BMO credit cards: A breakdown of the bank’s best cards 2020 - MoneySense

BMO credit cards: A breakdown of the bank’s best cards 2020

Choose the right credit card option for your lifestyle, whether you're looking for low interest rates or travel rewards, from this popular bank's offerings.

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Best BMO credit cards

Photo by Spring Fed Images on Unsplash

Along with Canada’s other big banks, BMO (Bank of Montreal) offers the stability that stems from a long history as an established institution. BMO was founded in 1817, making it Canada’s oldest incorporated bank, and it’s been the nation’s fourth largest since 2018. Due, in part, to its close ties to the United States (it operates in many U.S. cities as BMO Harris Bank) and association with the wildly popular Air Miles rewards program, this bank captures the business of millions of Canadians.

Read on to learn more about the best selections from across BMO’s 11 credit card offerings, including recommended cards for travellers and Air Miles collectors, as well as the most attractive no-fee, cash back and low interest cards.

The best BMO Mastercard credit cards in Canada


Best BMO no-fee card

BMO CashBack Mastercard*

BMO-Cash-Back-Mastercard

You know what we all need? More cash in our pockets. Here’s why the no-annual-fee BMO CashBack Mastercard is the perfect card to do just that: Applicants need not put down their own money to start earning a respectable 1% cash back, or $1.00 back for every $100.00, on all card purchases. And the welcome bonus—5% back for the first three months on up to $2,000 in spending—gives them the opportunity to put away up to a hundred bucks. For those carrying debt, this card offers a low 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for a full nine months.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rate: 1% cash back on every purchase
  • Welcome bonus: 5% cash back in the first 3 months on up to $2,000 in purchases; introductory 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months
  • Additional perks: Purchase protection and extended warranty; discounts at Avis and National Car Rentals and Cirque du Soleil; free to add authorized cardholders
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the BMO CashBack Mastercard* >


Best BMO travel card

BMO World Elite Mastercard*

bmo-world-elite-mastercard

Typically, premium cards come with high annual fees in return for rare (and often really expensive) benefits—and while the BMO World Elite Mastercard does have an annual fee, it really delivers on the perks. The main advantage here is an accelerated earn rate in the BMO Rewards program, which allows members to redeem BMO Rewards Points for travel expenses like flights and hotels, or for experiences and merchandise. With this card, users can reach their goals more quickly with a very competitive earn rate of 3 Points for every $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases, and 2 Points for every $1 spent everywhere else.

Plus, new applicants receive a welcome bonus of 35,000 Points (worth $250 towards travel) and their first year of membership for free. With a collection of robust insurance and some attractive airport perks through LoungeKey, this is a serviceable package.

  • Annual fee: $150 (first year of annual fee waived)
  • Earn rate: 3 points per dollar spent on travel, dining and entertainment, 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: 35,000 BMO Rewards Points (worth $250 towards travel in the first 3 months)
  • Additional perks: Free airport lounge access through membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access and 4 free annual passes; BMO World Elite Total Travel and Medical Protection that includes several types of travel and medical insurance; additional cards for $50; purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Get more details about the BMO World Elite Mastercard* >


Best BMO Air Miles card

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

Air Miles is one of Canada’s most popular travel rewards programs, allowing members to collect points (“Miles”) that can be redeemed for flights, as well as merchandise. Many BMO cards already offer users Miles when they spend; however, the very best deal is the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. Card holders enjoy a fantastic earn rate of 1 Mile per every $10 in credit card purchases, and those who exercise the welcome bonus can snag a quick 3,000 bonus miles. Pro tip: Collectors can double their Miles when they show their Air Miles Collector Card at Air Miles partners.

Frequent travellers will also enjoy this card’s full complement of travel-related perks like World Elite Travel and Medical Protection, 15% discounts on flights in North America, and free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access and two annual complimentary passes.

  • Annual fee: $120 (first year of annual fee waived)
  • Earn rate: 1 Mile for every $10 spent
  • Welcome bonus: Up to 3,000 Air Miles (1,000 on the first purchase and an additional 2,000 after a $3,000 spend in the first 3 months); first year of annual fee waived
  • Additional perks: Free airport lounge access through membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access and 2 free annual passes; 15% discounts on flights in North America; 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
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Get more details about the Air Miles World Elite* >


Best BMO cash back card

BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard*

BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard

People like cash as a reward because it’s flexible—a concept not lost on BMO, hence the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard. This card does away with tiered rewards or categories and offers a flat cash back rate of 1.5% on all credit card purchases. Even better, unlike some cards that automatically deposit rewards once a calendar year, this product allows the account holder to choose when to redeem points in $10 increments (as long as they’ve accumulated at least $50), and where to apply it; the money can be deposited into an InvestorLine account, a chequing or savings account or applied to credit card debt. A welcome bonus of 5% cash back for the first three months just sweetens the deal.

As an Elite Mastercard, this product offers its users a suite of perks including BMO CashBack World Elite travel and medical protection, roadside assistance and complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey.

  • Annual fee: $120 (first year of annual fee waived)
  • Earn rate: 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Welcome bonus: 5% cash back for the first 3 months up to $4,000 in purchases
  • Additional perks: 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; membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey; free membership in the Dominion Automobile Association (DAA) with basic coverage in their BMO Roadside Assistance Program; purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Get more details about the BMO CashBack World Elite* >


Best BMO low interest card

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

BMO-Preferred-Rate-Mastercard

With the interest rate on most credit cards hovering around 20%, many people simply can’t afford to carry debt. According to the Bank of Canada, Canadian household debt totals more than $2 trillion, with mortgages making up almost 75% of the figure. Most Canadians will at some point need to make an extra-large purchase or handle an unforeseen circumstance leading to an outstanding balance. In these cases, it’s crucial to act fast. 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 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers, this product can help you minimize the accumulation of interest on your debt and new purchases.

  • Annual fee: $20 (refunded in the first year)
  • Interest rate: 12.99% for purchases and cash advances
  • Balance transfer offer: 3.99% introductory offer on balance transfers for 9 months
  • Additional perks: Purchase protection and extended warranty; discounts on Cirque du Soleil shows
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard* >


About BMO Rewards

Relevant cards:

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 depending on what you’re redeeming for, but the rule of thumb is travel will remain your best bet for the highest value compared to other redemptions like gift cards, merchandise or cash back.

  • Travel: 140 BMO Points = $1 / 1 BMO Point = $0.0071 (0.71%)
  • Money to invest in a BMO account: 15,000 BMO Points = $100 / 1 BMO Point = $0.0067 (0.67%)
  • Cash to pay off your statement: 15,000 BMO Points = $50 / 1 BMO Point = $0.0033 (0.33%)
  • Gift cards: Varies, but generally 1 BMO Point = $0.0043 to $0.0054
  • Merchandise: Varies, but generally you won’t get as much value for merchandise when compared to the travel or investment options

How to redeem BMO Rewards points

All redemptions for BMO Rewards points go through their website, BMORewards.com. There, you’ll have access to their travel portal, where you can search directly for flights, vacation packages, hotels, cars, and cruises, along with their respective points required for travel redemption. 

You also have the ability to redeem points for travel over the phone using a BMO Rewards travel agent, but an additional $39 booking fee will be charged 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 dollar value don’t fluctuate based on inventory. 

Ultimately, BMO Rewards makes it easier for you to calculate redemption values, comparison shop among multiple airlines and itinerary options with no travel blackout dates, plus you can use your points to cover the cost of taxes and fees. 


About BMO Cash Back

Relevant cards:

Outside of travel, infrequent travellers who want to pay off an everyday expense or those who find a better accommodation deal on a website like Airbnb may prefer to get cash back to their monthly statement balance. 

Unlike other banks, which issue cash back once or twice a year at predefined dates, BMO allows you to redeem at any time of the year, so long as you accrue a minimum of $50, you can redeem in increments of $10. 


About Air Miles

Relevant cards:

Air Miles are redeemed in two ways: Air Miles Cash Miles and Air Miles Dream Miles. Within your Air Miles mobile application, you can decide the percentage you want to designate to Cash Miles versus Dream Miles.

Air Miles Cash Miles are redeemed at 95 Miles to a $10 voucher, which can be used for purchases from participating Air Miles partner retailers, like Metro grocery stores. Dream Miles are allocated towards travel to be booked on Air Miles’ travel portal. Unlike the BMO Rewards portal, the Miles required for travel do vary based on when and where you would like to go, so redemption value can fluctuate. Air Miles also requires travellers to pay for all additional taxes and fees—you cannot cover off these costs using your Air Miles balance.

If you’re a frequent shopper at grocery stores like Metro or rent cars with National, earning Air Miles twice when shopping at participating Air Miles partners and using your BMO Air Miles credit cards can help you achieve rewards faster. You must carry both your Air Miles Collector Card and BMO Air Miles credit card in your wallet, or you can set up both cards on your mobile device via Apple Pay or Google Pay in order to double-collect.


BMO Premium Chequing Account

BMO offers a Premium Chequing Account which comes with a rebate of up to $150 on the annual fee for any BMO World Elite Mastercard. If you bank with BMO, this is a great way to access a $150 value on a premium credit card that enables you to choose between flexible rewards from their in-house BMO Rewards program, Air Miles or cash back to your statement. 

The BMO Premium Chequing Account costs $30 per month, but the monthly fee is waived entirely if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $6,000. The annual cost of the credit card is built into the monthly fee of $30 alongside the account’s other generous features, including unlimited withdrawals at non-BMO ATMS worldwide, unlimited Interac e-transfers and free overdraft protection. So, if you’re able to maintain the minimum balance, the free premium credit card is a good way to maximize the value before any points redemptions are even considered. 


Overview: Canada’s Best BMO Credit Cards


Credit card Annual fee Best for Top feature Top side perks
BMO CashBack Mastercard $0 No fee 1% cash back on everything Complimentary extended warranties
BMO World Elite Mastercard $150 Travel points Up to 3 Points per dollar spent Lounge access; extensive travel insurance; fly on virtually any airline
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard $120 Air Miles 1 Mile per dollar $10 spent Lounge access; extensive travel insurance; savings at Air Miles retailers
BMO CashBack World Elite $120 Cash back 1.5% cash back on everything Complimentary roadside assistance
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard $20 Low interest 12.99% APR on purchases 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months

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