The BMO World Elite Mastercard

September 15, 2020
Blog
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A great option for those who find themselves constantly traveling overseas, the BMO World Elite Mastercard offers flexibility when redeeming rewards, a very good travel insurance package and access to hundreds of lounges around the world, among other perks.

Though its high-income eligibility requirements put it outside the range of most Canadians, this credit card certainly is worth its salt, thanks to its easy to use BMO Rewards system, along with its welcome bonus of 35,000 points and the fact that the annual fee is waived for the first year.

Between the welcome bonus points (equivalent to $250), plus the waived annual fee ($150) and the four free lounge visits per year (worth $140), BMO gives newcomers to its most expensive card a warm welcome.

Overall, this great card for anyone who likes to travel.

Welcome Bonus 5
Rewards Program 6
Earn Rates 7
Travel Benefits 8
Annual Benefits vs. Annual Fee 10
Referral Program 1
Travel Insurance 10
Purchase Coverage 10
Foreign Transaction Fees 4
Customer Service & Online Experience 8
Total  69

Key Advantages

  • 35,000 points welcome bonus.
  • Great earn rate of 3 points per dollar on eligible purchases and 2 points per dollar on everything else.
  • Flexibility when redeeming your points.
  • Excellent travel insurance for a credit card.

Key Disadvantages

  • Costly to qualify
  • To redeem points for travel, you’ll have to book through a BMO Rewards agent, limiting your options
We recommend the BMO World Elite Mastercard if:

Features & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points35,000 BMO points
Points Rate on Food and Entertainment3 BMO points per $1
Points Rate on Everything Else2 BMO points per $1
Hotel BenefitsYes
Concierge ServiceYes
Comprehensive Travel InsuranceYes
Foreign Transaction Fees2.5%
Interest Rates 19.99% for Purchase
22.99% for Cash Advances
Annual Fee$150

Fees, Interest Rates And Eligibility Requirements

The annual fee for this card is certainly high, but BMO sweetens the pot by waving off the first year. The interest rates are pretty standard, and finally, the eligibility requirements are not for everyone, but as stated above, the perks that come with the card do make up for its exclusivity.

Fees

Annual Fee Extra Card
$150 $50

Each additional card has an extra cost of $50 per year, but it does let you accrue points faster.

This card’s annual fee is on the higher end of the spectrum, other similar travel cards like the American Express Cobalt Card ($120 annually) or the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite ($139 annually) offer great travel benefits at lower fees.

Interest Rates

Purchases Cash Advance Balance Transfer
19.99% 22.99% 22.99%

These are standard interest rates.

Eligibility Requirements

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

Welcome Bonus

When you get the BMO World Elite Mastercard you’ll obtain 35,000 BMO Rewards points (equivalent to $250) after spending $3,000 with the card during the first three months. And, you don’t have to pay the annual fee ($150) for the first year.

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 that you can rack them up pretty fast thanks to the BMO World Elite’s great earn rate.

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

You can either redeem points online through the BMO website or by calling the BMO Rewards Centre. We recommend you redeem them through the site, unless you want to pay their $30 phone booking fee.

When redeeming your points, there are five categories you can choose from:

  1. Travel: Book flights, hotel stays, cruises, rental cars and more.
  2. Experience: Go to exclusive events and get some R&R. From a luxury spa to a wine-and-dine tours.
  3. Shop: Use your points to buy designated merchandise and gift cards.
  4. Contribute: Make a contribution into a BMO investment account.
  5. Points for Cash: Use your points for cash back or even to pay off your credit card balance.

One thing we like is that BMO points never expire, which lets you gather them at your own pace while planning the best way to treat yourself or a loved one. The system is also pretty flexible which is nice, there are no shortage of options to spend your well-earned points. Although as you’ll see, not every category is made equal when redeeming points.

The Value Of BMO Points

Here’s a quick list of BMO points’ value, arranged from highest to lowest:

Category Point value
Travel 0.7 cents
Experiences 0.65 cents
Shop (Merchandise) 0.65 cents
Contribute (Investment) 0.6 cents
Shop (Gift cards) 0.56 cents
Cash Back 0.33 cents

As you can see, the best way to spend BMO points is by redeeming them for travel. When used in this way each point is worth around 0.7 cents per point.

Cash back redemptions, on the other hand, offer the worst return. They can only be redeemed in increments of 15,000 points (equivalent to $50), and are applied against your credit card balance. On the other hand, to redeem for an investment the minimum is also 15,000 points, but the value is double that of cash back ($100). Do take note that this contribution can only be made to a BMO investment account.

All in all…

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

Another advantage of booking travel through BMO Rewards is that they don’t have blackout periods, meaning that you will have no trouble flying during any time of the year, even during peak season. As a matter of fact, you can book as late as 2 days before your departure.

World Elite Travel Insurance

The BMO World Elite Mastercard offers one of the best credit card travel insurance in Canada. Like most other travel cards, it automatically covers the cardholder + spouse and dependent children, when under 65 years of age. However, unlike most of its direct competitors, if older than 65, you can request coverage by paying a premium. This is important when you take into account that not all card travel insurances cover seniors, even as an added coverage, making this an exceptional value.

The duration of the coverage is pretty good too, sitting at 21 days, in unlimited trips per year, and it can be extended up to 31 days. The emergency medical coverage is double what most other cards offer. The range of situations and amounts covered is also great, although it doesn’t include hotel burglary, for some reason.

For a fuller picture, here’s a table with the coverage that the BMO World Elite travel insurance offers:

Coverage Amount Covered
Travel Medical Emergency $2,000,000
Travel Accident $500,000
Car Rental Insurance $65,000
Trip Cancellation $2,500 per person / $5,000 per trip
Trip Interruption / Delay $2,000 per person
Flight Delay $500
Lost Baggage $750 per person / $2,000 per trip
Delayed Baggage $200 (Kicks in after a 12+ hours delay)

If you do the math and compare insurance prices, the travel insurance alone is enough to cover the annual fee after only one or two trips with your family. The question is, will you let this opportunity pass you by?

Related: If you’re interested to learn more about travel insurance, check out our article on the best travel insurance options for Canadians

Travel Perks

The BMO World Elite Mastercard has certainly earned its reputation as a top travel credit card, in no small part thanks to the travel benefits it offers to its cardholders. It offers travelers both lounge access and concierge service, two of the most coveted perks frequent fliers look for in their credit cards.

BMO World Elite Mastercard Lounge Access

First off, thanks to its partnership with Lounge Key, this card lets you have 4 free lounge visits per year, which you can use for yourself or a traveling companion. Those 4 passes alone are worth $140. At the same time, Mastercard Airport Experiences provides cardholders access to over a 1,000 lounges worldwide. If you’re a frequent traveler, this can be quite useful when in between flights.

BMO World Elite Concierge

Aside from the R&R, the cardholder gets ‘round the clock Concierge services to help make plans, reservations or shop anywhere in Canada. Maybe you want to book your stay in another country but don’t have the time? Or perhaps you want to arrange a pickup for a family member while you’re at work? Don’t worry there is a dedicated staff available 24 hours a day to help make your life easier.

With this card, you can also get discounts of up to 25% at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-a-Car locations around the world.

Other concierge services like the Amex Concierge also provide international assistance, which comes for example, with the American Express Platinum.

Other Extra Perks

The benefits we’ve seen so far are pretty sweet, but that’s not all this card has to offer. Here are some other perks you may like:

  • BMO points can be used to cover taxes and fees.
  • Purchase protection for theft, damage, or loss of items for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Extended warranty for up to 1 year for eligible items.
  • 15% off Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada and 20% off main shows in Las Vegas.
  • Optional credit card balance protection.

In Summary

As the priciest member of the BMO credit card family, the BMO World Elite Mastercard pulls its weight and delivers its intended purpose by providing exceptional travel benefits and insurance, as well as a nice reward system to boot.

As with every credit card, the key factor in taking advantage of its reward system is not accumulating the points, but knowing how to spend them. However, even if you’re not a conscientious money optimizer, the travel benefits along with the insurance and welcome bonus can be worth the hassle of getting the BMO World Elite.

This card is clearly not for everyone, but the rewards and perks it offers more than make up for its high eligibility requirements. If you find yourself traveling a lot, like a robust rewards system and don’t mind booking trips through BMO’s travel agents, then this is the credit card for you.


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