BMO vs. MBNA: Which One is Truly World Elite?

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Last updated on May 5, 2022 Comments: 2

Canadians are lucky to have a solid range of credit cards to choose from when looking to reap rewards for their purchases. Two particularly popular rewards cards are the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* and the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®. Offering a range of reward possibilities and value-added features, we compare both to show you which card shines brightest overall.

At a Glance

 BMO® World Elite® MasterCard®MBNA Rewards World Elite ®  Mastercard ®
Welcome Bonus60,000 BMO Reward points and first year annual fee rebate*Up to 30,000 MBNA Rewards points
Reward Rates3 BMO Reward points for every $1 you spend on eligible travel, dining and entertainment (max $50,000 per year)*; 2 BMO Reward points per $1 all other purchases*5 MBNA Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, memberships, digital media, and household utilities (max $50,000 per year); 1 point per $1 on everything else
Value-Added FeaturesArray of travel insurance, free airport lounge visits, Boingo Wi-Fi and much more*Purchase & price protection and extended warranty, travel insurance, mobile device insurance
Annual Fee$150 (first year rebate)*$120
Minimum Income Requirement$80,000 individual$80,000 individual or $150,000 household
Recommended Credit ScoreGood-ExcellentFair-Good

Bonuses

There are few things credit card users get more excited about than welcome bonuses!

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* currently features a generous welcome bonus of 60,000 BMO Reward points* and will waive the annual fee first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.* You’ll receive 30,000 BMO Rewards points if you make at least $3,000 worth of purchases with the card in the first three months of cardmembership*, plus get an additional 2,500 bonus points in each subsequent month that you spend at least $2,000, beginning 4 months from the account open date and ending 15 months from the account open date*. That gives the welcome bonus a value of up to $550 when redeemed for travel ($400 travel value when you book on bmorewards.com plus the waived $150 annual fee for the primary cardholder) or $450 when the 60K points are redeemed as a statement credit. Adding in the complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes can boost the first-year welcome offer value up to $762*.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® presently has a sign-up bonus of up to 30,000 Reward points*. New cardholders earn 20,000 MBNA Rewards bonus points when they charge $2,000 to the card within the first 90 days and get an additional 10,000 bonus points after enrolling in paperless e-statements within the first 90 days of becoming a cardholder. Those 30,000 MBNA Rewards points have a value of $300 when you put them towards travel or $250 when redeemed as a statement credit.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® also offers an additional annual bonus, which is unusual among rewards cards. Every year in their birthday month cardholders will receive Birthday Bonus Points equal to 10% of the total points they accumulated in the previous year, up to a maximum 15,000 bonus points.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Bottom Line: The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*’s welcome bonus outshines MBNA’s by about $200–$250, depending on how bonus points are redeemed. But the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® brings repeated value with its Birthday Bonus Points, a major perk that’s missing from the BMO card.

Winner: It’s a draw.

Apply for the BMO® World Elite® Mastercard® here

Earning Rewards

What’s a rewards credit card without generous rewards, right? But remember that points for different rewards programs have different values depending on what you redeem them for.

One BMO Rewards point is worth about $0.0067 when redeemed for travel or investment deposits; the value decreases when redeemed for other items like cash back and merchandise. The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* gives you 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.* This gives effective earn rates of 0.67%–3.3% max*.

An MBNA Rewards point has a value of approximately $0.01 when redeemed for travel, or  about $0.0083 when redeemed for cash. That gives the card effective earn rates of about 4.2%–5% in its enhanced categories and about 0.08%–1% on all other purchases.

Bottom Line: While the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* does have accelerated categories (and may be the best pick for a frequent flier), MBNA points are worth more and will probably be easier to accumulate for the average grocery-gobbling consumer.

Winner: MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

Apply For the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® Here

Rewards Programs

Of course, a rewards credit card is no better than the rewards program it belongs to, and what you can get for your points should be a key consideration when selecting a rewards credit card.

BMO Rewards is one of the largest loyalty programs in Canada. You can redeem points on a vast array of items like flights, car rentals, hotel stays and a large selection of merchandise, as well as gift cards. You can also put your points toward paying down your credit card balance or put them into your BMO Investorline account.

MBNA Rewards points also offer a wide selection of redemption possibilities. You can redeem your points for things like airfare, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, cash toward your credit card statement, and more.

Bottom Line: Both cards have flexible and easy to use reward programs.

Winner: It’s a draw!

Value-Added Features

Much like welcome bonuses, value-added features can be an enticing reason to get a rewards credit card.

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* receives lots of accolades for its travel benefits, which are extensive and among the best offered in Canada:

  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes.
  • Emergency medical coverage travel insurance for up to 21 days if you’re under the age of 65*
  • Car rental collision insurance*
  • Trip cancellation, delay and interruption insurance*
  • Insurance for lost, damaged or stolen luggage*
  • Purchase and extended warranty insurance*
  • Free access to concierge services* and access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges*
  • Get valuable benefits and offers for digital everyday services from a variety of on-demand apps and subscription services

Finally, cardholders with a BMO chequing account that’s part of the Performance Plan get a yearly $40 credit card annual fee rebate*. Whew! That’s a lot of complimentary perks! The only major form of travel coverage that the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* doesn’t include is motel/hotel burglary insurance.

The extras with the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® are good, though not as well suited to travel as BMO’s.

  • Price Protection
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Rental car coverage for collision, personal effects and more
  • Purchase and extended warranty insurance
  • Coverage for common carrier accidents or unexpected return home
  • Travel Medical Insurance
  • Personal effects insurance
  • Concierge services
  • Assistance (note that this is not insurance) with things like lost tickets, lost luggage and pre-trip information

It’s worth nothing that the price protection is a valuable but not widely available perk even with Canada’s most premium credit cards. With price protection if you charge an item to your card and find the same item with a lower price advertised in Canada within 60 days, MBNA will refund you the difference up to $500 per item and $1000 per year.

Bottom Line: BMO’s card offers more sought after travel perks and coverage. The free lounge entrances alone are almost valuable enough to make up for the card’s annual fee.

Winner: BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

Eligibility Requirements and Interest Rates

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* has an annual interest rate of 20.99% and a rate of 23.99% for cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents) and 22.99% on balance transfers. Canadians will need an annual income of at least $80,000 or an annual household income of $150,000 to apply for the card.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® has a purchase interest rate of 19.99%, 22.99% for balance transfers, and 24.99% for cash advances. To apply for the card, you must have an annual income of $80,000 or a household annual income of $150,000 or greater.

Bottom Line: While both the BMO and MBNA cards are similar, BMO has a slightly lower cash advance interest rate.

Winner: BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

Annual Fees

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* has an annual fee of $150, which is on the higher end for a rewards card at its level (most in Canada tend to charge $120).

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® charges an annual fee of $120, in line with most cards in Canada of this kind.

Bottom Line: Though the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* offers oodles of benefits that justify its price tag, the fact is that its annual fee is $30 more than the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

Winner: MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

Which Card Wins Overall?

With a generous welcome bonus and a plethora of travel-friendly features, the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* outshines the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® as an asset for frequent international travellers.

That said, the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® is a better option for earning back on everyday expenses, given its super-high earn rates on groceries and restaurants. It’s the preferred pick for families with hungry mouths to feed, though it’s less ideal for globetrotters.

Overall Winner: BMO® World Elite® MasterCard®

*Terms and conditions apply.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply For the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® Here” button.

Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

Article comments

2 comments
Scott says:

Fantastic comparison!

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Scott,
Glad that we were able to help you with your research!