BMO Rewards is one of the most popular credit card rewards programs in Canada. What makes BMO Rewards appealing is that earning and redeeming points is very intuitive and easy. Since this is BMO’s main loyalty program, you need a BMO credit card to earn BMO Rewards. The good thing is, the BMO World Elite MasterCard has some incredible benefits making it one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
In this BMO Rewards review, I’ll go over how to earn and redeem BMO Rewards points and everything you need to know about the program.
How to earn BMO Rewards points
You can earn BMO Rewards points by using BMO Rewards credit cards. The easiest way to earn BMO Rewards points is from sign up bonuses and your everyday spending. BMO has 2 personal cards and 2 business cards earning BMO Rewards points. The BMO World Elite MasterCard stands out as it is consistently ranked as one of the top credit cards in Canada.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
- $150 annual fee – first year free
- 35,000 Signup points after charging $3,000 in purchases
- Earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel, entertainment and dining purchases
- Earn 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent everywhere else.
- Mastercard LoungeKey membership + 4 free airport lounge visits
- Comprehensive travel insurance package included
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
The BMO World Elite Mastercard has long been known as one of the best travel credit cards in Canada due to its generous signup bonus of 35,000 BMO Rewards points. That may seem high, but 35,000 BMO Rewards points has a value of $250 which makes it comparable to many other credit cards. The earn rate of 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel, entertainment and dining purchases; and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases is also comparable to other cards. There’s no denying that the Mastercard LoungeKey membership and 4 free annual airport lounge visits is appealing since the actual value of this benefit is more than $250. One little known fact about the BMO 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 Rewards Mastercard
- No annual fee
- 10,000 BMO Rewards points after your first purchase and the first statement
- 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
- Earn 1 BMO Rewards point for every $1 spent
- Earn 2 BMO Rewards points at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
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 20,000 BMO Rewards points. You get 10,000 points when you make your first purchase and after your first statement has posted. The additional 10,000 BMO Rewards points are given if you charge $1,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. 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.
BMO Rewards points value
Your BMO Rewards value varies depending on what you redeem. Here’s a list of all the redemptions you can make and how many points it would cost to redeem $100:
- Booking travel through BMO Rewards travel portal – 14,000pts (140pts = $1)
- Gift cards – from 17,500pts up to 20,300pts as prices vary by retailer
- Points for cash (statement credit) – 30,000pts
- Investments – 15,000pts for depositing $100 into a BMO investment account
- Merchandise – varies per item, usually not a good value
As you can see, the BMO Rewards point value is best used for travel purchases. Since 140pts = $1, that means the BMO World Elite MasterCard has a very solid 2.14% earning rate on travel, entertainment and dining and 1.43% on everything else.
Using your points for BMO investments gives a slightly lower value than redeeming for travel but it’s still a decent return on your BMO Rewards points.
How to redeem BMO Rewards points for travel
Booking a travel redemption with BMO Rewards is easy and BMO Rewards offers two ways to book: you can book online through your BMO Rewards account/travel portal or you can call in for assistance. BMO Rewards is a full service travel agency so you can book the following:
- Rental cars
- Rail tickets
- Holiday packages
You can use your BMO Rewards points for any seat available on any flight, and there are no blackout periods. Best of all, you can use your points to pay for any taxes and fees. Note that you will still earn airline loyalty miles and status miles when booking through the BMO Rewards portal. In addition, you can book travel for other people using your points.
BMO Rewards does offer a price match guarantee on airfare and vacation package booking, but BMO Rewards prices are usually aligned with what you can find on other sites.
If you don’t have enough points to pay for the entire redemption, you can use as many points as you want (there is no minimum) and charge the remaining cash balance to your BMO Rewards credit card.
How BMO Rewards compares to others
While BMO Rewards doesn’t allow to book on your own like Scotia Rewards and doesn’t have a fixed points flight program like CIBC Aventura 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
- Arguably the best earning rate of all major bank travel program when using BMO World Elite MasterCard
- BMO World Elite MasterCard insurances covering award redemptions
That being 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 which American Express has Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy as partners.
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.