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Friday, November 6, 2020

Introducing the new BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* and BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Cards

BMO becomes the latest Canadian bank to begin issuing cards from an additional payment provider. We have banks like RBC who offer Visa and Mastercard cards, Scotia who offers Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards while CIBC in the past has issued all three as well. Now BMO moves beyond their long standing partnership with Mastercard to begin to issue Visa cards as well. They launch their foray with Visa cards today with two new offerings - the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card* and the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card. Both cards will offer points from their proprietary BMO Rewards loyalty program, which you'll be very familiar with if you currently have or know about the BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard or BMO Rewards Mastercard.

Here are the details of the new BMO Visa cards:


BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card 

Annual Fee:
$120 primary card $50 supplementary 

Income Requirement
Minimum $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income required

Welcome bonus
The card offers a welcome bonus of up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.  The bonus is actually broken down into two parts - you'll receive 25,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend a minimum of $3,000 within the first three months of having the card. The additional 15,000 points is awarded on your card anniversary date which is 12 months after the date which the account is opened.

Earn rate 

  • 5 points per dollar on dining, groceries, gas and transit (Capped at $50,000 per year)
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else 
  • 10% more points when you add an authorized user to your account

The 5 points per dollar is definitely a nice earn rate but you have to remember to not compare it directly with other cards earning 5 points per dollar as well as the redemption side of the equation is different for this card versus some of its competitors.

Redeeming points
The card will have the same redemption rate for travel as we see for the current BMO Rewards Master cards. That is you an redeem 140 points towards $1 in travel booked via BMO Rewards. You can also redeem for cash back statement credits with the BMO Rewards programs and that has been updated. Prior to the launch of these cards you had to redeem 15,000 points for a $50 credit. The new cash back option is way more flexible as you only have to redeem as little as 200 points for a $1 credit.  What does this work out to in terms of return? The 5 points earn rate equates to a 3.57% return for travel, which is a pretty decent return that puts in the middle of the pack for its competitors (lower than the American Express Cobalt Card and Scotiabank Gold American Express Card but higher than cards like the RBC Visa Infinite Avion and CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Cards) It also equates to 2.5% for cash back if you choose that option. However all the other spending from the card equates to returns at 0.05% for cash back or 0.07% for travel. This is lower than almost of this card's competitors. Even the additional card earning boost of 10% doesn't make this card catch those competitors.

Benefits
The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card will have your standard range of insurance and benefits seen with this level of Visa card. It does come with a new type of benefit that is a twist or should we say an enhancement of several other card's annual travel credits. This card will offer a $50 annual lifestyle credit to spend however you want. So it is not limited to travel as you can redeem it towards pretty much anything you charge on the card. This is first card at this price level to offer a yearly credit like this. The card also adds Mobile Device Insurance as a promoted new benefit.


 

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card 

Annual Fee:
$499 primary card $99 supplementary 

Income Requirement
Minimum $150,000 (individual) or $200,000 (household) annual income required

Welcome bonus
The card offers a welcome bonus of up to 50,000 points. The bonus is actually broken down into two parts - you'll receive 35,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend a minimum of $5,000 within the first three months of having the card. The additional 15,000 points is awarded on your card anniversary date which is 12 months after the date which the account is opened.

Earn rate 

  • 5 points per dollar on travel*, dining, groceries, gas and drug store (Capped at $100,000 per year)
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else 
  • 25% more points when you add an authorized user to your account
    * - listed as air fare, hotel, car rental in their terms, so  it appears that cruises, ferries, trains etc. may not count as 5 points per dollar

Again the 5 points per dollar is definitely a nice earn rate but you have to remember to not compare it directly with other cards earning 5 points per dollar as well as the redemption side of the equation is different for this card versus some of its competitors.

Redeeming points
The card will have the same redemption rate for travel as we see for the current BMO Rewards Master cards. That is you an redeem 140 points towards $1 in travel booked via BMO Rewards. You can also redeem for cash back statement credits with the BMO Rewards programs and that has been updated. Prior to the launch of these cards you had to redeem 15,000 points for a $50 credit. The new cash back option is way more flexible as you only have to redeem as little as 200 points for a $1 credit.  What does this work out to in terms of return? The 5 points earn rate equates to a  3.57% return for travel, which is a pretty decent return that puts in the middle of the pack for its competitors (lower than the American Express Cobalt Card and Scotiabank Gold American Express Card but higher than cards like the RBC Visa Infinite Avion and CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Cards) It also equates to 2.5% for cash back if you choose that option. However all the other spending from the card equates to returns at 0.05% for cash back or 0.07% for travel. This is lower than almost of this card's competitors. Even the additional card earning boost of 25% doesn't make this card catch those competitors.

Benefits
The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card does have some great benefits added to it to help justify that $499 annual fee. It also comes with an annual statement credit like the Infinite card but this one is much higher. This card will offer a $200 annual lifestyle credit to spend however you want. Again it is not limited to travel as you can redeem it towards pretty much anything you charge on the card. On top of this the card provides a Priority Pass benefit which covers the annual membership fee of US$99 along with 6 lounge visits per year with those visits valued at US$32 each. This is a standard benefit of all Visa Infinite Privilege cards in Canada although the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card's Priority Pass option is the exact same offer save for the Scotia card having a $139 annual fee versus this card's $499 fee (well $299 if you take into account the $200 annual credit). Like other Visa Infinite Privilege cards in Canada this card also provides Priority Security Lane, airport parking and valet service discounts at select Canadian airports. The card also has Mobile Device Insurance. 

Rewards Canada's thoughts

Just like the long standing BMO Rewards Mastercards there's going to be one big caveat with these new cards and that is travel has to be booked via BMO Rewards. I know for many this is and has been a sticking point for years. I have had many a reader tell us this is one of the main reasons they have actually avoided or cancelled their BMO Rewards cards. The BMO Rewards call center and online option don't come with the greatest reputation based on the feedback from many of our readers and from various other online forums. Stories range from them charging more than other booking engines to not having the same options as other booking sites to charging phone in fees and to me this really is BMO Rewards' Achilles's heal. When a good proportion of their competitors let you book travel how you like, with whomever you like and then redeem points against the charge without losing value the BMO Rewards program can be a tough sell. 

I'm having a really tough time with these cards and am wondering about BMO's intentions. The earn rates while OK aren't anything special and the welcome bonuses with their additional points after holding the card for one year are weak compared to many of their competitors. Sure the annual $50 and $200 credits are a nice extra and the points bonus for having additional cards is a new unique take on the earn side but I can't get past the fact these are the first premium and ultra premium cards in Canada whose base earn rates are below 1% when redeemed for travel.  I don't see them as mind blowing new entrants to our market but they do fill up some voids that were present in BMO's portfolio of proprietary rewards cards:

  • BMO Rewards Mastercard - entry level, no annual fee
  • BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card - minimum $60,000 income
  • BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard - minimuim $80,000 income
  • BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card - minimum $150,000 income

They now have four levels of cards and as you can see all four cards kind of fit their own bill with the only real overlap being the Visa Infinite and World Elite Mastercards. The new Visa card will appeal to those whose income is in that $60,000 to $80,000 range since they may not qualify for the World Elite card but will the new Visa Infinite eat away at existing $80,000+ income clients as they may move from the World Elite to the Visa. Also by adding the Visa Infinite Privilege card BMO now joins the ranks of several Canadian issuers offering premium high end credit cards.

Learn more about and apply for the new BMO eclipse Visa cards here.

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