Online Banking account is complete! You should receive an email confirmation and get started arranging your first international money transfer.

Transferring money

In this section we will provide a step-by-step guide of how to send money online to your international recipient, using the BMO Western Union Money Transfer method. 

Step 1: Sign into your BMO Online Banking via the website or mobile app and select Payment & Transfers. You will see Western Union Money Transfers in the left hand column, select this option and then Send Money Transfer. You will be asked to enter your email address and Register for a Western Union Money Transfer if you have not yet done this.

Step 2: Next you will need to enter information about your international money transfer. This includes the destination country, currency and which account you wish to transfer funds from. Any restrictions applicable to your destination country – such as currency types, pay-out limits, market hours and cash availability – will be displayed at this point.

Step 3: At this stage you will need to enter your recipient’s details as well as a security question that only the two of you can answer. You are also given the option to notify the recipient via email of the incoming payment; then select Continue. 

Step 4: Verify the details of your Western Union Money Transfer in full before proceeding. Once submitted, your recipient will have 60 days to collect the funds: they will need to bring a valid photo ID along with the 10 digit Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) to the designated Western Union Agent location. 

Additional Information

International wire transfers cannot be arranged online and instead must be set up in-person at a BMO branch. 

Customer support options for Bank of Montreal

BMO customers can contact the bank for help via phone, post, email, in-person appointments and via the mobile app: further information can be found here

Summary

Whether you’ve recently moved to Vancouver, studying abroad in Toronto or making arrangements to retire in Saskatoon, the Bank of Montreal offers a vast range of products, plans and services for all demographics. Although BMO has successfully established products to suit a variety of personal and business needs, the bank has fallen behind its money transfer competitors in the race for the best cross-border payment solutions. The extortionate profit margins added to BMO exchange rates – especially for CAD/MXN transfers – paired with the substantial transfer fees, should be enough to deter customers from using their services. Although BMO account holders will be tempted to utilise their bank’s international money transfer services, it is always worth looking elsewhere before arranging any kind of transfer with your bank.

While we hope this review has provided sufficient information about sending money internationally with BMO, we encourage all customers to explore the rest of our website and take advantage of our intuitive comparison engine. We believe it is important to help our customers avoid jeopardising their hard-earned cash on expensive bank transfers that, although quick and convenient, often cost a great deal more than other alternative options. 

April Summers

April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.