From time to time, companies revalue and adjust the terms of their rewards programs. On Jan. 15, several changes are coming to the BMO Rewards program that affect how you earn and redeem points. Here’s what cardholders need to know.
Value of points
The number of BMO Rewards points needed to redeem for $1 in travel rewards will increase from 100 to 140 points.
- Example: Currently, you need 50,000 points to redeem for $500 in travel rewards. As of Jan. 15, you’ll need 70,000 points to redeem $500 in travel rewards.
What the change means: Your purchasing power is devalued. However, there’s an opportunity to recoup some of the value if you spend more on travel, dining, and entertainment (see below).
If you have unused points, there’s no rush to redeem them. To honour the value of points already earned, 40% more points will be added to your BMO Rewards account on Jan. 15 to offset the change. As long as you have a valid BMO rewards account, your points won’t expire.
Pay off your balance with points
Beginning in February, cardholders can redeem BMO Rewards points for statement credits in $50 increments. You’ll need 15,000 points to redeem $50. This equals 300 points for every $1, or roughly half of the value if you were to redeem for travel rewards.
Changes to the BMO World Elite MasterCard
Currently, BMO World Elite MasterCard cardholders earn a flat rate of 2 BMO Rewards points per dollar on all purchases.
As of Jan. 15, cardholders will earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible travel, dining, and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 in purchases per year), and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. If you exceed the $50,000 threshold for travel, dining, and entertainment, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar thereafter on purchases in those categories.
The card’s annual fee is waived for the first year for new applicants who apply by April 30, 2018.
What the change means: The base earning rate stays the same (2 points per $1 spent), with 1 bonus point added to travel, dining, and entertainment purchases (total of 3 points per $1). The merchant categories (as defined by the MasterCard network) are fairly all-inclusive:
- Travel: Airlines, railway, cruises, car rentals, hotels/resorts, timeshares, travel agencies and tour operators.
- Dining: Restaurants, fast food, and bars.
- Entertainment: Movie theatres, concerts, plays/musicals, tourist attractions and exhibits, amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, zoos, and aquariums.
Does this offset the points devaluation? It depends. Unless you already spend heavily on travel, dining, and entertainment, you’ll need to either divert a larger slice of your budget or spend more in those categories overall. To see how this card fits with your individual spending profile, compare multiple rewards cards side-by-side with Ratehub.ca’s credit card rewards calculator.
Changes to the BMO Rewards MasterCard
As of Jan. 15, the BMO Rewards MasterCard will no longer charge a $35 annual fee. The card also will no longer offer insurance coverage for accidental loss of life or injury while travelling on a common carrier. If you booked a trip before Jan. 15 and are travelling by May 31, you will still be covered.
Improved value on merchandise and gift cards
Merchandise from the BMO Rewards catalogue will be available for up to 20% fewer points.
- Example from BMO: “An item currently on BMO Rewards catalogue has a 20,000 points value. It could be reduced as much as by 4,000 points for an item value of 16,000 points.”
For full details and a list of FAQs about program changes for both credit cards, see the BMO Rewards website.
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