BMO World Elite MasterCard Review: Best Sign-up Offer In Canada

I recently signed up for the BMO World Elite MasterCard. Not only is it a great travel rewards card on its own merit, right now for a limited time, BMO has sweetened the deal for new sign-ups with a scintillating offer. Apply for the BMO World Elite MasterCard before April 30, 2018 and you’ll get:

  • $150 annual fee waived in the first year
  • 35,000 welcome points after you spend $3,000 in your first three months

35,000 welcome points is worth $350 $250* in free travel – an unheard of welcome bonus on the Canadian market, especially when you consider the annual fee is waived in the first year. That’s $500 $400 in value!

Plus, with the BMO World Elite MasterCard, you’ll earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 annually), and 2 points for every dollar spent elsewhere.

* A reader pointed out that as of January 15, 2018 BMO increased the number of points needed to redeem for $1 in travel rewards from 100 to 140 (a 40 percent increase). In a corresponding move, BMO increased the number of points earned on travel, dining, and entertainment spending from 2 to 3 points (a 50 percent increase).

The benefits don’t stop there. You’ll also get VIP airport lounge access (over $200 USD/year value) with the Priority Pass membership and four free VIP lounge visits per membership year.

Note that because this is a World Elite MasterCard, individuals will need to have a minimum income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 to be eligible. You’ll also get extended warranty protection, doubling the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one-year, plus 90-day purchase protection against theft or damage, and world class travel and medical protection.

BMO World Elite MasterCard

With an earn rate this high (3 points on travel, dining, and entertainment, 2 points on everything else) it’s easy to accumulate points quickly with the BMO World Elite MasterCard.

Let’s say you put $2,000 worth of purchases on your card each month. With the 35,000 point welcome bonus you’d earn about 87,800 points in the first year. That’s worth $878 in free travel.

Redeeming points through the BMO Rewards platform is straightforward. Redeem points to book any flight, any hotel, any ship, anytime. Or, you can choose from a catalog of products, gift cards, and experiences (at a much lesser value for your points), contribute to a BMO Investment Account or make a charitable donation.

Your best bang for your rewards buck is to redeem your points for travel. You can search for flights, hotels, vacation packages, or cruises all within the BMO platform and find competitive pricing with no blackouts or restrictions.

For example, a quick search for hotels in Calgary turned up a one-night stay at the Marriott downtown for 18,000 points including all taxes and fees.

Sweetest Credit Card Offer in Canada

If you recall, my four rules for credit card churning is that in order for me to sign up, the new credit card has to have:

  1. First year free
  2. Net benefit of $250 or more
  3. No significant changes to spending
  4. The ability to convert the points into something useful

Let’s tackle each of these rules and make sure the BMO World Elite MasterCard ticks all the boxes.

1. New sign-ups get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year. Check.

2. New sign-ups get 35,000 welcome points when they spend $3,000 in the first three months. Check.

3. Spending $3,000 in three months works out to $1,000 per month. Since MasterCard can be used at Costco and No Frills (my two significant outlets for grocery and gas spending) I’ll have no trouble reaching the early spend bonus by simply replacing my main Capital One MasterCard with the BMO World Elite MasterCard for the first three months. Check.

4. The BMO Rewards platform allows for easy redemption for flights and hotels – my go-to travel rewards – and so I’ll have no trouble converting my 35,000+ BMO Rewards points into free travel without any annoying fees or restrictions. Check.

Final thoughts

The Canadian rewards credit card market has never been as lucrative as its American counterpart. That said, you could still find enough attractive sign-up offers throughout the year to earn big time travel rewards.

The problem with most offers is, you either get first year free and a smaller welcome bonus, OR, you get a huge welcome bonus but still have to pay the annual fee.

This BMO World Elite MasterCard offer is the first time in recent memory that a credit card issuer has introduced this juicy of a welcome bonus ($350 $250 in travel reward) AND waived the annual fee in the first year. And when you factor in the free Priority Pass membership that gives you over $200 USD/year in VIP airport lounge access, we’re talking about an incredible $550+ $450+ in free value.

For me, it was a no-brainer to sign up for this card. If you’re looking for a new everyday travel rewards card, or want to jump on this offer simply to earn more points like I did, then make sure to sign up before April 30, 2018.

How Much I Earned From Credit Card Rewards In 2017

I play the rewards card game because it’s the only way to earn money back on the things you buy every day. By combining a rich ‘everyday’ rewards card program with a couple of niche rewards cards, and several promotional offers, I routinely earn thousands of dollars in credit card rewards each year.

I’m getting more and more credit card savvy every year. Back in 2014 I managed to cash in on $1,555 worth of credit card rewards – mostly using cash back programs. In 2015 I put more emphasis on travel cards and bonus offers to up that total to $1,825.

2016 was all about Aeroplan. I pulled in 80,000 Aeroplan miles to go along with the $1,685 in cash back and travel rewards. Altogether that meant earning an incredible $3,066 in credit cards rewards, after paying annual fees.

How much did I earn from credit card rewards in 2017? Let’s just say I blew those numbers away again. Here’s how it all breaks down:

How Much I Earned From Credit Card Rewards In 2017

How Much I Earned From Credit Card Rewards In 2017

Everyday Spending

Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

My go-to card is Capital One’s Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. This grandfathered version of the now discontinued travel rewards card (#RIP) pays two miles for every dollar spent. It comes with a $120 annual fee, which is mostly offset by a 10,000-mile bonus each year (worth $100).

We do the majority of our grocery shopping at Costco and so the Capital One MasterCard is a must have to earn money back on our grocery spending. We get 2 percent back on ALL spending, and redemptions are a breeze with their No Hassle rewards program.

Total earnings from Capital One in 2017 = $1,250.70 after fees. Rewards Visa

I use the Rewards Visa card for all of our purchases on (obvs) plus anytime I make a purchase in a foreign currency. Unfortunately, Chase Canada closed the Rewards Visa card to new members last year, but I’ll take advantage of this gem for as long as I’m able to.

Total earnings from Rewards Visa in 2017 = $60

American Express Cobalt Card

I added the American Express Cobalt Card to my everyday line-up because of its super-rich earnings on ‘Eats & Drinks’, plus its generous 40,000-point welcome bonus.

The structure is unique because it pays out the bonus in instalments each month (to make sure you keep active with the card), but in the short time I had the card I’ve been impressed with the earnings and ease of redemption. The card is a keeper!

Total earnings from American Express Cobalt Card in 2017 = $107.17

Sign-up bonuses and travel rewards

Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card

In the spring I signed up for the Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card because it fit my four rules of credit card churning (no annual fee, sign-up bonus of $250, easy to earn, easy to redeem).

I ended up earning 31,970 points and turned those into $319.70 worth of savings towards a hotel stay in Toronto last fall. I plan to cancel this card later in 2018 before the annual fee kicks-in.

Total earnings from Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card = $319.70

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard

I keep the WestJet card as a secondary travel rewards card. It comes with an annual fee – which just jumped from $99 to $119 – but the annual round-trip companion voucher more than makes up for the fee.

Also read: WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard – Should You Get This Card?

For instance, my wife and I flew to Toronto last fall and I used the $99 companion voucher to save $435 on her ticket. Include the additional $60 that I earned in WestJet rewards from purchases and I nearly saved $500! Subtract the annual fee and it’s still a sweet deal at nearly $400 earned.

Total earnings from WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard = $396 after fees.

Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan gets its own category as once again I went out of my way to stock up on Aeroplan miles.

I started off by signing up for the TD Aeroplan Visa Business card, which included a 30,000-mile sign-up bonus.

Then I applied for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. It included a HUGE 25,000-point welcome bonus, plus an additional 5,000 points to convert Starpoints into Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan also kicked in a 35 percent bonus for converting Starpoints to Aeroplan, which altogether gave me $32,047 Aeroplan miles.

Add it all up and I earned 78,362 Aeroplan miles in 2017. Using a rough calculation of 2 cents per mile and that works out to more than $1,500 in travel rewards. Nice!

Total potential value of Aeroplan miles = $1,447 after fees ($120 for SPG card)

Final thoughts

2017 was a great year to earn and redeem credit card rewards. My three go-to cards for everyday spending generated $1,437.87 in rewards. I redeemed another $814.70 in hotel and flight rewards through Scotiabank and WestJet. And, to top it off, I earned a potential of $1,567 worth of Aeroplan miles.

The grand total that I earned from credit card rewards in 2017 was a whopping $3,580.57 after fees!

Hey, in our environment of low interest rates on savings, and low-to-no growth in wages, the ability to earn thousands of dollars in credit card rewards makes a big impact on our budget. It could mean the difference between taking an annual vacation, and not being able to afford to fly anywhere or stay in a nice hotel.

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