What We Learned
Borrow up to 80% of your home’s value
Few online tools available means you need to call or visit a branch
Rates and Fees
BMO’s rates and fees are largely competitive with other lenders that we reviewed. They do have a number of different programs to help you reduce the rate that you’ll pay on your home equity loan or home equity line of credit. BMO focuses on home equity lines of credit as a way to consolidate debt, and they have a number of programs that help with that process. One advantage of BMO is that there are no upfront fees and no closing costs, which means that individuals who want to get the most value out of their loan will be drawn to the lower total cost of a loan or line of credit from BMO.
BMO does not list any eligibility requirements on their website, but customer reviews indicate that they focus more on income-to-loan ratio than the other lenders we looked at. This makes sense given the bank’s focus on using home equity lines of credit to consolidate debt. Additionally, BMO will look at your credit score, credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and loan-to-value ratio. BMO actually exceeds other lenders in that you can borrow up to 85% of the value of your home, which is above the industry standard.
Another area where BMO does well is with their loan requirements. All BMO home equity products operate on a fixed interest rate, so if you are looking for a variable rate then they may not be the lender for you. Unlike some other lenders, BMO makes creditor insurance an option rather than a requirement. This can help you save money if you are confident about your ability to repay the loan or keep up with your HELOC payments. This insurance helps to pay off your loan should you become unable to work or no longer have access to the same income that you did when you originally obtained the loan or the line of credit.
Customers have reported mixed experiences using BMO to service their home equity loan or home equity line of credit. One of the biggest problems is that BMO is based in Canada, so there aren’t very many branches in large parts of the US. This limits their appeal to many customers who may want to conduct business face to face and talk to a loan officer that they can see.
BMO’s website also leaves something to be desired. While it offers the standard calculators you would expect to find, it doesn’t have the other information that potential customers might be interested laid out in an easy to understand format. Furthermore, BMO doesn’t have a live chat option, so you will have to call or go into a bank if you want to get questions answered in real time. The educational materials that BMO offers only explain the basics of home equity and home equity products, without covering the specific products that BMO offers, leaving a bit of mystery for consumers who want to get all the info the need off of the internet.