Despite the fact that the AIR MILES rewards program can be difficult to understand at times, it’s still one of the most popular loyalty programs. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering how old the program is, but are Canadians maximizing how they earn and redeem their Air Miles? In short, no.
To really maximize AIR MILES, you need to shop at merchants where you can collect Air Miles and use a credit card that earns you AIR MILES. Read my BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard review now to find out why it may be the best AIR MILES credit card on the market and what additional benefits you get with the card.
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard benefits
- $120 Annual fee – first year free (Until January 30, 2020)
- 1,000 AIR MILES sign up bonus after your first purchase
- 2,000 AIR MILES sign up bonus after you charge $3,000 in the first three months
- Earn 1 AIR MILE per $10 spent on all purchases
- 15% Discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America with no blackout periods
- Free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, plus two annual passes
- Comprehensive travel insurance package included
If you’re looking to earn AIR MILES fast, there’s no quicker way than with the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. To get the full sign up bonus of 3,000 AIR MILES, it’s a two-step process. You’ll get 1,000 AIR MILES after your first purchase and then an additional 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
3,000 AIR MILES are worth $315 at participating stores if you choose to claim your miles as cash rewards. If you’re earning dream miles, that’s enough miles for a medium haul flight. How far is a medium haul flight? You need to look at the AIR MILES flight calculator to see where you can go based on your starting location. One example is Toronto to Orlando and don’t forget, you still need to pay any taxes and surcharges.
There are no multipliers with your spending, but you’ll earn 1 AIR MILE per $10 spent on all purchases which is the best earn rate out there for an AIR MILES credit card. To be clear, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the best credit card if you want to collect AIR MILES.
It should be noted that with AIR MILES, you can double dip the points at participating merchants. For example, in Ontario, you can earn AIR MILES when shopping at Metro grocery stores. Simply scan your loyalty card when making your purchase and then pay with your BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard.
Getting a free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, but getting only two free annual passes is a bit disappointing since many other cards give you 4 or more. One of the better benefits is the 15% discount you get on all AIR MILES flights in North America.
Finally, the travel insurance included is quite comprehensive and comparable to many of the cards on my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
How AIR MILES work
When you collect AIR MILES, you have two options: Cash Miles and Dream Miles. You get to decide what type of miles you earn from your online account. You can choose to earn 100% of your points in one category or you can split them as you like e.g. 30% Cash Miles, 70% Dream Miles.
With Cash Miles, you can directly redeem 95 miles at participating merchants for $10 which is not a bad rate of return. However, earning that many miles even with a credit card can take some time and there are only so many merchants where you can earn and redeem your miles.
Dream Miles are a good choice for people who want to use their miles for free flights. The problem with AIR MILES is that they only operate under a fixed schedule. The number of miles it takes to get to certain destinations really depends on your point of departure. There’s an incredible value if you’re looking for flights within your province so those tickets tend to be expensive, but if you’re looking at more common routes such as Vancouver to Los Angeles, it’ll cost you 2,500 miles which is a fair amount. You also need to pay for any fees, taxes, and surcharges!
I personally prefer Cash Miles over Dream Miles since I think it’s a better value, but that’s just me.
How the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard compares to others
It’s hard to compare the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard to others since there aren’t many other cards that allow you to earn AIR MILES. The closest comparable card is the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card and they’re similar but different at the same time.
The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent at AIR MILES sponsors, grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada, and 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent everywhere else. You also get a lower signup bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES sign-up bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months, but the annual fee of $65 is also lower. However, note that the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card does not waive the annual fee.
Instead of collecting AIR MILES, you could consider getting a credit card that earns you points that can be redeemed for any type of travel. The BMO World Elite Mastercard comes with a 35,000 points signup bonus ($250 value), 4 airport lounge passes, comprehensive travel insurance, and the first year free. Alternatively, you could check out my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada if you’re looking for a card with huge signup bonuses.
My BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is positive I personally don’t love the AIR MILES program but I do understand that it can be a very valuable program for some travellers. There’s no denying that the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard will earn you AIR MILES the quickest so get it now if those are the type of rewards you want to earn.