BMO Air Miles Mastercard Review

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The BMO Air Miles Mastercard is one of the best no annual fee credit cards in Canada. In fact, it is arguably the best no annual fee Air Miles credit card.

The BMO Air Miles Mastercard has no annual fee but still packs on the perks. It comes with a sign-up bonus of 800 Air Miles, has elevated points earning categories, and has a higher base reward than its competitors. It is a no-brainer for anyone looking to add an Air Miles card to their wallet but want to avoid annual fees.

Air Miles isn’t my favourite travel program, but you can’t go wrong with a no annual fee credit card!

The bonus points you earn with the BMO Air Miles Mastercard make it somewhat beneficial to use it strategically.

Using the BMO Air Miles Mastercard at Air Miles partners is the quickest way to earn Air Miles with this credit card.

You have to spend a lot of money on other purchases to earn a significant amount of Air Miles.

The best use of this card is to maximize its elevated earning category and then put it away and use a stronger credit card for other purchases.

Best travel credit cards in Canada


This is a no fee credit card, so there aren’t that many perks. However, the perks you do get with the card are awesome.

You get far more perks with the BMO Air Miles Mastercard than with most other no annual fee credit cards.

Here are the top perks you need to know about:

  • Received 800 Air Miles as a sign-up bonus
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $25 spend on the card
  • Earn 3x the Air Miles at partner locations (e.g. Sobey’s and Shell)
  • Ability to earn Air Miles twice at partner stores (once for showing your normal Air Miles card and second for using the BMO Air Miles Mastercard)
  • BMO often runs promotions where you can earn 5x the points in certain spending categories for a limited time
BMO Air Miles Mastercard

Pros and Cons of the BMO Air Miles Mastercard


  • No annual fee
  • Good points earning ratios for a no fee card
  • Mastercard is widely accepted


  • Takes a long time to earn a lot of points
  • Air Miles isn’t the best program
  • BMO doesn’t have the best customer service


You earn and redeem Air Miles with this credit card.

Probably not much of a surprise there!

One of the best parts of the Air Miles program is that everything is done through the Air Miles website.

You don’t have to worry about transferring points to a partner program, which is very nice. It makes is very easy for people to navigate the website, and it is a great platform for beginners.

I don’t love the Air Miles program personally, but I will admit it is one of the easiest program websites to navigate.

Sign-Up Bonus

You get a very generous sign-up bonus with the BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

I mean getting any sign-up bonus on a no annual fee credit card is amazing!

You received 800 Air Miles as a sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months.

That’s a minimum of an $80 value!

Not too shabby at all for a no annual fee credit card.

In fact, this may be the most generous sign-up bonus on any no annual fee credit card in Canada!

Woman waiting in airport

Earning Points

The points earning structure on the BMO Air Miles Mastercard is very straight forward.

You don’t need to worry about remembering any complicated points earning categories. There is a base level of earning and a few ways to earn additional Air Miles.

Here is a breakdown of how you earn points with this card:

  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $25 spent on the card
  • Earn 3 Air Miles for every $25 spent at partner stores (e.g. Safeway or Shell)
  • Ability to earn double the points when shopping at partner stores including online retailers when you shop through the Air Miles shop online

The straightforward points structure is appreciated, but it does have its flaws.

It takes a long time for you to earn a significant amount of Air Miles when you earn 1 to 3 miles per $25 spent.

In the big scheme of things, that is not a great points earning rate. Especially when you consider how many miles it takes to redeem for a flight.

I wish the points earning were higher, but it is on par with (and slightly better than) comparable credit cards by other providers.

Underrated cities in Europe you need to visit ASAP

Redeeming Points

The redemption process is done completely online and is very easy to navigate.

You can also change the settings in your Air Miles account to allocate some (or all) your Air Miles to be Dream Miles.

Dream Miles allow you to receive a $10 discount off at partner locations when you scan you Air Miles card (and have enough points saved up).

This helps you spend your Air Miles easily and continuously. It also gives you a decent value per point.

And saves you the hassle of paying taxes and fees that you often get stuck with when redeeming for travel.

Couple Travel Hacking

Best Way to Redeem Air Miles

Sometimes it feels like it is very difficult to get a good value for you Air Miles.

You often get hit with high taxes and fees on flight redemptions, and it feels like it isn’t even worth it.

I completely understand the feeling!

My personal favourite way to redeem Air Miles is for travel experiences.

This is a great way to skirt around the taxes and fees imposed on flight redemptions while still getting some free travel!

There are tons of different travel experiences you can redeem Air Miles for. Most of them are in the United States, and new experiences are always being added (or removed) from the website.

My favourite redemption is for Universal Studios California tickets. I love not having to pay out-of-pocket for theme park tickets! They are expensive, but I simply cannot resist a good theme park.

I highly recommend you peruse the Air Miles website before you book your trip to see if there are any experiences you want to redeem your miles for.

In terms of flights, the best value comes when you book flights within North America.

You tend to get the best value per mile and pay the least amount in taxes and fees.

It seems the longer the flight, the more taxes and fees you have to pay in addition to having to redeem more Air Miles.

My True Opinion

One of the things that often gets lost in the travel hacking space is the personal element.

People are always talking about how to get the most value per point and the focus is on maximizing your points as much as possible.

This leads people to have analysis paralysis.

You research and think about how to get the best value out of your points and never end up booking anything.

That is one of the worst travel hacking mistakes you can make!

My personal philosophy is to decide what trip you want to take and find a way to maximize your points within the context of your trip.

You may not be getting the best value per point overall, but you are getting the best value per point on the trip you want.

You need to balance your dream trip with maximizing your travel rewards.

That is where the magic of travel hacking takes place!

Worst Way to Redeem Air Miles

The absolute worst way you can spend your Air Miles is on merchandise.

I know it is tempting because of the taxes on fees on flights, and I’ve definitely been guilty of it in my youth.

You get such a low value per mile that it isn’t worth it, and you’re not getting the value you deserve.

You spend a lot of time earning your Air Miles, and you should get the value you deserve out of them!

In terms of flight rewards, I don’t recommend using your Air Miles for long-haul international flights.

The number of miles required is ridiculous, and you get hit with an absurd amount of taxes and fees.

I was playing around on the Air Miles website one day, and the taxes and fees on a round-trip flight from Canada to Europe as almost the same as what a normal flight would cost!

You want to make sure you’re getting a value of $0.15 per mile and ideally closer to $0.20 per mile.

You should include what you’re paying out-of-pocket when making these calculations to see the full price of the redemption.

No matter what you choose to do with your Air Miles, try to get as much value per point as possible!

I know it is easier said than done, but you should always strive to get the most value per point for the redemption you want to use your points for.

Benefits of travelling alone

Annual Fee

There is no annual fee on the BMO Air Miles Mastercard!

It costs you $0 per year to hold the card. You gotta love it!

Solo Female Travel


It is pretty easy to be approved for the BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

There is no minimum income requirement (yay!), and you only have to meet these simple requirements:

  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Be the age of majority in your home province
  • Have a Canadian credit file

If you meet those requirements, there is a solid chance you’ll be approved!

Who Should Get the BMO Air Miles Mastercard

Anybody who is interested in holding an Air Miles Mastercard should consider getting the BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

One hack you can do to make it the most worth while is apply for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard and then downgrade to the no fee card.

The first year’s annual fee on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is waived.

You can apply for the premium card, take advantage of the superior sign-up bonus, and then downgrade before the second year’s annual fee is due.

This allows you to maximize the rewards you get from the credit hit you take to get a new credit card. And you don’t have to pay anything in annual fees.

It doesn’t get better than that!

The downside to this strategy is that BMO has a policy where you don’t get the sign-up bonus on the BMO Air Miles Mastercard if you’re an existing customer.

This means you won’t earn the 800 Air Miles a new customer would get as a sign-up bonus.

It is still worthwhile in the long run to get the World Elite Mastercard and downgrade to the no fee card after the first year.

You will earn significantly more Air Miles this way.

Who Should NOT Get the BMO Air Miles Mastercard

As rude as it may be to say, I don’t think the BMO Air Miles Mastercard is the right card for serious travel hackers.

I’m sorry!

The value in the card just isn’t there.

Air Miles, in general, isn’t the best points program in Canada. If you’re serious about travel hacking and seeing the world for free, there are other points programs you should focus your efforts on.

This is a great no annual fee credit card, and if you already have it in your wallet, hold onto it. It’ll help the credit history portion of your credit score!

But I don’t suggest you go out of your way to apply for this card.

It is a great card to downgrade to in the BMO credit card system, but it should not be the first card you go for if you’re a travel hacker.

It is a great first credit card for students though!

Couple Travelling Together

Alternative Credit Cards


There you have it! A complete review of the BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

It is a good no annual fee credit card, but it doesn’t have many shining moments beyond that.

The sign-up bonus is great and the points earning ratio on the card is better than its competitors.

There are definitely some attractive things about it!

But from a macro view, it won’t help you advance your travel hacking career very far.

Air Miles take a long time to accumulate, and you need a lot of them to redeem for any sort of flight reward.

The effort to return ratio simply isn’t there.

I suggest focussing more on the Aeroplan program as a Canadian.

The rewards are quicker and easier to earn and the reward options are more robust.

Overall, the BMO Air Miles Mastercard is a decent credit card.

Keep it if you already have it but don’t go out of your way to get it.

BMO Air Miles Mastercard ReviewBMO Air Miles Mastercard ReviewBMO Air Miles Mastercard Review