Although the global pandemic temporarily shut down travel, destinations are slowly starting to open up again for tourists. There’s no denying that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel—however instead of booking the first flight available, why not plan a trip using points?
Many travel credit cards have some incredible offers right now that will allow you to accumulate points quickly. Having a lot of points is one thing; knowing how to use them to their maximum potential is a totally different story. With BMO Rewards, you can use your points on travel, gift cards, merchandise, statement credits, and even investments. Here’s how the program works and how to maximize your BMO Rewards points value.
Value of the BMO Rewards points
Recently, the value of BMO Rewards points changed for travel redemptions. It now takes 150 points to claim $1 in travel. That means the value of 1 BMO Rewards point is $0.0067 (0.67 cents) per point.
While travel redemptions will give you the most value for your points, you have multiple ways to redeem your points. What you redeem your points for can significantly affect their value. To complicate things, some redemption categories (such as merchandise) have different values depending on what you’re getting.
Regardless of how you plan on using your points, you need to calculate their value, so you know what you’re getting. Use the following chart as a guide to help you figure out what your points are worth.
|Reward||BMO Rewards points value|
|Travel-related redemptions via BMO Rewards Travel Portal||150 points = $1 towards travel|
|Investments||15,000 points = $100 in your BMO investment account|
|Gift cards||1 point = $0.0055 average when redeemed for gift cards|
|Merchandise||1 point = $0.0055 average when redeemed for merchandise|
|Statement credit||15,000 points = $50 statement credit|
Even though you have many choices with your points, your BMO points value can vary quite a bit. For example, if you chose a statement credit over travel redemptions, you’d be devaluing your points by 50%.
In an ideal world, you’ll use your points for travel or investments to maximize the value of your points. That said, if you ever find yourself in a financial emergency, using your points for gift cards or a statement credit could help you get by.
How to earn BMO Rewards
The quickest way to earn BMO Rewards is by making purchases using a BMO credit card that earns you points.
The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is incredibly popular since it comes with travel benefits such as lounge access* and travel insurance*. For those interested in a higher earn rate on lifestyle purchases, the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card won’t disappoint. There’s also the BMO Rewards® Mastercard®*, which is an excellent entry-level card with no annual fee.
Y&T’s Preferred BMO Rewards Credit Card: BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*
Welcome Bonus: Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*
Rewards earnings: Earn 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.* Now get the highest rewards points for travel of any premium flexible travel card in Canada!†
Additional Perks: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes.
*Terms and conditions apply.
†Statement based on a comparison of the redeemable value of the non-promotional travel rewards points earned on premium flexible Canadian credit cards as of May 3, 2022. “Flexible” is defined as points earned when you purchase travel anywhere and “premium” refers to cards with an annual fee of ≤ $150 or has an income requirement of ≤ $150,000 annual individual income.
How to redeem BMO Rewards
There’s a dedicated website, bmorewards.com, where you can redeem your points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, investments, and statement credits. Although you have flexibility, don’t forget that every redemption has a different value. Making a redemption only requires a few clicks, so getting free stuff is easy.
Additionally, you have the full control and freedom of choice to book with any travel provider you like so you can benefit from any last-minute deals or better pricing found on other platforms, including Air Canada/West Jet, Expedia, Airbnb/VRBO while still receiving BMO Rewards’ richest redemption rate (150 pts = $1).
BMO Rewards travel portal
If you’re going to redeem your points for travel you’ll do it online through the BMO Rewards travel portal, which is found in your BMO Rewards account.
The search engine is similar to any online travel search engine, so you should have no problem navigating it. You can book flights, hotels, rental cars, train tickets, vacation packages, and more.
Since there are no blackout dates and no seat restrictions, you can book just about anything related to travel with your points. Best of all, you can also pay any taxes and fees with your points. If you ever run into any issues during the booking process, you can call in and get assistance over the phone.
BMO Rewards for investments
Using your BMO Rewards points for investments can be lucrative, but you need to have a BMO investments account to do so.
Qualifying investment accounts include a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, Tax-Free Savings Account, BMO SmartFolio and more. When you redeem 15,000 BMO Rewards, you’ll get $100 in cash deposited into your investment account. What you do with the cash is up to you.
Admittedly, gift cards are a popular choice for your BMO Rewards since there are hundreds of merchants to choose from. When you redeem your points, you get a physical gift card, so you can keep it for yourself or give it to a friend.
The amount of points required to get a gift card depends on the value of the gift card and who the merchant is. Gift card amounts start as low as $25 and go into the hundreds.
When logged into your BMO Rewards account, you’ll see a merchandise tab. There are hundreds of products to choose from, including laptops, headphones, toys, small appliances, bikes, tools, and more. While getting free merchandise can be appealing, the value of the redemptions is not the best.
Pay With Points
Another feature of BMO Rewards is your ability to Pay With Points. This is basically a statement credit option where you use your BMO Rewards points to lower the balance of your credit card bill.
Once you make your booking, you can immediately redeem BMO Rewards points using the Pay with Points feature. After the redemption is completed, a credit will be applied to your account within 3 to 5 days.
How to maximize your BMO points
BMO Rewards is a pretty straightforward loyalty program, so maximizing your points is just a matter of getting the most value for your points.
- Using your BMO Rewards points for travel gives you the most value from a per-point perspective. It doesn’t matter if you’re redeeming flights or hotels; the value of your points is the same.
- If you think long-term, using your points for investments could be a better value. You get the same per-point value as travel redemptions, but with investments, your money will hopefully grow. That could make your points more valuable in the long run.
- Avoid low-value redemptions such as gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits.
How BMO Rewards compares to other rewards programs
BMO Rewards gets high praise because it offers flexible travel options, and there are different ways you can use your points. The downside is you can’t book travel on your own through any travel operator and then apply your points later. That said, BMO Rewards does price match, so you don’t need to worry about overpaying.
Scotia Rewards (now Scene+) is arguably the most comparable program among the big five banks in Canada. They get a slight edge since you can book your own travel and redeem your points later. However, neither program has any airline or hotel partners, and their credit card lineup is similar.
American Express Membership Rewards is often cited as the best travel loyalty program from a bank since they have hotel and airline transfer partners. Plus, they have a fixed travel program that allows you to increase the value of your points. That said, American Express is accepted at fewer merchants compared to BMO cards.
The Last Word
BMO Rewards is an excellent program because it’s easy to understand. Redemptions take no time at all, and earning points is incredibly easy. With a massive lineup of BMO Rewards credit cards, it won’t be hard to find one that aligns with your spending. Once you’ve earned enough points, you can quickly book that dream getaway you’ve been waiting for.
*Terms and conditions apply.
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