A closer look at the credit card that Canada voted as the number one no annual fee travel rewards card in Canada

The results of Canada’s Choice 2021
were revealed earlier this month covering 10 categories of credit cards
and loyalty with some surprising and not so surprising results. We are now providing a series if posts that take a closer look at all the winners and our commentary on it. The second of which we look is the card that took the top spot in the No Annual Fee Travel Rewards Credit Card category and that’s the BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®*.

Other posts in this series

A very popular no fee card here in Canada thanks in part to the size of the AIR MILES program the no fee BMO AIR MILES Mastercard has been in our marketplace for almost as long as the loyalty program itself. This means a lot of people have or had had this card and it’s an easy card to have when AIR MILES is your program of choice. For many Canadians AIR MILES is their program of choice so they don’t research other … And it makes sense, a lot of Canadians collect AIR MILES and have been collecting them for decades now and when you can earn more

Let’s look at some of the reasons why this card may rank well with the Canadian population:

Welcome bonus

With a welcome bonus that typically ranges from 500 to 1,000 miles the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard holds its own in the no fee space. At the time of posting this article the welcome offer is 800 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months of having it. Depending on what you redeem those miles on, the value ranges from $80 to $120 (or more). The $80 is for Cash Miles (you actually get a little more than that) while $120 is the value if you get 15 cents per mile when redeeming for flights. We have seen even better value when redeeming for items like car rentals where it has exceeded 20 cents per miles which would put this bonus at $160 or more. That’s pretty decent for a no fee card. I will be curious to see what the value will be with the new AIR MILES Flights program launching next month.

Earning & Benefits

card itself earns 3 AIR MILES Reward Miles per $25 spent at participating AIR MILES partners and 1 AIR MILES Reward Miles per $25 spent on all other purchases. That everyday earn rate is on the average to below average side for no fee cards (if you a take a middle of the ground value of 13 cents per point it works out to a 0.5% return) however for the spend at AIR MILES partners that’s tripled for a decent return of 1.5%.

Like most no fee entry level cards in the market there aren’t a lot of extra benefits on the card but it did just gain one huge one when the revamped AIR MILES program was announced this fall (read about those changes here

That benefit is automatic AIR MILES Gold Elite Status and it is now provided to all existing and new BMO AIR MILES Mastercard holders. Gold Elite Status provides several great benefits including up discounts on select AIR MILES Reward Flights and discounts on merchandise rewards. Thus the cardholder can potentially extract more value out of each point earned if redeeming for a reward that falls into those discounted categories. Gold Status also provides the option to book hotels with cash+miles with AIR MILES Hotels.  

Wrapping it up

Here at Rewards Canada we actually don’t rank the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard in the Top 5 No Annual Fee Travel Rewards cards. It used to quite a few years but a few factors changed that in our ranking of cards. The AIR MILES program went through some tough times and quite a few of the competing cards in the no fee market were enhanced so this card fell out of the top 5. Now, with the AIR MILES program going through a revamp and this card getting instant AIR MILES Gold Elite status there is a possibility it could make its way back into our rankings. All will be told once we learn what the changes will be like with AIR MILES Flights. For the Canadian public however this card remains a popular choice for its ease of use (that is being a no fee card) and for letting collectors earn even more AIR MILES.

Click here to learn more about and apply for the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard