BMO Rewards: Everything You Need to Know

March 10, 2020
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In this article we discuss how to earn BMO points, their value, and how the reward system works. We talk about the different categories for redemption (Travel, merchandise, cash back, etc.) as well as the cards that work with the program, namely: The BMO Rewards Mastercard, BMO Rewards Business Mastercard and the BMO World Elite Mastercard. Out of these three, we find the World Elite to be the best in terms of point earn rate and overall benefits. If you want to join the BMO Rewards program, you should definitely consider acquiring the BMO World Elite.

Canadians are no strangers to loyalty programs, and they’re sure no strangers to one of the biggest banks in Canada, the Bank of Montreal, or BMO. In this post, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about BMO’s loyalty program, BMO Rewards. Let’s begin.

What Is The BMO Rewards Program

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) has a very compelling and flexible loyalty program called BMO Rewards, which lets you exchange points for merchandise, gift cards, travel, and much more. The BMO Rewards system is intuitive and BMO points are easy to collect and redeem.

The BMO Rewards System

What you have to know about the BMO rewards system is that individual points are valued at a decent rate, but the key thing is the rate at which you can earn them. In some cases, the earn rates can go as high as 3 points per every $1 spent on specific categories.

BMO points don’t expire and there are no minimum amounts of point expenditure, so you can redeem as little or as much as you want, depending on how much you have.

You can either redeem points online through the BMO website or by calling the BMO Rewards Centre. We recommend you redeem them through their site, unless you don’t mind paying their $30 phone booking fee.

The system is also pretty flexible which is nice; there is no shortage of options to spend your hard-earned points. Although as you’ll see, not every category is made equal when redeeming points.

How To Earn BMO Points

To start earning BMO points the first thing you need is a credit card that works with BMO Rewards. Right now there are three that you can choose from:

  • The BMO World Elite Mastercard.
  • The BMO Rewards Mastercard.
  • And the BMO Rewards Business Mastercard.

Every time you make a purchase with one of these cards, you’ll be earning points that you’ll be able to redeem for a variety of rewards. So just get one of these cards and start earning points for doing your regular spending. It’s that easy!

Credit Cards That Work With BMO Rewards:

As I just mentioned, there are three credit cards that will earn you BMO points. Let’s take a closer look at these three options and what they offer:

BMO Rewards Mastercard

Key Benefits

  • 20,000 points welcome bonus.
  • Good earn rate. 1 point per 1$ spent.
  • Special 1.99% balance transfer rate for the first 9 months.

Fees

Annual Fee Interest rate for purchases Interest rate for cash Extra Card
$0 19.99% 22.99% $0

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.

The BMO Rewards Mastercard offers up an affordable alternative to rack up BMO points without having to pay an annual fee, its welcome bonus of 20,000 points (worth around $140) is also nice.  With this card, you get 1 point per $1 spent, and double the points along with 25% discount for National and Alamo car rentals worldwide. The card also comes with purchase protection and extended warranty on most items you buy with it.

As an extra perk, you get 15% off Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada, and 20% resident shows in Las Vegas. All in all, a very good option for someone looking to start their journey into BMO Rewards.

BMO Rewards Business Mastercard

Key Benefits

  • 35,000 points welcome bonus.
  • Great earn rate. 3 BMO points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and 1.5 BMO points per $1 for everything else.
  • First-year rebate on the annual fee.

Fees

Annual Fee Interest rate for purchases Interest rate for cash Extra Card
$120 14.99% 22.99% $50

Eligibility Requirements

  • You’ll have to go to a physical BMO branch to get a specific income requirement for this card.
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.

The BMO Rewards Business Mastercard offers up a substantial welcome bonus of 35,000 points (worth around 250$) when you spend $5,000 during your first 3 months. For every $1 you spent on gas, office supplies and internet/cellphone bills you’ll get 3 BMO points, and for everything else you get 1.5 points. The annual fee for the card is also waived for the first year, so that’s nice.

With this card, you’ll also enjoy purchase protection and extended warranty on most items, along with comprehensive travel insurance. Another bonus this card has is the low-interest rate on purchases. If you’re looking for a credit card for your company and want to get into a good rewards program, you could do worse than choosing the BMO Rewards Business Mastercard.

If you want to know more about business credit cards, you may want to check our article on Business Credit Cards in Canada

BMO World Elite Mastercard

Key Benefits

  • 35,000 points welcome bonus.
  • Great earn rate. 3 BMO points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and 2 BMO points per $1 for everything else.
  • Excellent travel insurance for a credit card.
  • First-year rebate on the annual fee.

Fees

Annual Fee Interest rate for purchases Interest rate for cash Extra Card
$150 19.99% 22.99% $50

Eligibility Requirements

  • Either have a personal income of $80,000, or, a minimum household income of $150,000.
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.

When you use this card on designated dining, meals and entertainment purchases you’ll get 3 points for each dollar spend, and for everything else you buy, you get 2 points per dollar spent. You can accumulate points in this way up to a maximum of $50,000 annually.

The card also comes with a sizable welcome bonus of 35,000 points (worth around $250) that you get when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months with it. BMO also waives the annual fee for the first year. Alongside this, the card comes with comprehensive travel insurance and access to lounges worldwide through Mastercard Experiences, as well as 4 free lounge visits per year, which is excellent value.

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is the best choice for redeeming big rewards. The only downside to this card would be its high fees and income eligibility requirements, but taking into account the benefits it offers, it’s well worth it.

If you’re looking for a great rewards card with comprehensive travel insurance, you may want to check the Amex Platinum Card or the Scotiabank Gold Amex.

Best Ways To Redeem BMO Points

Now that we’re clear on how to earn points, let’s see what you can do with them. There are five basic categories you can choose from when redeeming your points:

  1. Travel: Book flights, hotel stays, cruises, rental cars and more.
  2. Shop: Use your points to buy designated merchandise and gift cards. Some of the partnered brands that offer gift cards include: Hudson’s Bay, Starbucks, Cineplex, Best Buy, The Keg, Indigo, Amazon, Canadian Tire, Winners, HomeSense, and Marshalls
  3. Experience: Go to exclusive events and get some R&R. From luxury spas to wine-and-dine tours and more.
  4. Contribute: Make a contribution to a BMO investment account.
  5. Points for Cash: Use your points for cash back or even to pay off your credit card balance.

When applying for cash back you can only redeem in increments of 15,000 points ($50), you’ll get a credit which is applied against your monthly card balance. If you want to redeem for an investment the minimum is also 15,000 points ($100), but the value is double that of cash backs. Investments can only be made to a BMO investment account.

BMO Points Value

BMO Rewards points value varies with the thing you redeem as well as with the season in case of flights, but overall the optimal way to spend BMO points is by redeeming them for travel. When used in this way, each point is worth around $0,007, or roughly around 140 points per $1.

Here’s a table to better visualize the value of BMO points, depending on which purchase category you decide to redeem them for:

Category Point value
Travel $0,007
Merchandise $0,0065 *
Gift cards $0,0056
Experiences $0,0065
Investment $0,006
Cash Back $0,0033

*(this is on average, but it depends on the specific purchase)

As stated above, the best choice is clearly redeeming for travel. But it comes with a downside: you can only book your travel through a BMO Rewards travel agent. However, at least they do price matching, so be sure to do a good search and find the best possible price before you call them to book a trip.

One caveat regarding points value is the merchandise category since, sometimes, the rate of redemption for certain items can actually be higher than for travel. If you’re itching to get yourself something nice you may want to be on the lookout for special offers and good deals.

BMO Reward Extra Benefits

Apart from the great features we’ve covered so far, the BMO Rewards program offers some extra parks that could be a deal maker for many:

  • No blackout periods: So that you have no trouble flying during any time of the year, even during peak season.
  • Book up to 2 days before your departure. This gives you plenty of room to set up your itinerary.
  • BMO points can be used to cover taxes and fees. This is a big plus because it literally implies that you can pay for an entire trip without putting up a single dollar. You can pay the whole thing with your points.
  • BMO points don’t expire: This is quite good, because you don’t have to stress over having to spend your points on things you don’t want just not to lose them. However, if your account is closed, you’ll have 90 days to spend your points before they are erased for all eternity.
  • Price matching: You can apply for lower-cost flights when they have the same itinerary than the one you just booked. This is very useful and could end up saving you a considerable amount of points.

BMO Rewards Disadvantages     

Even if things do look pretty good with thisloyalty program, it does have its downfalls, the most important of which are:

  • You can only book your travel through a BMO Rewards travel agent, for which you will have to pay a $30 dollar booking fee.
  • This program doesn’t let you transfer points to other loyalty programs, or even to other BMO accounts.

What these cons imply is that you really have to do the math when choosing to redeem your points for travel, since you have to add an extra $30 to the deal. The second downside implies that your points are stuck as BMO points, which is a bit of a reverse regarding flexibility. Other loyalty programs like the Amex Membership Rewards program, let you transfer your points to other loyalty programs like Aeroplan, or Avios, giving you more options when it comes to using your points.

In Conclusion

BMO Rewards is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada for a reason. Its flexibility, the easiness of accruing BMO points and their good redemption rate make it a worthwhile choice for most Canadians looking to earn rewards while maintaining their regular spending habits.

All the three cards compatible with BMO Rewards offer excellent welcome bonuses for their respective eligibility requirements, and each has some other valuable perks as well. The main downside of this program is the hassle of only being able to book flights through their travel agents.

Overall, BMO offers good opportunities to earn rewards. While this may not be the best rewards program in Canada, it’s certainly up there when you take into account all the benefits. If you’re already a BMO accountholder, then the BMO Rewards program is probably your best option.

If you’re interested in other Mastercard credit cards, you may want to check our article Mastercard Canada: Which is the Best?

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