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BMO Rewards Guide

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Last updated on May 4, 2022

BMO Rewards is Bank of Montreal’s in-house loyalty program. It’s flexible and easy to use, with a wide range of redemption options and few restrictions. However, the redemption value you get for points tends to be disappointingly low, particularly for travel. The program is only a good fit for those who can concentrate most of their spending on a high-end BMO rewards credit card, which will accumulate enough points to offset their relatively low value.

Pros and Cons of BMO Rewards

Pros

  • Varied redemption options
  • Points can cover flight taxes and fees
  • BMO credit cards offer high earn rates and generous welcome bonuses
  • Special partnerships for National and Alamo car rentals

Cons

  • Low point value
  • Points can’t be transferred to other loyalty programs
  • Can only earn points with credit cards
  • No travel price matching

How Do You Earn BMO Rewards Points?

BMO Rewards points are earned by making purchases with the below credit cards.

 Annual FeeWelcome BonusEarn RatesMax Rate of Return
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card$120Up to 60K pts + annual fee waived in first year*5 pts per $1 on dining, groceries, gas, and transit; 1 per $1 on all other purchases*3.3%
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card$499Up to 90K pts*5 pts per $1 on groceries, dining, drugstore, gas, and travel; 1 per $1 on all other purchases*3.3%
BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*$150Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*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.*
3.3%
BMO World Elite®* Business Mastercard®*$149Up to 70K pts + annual fee waived in first year*4 pts per $1 on gas, office supplies, cell phone and internet bill payments; 1.5 per $1 on all other purchases*2.7%
BMO Rewards® Mastercard®*$0Up to 15K pts; 1.99% balance transfer rate for 9 months + 1% transfer fee*2 pts per $1 at participating National®#† Car Rental and Alamo®*‡ Rent A Car locations; 1 per $1 on all other purchases*1.3%

For most Canadians, the BMO Rewards card that offers the best value relative to its annual fee is the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite*. It has high earn rates in four categories for everyday purchases, and cardholders who spend a mere $3,600 annually on groceries, restaurants, gas, and transit will earn enough points back to make up for the $120 annual fee, provided they redeem those points on either travel or BMO savings/investment products to get maximum value.

You can learn more by reading our full BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* card review.

BMO Rewards Points’ Value

Here’s a quick overview of the per-point value offered for each BMO redemption path, and a description of how each redemption path works.

 Redeem for TravelRedeem for InvestmentRedeem for MerchandiseRedeem for Gift CardsRedeem for Statement Credit
Single Point Value$0.0067$0.0067$0.0037–$0.0065$0.004–$0.0045$0.005
Minimum RedemptionNo minimum15,000 points ($100 value)N/AN/A200 points ($1 value)

Travel

Although travel redemptions will nab the highest value possible for your BMO points, that value is still relatively low at 0.67 cents per point. This means you need 150 points to claim $1. A number of other travel rewards programs offer much better redemption values of at least 1 cent or more per point. For example, RBC Rewards Avion values range from 2 cents to 2.33 cents per point, which is about 3 to 3.5x the travel value offered for a BMO point!

BMO Rewards points can be redeemed for a wide variety of travel options, including flights, hotel stays, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises. There are no blackout periods, and you can book any airline or other travel provider as long as you book via BMO’s own online portal (or you can pay a $30 fee to book with BMO by phone). Points can be redeemed for a travel itinerary’s base fare and taxes and surcharges, which isn’t always a given among Canadian loyalty programs. Travel arrangements can be revised or cancelled after purchase, but these adjustments may be subject to a $30 fee.

Here are some examples of popular flights offered via the BMO portal for May 2022:

RouteAirlineRoundtrip Price (incl. taxes + fees)BMO Rewards Points Required
Toronto to New YorkWestJet$252.6137,892
Vancouver to TorontoWestJet$222.1133,317
Toronto to Paris Air Transat$725.71108,857

The prices listed in the BMO portal correspond more or less to the prices I found for the same flights on Google/the open market.

Be aware that while BMO Rewards formerly offered price matching for travel, this feature appears to have gone the way of the dodo. I was told by an agent, “I can confirm that after accepting any travel arrangement offered, the sale is final and is subject to the terms and conditions of that travel arrangement. If the price decreases, BMO Rewards is unable to refund the difference due to standard travel industry practice.” Bummer.

Banking and Investment Accounts

Points can be converted into cash for transfer into a BMO Premium Rate Savings account, a Smart Saver account, or a BMO investment account. A minimum of $100 must be redeemed for each transfer. It will take you 15,000 points to get $100 in transfer value, so points get a value of 0.67 cents each for this redemption path.

Merchandise

BMO has a large catalogue of merchandise, including home goods, electronics, fitness equipment, and more. There are also monthly specials for particularly good redemption deals. It’s difficult to pin down the value of a BMO Rewards point when redeemed for merchandise as the value fluctuates substantially depending on what you’re redeeming for and whether or not the item is part of a special promotion. On average you can expect point values for merchandise to range from 0.37 to 0.65 cents each.

Gift Cards

BMO Rewards features a wide range of gift cards from popular retailers, such as Home Depot, Costco, Cineplex, Shell, Best Buy, and more. The number of points required for a gift card varies depending on the amount of the gift card and the retailer. For example, you need 112,500 points for a $500 Home Depot gift card, giving you a value of 0.44 cents per point for that redemption. This is consistent with other BMO gift card redemptions, as gift cards offer some of the poorest returns on your BMO points. A general rule of thumb with BMO is that the higher the dollar amount of the gift card, the better the deal.

Statement Credit

The Pay with Points option allows you to apply BMO Rewards points toward your monthly card statement at a rate of 200 points for $1 cash credit. That gives you a relatively low value of 0.5 cents per point, but there are special deals available occasionally. For example, BMO has offered a promotion of 175 points for every $1 redeemed against eligible travel purchases on your card statement, such as flights and hotels. That’s a rate of 0.57 cents per BMO point, which is slightly better than the usual 0.5 cents per point for statement credits.

Can You Convert BMO Rewards Points to Other Programs?

One of the drawbacks of the BMO Rewards program is that you can’t convert or transfer BMO points to any other loyalty program. This again falls short when compared with a number of competing programs, like American Express Membership Rewards®, in which points can be transferred to seven airline loyalty partners and two hotel loyalty partners.

Do BMO Rewards Points Expire?

BMO Rewards points will not expire as long as your cardholder account is open and in good standing. But if you cancel your card you’ll have 90 days to redeem the points you’ve earned, or you can transfer the points to a new BMO Rewards credit card if eligible.

Is BMO the Best Travel Program in Canada?

To get a better sense of how strong the BMO program really is, I’ll compare its strengths and weaknesses with other well-known Canadian travel rewards programs, like Aeroplan and RBC Rewards (Avion).

The travel value you get for a single Aeroplan point ranges from 1.5 cents to 2 cents, which is much higher than the value of one BMO Rewards point when redeemed for travel. Furthermore, several financial institutions in Canada offer Aeroplan credit cards (such as TD, CIBC, and Amex), and with more options it may be easier to find a card that better aligns with your spending habits. Like BMO Rewards cards, Aeroplan cards typically offer good insurance packages, but they also tend to feature a number of other nice travel perks, like free checked bags, NEXUS application rebates, or even a companion fare bonus in some cases. It’s worth noting, however, that BMO Rewards does offer one of the best airport lounge benefits among rewards credit cards, with four free visits a year for its World Elite Mastercard.

RBC Rewards (Avion) points also have a higher value than BMO Rewards when redeemed for travel—up to 2.33 cents each. And unlike BMO, you can convert Avion points to several other loyalty programs, which can be a big plus for a frequent flier. That said, RBC cards’ accelerated earn rates top out at 1.25 points per $1 spent, so it can be harder to earn a significant quantity of points. And RBC Rewards cards don’t have the same impressive welcome bonuses as BMO Rewards cards either.

Given its lacklustre point value, the BMO Rewards program is probably only a good fit for someone whose spending closely aligns with a given BMO credit card’s accelerated earn categories. If you’re deliberating between BMO and another program, take a look at where you spent most of your money last month. If your spending is concentrated on groceries, restaurants, and gas, it probably makes sense to sign up for the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card, as you’ll still rake in enough points to compensate for BMO’s low redemption values. If you’re a frequent customer at Costco or No Frills, which accept only Mastercard credit cards, the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* might instead be your smartest pick. Finally, if travel purchases (flights, hotels, rental cars) are where you’re forking over serious change, you should instead consider an Aeroplan or RBC card with accelerated earn rates on travel purchases, like the RBC Avion Visa Infinite or TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*.

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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.