The best BMO credit cards in Canada for 2023

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The best BMO credit cards in Canada for 2023

The Bank of Montreal is one of Canada’s largest banks, and it offers one of the largest selections of personal credit cards in the country. Whether you’re a student looking for your first credit card or to establish a credit history, or a frequent flyer wanting a card packed full of travel perks, BMO has something for you. BMO is also the only Big 5 bank to offer co-branded credit cards with the popular Air Miles rewards program, making them a great fit for Air Miles collectors. Read on to learn more about the best of BMO’s credit card offerings, including recommended cards for travellers and students, as well as the most attractive no-fee, cash back and low interest cards.


Best BMO no-fee credit card

BMO CashBack Mastercard*

BMO-Cash-Back-Mastercard

At a glance: The BMO CashBack Mastercard stands out for offering 3% cash back on groceries, which is the best standard (i.e. non-promotional period) earn rate for this category among no-fee cards in Canada. It should be noted, however, that the earn rate is capped at a maximum of $500 per month in spending, so if you regularly spend more than that on groceries, you might want a card that doesn’t limit your earnings. Another attractive feature is that it offers very flexible redemption options, including redeeming your cash back into a BMO chequing or savings account.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: 3% cash back on groceries; 1% on recurring bills; 0.5% on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: Earn up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months and a $50 cash back bonus. Plus, get a 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers for your first 9 months (with a 2% transfer fee).
  • Our favourite perk: Anytime cash back redemption in increments of just $1
  • Additional benefits: Purchase protection and extended warranty; discounts at Avis and National car rentals and Cirque du Soleil; free to add authorized cardholders
  • Annual income requirement: None

Pros 

  • Earn 3% cash back for groceries—the highest non-promotional earn rate for groceries for a no-fee card in Canada.
  • Redeem cash back for as little as $1 and you can even set up recurring redemptions starting at $25.
  • Impressively flexible cash back redemption options, including putting the money into your BMO chequing or savings account, putting it towards a statement credit or adding it to your InvestorLine account.

Cons

  • The 3% earn rate for groceries is capped at $500 per month, which can be quite low if you’re shopping for a family.
  • A base rate of only 0.5% for all other spending outside of accelerated categories.
  • Not many additional perks, such as travel insurance.

Best BMO cash back credit card

BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: The BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard has a solid variety of extra-earn categories that are targeted to where Canadians spend the most, like groceries, transit and gas. Unfortunately, some cardholders may find the monthly spending caps quite low for each category, which can significantly impact potential earnings. Nonetheless, the card can lead to good cash back amounts if you aren’t a big spender and don’t exceed the caps. It’s also one of the few cards that offers free roadside assistance. While the insurance coverage is not outstanding (you’re only covered for eight consecutive days for emergency medical, which is low for a premium card) the purchase protection and extended warranty are among the best of any premium credit card.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: Earn 5% cash back on grocery purchases, 4% on transit, 3% on gas, 2% on recurring bill payments and 1% on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: Get up to 10% cash back in your first three months and have the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
  • Our favourite perk: Complimentary roadside assistance with a free basic membership in the Dominion Automobile Association (DAA)
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance protection, including trip interruption, cancellation or delay; car rental accidental death and dismemberment, and collision car rental coverage; out-of-country emergency medical benefits up to $2 million; purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000

Pros 

  • A variety of accelerated cash back categories, with an especially high earn rate for groceries.
  • Free roadside assistance, which includes battery boosts, towing and flat-tire change.
  • The purchase protection (protection for 180 days rather than 90) and extended warranty (adding two years rather than one to the original manufacturer’s warranty period) are among the best in Canada. 

Cons

  • All of the accelerated earn categories have monthly caps, ranging from $500 to $300 per month, which is low for a premium card.
  • Membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass does not include any free lounge visits. You must pay a fee of US$32 per visit.
  • The income requirement is high at minimum of $80,000 per year for individuals and $150,000 for households.

Best BMO credit card for dining and transit

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite*

At a glance: The BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite is an impressive earner that gives you 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on almost anything to do with food or transit. This means 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants and food delivery, as well gas, public transit, taxis and rideshares, including UberEats. Everything else will get you 1 BMO Rewards point per $1. In a unique move, this card also offers a $50 annual lifestyle credit, which you can spend however you wish. When you sign up an additional user ($50 per card), you’ll get 10% more points on all purchases.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 23.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: earn up to 70,000 points ($467 value), 5 times the points on gas, dining, groceries and transit for the first year, and 10% more points when you add an authorized user. Also, earn a $50 lifestyle credit.
  • Earn rate: 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, gas and transit, and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Our favourite perk: $50 annual lifestyle credit
  • Additional benefits: Insurance, including travel for out-of-province and out-of-country emergency medical, common carrier and car rental collision/loss damage; up to $1,000 mobile device insurance; and Visa Infinite privileges
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000

Pros 

  • Accelerated earn categories that reflect heavy spending areas for most Canadians, and while there is a cap (a cumulative total of $50,000) it will likely be hard to reach for most cardholders.
  • Comes with a $50 annual lifestyle credit that you can use at your own discretion.
  • Includes mobile device protection of up to $1,000.

Cons

  • You generally get much less value for your BMO Rewards points if you redeem them for anything other than travel.
  • Because 1 BMO Rewards point is valued at 0.0067, you are essentially earning less than $0.01 per dollar when earning the base earn rate, which is on the low side for a premium card.
  • The travel insurance package is not comprehensive as it does not include things like flight delay insurance and lost/delayed baggage insurance.

Best BMO travel credit card

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: While the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard does charge a slightly higher than normal annual fee, it makes up for it with a generous array of travel-friendly perks. Cardholders not only enjoy free membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass (with four free annual airport lounge passes included), but they can also take advantage of comprehensive travel insurance. The card also features a very competitive earn rate of 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, and 3 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment purchases.

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 on travel, 3 points per $1 on dining and entertainment, 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: Earn up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.
  • Our favourite perk: Free airport lounge access through membership to Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass, with exclusive VIP access and 4 free annual passes
  • Additional benefits: Access to over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world, BMO concierge service, extended warranty, purchase protection and robust travel and medical protection.
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000

Pros 

  • Complimentary membership to Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass, which includes four annual complimentary airport lounge passes.
  • Book travel-related purchases like flights, hotels, car rentals and more with the travel provider of your choice and then redeem your BMO Rewards points using Pay with Points. 
  • Very comprehensive travel insurance, including emergency medical protection, flight delay or cancellation, lost or delayed baggage and more.

Cons

  • You’ll get quite a bit less value for your BMO Rewards points if you don’t redeem them for travel purchases.
  • Because each BMO Rewards point is valued at 0.0067, you’re actually earning less than $0.01 per dollar at the base rate.
  • The annual fee of $150 is slightly higher than the average for this category of card.

Best BMO Air Miles credit card

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: Air Miles is one of Canada’s most popular travel rewards programs, allowing members to collect points (“Miles”) that can be redeemed for flights, merchandise, events and more. Many BMO cards already offer cardholders Air Miles when they spend; however, the best deal is the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. Cardholders enjoy a fantastic earn rate of 1 Mile per $12 in credit card purchases (and a whopping three times that amount at Air Miles partners). Frequent travellers will also enjoy this card’s full complement of travel-related perks like travel and medical protection and discounts on eligible flights.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: 3 Miles per $12 spent at Air Miles partners, 2 Miles per $12 at eligible grocery stores and 1 Mile per $12 on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: earn 3,000 bonus Air Miles when you spend a minimum of $3,000 within the first three months.
  • Our favourite perk: Exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide Air Miles flight redemption during the calendar year
  • Additional benefits: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass; travel insurance protection including trip interruption, cancellation or delay; car rental, accidental death and dismemberment and collision car rental coverage; out-of-country emergency medical benefits
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000

Pros 

  • Collectors can double their Air Miles when they show their Air Miles Collector Card at Air Miles partners.
  • Exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide Air Miles flight redemption during the calendar year.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance, including trip cancellation, trip interruption and baggage delay.

Cons

  • No free lounge visits with your complimentary Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass membership.
  • The annual income requirement is quite high.
  • The highest reward rate of 3 Miles per $12 at Air Miles partners may be become harder as some partners have recently left the program.

Best BMO low interest credit card

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

BMO-Preferred-Rate-Mastercard

At a glance: With the interest rate on most credit cards hovering around 20%, it can be easy to accumulate credit card debt. While some consumers may find that a debt consolidation loan or a line of credit is useful in these situations, others may look into a card with a more manageable interest rate—this simple switch can save you hundreds of dollars. Within the BMO family, the best card for the job is the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard. With a low $20 annual fee (which is refunded in the first year), an interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers, this card can help you rein in your credit card debt.

  • Annual fee: $20
  • Interest rates: 12.99% on purchases, 15.99% on cash advances, 12.99% on balance transfers
  • Balance transfer offer: Receive a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for nine months with a 2% transfer fee, and get an annual-fee rebate for the first year (a $20 value).
  • Our favourite perk: Balance transfer promotion
  • Additional benefits: Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Annual income requirement: $15,000

Pros 

  • Standard low interest rate can help those who carry a balance get their credit card debt under control.
  • Get an annual rebate of $20 if you also have a BMO Performance chequing account.
  • Not only does the card have a low interest rate, it also has a much lower than usual standard cash advance rate of 15.99%.

Cons

  • The card has no perks aside from purchase protection and extended warranty.
  • Each balance transfer you make is subject to a fee of 2%.
  • The low interest rate for the balance transfer is only valid for nine months.

Best BMO premium rewards credit card 

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege*

BMO-Preferred-Rate-Mastercard

At a glance: The BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege card has a hefty $499 annual fee, but the perks and rewards may well warrant the price of entry. You’ll receive an annual $200 lifestyle credit that you can spend however you like, effectively cutting down the annual fee to $299. The card offers amazing airport perks like free airport lounge access, as well as airport parking and valet service discounts at eligible Canadian airports. It also includes a significant amount of travel insurance to boot. It’s definitely a card that’s designed to take the hassle out of travel.

  • Annual fee: $499
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 23.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: Earn up to 50,000 points.
  • Earn rate: 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, gas, travel, dining and drugstores, and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Our favourite perk: $200 annual lifestyle credit
  • Additional benefits: Visa Airport Companion membership (6 airport lounge visits per year); insurance, including travel out-of-province and out-of-country emergency medical, common carrier, trip cancellation and trip interruption, flight delay and baggage coverage; car rental collision/loss damage; mobile device; Visa Infinite experiences, like its luxury hotel collection, dining series, wine country and Troon Rewards golf benefits
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $150,000 or household income of $200,000

Pros 

  • Free Visa Airport Companion membership and six complimentary airport lounge visits annually.
  • Get Priority security lane, airport parking and valet service discounts at select Canadian airports.
  • Take advantage of five high-earning categories in typical big-spend categories: groceries, gas, travel, dining and drugstore purchases.

Cons

  • At $499 a year, the card has one of Canada’s highest annual fees for a credit card.
  • A very high income requirement of $150,000 for individuals or $200,000 for households.
  • While it offers a good 22 days for travel medical coverage (there are cards with a lower fee that offer more days of coverage), those aged 65 and over are only covered for three days. 

Best BMO student credit card

BMO CashBack Mastercard for Students

At a glance: If you’re on a student budget and looking to build a credit history, this may be the right card for you. This variant of the BMO CashBack Mastercard earns substantial rewards for groceries, netting you 3% cash back in that category. You’ll also earn 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on everything else. The one downside is that, as with many no-fee cards, this card is light on perks— but it does offer standard purchase protection and extended warranty.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), % on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus:
  • Earn rate: Earn 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Extended warranty and purchase protection and get 25% off on car rentals at National and Alamo locations
  • Annual income requirement: None

Pros 

  • Flexible cash back program that lets you put your earnings into a BMO account (chequing, savings or InvestorLine) or towards a statement credit.
  • The card comes with extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • Get 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada, and 20% off shows in Las Vegas, as well as 25% off rentals at National and Alamo car rental locations.

Cons

  • The grocery and recurring bill payment categories are capped at $500 a month respectively.
  • A low standard earn rate of 0.5% cash back.  
  • This no-frills card has few extras.

About BMO Rewards

What is the value of BMO Rewards Points?

The BMO Rewards program follows a similar value structure as other bank-issued points programs, like TD Rewards and Scotia Rewards. The BMO Rewards program is ideal for its variety of redemption options, giving you access to high-value rewards, and more flexible payouts like cash back on your statement—great if you find your own travel deal or want to use your rewards to pay off an everyday bill. The value of each point varies based on the category of redemption, with travel offering greater value than gift cards, merchandise or cash back redemptions.

  • Travel: 150 BMO Points = $1 / 1 BMO Point = $0.0067 (0.67%)
  • Non-travel purchases (statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, BMO investments): 200 BMO Points = $1 / 1 BMO Point = 0.005 (0.5%)

How to redeem BMO Rewards points

You must redeem BMO Rewards points through the bank’s website, BMORewards.com. There, you’ll have access to its travel portal, where you can search directly for flights, vacation packages, hotels, cars, and cruises. You also have the ability to redeem points for travel over the phone using a BMO Rewards travel agent, but there’s an additional $39 booking fee (on top of the website’s listed redemption cost.)

BMO Rewards’ best feature

Using BMO Rewards points for travel remains one of your best redemptions because of the points’ value consistency. Unlike Aeroplan and Air Miles, where points required for booking are based on supply and demand, peak travel periods and seat availability, the BMO Rewards points per $1 value doesn’t fluctuate based on inventory. This makes it one of your best options for travel rewards and redemptions, as it makes it easier to calculate redemption values and comparison shop for airlines and trip itineraries.

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