BMO Rewards Guide | How to maximize your points

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Are you looking for a BMO Rewards guide? BMO Rewards is one of the most popular credit card rewards programs since it’s easy to earn and redeem points. Naturally, many people who have a BMO account will have a credit card that allows them to earn BMO Rewards points, but you can sign up for a BMO credit card regardless of where you bank.

What also makes BMO Rewards so great is how you have the ability to redeem your points for multiple things beyond travel. Not every redemption has the same value which is why you want to know what your points are worth. In this BMO Rewards review, I’ll go over how you can get the most value out of the BMO Rewards program.

BMO Rewards points value

It takes 150 BMO Rewards points to claim $1 in travel. That means one BMO Rewards point is worth .67 cents. This is the maximum value you can get out of BMO Rewards. While using your points gives you the best return, it’s important to know what else you can redeem your points for and what your points would be worth in those situations.

Redemption typeRedemption value
Travel.67 cents per point
Investments.67 cents per point
Merchandise.45 - .65 cents per point
Gift cards.40 - .45 cents per point
Statement credit.33 cents per point

As you can see, the BMO Rewards point value is best used for travel purchases and investments. Most people will use their points for travel, but as you’ll find out shortly, using your points for investments might be the better value. Gift cards have a slightly lower value, but it depends on which merchant you’re redeeming with. While merchandise can have a value close to travel, most items are worth much less.

How to redeem BMO Rewards points for travel

BMO Rewards recently changed its redemption system for the better. Previously, you were required to book your travel through the BMO Rewards portal to use your points. However, you can now charge any travel expense to your BMO Rewards card and then use your points to get a statement credit for those purchases.

That means you can use your points for any last-minute deals you come across. In addition, since you can now book directly with travel partners, you can earn status benefits through loyalty programs such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.

Once you’ve charged your travel expenses, you can immediately redeem your points with the Pay with Points feature found in your BMO Rewards account. A credit will then be applied in 3 to 5 days.

Many people don’t realize that when you book travel with the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard, your travel insurance coverage applies as long as you spend any amount of your travel purchase on the card. This applies to paying in cash and points. That means you could charge or redeem $1 with your card/points, and you’d have access to great travel insurance.

How to redeem BMO Rewards for investments

One huge advantage of BMO Rewards is that you can redeem your points for investments. If you have a BMO Investments account, you can redeem 15,000 BMO Rewards points for $100 in investments. At face value, that redemption is worth the same as travel redemptions, but you need to think long-term.

For every $100 you put into your investment accounts, you have the potential to grow your money significantly. Let’s say you invest the money in your RRSP or TFSA, that money could grow quite a bit over the course of your life. It’s not that uncommon to get 4 to 6% in returns annually with a balanced portfolio and that amount compounds every year.

Travel redemptions give you an immediate return, but using your BMO Rewards points for investments could give you more value in the long run. This is a classic case of delayed gratification.

How to redeem BMO Rewards for gift cards and merchandise

BMO Rewards gives you the option to redeem your points for gift cards and merchandise like all rewards programs. For some reason, BMO Rewards makes things slightly complicated as quite a few merchants have different redemption values. That said, some recent redemptions I saw include:

  • $25 = 6,250 BMO Rewards points
  • $50 = 11,750 BMO Rewards points
  • $100 = 23,000 BMO Rewards points
  • $500 = 112,500 BMO Rewards points

To figure out the best value for gift cards, take the dollar value of the redemption and multiply it by 100. Then take that number and divide it by 100. For example, 50 X 100 / 11,750 = .43 cents per point.

When it comes to merchandise, every item has a different value. In 99.9% of the cases, redeeming your points for merchandise over travel will be of a lower value.

How to redeem BMO Rewards for cash

BMO Rewards allows you to redeem your points for a statement credit which is basically cash. For every 15,000 BMO Rewards points, you get a $50 cash credit. You can redeem in increments of 15,000 points so 45,000 BMO Rewards points would be worth $150. That means your points are worth .33 cents when going this route. That’s half the value of travel redemptions!

The credit takes 3-5 business days to show up on your account and it only applies to the primary cardholder.

Generally speaking, you never want to redeem your points for gift cards or a statement credit unless you’re under financial hardship, as they offer a much lower value compared to travel rewards.

Do BMO Rewards points expire?

No, as long as you have an active BMO credit card that earns you BMO Rewards points, your points will not expire. If you plan on cancelling your card, you should redeem all your points before doing so. If you can’t use all your points for travel purposes before you close your account, redeem them for gift cards or a statement credit.

How BMO Rewards compares to others

BMO Rewards is comparable to Scotia Scene+ since both programs allow you to redeem your points for any travel purchase. However BMO Rewards doesn’t have a fixed points flight program like RBC Rewards, CIBC Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, BMO Rewards is still highly competitive and has lots of advantages such as:

  • No blackout dates
  • No minimum amount of points to redeem
  • Price match on airfare and travel packages
  • BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard insurances covering award redemptions

That said, one thing that BMO Rewards lacks is any transfer partners. Mind you, this isn’t common among the major banks but RBC Rewards does allow you to transfer your Avion points to WestJet Rewards and American Express has Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy as partners.

How to earn BMO Rewards points

You can earn BMO Rewards points by using BMO Rewards cards. The easiest way to earn BMO Rewards points is from the welcome bonus and your everyday spending. BMO has a few different cards that earn you BMO Rewards points. This includes both consumer and business cards. The BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard (formerly known as the BMO World Elite Mastercard) stands out as it is consistently ranked as one of the top credit cards in Canada and is one of the best BMO credit cards, but I’ve listed a few others for your reference.

BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®*

  • $150 Annual fee – First year free*
  • Get 30,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, and 2,500 points for each subsequent month in which you make at least $2,000 in purchases on your card, for 12 months
  • Earn 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and recurring bills
  • Earn 1 BMO Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass, plus 4 annual passes

The BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* has long been known as one of the best travel credit cards in Canada due to its generous signup bonus and benefits. The earn rate of 3 bonus points for every $1 spent on travel, entertainment and dining purchases; and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases is incredible. There’s no denying that the Mastercard LoungeKey membership and 4 free annual airport lounge visits are appealing since the actual value of this benefit is more than $250. One little-known fact about the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard is that you only need to charge a portion of your travel expenses (as in any amount over 0%) for your card to qualify for the included travel insurance.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

  • $120 annual fee – Waived in the first year
  • Earn 30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, and 2,500 points for each subsequent month in which you make at least $2,000 in purchases on your card, for 12 months
  • $50 annual lifestyle credit
  • 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, groceries, gas, and transit purchases
  • 1 BMO Reward point on all other purchases
  • Earn 10% more points when adding an authorized user to your account

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card is appealing due to the generous welcome offer and increased earn rates. While there’s no denying that earning more points is always good, you need to factor in the actual value of your points. 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible dining, groceries, gas, and transit purchases have a real value of 3.35 cents. That’s still incredible, but you could argue that the Amex Cobalt card is better. It’s worth noting that the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card has a better redemption value when using your points to pay compared to the standard BMO Rewards rate. You can claim 200 points for $1 in redemptions, a value of .50 cents per point. Note that there’s a higher-tier version of this card in the BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege card.

BMO Rewards® Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • Up to 10,000 BMO Rewards points sign up bonus
  • Earn 1 BMO Rewards point for every $1 spent
  • Earn 2 BMO Rewards points at participating National and Alamo car rental locations

If you don’t qualify for the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* or you don’t like paying an annual fee, then the BMO Rewards® Mastercard is a good option. The sign up bonus is worth up to 10,000 BMO Rewards points. Your earn rate is a straight 1 point per $1 spent, but you earn 2X that at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations. The included purchase protection and extended warranty are a nice touch considering this is a credit card with no annual fee.

Final thoughts

My BMO Rewards review is positive, even though it ranks last on my list of Canada’s bank travel rewards programs. It may not be the best travel rewards program from a major bank in Canada, but you can quickly earn points with the BMO World Elite Mastercard. Redeeming your points is also easy since there are no blackout dates and no minimum points required to redeem an award.

BMO Rewards Guide | How to maximize your points

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

6 Comments

  1. Mary Kenny on February 23, 2020 at 7:08 PM

    Does BMO Elite have a cash reward instead of points?

  2. Mr. Dreamer on January 27, 2022 at 6:40 PM

    Hello Friend!

    A little update is required here. I was just about to redeem my points and I see the redemption is getting a bit worse! Here is the table for most gift cards making the value more like 0.4-0.45 sadly.

    BMO Points Dollar $ Received
    6,250 $25
    11,750 $50
    23,000 $100
    112,500 $500
    168,500 $750
    224,500 $1000

    Same for merchants. Now need more points to redeem.

    Thanks for your great work.

    • Barry Choi on January 27, 2022 at 7:27 PM

      Thanks for the tip. I admittedly haven’t collected BMO Rewards points ever since they started to devalue things. Clearly they’ve done it again.

  3. Louise Dalbec on February 9, 2022 at 8:45 AM

    I have both cards and would like to know how to redeem my points into cash, please guide me step by step
    Thank you
    Louise Dalbec

  4. Stephanie Murphy on April 3, 2022 at 12:59 PM

    I just redeemed 250,000 BMO reward points. The issues I have identified that I hadn’t accounted for when collecting points under this program. The points don’t get you the booking, they make the booking for you and then credit your credit card. This is a problem when using points for travel outside of Canada. You are expected to pay at the hotel with your BMO credit card. The problem is that now I am subjected to a fluctuating exchange rate. I booked when I did, because of the strength of the Canadian dollar to the US dollar, but more concerning is the 2.5% foreign exchange fee. By applying this fee they are reducing the value of their points.

    Please make this apparent in this cards summary. It is an important factor when collecting points in Canada as many of us vacation out of Country.

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