If you’re looking for a rewarding credit card from BMO that can be used to maximize your everyday spending, here’s their top 3:

Whether you are looking for something straightforward like cash back, you prefer to earn rewards points for travel, or you like collecting AIR MILES ‒ BMO offers cards for all those options.

The nice thing is that they are all Mastercards which means each one can be used at Costco (in Canada).

BMO World Elite Mastercard

This card is for anyone who travels often and doesn’t mind working within the rules and restrictions of a travel rewards program.

It has a signup bonus of 35,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Earning and Redeeming Rewards

With this World Elite card, you will earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel, dining and entertainment, and 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases – with each “point” worth approximately 0.7 cents (when redeemed at their highest value).

Please note: You will earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment only up to $50,000 spent annually. Any dollar spent over that, in these categories, will earn you 2 points. The vast majority of Canadians will never hit this limit though because that’s nearly $4,200 in spending just on those 3 categories.

BMO Rewards are flexible rewards that can be used for a number of different things including:

  • travel,
  • investments,
  • donations,
  • statement credits,
  • gift cards,
  • merchandise, and even
  • experiences.

The pros and cons

Positives Drawbacks
  • The points can be redeemed for any sort of travel, not just flights.
  • The points can be used to cover taxes and fees on flights.
  • The welcome bonus is worth about $250.
  • One of the best travel and medical insurance packages of any card.
  • 2.1% return on travel, dining, and entertainment (1.4% return on all other purchases).
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey membership and 4 complimentary lounge passes.
  • Flexibility in not having to deal with the restrictions on the AIR MILES program.
  • Annual fee can be waived with a BMO Premium banking plan.
  •  $150 annual fee.
  • Fee of about $30 for booking travel using their call centre (book your own travel online to avoid this).

Read our full review here:

Related: 16 Types of Credit Card Insurance (You May Not Know About)

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

Anyone who collects AIR MILES and wants to maximize the amount they can collect through everyday spending should have the #1 AIR MILES card in their wallet – the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard.

One of the nice things about using an AIR MILES credit card is that when you are shopping at a store that gives AIR MILES, you can collect those miles twice – once by using your AIR MILES loyalty card, and again by paying for your purchase with your Mastercard.

You get a signup bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES (enough for 1 short-haul flight), which is pretty big for anyone who wants to use their miles to book a flight.

Want to see where 2,000 miles can get you? Check out this link.

Earning and Redeeming Rewards

This World Elite card makes earning rewards simple and straightforward – 1 AIR MILE for every $10 in purchases.

On average, an AIR MILE is worth about $0.20. But keep in mind, depending on what you are redeeming your AIR MILES for, the value you get for your miles could go up or down.

Much like the BMO Rewards above, AIR MILES can be redeemed for a number of different things ‒ and there are two ways you can choose to redeem them.

1. Cash Rewards

AIR MILES Cash allow cardholders to use their miles for cash like rewards such as:

  • instantly in store when you shop at participating Reward Partner Locations, and…
  • AIR MILES eVouchers that can also be used at participating Partner Locations.

2. Dream Rewards

Dream Rewards act more like other credit card reward programs and can be redeemed for:

  • travel
  • merchandise,
  • events and attractions,
  • stage passes, and even…
  • dream sweepstakes.

The pros and cons

Positives Drawbacks
  • Allows the user to collect AIR MILES twice at participating retailers.
  • The welcome bonus is worth about $350.
  • 15% discount on AIR MILES flights within North America.
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey membership and 2 complimentary lounge passes.
  • High value of travel and medical insurance coverage.
  • 2% return on spending across all categories.
  • Annual fee can be waived with a BMO Premium banking plan.
  • AIR MILES can be restrictive on travel rewards and booking flights can be frustrating.
  • Extra (hidden) fees when booking AIR MILES for travel.
  • $120 annual fee.

Read our full review here:

BMO Cash Back World Elite Mastercard

For anyone who wants the simplicity of earning cash back on all purchases without having to deal with restrictive travel programs, BMO has you covered there as well.

The BMO Cash Back World Elite Mastercard gives you valuable cash back on all your purchases – with no confusing tiers or redemption options.

As a sign up bonus, you get 4% cash back on all your purchases in the first 4 months, up to a maximum cash back of $250 (about $156 more what you would normally earn).

Please note: The annual fee for the Cash Back World Elite Mastercard is not waived automatically. However, if you have a BMO Premium Banking plan, the annual fee will be waived.

Earning and Redeeming Rewards

With this cash back card, you will earn a solid 1.5% cash back on all your purchases.

Plus, BMO lets you decide when and how you want to redeem your rewards. Earned cash back can be applied as a statement credit, or deposited into your Investorline account or BMO bank account. And you can choose whether you want your cash back:

  • annually,
  • when you accumulate a certain amount (minimum of $50 and in $10 increments), or…
  • as a one time lump sum (minimum of $50 and in $10 increments).

The pros and cons

Positives Drawbacks
  • Easy to calculate cash back annually.
  • No restrictions on earning cash back.
  • Multiple ways to redeem cash back.
  • 4% cash back in the first 4 months could add up to $250.
  • Complimentary roadside assistance.
  • Complimentary Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey membership.
  • Annual fee can be waived with a BMO Premium banking plan.
  • Extensive travel insurance.
  • Potentially not as lucrative as travel rewards cards for anyone who travels often.
  • $120 annual fee

Read our full review here:

Related: Roadside Assistance Comparison: Could Free Be Better Than CAA?

BMO Cards – Head-to-Head

Check out this chart below to see how much you could be earning in annual rewards.

Please note: These calculations are based on a $2,200 monthly spending budget. They also assume that you are getting top value from your BMO Rewards and a $0.20 value from your AIR MILES.

 

 

BMO World Elite Mastercard BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard BMO Cash Back World Elite Mastercard
Category Monthly Spend Earn Rate Annual Rewards Earn Rate Annual Rewards Earn Rate Annual Rewards
Gas & Groceries $550 1.4% $92.4 2% $132 1.5% $99
Recurring Bills $300 1.4% $50.4 2% $72 1.5% $54
Drugstore $100 1.4% $16.8 2% $24 1.5% $18
Travel, Dining, & Entertainment $200 2.1% $50.4 2% $48 1.5% $36
Other $1,050 1.4% $176.4 2% $252 1.5% $189
Total $2,200 $386.4 $528 $396

It seems pretty clear…

Without a doubt, the AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard offers the best return.

Plus, if you shop around, there is a chance you could get an even higher value than $0.20 out of your AIR MILES. Plus, BMO gives you a 15% discount on AIR MILES flights booked in North America, helping your miles stretch even further.

The caveat? It does come with restrictions that are common when using AIR MILES to book travel. Blackout dates, hidden fees and constantly changing rewards are some of the (potential) headaches that AIR MILES collectors would have to deal with.

That being said – it can be lucrative IF you’re willing to do your research on travel.

A good rule of thumb before signing up for the card is to call AIR MILES and get a quote on specific travel days/times you have in mind. The costs may be high or flights may not be available ‒ but good information to know in advance.

But if you want your rewards simple? Cash back is the way to go. Personally, I prefer cash back because it allows me to quickly calculate my annual rewards, and I can use the cash on anything without restrictions.

Whatever card you choose, if you already bank with BMO you may want to speak with them about potentially waiving the annual fees related to each card.