Like many of you, I’ve been down on Air Miles ever since the expiry date fiasco a few years ago. But the Air Miles rewards program still packs some punch due to its lengthy list of sponsors and flexible options for redeeming miles.

The best Air Miles credit card on the market is the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard and right now this card has a terrific promotion for new applicants.

Here’s a review of the card benefits:

BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard review

BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard Review

First of all, the $120 annual fee is waived in the first year. Next, you’ll get 1,000 bonus Air Miles after your first purchase. Finally, you’ll get an additional 2,000 bonus Air Miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

This card is ideal for serious Air Miles collectors because with it you can earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in credit card purchases, plus it’s the only card that gives you 15 percent flight discounts on all Air Miles flights in North America with no blackout periods.

The downside: You’ll need a minimum annual income of $80,000, or household income of $150,000(!) to qualify.

Other BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard benefits:

  • Double dip at Air Miles sponsor locations such as Sobeys, Shell, Metro, Rona, and Rexall to accelerate your earn rate.
  • Receive a 25 percent discount on car rentals when you use your card at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
  • Double the original manufacturer’s warranty period up to a maximum of one additional year.
  • Added purchase protection to insure your items against theft or damage for 90 days from date of purchase.
  • Travel and Medical protection includes Trip Cancellation, plus Collision Damage Waiver benefits on rental cars, 15 days of Out-of-Province/Out-of-Country Emergency Medical benefits up to $2 million, and more.
  • Exclusive access to VIP Airport Lounges worldwide, with the included annual Priority Pass membership and two complimentary passes per year (over $150 value per year).

Air Miles Rewards: Redeem for Flights or “Cash Back”

Once you’ve reached the $3,000 minimum spend threshold you’ll have earned 3,000 bonus Air Miles plus another 300 or so from your regular spending. What to do with 3,300 Air Miles? Your best bet is to redeem them for flights.

*Note: Since Air Miles has two rewards categories – Cash Miles and Dream Miles – you’ll need to select your preference BEFORE you start earning miles. That’s because you cannot transfer miles between categories after they’ve been earned. So, if it’s flights you’re looking for then you’ll want to turn your preference to Dream miles. If you’d prefer to redeem your miles in-store on everyday purchases then select Cash miles.

Where can you fly on Air Miles? A round-trip ticket from Calgary to Los Angeles during high season (June 1 to Sept 15) is worth 3,060 Air Miles. The exact same flight on Air Canada costs $518.

Compare that to the Air Miles Cash collector who could use the same amount of Air Miles to redeem in-store at participating sponsors (like Shell) for $320*.

*95 miles = $10 cash back

Final thoughts

The BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard meets my criteria for credit card churning because the first year is free and there’s a generous welcome bonus that’s fairly easy to attain. Spending $3,000 in three months is doable, especially on a card as widely accepted as MasterCard.

Gobble up 3,000 bonus Air Miles and redeem them for a North American flight or pocket the cash by saving in-store on your everyday purchases.

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