The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard Review
Canadians have a love/hate relationship with Air Miles. The loyalty program is one of the oldest out there and has a huge following, but some Canadians have found it difficult to make redemptions over the years. That being said, Air Miles has made recent improvements to the program and new changes to the BMO®AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* will have many travellers taking a second look at the card.
The nice thing about Air Miles is that participants have the ability to earn miles at many national Canadian retailers such as Shell, Rona, Children’s Place, Staples, Alamo, and Transat. Miles can also be collected at some regional grocery stores. When you pay with your BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, you earn additional miles so you’re able to ‘double dip.’ In our estimation the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the best Air Miles credit card on the market. Here’s why:
At a Glance
- $120 annual fee (first year free)
- 3,000-Mile sign up bonus
- Earn 1 Air Mile per $10 spent at all merchants
- Companion flight rebate
- Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes
- Comprehensive travel insurance package included
- 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America
- Purchase protection and extended warranty
- $80,000 personal/$150,000 household income to qualify
The sign up bonus of 3,000 AIR MILES, awarded after cardholders charge $3,000 to the card in the first three months, is the largest Air Miles welcome bonus on the market. Since 95 Cash Miles can be redeemed directly for $10 at participating stores, that means the 3000 Miles are worth about $315.
Alternatively, you can opt to have those miles earned as Dream Miles. With 3,000 Dream Miles, where you can fly depends on where you’re leaving from and the season—one popular route is Toronto to Orlando. To see how many Air Miles it’ll take you to reach a certain destination, check out the Air Miles website. Keep in mind that you still need to pay airport/surcharge fees with any Dream Miles redemptions, but that’s no different than Aeroplan.
The companion flight rebate is a one-time signup benefit allowing new cardholders to redeem a free flight (one way or return) excluding all taxes and surcharges as long as they meet certain conditions:
- Cardholders must make this redemption within 12 months of getting the card
- Cardholders need to have enough Dream Miles to book both flights
- Both tickets need to be booked in the same transaction and on the same itinerary
If the above conditions are met, cardholders are credited the Dream Miles back to their account within 45 days of the flight booking. The 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America still applies to the companion flight rebate, so there can be some good value here.
With the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, cardholders earn 1 Mile for every $10 in credit card purchases. This earn rate applies to all merchants. Other Air Miles Mastercards on the market only generate 1 mile per $15 or $20 spent, so you’re getting the best bang for your buck with the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.
As an added bonus, you get a 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America.
Companion Flight Rebate
One new feature that was just introduced to the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is the companion flight rebate. This annual benefit gives your companion a certain number of miles off their redemption when travelling with you on the same itinerary. The 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America does not apply to the companion flight rebate.
We’re waiting for BMO to clarify details of this new feature, and we’ll update this review as we hear from them.
Airport Lounge Access
As a BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard cardholder, you’ll get a free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey and two annual complimentary passes which can be used at 1,200+ lounges. The value of this membership and passes is about $163 USD ($205 CAD) which more than makes up for the card’s $120 annual fee (and remember that the annual fee for the first year is waived).
Included Travel Insurance
One of the most underrated features of the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the comprehensive travel insurance package it comes with, which includes:
- Emergency travel medical insurance
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption/trip delay
- Flight delay insurance
- Lost, delayed, or stole luggage insurance
- Rental car collision/loss damage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
With emergency travel medical insurance, cardholders under the age of 65 are automatically covered for 15 days. Those 65 or older will need to purchase a separate travel insurance policy.
Keep in mind that you need to charge the full amount of your trip (usually just the flights and car rental) to your BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard to qualify for all the additional insurance. The included travel insurance package does not include hotel/motel burglary insurance, but overall, it’s competitive with some of the top travel insurance credit cards in Canada.
Is It Worth It?
There’s no denying that the sign-up bonus of 3,000 Air Miles and first year annual fee waiver make this an appealing card, but who is the card best suited for in the long run?
Those loyal to Air Miles should not hesitate to sign up for the card, since they’ll get the highest earn rate of any Air Miles Mastercard out there. And if you happen to shop often at Air Miles partners you’ll get even greater value, as you can double dip on the points.
If you happen to fly often within a province, this card may also appeal to you since those flights are usually expensive if you’re paying out of pocket. With Air Miles, those same flights have a fixed redemption value, so it can work out in your favour.
On the other hand, if you view Air Miles as a secondary loyalty program that you only collect casually, you’re likely better off applying for a credit card where you can earn points in your preferred loyalty program.
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