Look Beyond Sign Up Bonuses – BMO World Elite MasterCard Review

BMO World Elite MasterCard Review

Would you sign up for a travel rewards card if it meant you could fly right away for free? Massive point and mile sign-up bonuses are the latest favoured incentive from credit card companies, keen on luring customers with the promise of an instant vacay.

While complimentary jet setting is an attractive idea, it’s important for prospective cardholders to look beyond sign up perks and asses the real value offered by a card over time. Be sure to ask yourself the following when choosing a credit card:

  • Is it a good fit for my spending habits?
  • Is there an annual fee?
  • Will it earn rewards quickly and with few restrictions?
  • What is the value of one reward?
  • How convenient is it to redeem rewards?

 Penelope’s Pick: BMO® World Elite™ MasterCard®*

BMO World Elite card details

This premium option from Bank of Montreal really is a winner across the board; not only are new signups welcomed with a hefty 30,000 point bonus (a $300 travel value), this card offers a fast-earning and flexible rewards program that’s designed for daily use. It also offers great value over time – the average cardholder will earn over $1,139.76 in travel value over a two-year period*.

In fact, these attributes scored BMO’s Elite offering the top Travel Rewards Credit Card award in our annual Best of Finance Awards.

Want to learn more about the best credit cards in Canada?: Check out our top credit card winners and runner ups>

*Based on the gas, grocery and travel spend of an average Canadian household, this credit card will earn cardholders $1,139.76 over a two-year period.

 What’s Great:

  •  30,000 points upon sign up ($300 travel value)
  • No annual fee for the first year
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including emergency medical (up to 21 days for those under age 65), trip delay and cancellation, baggage and rental car coverage. Coverage applies to unlimited trips per year.
  • VIP Priority Pass membership and four complimentary airport lounge access passes (a $200 USD value).
  • No point expiration
  • 2 BMO points earned on the dollar on all purchases, with no retailer restrictions
  • Free additional cards

What’s Not:

  • Cardholders will have to pay an annual fee of $150 after the first year.
  • A higher-than-average interest rate at 20.50%
  • Rewards points must be booked through BMO’s Rewards Centre.

Who Should Use This Card?

This card is a great option for those who reach for their plastic daily on everyday purchases like gas and groceries. Its earning structure is similar to a cash back card in that rewards are earned on every transaction, and not limited to specific retailers or eligible purchase types.

 This card is a great fit for you if:

  • You use your card for daily purchases
  • You pay your card balance in full every month
  • You want travel-specific rewards
  • You are looking to save on your travel insurance coverage
  • You don’t mind booking your travel through BMO’s Rewards Centre

How To Redeem Your Travel Rewards

Travelers looking for a plush flying experience are sure to enjoy the included VIP lounge access, and the peace of mind provided by the built in travel insurance features.

However, flights, hotels and vacation packages must be booked via the BMO Rewards Centre – while BMO’s literature states that travel is available at “highly competitive rates, similar to those at other online booking sites”, this means you forgo the ability to book through discount sites such as Expedia or Hotwire when cashing in your points. The program is open to all airlines with no blackout periods, and points can be put towards all travel costs, including airfare taxes and fees.

The card must be used to partially or fully pay for travel in order to redeem points and be covered under the included travel insurance features.

Not keen on a vacation? Points can also be redeemed for non-travel items from BMO’s Rewards Catalogue, or cashed in via a BMO investment account.

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11 thoughts on “Look Beyond Sign Up Bonuses – BMO World Elite MasterCard Review

  1. Does anyone allow the transfer of points from one reward travel card to another? I have 800,000 or $8000.00 of travel points with one card now but the fees are getting higher all the time. Does anyone transfer existing points to get a loyal customer as myself, for instance I have been with the same card company for almost 18 years because of the points. My wife and I have used the same amount again as we now have over the years and have enjoyed the benifits.

    • Hi Dave,
      Usually, points are transferable within the same loyalty program. For example, if you’ve been collecting Airmiles, you should be able to transfer those to another credit card that also collects those rewards. The best course of action to take is to call the Rewards Centre of the program you’re earning with and have them confirm this.

      In some cases, you may also be able to convert your points to cash, should you wish to withdraw from the rewards program altogether. Again, confirm this with your rewards provider. THanks for such a great question – we’re now looking into doing a post about this to further answer your concerns!

      • Great article! But I’m curious how you arrived at the reward earn total of $1,139.76 over a two-year period. This would equate to a spend of $56,988? That seems awfully high to be “the gas, grocery and travel spend of an average Canadian household” over a two-year period.

  2. What about redemptions, has anyone actually booked thru BMO? I was trying to do some comparisons, but you can’t access the site without a card.

    • Redemptions – I just posted elsewhere on this. The prices for the air are OK – not brilliant. Usually cheaper to book from the airline directly. If you do this, then you cannot use your points agains the purchase!

      Hotels: not brilliant. We found the hotel we wanted, but BMO rewards did not have the same Rate option (we wanted a Club Room, and BMO offered a standard room). The Club Room is available on all the other sites (expedia, hotelclub, last minute travel, trivago, etc…). So after calling BMO, they said they can call the hotel directly, and they have to book the hotel – but would not guarantee they can get the same rate. If they do get the same rate, and you have the points in your account, they will deduct the points.

      And for this privilege, they will charge about $35 to do the booking.

      I like the 2%. I don’t like the fact you have to deal with BMO Rewards. Would be much better if you can book whatever travel you want anywhere and then ask BMO to put the points agains that travel.

      Amex Scotia Rewards allows that. I think others do as well. But they don’t give the 2%.

    • We have used the BMO card for a few years now and are very happy with it. We have earned a number of flights. We normally fly Westjet and found the BMO price to be the same as the price on the Westjet website. We have also booked over a dozen hotel rooms through the BMO site and have never had a problem. Prices for hotels are not always the same as you can find on other web sites but they are similar.

  3. I got the card this year for the first time – no fee, 30,000 points bonus.
    However, when I tried to book the flight of my choice I had to go through the BMO Reward Centre. This was a huge problem.
    1. Their prices were not competitive. In my case, I could buy each economy class ticket for $359 less in the open market (“expedia”, “ onetravel”, “escapes”) than what the BMO Rewards Centre charged – a difference of almost 30%.
    2. The BMO call centre is very inefficient and unprofessional. I decided to use my points anyway (what else would I do with it?) and booked the flight/received confirmation. Next day I got a phone call that they could not ticket my confirmed flight but they could offer me another one – more stops; very long layovers. When I refused they said they would get back to me. They got back to me later and said they would honour my confirmed reservation. (I half-expect them to call again and change their story again.)
    I complained to both BMO and the BMO Reward centre, received apologies for the poor service but not any meaningful remedy.
    Since I paid no fee and received a bonus of 30,000 points I did not suffer any loss but I will certainly not renew this card. In my view, their prices make the points useless and the competency of the BMO Rewards Centre does not convey much confidence.

  4. iBooked a double tree hotel at disney very pleased Hotel gave me meal plan as an extra. very pleased but wish I could book flight with any flight not just with BMO rewards

  5. I found flights elsewhere for $200 cheaper as BMO rewards were not competitive and wouldn’t price match because they said it was a travel agency (Flight Networks??) had to OPEN a BMO account in order to transfer points and they only give you 50% of the value. After accumulating $700 in points, I lost 1/2. I cancelled the card.

  6. Booked my trip to Spain and Morroco through points. The flights were competitive and no issues in booking the flight.

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