Technical issues hamper new flight bookings with BMO Rewards, bank tells customers book elsewhere and redeem points for that travel but at a lower value!

UPDATE: We did it! This post seems to have made BMO change their course and are now charging 150 points for $1 instead of 175 to $1. Read our update here.

I went to check out the BMO Rewards site as part of my normal rounds of checking out all the issuers sites for anything new or interesting and it appears BMO Rewards is having technical issues for new flights bookings. Their temporary solution is letting customers they can book the flights themselves with whomever they want and they can take advantage of special promotional rate to redeeming points against the charge however that rate is not as good of rate if you book flights through BMO Rewards.  

Here’s the disclaimer right at the top of the BMO Rewards home page:

We are currently experiencing a technical issue that is impacting new flight bookings
through our BMO Rewards travel website. We continue to work closely
with the travel provider to get this resolved. We apologize for this
inconvenience. In the meantime, you can book travel any way you like on
your BMO credit card and enjoy a promotional rate for your eligible
travel purchases using our current Pay with Points travel promotion, redeeming only 175 points for every $1 credit! Terms and conditions apply28.

BMO Rewards Call Centre is currently experiencing longer than usual
wait times. We thank you in advance for your continued patience.

Good on BMO Rewards for placing this disclaimer front and centre on their website to alert members of the issue. As I’m not a BMO Rewards member I cannot tell you if the technical issues are affecting 100% of new bookings or only some. Hopefully BMO can get this fixed soon and they do state they are working with their travel provider to fix the problem. It’s then next part that BMO puts in their statement that once again has me scratching my head. Here was a chance for BMO to have had a win but they don’t. You all know in most part I have not been very happy with what BMO has been doing with their products over the past 18 or so months and more and more people are starting to show their displeasure as well. The bank that has been taking away from cardholders had an opportunity to step up for those customers but they didn’t.

As you can see in that statement above BMO are telling their members to go out and book any travel with any provider and use the current Pay with Points travel promotion to redeem points against that travel charge. First off, this promotion isn’t their solution to this issue – it’s been around since November 17, 2021 (read our post about it here) and then they end that sentence with an exclamation point like this is a good thing. This isn’t a good thing if you as a BMO customer were needing to book some flights right away and were expecting to redeem via the BMO Rewards site at a rate of 150 points to 1. Now, you have to go out and book those flights on your own (which is a great thing and a favourable method of booking) however now you have to spend more points or get less value out of them then you had originally planned for.

At the very least, as a temporary measure, BMO should be matching their own redemption rate of 150 points to $1 for these anywhere bookings. It’s that simple and just so it doesn’t get abused they could even place terms and conditions with a start date being the date the flight booking issue arose and an end date to the date the booking issue is resolved. All other bookings wouldn’t qualify. It could also be limited to airlines only or even OTA’s but you would have to provide proof it was a flight or flights that you booked with an OTA. It wouldn’t cost BMO a lot and in fact would be a win for the bank by appeasing their customers who are looking to get their full 150 points for $1 in value for a flight booking. But this is BMO we’re talking about and that has not happened.

One other note – there is no mention in that disclaimer that BMO’s phone in booking fee is being waived. I would hope that in this case it is!

Wrapping it up

BMO really had a chance to show their customers they care about them when a technical issue arose for booking flights via BMO Rewards but that didn’t happen. Instead of preserving value for the customer in a situation where that customer is not at fault for not being able to book with your reward platform, you tell them to go book with anyone else but we’ll charge you more points than you were expecting. I don’t know, maybe I need to do yet another podcast episode, BMO, What are you doing? Part III. 

Title screenshot via BMO