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By Credit Card Company
BMO World Elite MasterCard Review Originally Posted on May 20, 2010
Updated on Dec 30, 2013

In the middle of March 2010 BMO came out with a new MasterCard offering to compete with the Visa Infinite cards issued by other banks in Canada. Until now BMO has only offered Gold or Platinum versions of the various MasterCards they issued. One can assume BMO came out with this card for several reasons. The first is that BMO needs to keep its higher end clientele from jumping ship from their current line of cards to the premium Infinite cards offered by banks like CIBC and RBC. The second reason would be to try and pull some of the current Visa Infinite cardholders away from those other banks, particularly if they are BMO bankers to start with.

Overview
The World Elite tag is MasterCard's premium card offering much like Visa's Infinite/Signature branding and is a step up from the World MasterCard. To the best of our knowledge, the BMO World Elite was the first World Elite card offering in Canada. With World Elite comes extra benefits and enhancements like Concierge service, extra insurance benefits, exclusive concert/theatre packages and more. These features are what bring the card in-line with the other premium cards in Canada. Much like the RBC Avion Visa, the BMO World Elite MasterCard allows you to redeem for any travel in any class (flights, hotels, cruises etc.) for a varying amount of points via BMO's own travel agency.

Related: See how the BMO World Elite stacks up against its competition on Rewards Canada's Travel Points Credit Card with Annual Fee Comparison

Costs
The BMO World Elite comes with a heftier $150 primary card annual fee versus the average $120 for the Visa Infinite cards. If you apply for this card by Mar 3, 2014 you will have the annual fee waived in the first year. The card offers a 30,000 point welcome bonus which is worth $300 in travel with the newly revised redemption rate. Supplementary cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 20.5% which is slightly higher then the competitors but most people who have this card will be paying off their monthly balances in full.

Earning
The BMO World Elite earns 2 points for every dollar spent on the card for purchases. Since it offers a straight 2 points per dollar (a 2% return) the card does not have any category multipliers like some of its competiors.


Redeeming
On the redemption side, BMO originally made it tough to find out what the redemption ratios were for travel unless you are an actual cardholder. However this has changed as they let you know now that the card offers a 2% return on your spending (prior to September 2013 it was 1.9%) This positions it near the top of the Travel Points Credit Card category as it matches cards like the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®, the CUETS World Elite MasterCard and mbna Rewards World Elite MasterCard. The BMO World Elite comes ahead of the TD Visa Cards which have a 1.5% return, Diners Club at 1.7% and many other travel points and hybrid cards at 1%. There does not seem to be a minimum amount of points that you need to redeem at one time so this card can be quite advantageous in redeeming for seat sale fares. As an example, flights between Toronto and Ottawa or Montreal often dip below $50 each way and come in under $200 with taxes which means, you could redeem as little as 20,000 points for the flights (or $10,00 in spending) versus 15,000 with CIBC AeroGold Visas or RBC Avion Visas ($15,000 in spending). When redeeming with this card you want to try to do it online as BMO Rewards will charge you $29.95 for bookings made over the phone.For non-travel redemptions the World Elite MasterCard offers a 1% return (100 points = $1)


Features and Benefits
The BMO World Elite
comes with a whole host of features and benefits, the majority of which are standard for cards of this level. It has the standard Travel Accident, Flight Delay and Car Rental insurance.
The one insurance it has that most of its competitors do not is Trip Cancellation insurance. This benefits covers up to $2,500 per insured person to a maximum of $5,000 per account. The ScotiaGold Passport Visa, TD First Class Infinite and American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum cards are the only other cards that have this type of insurance as standard.

The card also offers free Priority Pass membership which allows access to over 600 business class lounges Worldwide. Normally the pass costs $99 per year plus your entry fee into each lounge of US$27. This feature is also found on the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum and Diners Club MasterCards. The difference with the BMO World Elite is that it also gives you four complimentary lounge access passes valued at a total of US$108.

What is good about this card
The redemption ratio of 2.0% gives this card a high mark as it matches other top cards in the Travel Points category as is right in line with the average rate of return on many airline cards for economy class seats. The trip cancellation insurance and the Priority Pass benefits that include the three free lounge visits are also a plus feature for this card.

What is not so good about this card
The biggest downfall I can find with this card is that they charge booking fees for redeeming you points for travel bookings that are made by phone. They also have a $25 fee for change or cancellations to your reward bookings over and above any fees charged by the actual travel supplier. For other rewards like financial or merchandise rewards, online orders are free and phone in orders are charged $10+tax. The annual fee is also higher then the card's direct competitors who offer similar features and benefits.

Conclusion
Overall the updated BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard is much stronger offering than when it first came out and is a comparable match to its direct competitors. Booking fees on phone in rewards, a higher annual fee, and no ability to book travel directly from any provider makes this card fall short of ones like the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®, the TD First Class Visa Infinite and the Diners Club MasterCard. The biggest benefits behind this card are the 2% redemption ratio and the four complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes that are not offered by other cards. If you bank with BMO and want to keep all your financial holdings with BMO, spend a lot on your card each year and travel a lot then this card makes for a very good choice.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the new BMO World Elite MasterCard by commenting on our blog!

Related Links:
BMO World Elite MasterCard on BMO.com
Rewards Canada's Canadian Travel Credit Card Comparison including the BMO World Elite MasterCard
Rewards Canada Blog Post on the BMO World Elite MasterCard

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Capital One® Aspire ™ Travel World MasterCard®
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
CUETS World Elite MasterCard
Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
Scotiabank Gold American Express
TD First Class Infinite Visa

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