Canadians have an appetite for travel and, accordingly, the travel rewards credit card field is packed with competing cards. With an attractive insurance package and perks like airport lounge access, the BMO World Elite Mastercard seeks to tempt users into the BMO Rewards program. But here’s the big question: Is the card good enough to justify the $150 annual fee? We delve into what the card offers and show you exactly how it stacks up against other travel reward cards.
BMO World Elite Mastercard quick facts
- Annual fee: $150 (waived for the first year for new members)
- Rewards: 3 BMO Rewards Points per dollar on dining, travel and entertainment; 2 Points per dollar for everything else
- Welcome offer: Get up to 35,000 Points and the first year’s annual fee waived
- BMO Rewards Points value: 1 point = $0.007 when redeemed for travel
- Income requirement: $80,000 annually or $150,000 household
- Purchase interest rate: 19.99%
- Best features: Airport lounge access with 4 free annual passes; BMO Points redemption on any airline without blackout dates; great rewards on everyday spending; robust insurance coverage
- Who is it best for: Frequent flyers and high income earners
- Also seen in: The BMO World Elite Mastercard was named one of the best travel cards and one of the best credit cards with lounge access by MoneySense
The BMO World Elite Mastercard
- 5 things you need to know about the BMO World Elite Mastercard
- How do I redeem my BMO Rewards?
- What are BMO Rewards Points worth?
- What are the best ways to benefit from this card?
- Are there any drawbacks to the BMO World Elite Mastercard?
5 things you need to know about the BMO World Elite Mastercard
- The card lets you collect BMO travel rewards
The BMO Rewards program allows you to earn BMO Points on your credit card purchases, redeemable for travel expenses such as flights (including all taxes), hotels, cruises and vacation packages. With the BMO World Elite Mastercard, you earn 3 Points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment purchases, and 2 Points per dollar on everything else—a competitive offering. Even at the minimum earn rate of 2 Points per dollar, that’s around 1.4% on most purchases, which beats out the 1% offered by most other cards.
- The card has a generous sign-up bonus
New members receive a welcome offer of 35,000 BMO Rewards Points when they charge $3,000 to the card within their first 3 months, which works out to approximately $250 in travel rewards, depending on how you redeem. Plus, they sweeten the pot by waiving the annual fee for the first year. In total, this works out to about $400 in bonuses.
- You’ll get airport lounge access
Cardholders of the BMO World Elite Mastercard receive complimentary membership to Mastercard Experiences by LoungeKey which entitles them to VIP access and four annual complimentary passes, good at 1,000 airport lounges across the globe, including most Priority Pass lounges—a perk worth around $140 annually.
- It comes with great travel insurance
The BMO World Elite Total Travel and Medical Protection package is a tempting and valuable perk, providing out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical protection up to $2 million, plus coverage for flight delay or cancellation, lost or delayed baggage (including personal effects insurance), and car rental collision damage coverage. Purchased separately, this coverage could cost around $120 per trip, but cardholders get it for an unlimited number of journeys of up to 21 days each.
- Your Mastercard is accepted everywhere
While most main credit card processors enjoy extensive international coverage, Mastercard has an edge as the only brand accepted at Costco and No Frills.
How do I redeem my BMO Rewards?
With BMO Rewards, the redemption process is as simple as logging in to your account. To redeem for rewards, you can avail yourself of the full-service online travel agency or shop from their catalogue. You can book with any airline without blackout dates or seat restrictions, and BMO also offers price matching, so you can be sure you’re getting the very best deal.
What are BMO Rewards Points worth?
Points redeemed for travel come in at a value of 140:$1 ($0.007 per point), meaning that you’ll need 35,000 Points for $250 towards travel expenses. Importantly, you don’t have to redeem a minimum number of Points, or any, to book travel—and you can pay whatever your Points don’t cover by charging that amount to your card.
Redemptions for gift cards and merchandise are just as simple (you select from an online catalogue), but you’ll typically get less value from your Points compared to travel. Finally, you can redeem your Points for financial products, but this option comes at a steep reduction in value. For 7,500 Points you can get $50 in a BMO investment account (which is about $0.00667 per point), or for 15,000 Points you’ll receive $50 towards your credit card bill (about $0.0033 per point).
With all these redemption options, the BMO Rewards program is extremely flexible—this is one of the main reasons it’s so popular—but for the very best Point-to-dollar ratio, travel rewards are the way to go.
What are the best ways to benefit from this card?
Even though the BMO Rewards program offers numerous redemption possibilities, travel rewards give you the very best value—with no seat restrictions or blackouts. Add to that the card’s airport lounge access, and travel and medical insurance, and you’ve got a very competitive product for travellers.
Are there any drawbacks to the BMO World Elite Mastercard?
Despite a very strong showing in many respects, there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. The first is that the BMO World Elite Mastercard commands an income threshold of $80,000 per year and a higher-than-average annual fee of $150 (most travel cards come in around the $120 mark). An extra $30 per year may not matter much to high-earners, but the fee may give you pause, especially when you consider that some cards offer more lucrative bonus categories. The Scotiabank Gold American Express*, for example, offers 5 Scotia Points on restaurants and groceries.
Finally, the BMO Rewards website could use some work, given that it’s the portal through which users must make redemptions. Improvements to site speed would go a long way to keeping customers happy, and would help cement the brand’s reputation as a top-tier provider.
The $150 annual fee on the BMO World Elite Mastercard is nothing to sneeze at, but for frequent flyers, the travel rewards more than make up the expense. Still undecided? New cardholders get their money back instantly in bonus Points and a fee waiver, so you effectively have a year to see for yourself. If you’re interested in BMO cards, but don’t want to collect travel rewards, check out our list of BMO’s best credit cards.