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Review: BMO international money transfers

Send fast cash transfers overseas using BMO’s mobile app or visit a branch to send a wire transfer.

Quick verdict

Good for
  • Fast transfers
  • Cash pick-up
  • Many currencies
  • Mobile app
Not so great for
  • Competitive rates
  • Reasonable fees
  • Large amounts

BMO exchange rates and fees

BMO charges different fees based on whether you’re sending money online via Western Union or through a traditional wire transfer. Transfers with Western Union cost $9 plus 1% of your transaction amount. If you send a wire transfer in person at a branch, you’ll pay a percentage of your transfer amount on top of a $10 communication fee.

You’ll also find a margin of around 2-5% added to the exchange rate for both types of transfers, so you’ll pay more than the rate you might see by searching on Google or Reuters.

Get more information about BMO’s exchange rates

Available currencies

You can send money overseas to over 200 countries using BMO’s online banking and wire transfer service. Some of the more popular currencies include:

  • USD US dollar
  • GBP British pound
  • EUR Euro
  • JPY Japanese yen
  • PHP Philippine peso
  • INR Indian rupee
  • MXN Mexican peso
  • LBP Lebanese pound

What types of transfers can you make with BMO?

You can send money directly to your recipient using a wire transfer or a Western Union money transfer.

To send a wire payment, all you need is your recipient’s personal details, including name and address, account number and financial institution info. Fees for this service will typically be higher than those on offer from specialist money transfer companies.

If you want to send money via Western Union, your recipient simply needs to pick up the cash transfer at their nearest Western Union location. The money will get there faster but the fee is based on a higher percentage, so it can be more expensive for large amounts.

There are no forex options like forward contracts or limit orders on offer from BMO to help you save money by locking in a favourable exchange rate for the future. They also don’t offer regular transfers.

How long does a transfer with BMO take?

Transfer time depends on what currency you’re sending. As a general rule, it’ll be anywhere between 2-5 business days.

What payment methods does BMO accept?

You can only pay for your transfer with BMO through a bank transfer. Funds can be sent from either your chequing or your savings account. You can pay online using Western Union money, or in person via a branch when sending a wire transfer.
Transfers with Western Union have a $999 daily limit while wire transfers don’t have a specified maximum limit.

Transfers typically takeClock icon for transfer speed

2-5 days

Is BMO safe to use?

  • Security and regulation. Government-regulated, can enable 2-factor authentication
  • Established. 1817
  • Number of customers. 7 million
*According to BMO on 9 March 2019.

BMO can enable 2FA, meaning that when you log in, you’ll need to go through two levels of verification to access your account. You’re also protected against fraud with their 100% Electronic Banking Guarantee.

How does BMO make money?

BMO makes money by charging fees and a margin on the exchange rate. You’ll end up paying $9 plus 1% on any amount you send online through Western Union. For in-branch wire transfers, you’ll pay 0.20% of the amount, with a minimum fee of $15 and a max fee of $125. On top of this, you’ll have to part with another $10 for a communication fee.

The rest of BMO’s profit comes from adding a 2-5% margin to the mid-market rate, which is the rate that the banks trade at. This is why the rate you’re quoted when you make your transfer will be different from bank to bank, and from the rate you can see on Google or Reuters.

For example, a provider may quote you CAD$1= USD 0.732 for a money transfer to the US, while the rate you can see on Google is CAD$1 = USD 0.751. This difference is the margin and it’s how providers cover their own costs.

How to register an account

You can register for a BMO bank account either online or by visiting a branch. For online registration, you’ll need to have a couple of things handy, including your Canadian address and SIN (Social Insurance Number). The bank will use this information to do a credit check. You can also go into the bank to ask about opening an account.

Once you’re all set up, you’ll be able to register for BMO’s online banking or mobile app, which is where you’ll carry out money transfers.

To send a Western Union Money Transfer, you’ll need to sign into your e-banking, click “Payment & Transfers” and then select “Western Union Money Transfer”. From there, you can fill in the requested information, including your recipient’s details, how much you plan to send and where you’re sending the transfer to.

What is BMO?

The Bank of Montreal was founded all the way back in 1817 by nine of Montreal’s most prominent businessmen. It’s Canada’s oldest incorporated bank and the country’s fourth-largest bank based on assets.

In a nutshell

Pros
  • Fast transfers. Online transfers can process in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Cash pick-up. Your recipient can pick cash up at over 550,000 Western Union agent locations around the world.
  • Many currencies. You can send money to over 200 countries.
  • Secure. They’ll reimburse you for any transfers made fraudulently on your account.
Cons
  • Poor exchange rates. BMO adds a larger margin to the exchange rate than specialist money transfer services.
  • High fees. Fees are based on a percentage of the amount you send in addition to a flat rate, which can add up quickly.
  • Limited to account holders. You can’t transfer money unless you sign up for a bank account.
  • Maximum limits. You can only send $999 per day with online transfers.

How does BMO compare to other providers?

BMO is just one among many banks and specialist companies offering international money transfers. Use our calculator below to see how BMO stacks up against the competition.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 0 Within an hour CAD 3.99 0.742 USD
7,414
Use code FINDERCA and pay zero fees on your first transfer. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 90.00 0.751 USD
7,439
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
CAD 2,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.736 USD
7,364
Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates with $0 transfer fees for Finder customers. WorldFirst will beat any eligible quote from another provider. Go to site Show details
USD 150 1 day CAD 0.00 0.748 USD
7,477
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
CAD 0 1 day CAD 0.00 0.747 USD
7,473
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
CAD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.739 USD
7,394
Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 250 1 day CAD 0.00 0.747 USD
7,469
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
CAD 7,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.737 USD
7,372
Venstar Exchange offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on large transfers over US$10,000. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days CAD 0.00 0.747 USD
7,470
Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

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