Battle of the Best Credit Cards: American Express AIR MILES Platinum vs. BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard

Jordann Brown
by Jordann Brown June 24, 2015 / No Comments

When it comes to using the best travel credit cards to earn rewards like free hotel stays, flights and car rentals, AIR MILES credit cards offer some fantastic options. AIR MILES is one of the most oldest travel rewards programs on the planet, and offers rewards for your day-to-day spending as well as plenty of opportunities to double your rewards at select retailers. But which credit card will earn you the most rewards? Let’s take a look at two popular AIR MILES credit cards: the American Express AIR MILES Platinum and the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard.

American Express AIR MILES Platinum BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
Annual Fee $65

(annual fee waived for the first year)

$150
Value of Sign-Up Bonus 2,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $500 = $242 1,000 Bonus Miles (Limited time) = $121

Total Value = $121

Value of 1 Mile $0.121 $0.121
Annual Income Requirement $40K individual $70K individual or $120K household
Interest Rate 19.99% 19.99%
Special Features Earn double miles at participating AIR MILES sponsors Receive a Priority Pass Membership (value of $153 US)

 

At first glance, the American Express AIR MILES Platinum looks like the better credit card. There is no annual fee in the first year, and a sign-up bonus of 2,000 miles when you spend $500 within the first 3 months, which is valued at $242. The minimum income requirement is also lower, making it accessible to more Canadians. However, the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard does offer the additional perk of the annual Priority Pass Membership, which is valued at $153US.

Monthly Spending Profile
$500 on groceries
$650 on gas
$100 on pharmacy
$1,750 on everything else
Total per month: $3,000
Total per year: $3,000 x 12 = $36,000

So, is the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card actually the best choice? Let’s apply a detailed monthly spending profile to both cards and determine which one will earn you the most.

1. American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card

American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card

american-express-air-miles-platinum

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  • $65 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in card purchases at Air Miles sponsors as well as grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in card purchases everywhere else
  • Receive a welcome bonus of 2,000 Air Miles when you charge $500 in the first three months

 

Annual Fee Sign-Up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending First Year Return Subsequent Years Return
$65 $242 0.1 miles for $1 spent on gas, groceries, & pharmacy

0.067 miles per $1 on everything else

0.1 miles x $1,150 on gas, groceries, & pharmacy= 125 miles

0.067 mile x $1,600 on everything else = 117.25 miles

Value of 1 mile = $0.121

242.25 miles x $0.121 = $29.31/month

Sign-up: $242

Spending Rewards: $29.31 x 12 = $351.72

Annual Fee: $0

Total: $242+$351.72-0 = $593.72

$351.72-$65= $286.72

The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card has a strong reward program. When you use this credit card you’ll earn 1 mile per $10 spent on gas, groceries and at the pharmacy (or 0.1 mile per $1 spent) and 1 mile per $15 spent on everything else (0.067 miles per $1). If you spent a similar amount on this card, as the profile we used above, you could earn 2,907 miles per year + the 2,000 bonus for a total of 4,907 miles in the first year. At a value of $0.121 per mile, that’s $593.72 worth of free miles you could earn in the first year.

2. BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard

BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard

bmo-air-miles-world-elite-mastercard

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  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 1 Air Miles reward mile for every $10 in credit card purchases
  • Get up to 1,000 bonus Air Miles

 

Annual Fee Sign-Up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending First Year Return Subsequent Years Return
$150 $121 0.1 miles for $1 spent on everything 0.1 miles x $3,000 = 300 miles per month

Value of 1 mile = $0.121

300 x 0.01 = $36.30/month

Sign-up: $121

Spending Rewards: $36.30 x 12 = $435.60

Priority Pass = $153

Annual Fee: $150

Total: 121+435.60+153-150 = $559.60

$435.60+153-$150= $438.60

With the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard, you would earn 1 mile for every $10 spent on your credit card (or 0.1 miles per $1 spent). The card also has a $150 annual fee, which you need to factor in. If you had a similar spending profile as what we used in this example, you would earn 3,600 miles in the first year + the 1,000 mile bonus. At a value of $0.121 per mile, that’s $556.60 worth of free miles. You’ll also want to add value of the Priority Pass ($153) for a total earning of $709.60. However, because you need to subtract the annual fee, this card would only net you a $559.60 return for the first year. You’ll continue to earn $438.60 each of the following years.

Based on this spending profile, the American Express AIR MILES Platinum card will earn you more rewards in the first year. However, in subsequent years, the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard will earn you significantly greater return. If your monthly spending doesn’t match the spending profile we’ve outlined above, you should use our credit card rewards calculator to find out which of the best credit cards in Canada is right for you.

Flickr: Ramon Cutanda Lopez