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.
What also makes BMO Rewards so great is how you have the ability to redeem your points for multiple things. 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 your BMO Rewards points.
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 and is one of the best BMO credit cards.
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
- Up to 20,000 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
- 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 – 14,000 BMO Rewards points
- Gift cards – from 17,500 to 20,300 BMO Rewards points as prices vary by retailer
- Points for cash (statement credit) – 30,000 BMO Rewards points
- Investments – 15,000 BMO Rewards points 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 Rewards points value is a 2.14% return when you use your BMO World Elite Mastercard on travel, entertainment and dining purchases. All other purchases would be 1.43% return in points.
Using your points for BMO investments gives a slightly lower value than redeeming for travel but as you’ll find out below, that’s still a good potential return. All other BMO Rewards points redemptions have a much lower value and I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re in a very specific situation.
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 bookings, 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.
Technically speaking, the BMO Rewards points value is .0071 cents each since it costs 140 points to claim $1 in travel. However, as mentioned, if you have the BMO World Elite Mastercard, you’d have a higher rate of return.
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 than travel redemptions, but you need to think long term
For every $100 you invest, you hopefully have a long time frame. So let’s say you put that money in your RRSP or TFSA, that money could grow quite a bit over the course of your lifetime since you’d be able to take advantage of compound interest.
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
Like all rewards programs, BMO Rewards gives you the option to redeem your points for gift cards and merchandise. For some reason, BMO Rewards makes things slightly complicated as quite a few merchants have different redemption values.
- $25 Cineplex gift card = 5,500 BMO Rewards points
- $50 Sport Chek gift card = 10,000 BMO Rewards points
- $50 Sobey’s gift card = 10,500 BMO Rewards points
- $150 Simons gift card = 27,500 BMO Rewards points
- $200 Fairmont hotels and resorts gift card = 36,000 BMO Rewards points
- $200 Hudson’s Bay gift card = 36,500 BMO Rewards points
To figure out the best value for gift cards, take the value of the gift card and divide it by the points. For example $50/10,500 = .0048 per point. The higher the number, the better the value.
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 $50 cash credit. You can redeem in increments of 15,000 points so 45,000 BMO Rewards points would be worth $150.
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.
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 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
- 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.