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REWARDS CANADA'S TOP FEATURES
In the middle of March 2010 BMO came out with a new Mastercard offering to compete with the Visa Infinite cards issued by other banks in Canada. Until then BMO has only offered Gold or Platinum versions of the various Mastercards they issued. One can assume BMO came out with this card for several reasons. The first is that BMO needed to keep its higher end clientele from jumping ship from their current line of cards to the premium Infinite cards offered by banks like CIBC and RBC. The second reason would be to try and pull some of the current Visa Infinite cardholders away from those other banks, particularly if they are BMO clients to start with. On January 15, 2018 the card underwent some changes which are reflected in this update of the review.
World Elite tag is Mastercard's premium card offering much like Visa's Infinite/Signature
branding and is a step up from the World Mastercard. To the best of our knowledge, the BMO World Elite was the first
World Elite card offering in Canada. With World Elite comes extra benefits and
enhancements like Concierge service, extra insurance benefits, exclusive concert/theatre
packages and more. These features are what bring the card in-line with the other
premium cards in Canada. Much like the RBC Avion Visa, the BMO World Elite Mastercard allows you to redeem for any travel in any class (flights, hotels,
cruises etc.) via BMO's own travel agency.
Costs & Sign up Features
The BMO World Elite comes with a heftier $150 primary card annual fee versus
the average $120 for many comparable cards including Visa Infinite cards. Currently the card has a limited time offer where you will have the annual fee waived in the first year. The card offers a 35,000 point welcome
bonus after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months which is worth $250 in travel with the newly revised redemption rate of 140 points = $1. Supplementary
cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel
credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 19.99%
which is in line with its competitors but most people who have this card
will be paying off their monthly balances in full.
The card earns BMO Rewards points and earns those points as follows
3 Points per dollar spent on travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 annualy)
2 Points per dollar spent on all other purchases
On the redemption side, BMO originally made it tough to find out what the redemption
ratios were for travel unless you are an actual cardholder. This was changed in 2013 when they set the redemption rate at 100 points = $1 towards travel. However this changed once again on January 15, 2018 when the card and rewards program were revamped. With the previous 100 points = $1 and a straight 2 points per dollar earned it was super easy to figure out the card provided a 2% return on your spending (prior to September 2013 it was 1.9%) Now with the new program it takes 140 points for that $1 in travel redemption and with modified earn rate of 3 points per dollar for travel, dining and entertainment purchases your return becomes 2.14% however the remainder of your spending at 2 points per dollar only provides a ~1.43% return. Points have to be redeemed via BMO Rewards unlike some of its fiercest competition that allow their cardholders to make their own bookings with any travel provider and redeem points against those charges. There does not seem to be a minimum amount of
points that you need to redeem with BMO Rewards at one time so this card can be quite
advantageous in redeeming for seat sale fares. As an example, flights
between Toronto and Ottawa or Montreal often dip below $50 each way
and come in under $200 with taxes which means, you could redeem as little
as 28,000 points for the flights (or $9333.33 in spending) When redeeming with this card you want to try to do it online as BMO Rewards will charge you for bookings made over the phone.
Features and Benefits
World Elite comes with a whole host of
features and benefits, the majority of which are standard for cards of this level.
It has the standard Travel Accident, Flight Delay and Car Rental insurance. On top of that it has Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance as well as a really good out-of-province emergency medical insurance benefit.
What is good about this card
By far the best feature of this card is the lounge access benefit of covering the annual membership fee and giving you 4 free lounge visits. This provides well over $200 in value but you'll want to be sure you travel at least once per year via an airport that has LoungeKey lounges to make sure you can take advantage of them!
The sign up bonus is another strong point, 35,000 points is worth a minimum of $250 towards travel which is really decent especially when the card is running a first year free promotion.
What is not so good about this card
The fact you have to redeem points via BMO Rewards is probably this cards biggest downfall. Other cards, that provide equivalent or even higher returns let you book travel with whomever you want. Add into this the fact that many of readers have said that BMO Rewards customer service when booking travel isn't very good or that their online booking engine doesn't find the best deals make us a little leary about ranking it higher in our annual travel rewards credit card rankings.
Who should get this card
Overall this card lost a little lustre early in 2018 when the BMO Rewards program was revamped. Unless you can funnel all your spending in the three categories that earn 3 points per dollar you have a lot of options out there that earn better rewards and let you have a lot more flexibility with how you book travel. The card continues to be strong however on the benefits side with insurance package and Priority Pass option which really make the card pay for itself. Throw in the limited time offerings of the first year free and really you could just get the card for the sign up bonus (that's $250 for free) and the Priority Pass benefit ($200+ for free), use them up and then move on to another card.
World Elite Mastercard on BMO.com
Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Cobalt Card
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