Major Changes Coming To Many BMO Credit Cards

BMO has many great credit cards for travelers and almost all of them will be undergoing major changes in May and June. For some cards, the earning structure is being overhauled entirely (and one card is losing airport lounge access). But more importantly, BMO Rewards points themselves are being devalued: this also affects how much you earn on every dollar for all 4 cards that earn BMO Rewards points.

First, here are 2 very basic definitions in case you are new to travel rewards:

  • earn rate: how many points you earn per dollar
  • points valuation: how much you can save per point

And of course, the value you earn with a card is always a combination of the earn rate and the points valuation.

So depending on the BMO card, the changes below affect one of those aspects, so the rewards you earn will change either way.

By the way, another thing beginners often do is call a card “the World Elite”… just in this post, we’ll talk about 3 different “World Elite” cards, and this is only with BMO! (And BMO even has 2 more “World Elites”!)

So the takeaway is that “World Elite” is not a card name, it’s just a brand: there are dozens of “World Elite” cards in Canada. So you need to use the rest of the card name to avoid any confusion. And there are also World Mastercards; that’s not the same thing as World Elite Mastercards (that’s yet another different brand name).

We’ll have a lot more travel rewards news (including a BMO AIR MILES 5x grocery promo) in our roundup post this weekend; subscribe to our free travel rewards newsletter to get all our pro tips.

But now let’s take a look at the details of these 3 major changes that will affect almost every BMO credit card.

 

Changes to the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®*

The BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* is a great card to get many AIR MILES Bonus Miles: currently, you’ll get 2,300 Miles after unlocking the welcome bonus, for a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $276 for the welcome bonus alone.

There is a minimum income of $80,000 required though, unlike the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Card that is open to all income levels and offers 3,300 Bonus Miles (and the same Flytrippers Valuation, as the offer is structured differently).

Best credit cards for
AIR MILES Rewards
WELCOME
BONUS
AIR MILES
Miles
BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
minimum income required: $80k
spend $3k in 3 mos.
2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card
minimum income required: $0
spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO AIR MILES MasterCard
minimum income required: $15k
spend $1k in 3 mos.
920 Miles
after welcome bonus
American Express AIR MILES for Business Card
non-employment income required
spend $5k in 3 mos.
2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard
business required
spend $5k in 3 mos.
3,500 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO AIR MILES No-Fee Business Mastercard
business required
spend $3k in 3 mos.
1,150 Miles
after welcome bonus
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.
Best credit cards for
AIR MILES Rewards
BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
minimum income required: $80k
WELCOME BONUS
spend $3k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Card American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card
minimum income required: $0
WELCOME BONUS
spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®* BMO AIR MILES MasterCard
minimum income required: $15k
WELCOME BONUS
spend $1k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 920 Miles
after welcome bonus
American Express® AIR MILES®* for Business Card American Express AIR MILES for Business Card
non-employment income required
WELCOME BONUS
spend $5k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 2,300 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO® AIR MILES®† Business® Mastercard®* BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard
business required
WELCOME BONUS
spend $5k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 3,500 Miles
after welcome bonus
BMO® AIR MILES®† No-Fee Business® Mastercard®* BMO AIR MILES No-Fee Business Mastercard
business required
WELCOME BONUS
spend $3k in 3 mos.
AIR MILES Miles: 1,150 Miles
after welcome bonus
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.

Anyway, there are 2 major changes coming to the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®*.

First, the card was the one with the fewest airport lounge passes with just 2, and it is losing them entirely—but only in 2022. So if you apply for the card this year, you’ll have 2 passes to use during the calendar year (lounges have pretty much all reopened in the US; they likely will reopen as fast in Canada and elsewhere once travel resumes like travel has already resumed in the US).

You can see the best credit cards for airport lounge access for alternatives.

Or better yet, simply focus on the amount of rewards you can get with welcome bonuses in your current round of credit card application (since you are likely not traveling now anyway) and then get a card for airport lounge access in your next round of applications (in 3 months or whenever you can unlock another minimum spend for travel rewards pros; or a bit later for beginners).

Second, and more importantly, the earning structure on the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* is changing drastically.

It is going way up at AIR MILES Partners (Sobeys, Shell, and others).

There, you will now earn 3 AIR MILES Miles per $12 spent, for a return of ≈ 3% back based on our Flytrippers Valuation if you use AIR MILES for travel rewards (the best use, like all rewards programs) or 2.63% back if you use AIR MILES for cashback (cashback is simpler, but less valuable—as always).

That is an improvement, but there are only so many AIR MILES Partners.

Everywhere else, the base earn rate is actually going down, to 1 AIR MILES Mile per $12 spent, for a return of ≈ 1% or 0.87% as cashback.

I would definitely not use that card outside of category multipliers (another reminder for beginners; you should have multiple cards to improve your credit score—as long as you pay in full on time—and use different cards everywhere based on the earn rate).

Here is a summary of the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* earn rates before and after:

 At current earn rateAt modified earn rate
AIR MILES Partners≈ 1.2% or 1.05%≈ 3% or 2.63%
Everywhere else≈ 1.2% or 1.05%≈ 1% or 0.87%

 

As we’ll soon show you in our detailed guide about the AIR MILES program, the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Card now becomes even more of a winner in terms of earn rates everywhere other than at AIR MILES Partners.

Here is a summary of the earn rates for the 2 cards:

 American Express AIR MILES Platinum CardBMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
Groceries, restaurants, bars, gas (AIR MILES Partners)0.2 pts per $0.25 pts per $
Groceries, restaurants, bars, gas (non-AIR MILES Partners)0.2 pts per $0.08 pts per $
Everywhere else (AIR MILES Partners)0.1 pts per $0.25 pts per $
Everywhere else (non-AIR MILES Partners)0.1 pts per $0.08 pts per $

 

Subscribe to our free travel rewards newsletter to get our pro tips to maximize the AIR MILES program very soon.

 

Changes to the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®*

While cashback is obviously not the way to go if you want to maximize the value you get from travel rewards, some still prefer cashback.

One of the best cashback offers right now is on the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®*: you get a welcome bonus of $200, with the same $80,000-per-year income requirement (look at our ranking of the best credit cards in Canada for cashback if you earn less and like cashback).

The BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®* is losing its current very simple 1.5%-cashback-everywhere earn structure and actually seeing improvements (with pretty low monthly caps though):

  • 5% back on groceries (capped at $500/month)
  • 4% back on transit (capped at $300/month)
  • 3% back on gas (capped at $300/month)
  • 2% back on recurring bill payments (capped at $500/month)
  • 1% back everywhere else

Earning 5% is great of course, vaulting the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®* among the best credit cards in Canada for groceries… but it’s certainly not the best, because of that very low cap.

For context, the American Express Cobalt Card also earns 5% on groceries but it is capped at $30,000 per year (the equivalent of $2,500 per month). That is a much more reasonable cap as it allows you to take advantage of the gift card trick. That cap is also lot simpler to track to maximize, being yearly instead of monthly. Same thing for the other card that earns 5% on groceries, the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card: it is capped at $50,000 in purchases per year.

Obviously, this change means the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®* will be earning 33% less than now on every expense that is not part of one of those categories that has a category multiplier… and on every expense that exceeds the monthly caps.

But if you do the math (always very important to do in the world of travel rewards), most people will still be coming out ahead with the new changes (especially since you should, of course, use most of your spend to unlock new welcome bonuses if you want to maximize your travel rewards).

 

Changes to 4 BMO Rewards cards (devaluation)

As I explained briefly in point #4 of a recent travel rewards teaser, the number of points you earn itself is not very relevant… it all depends on how much those points are worth. AIR MILES Miles and cashback are not part of this devaluation.

But starting in June, BMO Rewards points are being devalued. So even if this doesn’t change the actual earn rate in terms of points per dollar, it still changes how much you earn per dollar.

All cards that earn BMO Rewards points will soon effectively earn less.

This will affect the:

For travel redemptions (always the best use of travel rewards), these simple fixed-value rewards will now be worth 0.67¢ per point instead of 0.71¢ per point (a 7% devaluation).

But this will not affect those with balances already, as extra points will be deposited to make up for the difference: there will be an automatic 7% increase of all BMO Rewards points balances on May 5th. The devaluation really only applies to points earned after the changes take effect.

In terms of value per point, BMO Rewards points were already among the least valuable among Canadian bank rewards programs. Again, that means nothing in and of itself, as bonuses and earn rates are currently higher to compensate.

But for now, that means that if you were considering one of those 4 cards, it would be best to act fast and unlock the welcome bonus quickly as well. If you already have them, it’s a good opportunity to do what you should regularly do anyway: re-evaluate all your cards and consider the best offers currently available to give your rewards stash a huge boost. Especially now, so you can be ready for when travel resumes.

We’ll have the updated data in our new individual card pages coming soon, but here is an overview of each of the 4 BMO Rewards cards’ changes (if nothing else changes until then).

BMO World Elite™* MasterCard®* (no change to its 4 airport lounge passes by the way, unlike the first card):

 At current valueAt modified value
Welcome bonus$327$308
3 pts per $ on travel, restaurants, and entertainment2.13%2.00%
2 pts per $ everywhere1.42%1.33%

 

BMO Rewards® MasterCard®*:

 At current valueAt modified value
Welcome bonus$114$107
2 pts per $ at Alamo and National1.42%1.33%
1 pt per $ everywhere0.71%0.67%

 

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card:

 At current valueAt modified value
Welcome bonus$342$328
5 pts per $ on groceries, restaurants, gas, and transport3.55%3.33%
1 pt per $ everywhere0.71%0.67%

 

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card:

 At current valueAt modified value
Welcome bonus$327$303
5 pts per $ on groceries, travel, drugstores, restaurants, gas, and transport3.55%3.33%
1 pt per $ everywhere0.71%0.67%

 

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Summary

Major changes are coming to BMO credit cards. If you are considering one of the 4 that earn BMO Rewards, some of which are currently offering great welcome bonuses, it might be a good time to unlock them to get a higher value before the coming devaluation. For the 2 other cards changing, it’s worth comparing with alternatives to make sure you still have the best one for you.

Have any questions about these BMO changes? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Featured image: a montage of all the affected BMO cards (photo credit: Flytrippers)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 62/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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