With the pandemic going into abatement, Canadian customers have returned to travel with a fiery vengeance and more than willing to part ways with the money they saved during the various lockdown periods.
A canny customer could certainly feel now is the perfect time to dip a toe into BMO’s credit card portfolio by spending their BMO Rewards points at the highest reward rate that’s been made available to the public in years.
Elevated BMO Rewards: Redeem at 0.67cpp Until September 30, 2022
BMO is one of the banks whose reward program we’ve been critical of. BMO began 2021 with an enormous devaluation of their suite of BMO Rewards cards by reducing the effective rate of redemption from 0.71 cents per point (cpp) down to 0.67 cpp.
This represented a drastic cut for new products, such as the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite, which had launched only a few months before the slashes. This weakened its heavily-marketed 5x multiplier on select categories into the doldrums when it came time to actually book a flight.
To add insult to injury, the resulting ideal redemption rate of 150 BMO Rewards Points for $1 in value was exclusively available on the BMO Rewards Travel Portal, which can often be quite buggy. At present, it won’t even allow a customer to book flights!
Previously, if you wished to redeem BMO Rewards for any other type of purchase not made on their web portal, then you’d have to accept a frankly pathetic rate of 200 BMO Rewards Points = $1. This amounts to a paltry 0.5cpp.
Buggy IT aside, BMO has at least recognized that they may need to experiment with the inflexibility of their redemption model and offer consumers a little bit more punch for points redemptions.
That’s why between now and September 30, 2022, you can redeem your BMO Rewards points on all travel purchases anywhere at the aforementioned ideal rate of 150 points per $1, or 0.67cpp.
As long as your purchase codes as flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, buses, or trains, you’ll be good to go when it comes time to burn your BMO Rewards points.
To redeem, simply sign into bmorewards.com, select the “Pay with Points” tab, and use as many points as you desire to offset your qualifying purchase.
Why Should I Pay Using My BMO Rewards Points?
BMO’s latest promotion is ideal because it not only allows you to redeem your points however you want, but it also lets you avoid the bank’s in-house travel agency.
Normally, flying on itineraries booked with such services can prevent you from earning rewards, such as Aeroplan points or Alaska miles. Booking hotels would likewise eliminate you from eligibility to earn sweet rewards such as World of Hyatt points or Marriott Bonvoy elite qualifying nights.
Likewise, you wouldn’t be able to garner benefits such as suite upgrades or free breakfast that you might earn as a result of being a hotel elite member. You also wouldn’t be able to employ the “Latitude Attitude” and use eUpgrades to instantly transform your cheap economy seat into a business class one.
For my money, I’d only have ever used the BMO Rewards travel agency as a method of last resort for cashing out my points. As a BMO savings account holder, I was fortunate enough to be able to redeem my points at full value for cash in my savings account as an alternative method.
However, many Miles & Points enthusiasts simply don’t bank with BMO, and this new promotion provides an enticing opportunity to get maximum value out of an otherwise lacklustre program.
There’s also no guarantee that an offer this generous will return, as BMO could always arbitrarily devalue its program yet again. Better to act now than wait and regret it later.
Best BMO Credit Cards for Earning BMO Rewards
The most basic BMO Rewards product, the aptly-named BMO Rewards Mastercard, is barely worth mentioning due its low welcome bonus of 10,000 points, which is equivalent to $67 in travel. That’s barely even a Megabus ticket.
At the other end of the spectrum is the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege. This card has a hefty $499 annual fee, but it does offer a $200 annual credit to offset the cost, as well as a welcome bonus of 50,000 BMO Rewards Points after spending $6,000 in the first three months of holding the card. It also includes six MasterCard LoungeKey lounge passes.
These points would be worth $365 toward travel under the current promotion. Therefore, after paying the high annual fee, your profit would only be $66, plus some lounge visits.
However, I think it’s BMO’s middle-of-the-road cards that offer the best value under the current promotion.
While the BMO World Elite Mastercard’s ambitions to “ascend” seem faulty, it does still offer a decent sign-up bonus of 30,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as well as a waiver of the $150 annual fee.
$200 in travel for free isn’t insignificant, and the card also comes with four MasterCard LoungeKey passes per year.
On the other hand, you have the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite, which in my opinion is the clear winner. Its $120 annual fee is waived in the first year and you instantly receive a $50 per calendar year in lifestyle credit.
Furthermore, its welcome bonus of 30,000 BMO Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first three months puts it on par with the BMO World Elite Mastercard, and it earns 5x the points on eats, drinks, and groceries.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|Up to 60,000 BMO Rewards points||$320||Apply Now|
|2,000 Air Miles||$265||Apply Now|
|Up to 60,000 BMO Rewards points||$221||Apply Now|
|10,000 BMO Rewards points||$77||Apply Now|
|Up to 90,000 BMO Rewards points||$74||Apply Now|
When it comes to the Bank of Montreal, I often have mixed feelings. Their constant devaluations of their signature products leave a rotten taste in the consumer’s mouth, and it feels as if the company hasn’t kept pace at all with their competitors in the Miles & Points credit card space.
As a result, I hope that this promotion is an attempt by the bank to rebuild goodwill with consumers, instead of a half-hearted attempt to bypass buggy IT issues.
I hope that we will continue to see more positive developments within BMO Rewards as time goes on, and that this is only the first stepping stone. However, if you are sitting on a trove of BMO Rewards points, don’t count on this being the case: the time to redeem is now.
Until next time, may you ever get maximum value.