Comparing AIR MILES Credit Cards: BMO Vs. American Express. Which Is Best?

Air Miles Credit CardCanadian credit card issuers are in a frenzy trying to keep and capture market-share from one another. We’re seeing higher sign-up bonuses, annual fee waivers, low interest promotional rates and other juicy enticements. AIR MILES and its two credit card issuers, BMO and American Express, are no exception. In fact, American Express and BMO are going head to head in an unprecedented aggressive marketing push.

Canadians now have the opportunity to milk the battle and benefit from the largest AIR MILES credit card sign-up bonuses EVER. That’s correct – ever.

Below is a comprehensive comparison of the welcome bonus, annual fee, mile accumulation opportunities and insurance coverages offered for each AIR MILES credit card available in the Canadian marketplace today. Don’t miss out. With a host of no annual fee cards with AIR MILES welcome bonus offers, there’s no a risk and tons of rewards – a bank beating strategy:

  BMO SPC Student AIR MILES MasterCard The American Express AIR MILES Credit Card BMO No-Fee AIR MILES MasterCard BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
Annual Fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 1st Yr, $65 After $120 $299
Supplementary Card Free Free Free Free Free Free $50
Sign-Up Bonus AIR MILES 400 500 0 400 2,000 3,000 2,400
Interest Rate 19.9% 0% for 6 months on balance transfers & 19.99% on purchases 19.9% 19.9% 0% for 6 months on balance transfers & 19.99% on purchases 19.9% 19.99%
Base Earn Rate 1 mile : $20 1 mile : $20 PROMO, 2 miles : $20 for 1st 6 months

1 mile : $20

1 mile :$20 1 mile : $15 1 mile : $10  1 mile : $15
Earn Rate at AIR MILES PARTNERS 1 mile : $15
(all AIR MILES Partners)
1 mile : $12 (Shell) 2 miles: $20 @ Sobeys1.25X miles at Shell 1 mile : $10
(all AIR MILES Partners)
1 mile : $10
(all AIR MILES Partners)
 1 mile : $10 (all AIR MILES Partners)
Perks & Bonuses! 10%-15% Student discounts at hundreds of stores N/A N/A 1 mile : $10
(grocery, gas, drugstore)
2 Free airport lounge passes
Fly on any AIR MILES flight for 25% fewer miles when you book through airmiles.ca
Free companion flight ticket!
4 Free airport lounge access passes
FlexFly Redemptions
Redeem for flight taxes & fees
AIR Miles flight admin fees are waived
Insurance Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident
Car Rental
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident
Car Rental
Emergency Medical
Flight Delay
Lost or stolen baggage
Baggage Delay
Trip Cancellation
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Trip Interruption
Travel Accident
Car Rental
Emergency Medical
Flight Delay
Lost or stolen baggage
Baggage Delay
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
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From a pure value perspective, we think BMO and Amex have hit it out of the park with their huge limited time offer sign-up bonuses for the Amex’s Platinum Air Miles card (NO ANNUAL FEE first year, 2,000 Air Miles sign-up bonus) and the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard (3,000 Air Miles sign-up bonus, available online only). BMO has also come up with a really cool offer for its no-fee BMO Air Miles MasterCard  (2 Miles for every $20 for the first 6 months  – DOUBLE the Miles!).

For those looking for an Air Miles card with no annual fee, the BMO Air Miles MasterCard might be just the card. With no annual fee and its DOUBLE Air Miles reward welcome bonus (2 miles for every $20 in spend the first 6 months with no limits), if you have some nice spend coming up this summer, it could be a great opportunity to accumulate miles.

The BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard is also offering tremendous value. It’s dangling a 3,000 Air Miles reward welcome bonus (1,000 on activation, 2,000 after $3,000 in spend). That’s the equivalent of 3 free short-haul flights – an unprecedented Air Miles bonus. The World Elite also gets kudos for fantastic earning power of 1 Air Miles reward for every $10 in spend, a 25% discount on North American flight redemptions, 2 free lounge passes per year and of course a roster of free travel coverages that would make your insurance broker blush.

Some cards certainly offer additional value worth considering. The American Express Reserve Card notably offers a free companion ticket every year, 4 free passes to lounges annually, and access to AIR MILES Flex Fly, which provides you with more airline flexibility and the ability to pay for taxes and fees with points.

The new BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard comes in close with a 400 AIR MILES sign-up bonus offer, and no annual fee. If you shop at Sobeys you’ll get 2 AIR MILES per $20 spent, which is the fastest way to earn AIR MILES at Sobeys of any AIR MILES credit card in the country. With no annual fee, if you shop at Sobeys, you should get the card for your Sobeys shopping regardless. Combine the credit card with your AIR MILES collector card when shopping at Sobeys and you’ll be double dipping, getting 3 AIR MILES per $20 spent the IGA AIR MILES program the most rewarding Grocery rewards program of any in Canada. Regardless, you’re getting 400 Air Miles free – a great deal.

All in all, we think BMO and Amex have hit home runs with their roster of Air Miles credit card welcome bonuses. Now it’s up to you to decide which gives you the best sign-up bonus offer, lowest annual fee and highest earning potential and best insurance coverage. Frankly, if you collect AIR MILES, we’d recommend sign-up for multiple offers, spaced out over time to maximize your AIR MILES earnings. Especially with no fee offers, what’s the risk?