AIR MILES® Expands Earning at Wholesale Clubs and Other Retailers

AIR MILES® has announced a string of changes that will positively impact its over 9.5 million collectors.

In the latest round of improvements to the program, we’ve seen an increase to earning rates for eligible cardholders at wholesale clubs, including Costco, as well as at retailers who sell alcohol.

Plus, the program is adding more ways to earn AIR MILES® through receipt scanning and online groceries.

BMO AIR MILES® Cardholders Earn 2x Miles at Wholesale Clubs

The biggest among the improvements announced today is that holders of the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* and the BMO®† AIR MILES® Mastercard® will receive 2x AIR MILES® at warehouse clubs and alcohol retailers.

Wholesale clubs include Costco and Walmart, while alcohol retailers include the LCBO in Ontario and SAQ in Quebec.

This development is particularly notable as no other Mastercard product offers an elevated earning rate at Costco – not even the CIBC Costco Mastercard. Furthermore, no other credit cards offer an elevated earning rate specifically at liquor stores.

In fact, wholesale clubs are largely excluded from category multipliers on Canadian credit cards. 

With this improvement, holders of the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* will now earn 2 AIR MILES® per $12 spent at wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers, which is at par with the card’s earning rate at grocery stores.

This is an improvement from the card’s previous baseline earning rate of 1 AIR MILE per $12 spent at wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers.

The BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* now offers increased earning rates at alcohol retailers

Meanwhile, cardholders of the BMO®† AIR MILES® Mastercard® now earn 2 AIR MILES® per $25 spent at wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers, which is up from the previous earning rate of 1 AIR MILE®† per $25 spent.†

As a reminder, AIR MILES® can be redeemed at a nominal rate of 95 AIR MILES® = $10 in value, or a valuation of 10.5 cents per mile. Therefore, earning 2 AIR MILES® per $12 spent corresponds to a return of 1.75%, and earning 2 AIR MILES® per $25 spent equates to a return of 0.84%.

Comparatively, other World Elite Mastercard products only offer the baseline earning rate for warehouse clubs due to their business model. For instance, while the Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard® offers 2% cash back at Costco (if you’re an eligible Rogers, Fido, or Shaw customer), its earning rate is the same across the board at all retailers.

More Ways to Earn AIR MILES®

AIR MILES® has also announced that it’s adding more ways to earn through the program.

As of May 23, 2024, AIR MILES is adding liquor stores as a category on AIR MILES Receipts. This means you can earn AIR MILES® by scanning your receipt or buying featured products at liquor stores.

This also means that if you buy your liquor from the LCBO in Ontario, you may potentially receive more rewards on your purchases, aside from Aeroplan and your credit card of choice.

Plus, AIR MILES® is adding Instacart, a grocery delivery provider, to AIR MILES® Shops. This means you’ll earn AIR MILES® (typically 1 AIR MILE per $20 spent) on your Instacart purchases when you go through the AIR MILES® Shops portal.

In addition, as a new customer, you’ll get a bonus 100 AIR MILES® on your first order.

With the launch of these two new ways to earn, be sure to check the AIR MILES® website and app regularly for Flash Offers that might include them.

AIR MILES® Gets Another Boost

Ever since BMO took over AIR MILES® in 2023, it has been busy reinvigorating the once-beleaguered program. 

This time, it’s upping the ante by introducing a category-earning rate that includes wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers.

While many credit card products offer excellent returns at grocery stores – usually in the 5–6% range at best – wholesale clubs (and alcohol retailers, for that matter) have largely been excluded. 

Last fall, MBNA ran a targeted promotion that offered cardholders of the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® a 5x earning rate at wholesale clubs, which was an excellent deal. However, that promotion ended in late November 2023, and there haven’t been any signals that it will become a permanent feature.

Will other banks include wholesale clubs in elevated category-earning rates?

Many Canadians shop at wholesale clubs such as Costco, and often wonder which Mastercard product is best for earning rewards on their wholesale purchases. 

For shoppers who wish to earn travel rewards instead of cash back, the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* is now a great option to consider.

Ideally, BMO’s move to match the earning rate at wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers to what’s earned at grocery stores will spur competition with other banks, which would be a boon for Canadian travellers.


AIR MILES® has announced a tranche of improvements that will benefit its collectors.

The biggest among the announcements is that holders of BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* and the BMO®† AIR MILES® Mastercard® have seen an increase in earning rates at wholesale clubs and alcohol retailers. They’ll now get 2 AIR MILES® per $12 spent or 2 AIR MILES® per $25 spent, respectively, at stores like Costco and the LCBO.

Moreover, AIR MILES® will soon add liquor stores as a category to its AIR MILES® Receipts program, while AIR MILES® Shops will gain Instacart as a partner.

These are the latest in the round of improvements that BMO is making to revitalize AIR MILES®, since it acquired the program last year.

†Terms and conditions apply. Refer to the card issuer’s website for complete, up-to-date information.

  1. ellequoi

    I didn’t understand exactly how this might play out so took a closer look. Estimating a conservative $300/month spent at Costco or other grocery warehouses, that would be 600 Air Miles in a year, which is $60 in gift cards with some points to spare, or ~14% of the way to a random humble cross-country flight that I looked at, points-wise (minus taxes). The WestJet RBC WE would net 54 WestJet dollars for the same Costco bills, ~13% of the cost of a similar flight direct through WestJet with taxes, or 19% of the cost excluding taxes, plus a free bag. The Air Miles also have more bonus point options and special conversion rates, though. So I wouldn’t hold my breath on redeeming Air Miles for a flight… but I might go dig up the Air Miles number that was set up for me as a kid. Walmart being included definitely helps, as well.

    1. christopher

      Well, it is definitely still better than nothing. BMO most likely saw a market gap for spending in big warehouse. While the earning, as of now, isn’t all that exciting, it is steered towards the right direction. If they tap into this “niche” more effectively, they may increase the earning in future.

  2. HR

    The AirMiles receipt offers on groceries have gotten worse. They now require a minimum spend on certain items like broccoli or multiple purchases of selected products before submitting receipts.

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