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Look Beyond Sign Up Bonuses - BMO World Elite MasterCard Review

April 30, 2014
3 mins
A man holds up his credit card and types the information into his computer

Would you sign up for a travel rewards card if it meant you could fly right away for free? Massive point and mile sign-up bonuses are the latest favoured incentive from credit card companies, keen on luring customers with the promise of an instant vacay.

While complimentary jet setting is an attractive idea, it’s important for prospective cardholders to look beyond sign up perks and asses the real value offered by a card over time. Be sure to ask yourself the following when choosing a credit card:

  • Is it a good fit for my spending habits?
  • Is there an annual fee?
  • Will it earn rewards quickly and with few restrictions?
  • What is the value of one reward?
  • How convenient is it to redeem rewards?

Penelope’s Pick: BMO® World Elite™ MasterCard®*

This premium option from Bank of Montreal really is a winner across the board; not only are new signups welcomed with a hefty 30,000 point bonus (a $300 travel value), this card offers a fast-earning and flexible rewards program that’s designed for daily use. It also offers great value over time - the average cardholder will earn over $1,139.76 in travel value over a two-year period*.

In fact, these attributes scored BMO’s Elite offering the top Travel Rewards Credit Card award in our annual Best of Finance Awards.

Want to learn more about the best credit cards in Canada?: Check out our top credit card winners and runner ups>

*Based on the gas, grocery and travel spend of an average Canadian household, this credit card will earn cardholders $1,139.76 over a two-year period.

What’s Great:

  • 30,000 points upon sign up ($300 travel value)
  • No annual fee for the first year
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including emergency medical (up to 21 days for those under age 65), trip delay and cancellation, baggage and rental car coverage. Coverage applies to unlimited trips per year.
  • VIP Priority Pass membership and four complimentary airport lounge access passes (a $200 USD value).
  • No point expiration
  • 2 BMO points earned on the dollar on all purchases, with no retailer restrictions
  • Free additional cards

What’s Not:

  • Cardholders will have to pay an annual fee of $150 after the first year.
  • A higher-than-average interest rate at 20.50%
  • Rewards points must be booked through BMO’s Rewards Centre.

Who Should Use This Card?

This card is a great option for those who reach for their plastic daily on everyday purchases like gas and groceries. Its earning structure is similar to a cash back card in that rewards are earned on every transaction, and not limited to specific retailers or eligible purchase types.

This card is a great fit for you if:

  • You use your card for daily purchases
  • You pay your card balance in full every month
  • You want travel-specific rewards
  • You are looking to save on your travel insurance coverage
  • You don’t mind booking your travel through BMO’s Rewards Centre

How To Redeem Your Travel Rewards

Travellers looking for a plush flying experience are sure to enjoy the included VIP lounge access, and the peace of mind provided by the built in travel insurance features.

However, flights, hotels and vacation packages must be booked via the BMO Rewards Centre - while BMO’s literature states that travel is available at “highly competitive rates, similar to those at other online booking sites”, this means you forgo the ability to book through discount sites such as Expedia or Hotwire when cashing in your points. The program is open to all airlines with no blackout periods, and points can be put towards all travel costs, including airfare taxes and fees.

The card must be used to partially or fully pay for travel in order to redeem points and be covered under the included travel insurance features.

Not keen on a vacation? Points can also be redeemed for non-travel items from BMO’s Rewards Catalogue, or cashed in via a BMO investment account.

Penelope Graham

A first-time homeowner and newbie investor, Penelope Graham is the quintessential millennial, navigating the world of personal finance and wealth management. A self-professed monetary policy nerd, she follows the often-controversial housing market closely and specializes in mortgage, credit card and personal finance news.

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