The BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* is easily one of the best Best BMO credit cards. It’s their flagship travel rewards credit card and comes with great benefits including lounge access, travel insurance, concierge service, extended warranty and more. It’s really no surprise why this card is so popular with travellers.
That said, with so much competition these days when it comes to travel cards, you really need to understand the fine details of what you get. Read my BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* review now for a deep of everything the card has to offer.
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 sign up bonus of up to 60,000 points is in line with many of the other best travel credit cards in Canada. That said, it’s broken up into two parts. You’ll get 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. That’s not bad for a card that has an annual fee of $150, which is waived for the first year.
As for the earn rate, it sounds good at 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on travel ($15,000 cap); 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and recurring bills ($10,000 cap). All other purchases get you 1 BMO Rewards point per $1 spent. While that may sound good, it’s worth noting that BMO Rewards point is worth .67n cents. That means the card has one of the lowest base earn rates on the market.
What’s appealing about the BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* (referral link) is Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by DragonPass and 4 free passes each year. LoungeKey is nearly identical to Priority Pass which has a huge network of airport lounges all over the globe. If you frequently travel, then the included lounge access should be appealing.
Either way, the BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* is one of the best credit cards with free airport lounge access. Since lounge membership normally costs $99 USD a year and $32 per visit. You end with $227 USD in lounge passes which is worth more than the annual fee. That said, Plaza Premium lounges recently left LoungeKey. This is significant since most airport lounges in Canada are operated by Plaza Premium. That means your lounge access is of limited use within the country.
One benefit included with this card that often gets overlooked is the free Boingo Wi-Fi membership. Although you can get free Wi-Fi just about anywhere these days, you can use your Boingo Wi-Fi membership to get internet access on many planes. As in, you can surf while you’re in the air.
I personally think concierge service is a bit overrated since you still need to call them to describe what you want. In the same time, you could have bought the item or made reservations on your own. That said, if you’re trying to make reservations at a restaurant where English isn’t their first language, concierge service could be incredibly useful.
BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* Insurance
In my BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* review, I’m going to go over the comprehensive insurance package that you get. Not only do you get great travel insurance, but there’s also purchase insurance included.
- Travel medical – $2,000,000 for 21 days
- Trip cancellation – up to $2,500 per person / $5,000 total
- Trip interruption – $2,000 per person
- Flight/trip delay – up to $500 / 6 hours
- Delayed and lost baggage – up to $750 per person / $2,000 total / 12 hours
- Auto rental collision / loss damage – 48 consecutive days / $65,000
- Common carrier travel accident – $500,000
The BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* travel insurance is pretty comprehensive but one thing I want to point out right away is that you don’t get hotel/motel burglary included which I find a bit odd. It’s not really a dealbreaker, but considering this is BMO’s top travel credit card, it’s a bit surprising that you don’t get it.
That said, the rest of the travel insurance doesn’t disappoint. Those under the age of 65 get up to $2,000,000 in travel medical for trips up to 25 days. If you’re 65 or older, there is no coverage.
Your trip cancellation insurance is good up to $2,5000 per person but for some reason trip interruption only covers each person up to $2,000. Again, not a dealbreaker, but a bit odd. The delayed and lost baggage insurance is pretty generous while the auto rental collision/loss damage is pretty standard.
Here’s the most important thing about the BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* travel insurance. If you look at the terms and conditions, it states the following: “Coverage applies only when You charge the full or partial cost of Your Trip to the Primary or Family Cardholder’s Mastercard prior to departure.”
That means if you charge just $1 of your travel expenses to the BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* travel insurance, you would be covered. This is significant since most travel credit cards require you to charge 75%-100% of your trip expenses for your travel insurance to be valid.
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
Although purchase protection and extended warranty are pretty standard for premium credit cards, I can’t state how important they are. With purchase protection, any purchases that are fully charged to your BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* will be covered for 90 days from loss, theft or damage. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve bought something and shortly after I’ve lost it or it’s been damaged. With purchase protection, I’d be able to get it repaired or replaced at no cost. With the extended warranty, the manufacturer’s warranty is doubled up to one additional year which is obviously handy.
How BMO Rewards works
To claim $1 in travel, you need 150 points. Based on this, you end up with a 3.35% return on travel purchases, a 2% return on dining, entertainment, and recurring bills. All other purchases get you .67% in points which is meh. In case you’re wondering, the 150 points is not a typo. BMO devalued its points on May 5, 2021. It now takes 150 points instead of 140 points to claim $1 in travel.
That’s not bad for travel purchases, but it’s a bit low for dining. For example, the American Express Cobalt card gives you a 5% return on dining and the Scotiabank Gold American Express gives you a 4% return. Yes, those are Amex cards, and your Mastercard would be accepted in more places, but it’s important to point out what else is out there.
You can redeem your BMO Rewards points for any travel purchase charged to your BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®*. Once the charge has been made, you would use the Pay with Points option found in your BMO Rewards account. Once redeemed, you’d see a credit applied to your account in 3 – 5 business days. For more information about BMO Rewards, read my BMO Rewards guide.
|Redemption type||Redemption 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|
My BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* review is neutral. The change in earn rate with spending caps is not something people will be excited about, especially since there are better options out there. That said, the 4 free lounge passes are certainly appealing.
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