Changes coming to the flight discount benefit on the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

Just when I had hoped BMO was done with making changes to their credit cards they go and make another one! This time it is small but significant change that is happening to the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®*. That change affects the AIR MILES discount flight benefit, the one that offer 15% off AIR MILES flight redemptions in North America. This change will take place as of July 4, 2022 and for some it will be good, for others not so good.

If you are familiar with this benefit on the card you’ll know that you receive a 15% reduction in the miles required for any AIR MILES flight redemptions for travel in North America. The benefit can be used as many times as you want – there is no limitation other than the geographical requirement of North America. 

As of July 4 that benefit changes to a 25% discount on any flight worldwide but will be limited to a once per year discount and it will be capped at a maximum of 750 miles. That means the discount will work on one redemption per year of up to 3,000 miles. 

You may recall that this card did once have a 25% discount anywhere worldwide many many years ago. then it became 25% for North America only and then further reduced to 15% for North America only. The reasoning (which was confirmed to us by BMO at that time) is that very few members redeemed for flights outside of North America. Most AIR MILES flight redemptions are made for travel in Canada or between the Canada and the U.S. and that was due to the program’s high mileage requirements for flights beyond that. We were told most collectors simply did not collect enough miles to even consider flights outside of Canada. 

Apply for the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* and get 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and they’ll waive the $120 annual fee for the first year*.

So now we have the return of the 25% discount and it is worldwide again. That is great news, especially since you can now redeem AIR MILES for any flights worldwide. Want to fly from Amsterdam to Athens? You can redeem AIR MILES for those flights so it only makes sense to have the discount expanded worldwide. Will a lot of people make use of it outside of North America? Hard to say but knowing the option is there should definitely push through some more bookings. So that’s the change that is good for some collectors.

The change that is not so good for collectors is the cap on the discount and the limitation to once per year. You’ll notice this now matches the American Express®  AIR MILES* Platinum Credit Card which has a once per year benefit where they give you back miles equivalent to 25% of your redemption up to 750 miles. I know there are collectors who book multiple reward flights each year and this change will upset them – as will the cap for those who can and do redeem more than 5,000 miles per year (that’s the equivalent of 15% providing a 750 mile discount)

As it will become a once per year benefit you’ll have to consider when to use the discount if you make multiple flight redemption annually. The good news is BMO and AIR MILES will allow you during the booking process to choose to use the discount or not. So if you are booking a flight for only 1,500 miles you can choose not to use it so that you can potentially use it on a booking that will cost you more miles. Ideally you want that booking to be at 3,000 miles or more so you can maximize the discount.The discount does work on multiple tickets in the same booking – for example if you book two flights at 1,500 miles each on the same reservation (3,000 miles total) you will receive a 375 mile discount on each of those tickets.

Wrapping it up

I think for a lot of collectors this change may actually be good just based on the fact that many only redeem once per year or even less. Some will only ever redeem 1,500 miles for a flight so to get a 25% discount instead of 15% is a good deal. 

However on the other end of the spectrum you have the hardcore collectors and multiple times per year flight redeemers who will see this as a devaluation. Before they could redeem for three separate flights at 1,000 miles each and not worry that they wouldn’t get a discount – they would always get the 15% off. Now it will take some more planning to make sure they get best value of the discount and what happens if your plans change? That is, you hold off on using the discount thinking you’ll have another redemption that will require more miles but then your plans change and you don’t make that other booking? You’ve just lost out on getting the discount on that previous redemption. Or the complete opposite, you use the discount on a lower value redemption thinking you won’t redeem again that year but you do end up doing so and it is one that uses more miles – so now you’ve lost out on a bigger discount.  I think these two scenarios may be what BMO and AIR MILES are banking on….

I’d love to hear your comments on this upcoming change! Do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing? Will it make reconsider keeping this card or getting the card? Let us know in the comments below!


Click here to learn more about these changes