Shop Canada's Best BMO Rewards Credit Cards
The BMO Rewards Program
If you're the sort of person who prefers to use plastic when spending on just about anything, getting some money back for your patronage would be welcome. Thankfully as the credit card landscape evolves, more banks and credit card companies are issuing rewards cards to help you offset that spending. Bank of Montreal is one such entity as its BMO Rewards program has become a prominent fixture within that landscape. BMO has been issuing a rewards credit card for everyone from the working class person to the suit-and-tie-wearing CEOs. And BMO Rewards allows you to earn rewards everywhere you go. Here's an in-depth overview of the cards and program.
1. What is the BMO Rewards Program?
The BMO Rewards program is set up so you can collect points for every eligible purchase you make, whether on gas and groceries or a trip. It comes in handy if you're an avid traveller as the program allows you to redeem points to cover various costs. These costs can be flight fares (including taxes), hotel stays, and vacation packages, among other things. You can also get cashback once you have spent a certain threshold and use that cash for whatever you like.
These cards offer insurance coverage, discount packages, and other perks that few credit cards in Canada can match.
2. Where Can You Earn Points?
You can earn points using BMO Rewards cards just about anywhere and everywhere. However, where you use the card determines just how much you are maximizing its benefits.
As mentioned, BMO Rewards points can be earned by making an eligible purchase. That means you get more points when you use a rewards credit card at participating supermarkets (e.g. Sobeys), gas stations like Shell, and other entities. Everywhere else that you spend, you earn a point for every dollar that you pay. Plus, these points don't expire as long as your rewards credit card account is in good standing, so you don't have to be in a rush to use them. However, BMO reserves the right to terminate your account with two months’ prior notice, where they can cancel or substitute rewards.
The estimated dollar value of a BMO Rewards point is $0.007 or 140 BMO Rewards points for $1.
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3. What Can You Redeem Points for and What Can You Do with These Points?
Given how flexible the BMO Rewards program is, you can redeem points in different ways at different places, so your spending won't be in vain.
Through using BMO Rewards credit cards, you can redeem your points for many things. In addition to the travel benefits you can access while using these cards, you can redeem your points for gift cards and merchandise too.
The commodities you can get your hands on once you earn enough points come in a wide range of categories. These categories include home and garden, electronics, kitchen, travel essentials, fashion and accessories, business essentials, health and wellness, sports and leisure, and toys. Anything that you need for yourself, your family, or your business, you can get by redeeming points via BMO Rewards. You can use points for gift cards at your favourite stores so you can do some early holiday gifting if you like. But note that gift cards won't give you back the same monetary value and only make sense to use if there's a specific item you want to get your hands on in earnest.
You can also redeem them for investments, donations, and statement credits. Aside from travel, where you can get points from the sign-up bonus alone (more on that later), investments might be the next best benefit. For around 15,000 BMO Rewards points, you can get and subsequently contribute $100 into your BMO investment account. That money could prove to be a nice cushion later on, so keeping them safe in an investment account makes sense for the long-term. After making the minimum contribution, each financial reward you rack up can only be redeemed in $100 increments after that. You can also donate your rewards for a charitable cause or apply your rewards as a statement credit.
Furthermore, BMO Rewards offers you experiences when you redeem your points. While every experience might not be your flavour, there's something in good taste for everyone. You can go restaurant-hopping in downtown Toronto, go whale watching in Nova Scotia, or do some high-risk activities in B.C. One thing with BMO Experiences is that everything is specific and available to people who either live in a particular area or plan to travel there in due course. You can do things you’ve always wanted to do if you’re willing to spend on it.
4. Where Can You Redeem BMO Rewards Points?
To redeem your BMO Rewards points, you have to log in to your BMO Rewards account on the official website to proceed. You can either use their full-service online travel agency or shop from their exclusive catalogue. You can claim points at a rate of 140 points, which equals one dollar. If you’re short on points, you can use the points you have and pay the rest with your rewards credit card.
On the BMO Rewards website, you can sign in with your BMO Rewards number and password, then start using it. You can book your next trip through the site and use your rewards points to pay for the trip. Given the 140 to 1 rate, you'll need 70,000 points to book a $500 flight, 98,000 points for a $700 trip and so on. There are also vacation offers ranging from Punta Cana to Cancun where you can secure deals on all-inclusive hotels and resorts. You can even book hotels and secure car rentals through the website, with recommended choices highlighted to help make your decision easier.
Furthermore, when you visit the ‘Shop’ section of the website, you can explore all the categories mentioned earlier and choose how you want to redeem your points. There are health and beauty as well as luggage and bag categories, too, so you can get everything you need for that trip. There's also the ‘Invest’ section where you can turn over your rewards points to your investment account.
5. How Does BMO Rewards Stack Up to Other Rewards Programs?
Considering so many top Canadian banks and retailers have reward programs, there's increasing competition that makes it harder to choose the right rewards credit card. For instance, Canadian Tire's Triangle reward program allows you to earn points at Sport Chek, Mark's, and other stores. There's the PC Optimum Reward program, which was formulated once Loblaw's bought Shoppers Drug Mart and has since been extended to Esso gas stations. Here, you earn points that can be spent on home, health, and food necessities.
Banks such as RBC, CIBC, and Scotiabank offer their own similar programs too. So, it really depends on what your preferences are and where you think you’re getting the most value back for your spending. Around 90 percent of Canadians own a loyalty card, so it’s easy to be spoiled for choice.
Of course, by comparing rewards credit cards on shoptherate.ca, you'll be able to make your decision a more informed one. However, BMO Rewards cards stand out because they have detailed travel insurance packages, both in the air and on the ground. Plus, there are no travel restrictions, meaning you can fly on any airline with no seat restrictions or blackout dates. That makes it more attractive as you can redeem your points and fly on WestJet or Air Canada knowing you have strong insurance coverage. And, all this isn’t held back by any limits on how many trips you can make. So you can travel year-round if you have the points via any airline.
You may find that you have to accrue more points with Bank of Montreal to redeem compared to other programs. In comparison, the RBC rewards program gives you a dollar for every 100 points. When you want to go on a trip to the Caribbean, you’ll need around 55,000 points to go, with a maximum ticket price spanning $1,100. By contrast, CIBC's rewards program allows you to contribute points to a TFSA or retirement savings account if you don't want to put it to an investment account. You can also get five times the rewards points if you’re flying via WestJet, as well as on vacations packages.
It depends on how many card purchases you’re willing to make to get the benefits you’re seeking. BMO's rewards program is a solid one, but it isn't hands down better than the rest, with other programs offering better value in return. So do your research with all of their programs to see how diverse the options are when it comes to travel and other benefits.
6. BMO Credit Cards You Can Choose From
There are three main BMO Rewards credit cards that you will find useful, depending on travel frequency, business commitments, or simply wanting the cash and perks.
With this BMO Rewards card, you get a sign-up bonus of 20,000 welcome points if you sign up before October 31, 2018. Half of those points come once you have made your first card purchase. The other half is yours if you spend at least $1,000 on card purchases within the first three months. Plus, there is a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for nine months. However, a one percent fee applies to balance amounts transferred, and the rate goes to 22.99% after that period.
There’s no annual fee either (a fee waived this past January 2018), meaning your reward redemptions won't be offset by paying a significant amount of money to use the card each year. The interest rate for purchases and cash advances are the general rate for most cards at 19.99% and 22.99% respectively. It's a solid MasterCard that allows you to capture rewards, discounts, and insurance all-around. You'll need a personal income of $15,000 a year or more to be eligible for the card. You'll earn one point for each dollar that you spend. And, you get purchase protection and zero liability, which guard you against unauthorized transactions, as well as an extended warranty. Another benefit to using this card is that you get BMO Rewards points faster once you add additional cardholders for free.
If you like using rental cars when on a getaway, this card comes through in the clutch for you when you need it. When you rent a car, either at a National and Alamo Rent-A-Car location, you get a 25% discount. If you're going to book a trip using your MasterCard, you’ll have to do it through the BMO Rewards website. The website will price match for you, so you get a good return on your rewards.
If you don't use car rentals too often or travel in general, this card may not be your best option in truth. Make sure to track your spending habits and determine which categories, if any, fit with your lifestyle so that you're not spending for spending's sake.
Whether you’re a small business owner or more involved with the corporate world, the BMO Rewards Business MasterCard allows you to earn three points for each dollar spent. When you're making gas purchases, spending on supplies for the office or making cell phone and internet payments, you get those points. For purchases made everywhere else, you get 1.5 points for every dollar spent.
The welcome offer for this MasterCard is 35,000 points, though you'll have to dole out $5,000 in card purchases to be able to access them. The annual fee for this card is $120. However, with the sign-up bonus, that fee is waived during the first year. Interest rates on purchases are lower than with the regular rewards MasterCard at 14.99%, and there is a 25-day interest-free grace period. That lets you buy some time to pay off your credit card balance and avoid taking a hit on your credit score.
You can delegate employee purchasing power by using optional employee cards. If your employee(s) get a bit reckless with their spending, there’s a Liability Waiver Program protecting your business against employee card abuse. There’s also purchase protection and an extended warranty to boot.
Arguably the most significant benefit is how much travel protection this MasterCard comes with. It protects you against baggage delay, trip cancellation and delays as well as damage to personal property. It also has common carrier insurance and a collision damage waiver, which has you covered in case your rental car has been involved in an accident.
The World Elite MasterCard, like its business counterpart, offers a 35,000-point sign-up bonus but requires that you spend $3,000 within the first three months to get those points. That converts to about $250 in travel points.
Here, every dollar you spend gets you multiple points, maximizing your return more than any other BMO Rewards credit card. You will have to spend a $150 annual fee for it. But, in return, you get three BMO Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases for travel, entertainment, and dining. For card purchases made everywhere else, you get two points for each dollar spent. If you're making $80,000 a year in personal income or your household makes $150,000 per year, you qualify for this MasterCard.
The word ‘elite’ may sound like an exaggeration, but when you see the benefits that accompany this card, you can understand the naming. You get Total Travel and Medical Protection where you can get out-of-province and out-of-country emergency medical protection worth up to two million dollars. This comprehensive travel insurance lasts for up to 21 days, longer than most other financial entities will offer you. You also get VIP airport lounge access and passes so your family, friends, or co-workers can join in, plus there’s 24/7 access to concierge services. There’s also purchase protection up to 90 days after making a purchase and an extended warranty. You can also add cardholders to get points faster but will have to pay $50 a year to do so. And if you’re a senior between ages 65 and 74, you get flat-fee, optional travel insurance.
There is an AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard as well, an equivalent to the original, where you can get a 15% discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America with no blackout periods.
7. How to Get “Points for Cash”
In February 2018, BMO Rewards introduced a new feature to ease the redemption process. Adding a point for cash system, you can buy anything you want wherever you want and use your rewards points to pay your credit card balance. Essentially, you're getting a statement credit to cover your account.
When you redeem your BMO Rewards points, you can get a $50 cash credit for every 15,000 points that you accumulate. You can redeem in 15,000-point increments to apply to your outstanding balance. The credit will then be applied within three to five business days to your primary credit card account that's linked to the BMO Rewards collector number. Though it will reduce your outstanding balance owing on your credit card, you must still make your monthly minimum payment per the cardholder agreement. You also cannot change your redemption amount after making the redemption.
8. The Pros and Cons
The BMO Rewards program isn't a limiting one. There are no tiers dictating how you must redeem your points. Furthermore, the value is always the same, both on eligible purchases and regular buys. At least in the initial stages, you won't feel shortchanged.
The biggest attribute with these cards is the high protection levels you receive with each one, especially with travel. Once you start charging your flights to your card, you get valuable transfer insurance that has your back if unforeseen circumstances ruin your trip. Things like travel medical insurance can cost you three figures if you're not covered, so signing up with BMO Rewards negates such concerns. You get priority seating, and you get coverage if something is lost or stolen. You are treated first-class because of your loyalty, which is one primary reason why people gravitate to this program and all it entails. Given the sign-up bonuses, you can plan your next trip right away. On the contrary, the amount of spending you have to do will make you think twice if you’re not a big credit card user.
Though the points for cash initiative is a nice touch, there are other newly-introduced aspects to the program in 2018 that will leave you wondering. Before January 2018, it cost 100 points to redeem a dollar, much like with RBC's rewards program. Since the changes were announced, that figure bolted to 140, which means you have to spend more to get more. That is never a convenient thing for any customer, more so if you're not making a high income to accommodate that.
In an effort to honour the purchasing power of points earned before these changes were established, the rewards program offered extra points to cardholders. Also, redeemable merchandise and gift card costs were reduced, and you've been given the option to invest 25% fewer points into your investment account. However, this renders the points you got before these changes redundant as they don't carry the same value as before. That applies to all their cards, so even the World Elite MasterCard loses some appeal despite possessing the usual benefits.
In the end, it's a matter of need versus want. If you're not a big traveller, not a big shopper, or just prefer to use cash, joining a reward program like BMO isn't advisable. If you are, BMO is worth looking at given how well they cover and take care of their cardholders, though the changes make their rewards program less enticing.
You can compare all these BMO Rewards credit cards on shoptherate.ca and determine which one makes the most sense for you. You will be redirected to the BMO website, where you can apply directly and sample these cards to decide whether or not they're worth the fuss. Assess the best credit cards in Canada via shoptherate.ca and build your credit history in the smartest way!