This post has been updated to include changes to the BMO Rewards program effective Jan. 15, 2018.
It’s time for another battle of the best credit cards in Canada, and this time we’ve got two very different credit cards up for the fight: the Scotiabank Gold American Express and the BMO World Elite MasterCard. These two credit cards both offer travel rewards but have different perks, fees, and qualifications. Let’s jump right into the battle with a side-by-side comparison:
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1Up to $50,000 in spending, 1 point per dollar spent after that.
2Up to $50,000 in spending, 2 points per dollar spent after that.
These two credit cards are both very good options if you’re searching for the best travel credit card Canada has to offer, but using the side by side comparison, there are some differences between the two. The BMO World Elite Mastercard has a higher annual fee at $150 versus $99 for the Scotiabank Gold American Express. But with that higher fee comes extra perks like VIP airport lounge access, access to the BMO Concierge Service, best in-class travel and medical insurance on unlimited trips per year, and no blackout or airline restrictions when booking travel with points.
Not only will you be paying a higher annual fee but you’ll also need a higher monthly income to qualify for the BMO World Elite Mastercard. You’ll need to earn at least $80,000 per year or $150,000 per year if you include your spouse’s income to qualify for this credit card.
In contrast, the Scotiabank Gold American Express is a much more accessible credit card. It has no minimum income requirement and a more affordable annual fee of just $99. You’ll still enjoy some perks for that lower fee including a concierge service, 30% off priority pass lounge access while traveling ($32USD fee also applies per visit), and a suite of insurance coverage.
Of course, the biggest concern when choosing a rewards credit card is the value of the rewards you’ll earn. Let’s use the example spending profile below to determine which card will earn you the most in rewards:
Scotiabank Gold American Express
- Annual fee: $99
- Welcome offer: 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel). Plus, no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards and get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months. Offer expires Jan 1, 2022.
- Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurant purchases; 1 point per dollar on everything else
- No blackout dates; points can be used to cover taxes/fees
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card lets you earn rewards at a rate of 4 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, entertainment and restaurants, up to $50,000 per year. You’ll also earn 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else. The average dollar value of a Scotia Reward Point is $0.01. Based on the spending habits above, you'd earn an impressive amount of rewards in the first year.
BMO World Elite MasterCard
- Annual fee: $150 (waived for first year)
- Earn 3 points per dollar on travel, dining, and entertainment
- Earn 35,000 bonus points (value: $250) on your first purchase
- VIP airport lounge access with the included Priority Pass membership, plus 4 complimentary passes per year
- Points can be used to cover all flight charges and taxes
The BMO World Elite MasterCard lets you earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment (up to $50,000 in purchases per year), and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll also receive 35,000 welcome points when you sign up. Using the spending profile above, you would earn $536 in the first year thanks to the welcome bonus points and the fact that the annual fee is waived in the first year. In subsequent years you’ll earn $137 in rewards per year.
Based on the information above, it’s clear that the Scotiabank Gold American Express is the winner here. The insurance coverage and perks between the two credit cards are very similar, but the rewards for the Scotiabank card are slightly better. The biggest drawback to this rewards credit card is the minimum income requirement, which a few Canadians may have trouble meeting.
If this is the case, the BMO World Elite is a very close second to this credit card and would be a great option for anyone looking to maximize their rewards credit card spending.
Keep in mind that every spending profile is different. If you happen to spend more or less the categories mentioned above, a different credit card might be right for you. Use Ratehub.ca’s credit card comparison tool to learn which rewards credit card is best for you.