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Comparing: The Two Best AIR MILES Credit Cards in Canada

To the point

Are you hesitant? Here's a comparison between the best credit cards for AIR MILES miles collectors in Canada.

In Canada, the AIR MILES loyalty program is partnered with two institutions: American Express and BMO.

These two institutions therefore issue AIR MILES credit cards allowing AIR MILES Collectors to earn CASH rewards and/or DREAM Rewards for each of their purchases.

While those institutions offer both AIR MILES credit cards for consumers and for businesses, two AIR MILES credit cards stand out as the most popular:

Welcome bonus

The welcome bonus offered by each of these credit cards varies according to promotions. However, there are important differences between the two cards!

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With the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card, you can earn 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles after $1,500 in Card purchases within the first three months.

However, the fee still has to be paid for the first year ($120).

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With the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you can earn 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles after $3,000 in Card purchases within the first three months.

In addition, the first year is free, a savings of $120.

Advantage: BMO

The BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* welcome bonus is more generous than the one offered by the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card. Besides, the first year is free.

Earning points

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With the AIR Platinum Credit Card MILESMD* American ExpressMD, you can earn 1 AIR MILES mile per $5 of purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and bars, as well as for local transportation.

Everywhere else, you can earn 1 AIR MILES mile per $10 of purchases.

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With the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you can earn 1 Mile for every $12 spent everywhere, including Costco.

Besides, you can earn 3 Miles for every $12 spent at AIR MILES partners (Sobeys, Shell, Jean Coutu, etc.).

Advantage: BMO

Slight advantage to the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* with 3 miles for every $12 spent at select AIR MILES Partners.

However, if you regularly shop at other grocery stores (Metro, Super C, etc.), other gas stations than Shell (Esso, Ultramar, etc.) or restaurants or local transportation, you will earn more miles with the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card: 1 mile for every $5 spent.

Using points

The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card and the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* are both part of the same rewards program: AIR MILES.

Thus, in terms of using the miles, you must comply with the rules of the program:

  • A fixed value for CASH Rewards (10.5 cents per mile – outside the promotional period at Jean Coutu for example)
  • A variable value for DREAM Rewards (8 to 40 cents per miledepending on your use)
DRAW MATCH

Both cards are quite similar on this aspect; the use rate is almost the same.

Annual fee

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The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card has an annual fee of $120.

Each additional card is free.

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The BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* has an annual fee of $120.

Each additional card costs $50.

Advantage: American Express

The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card wins this duel, since it has no annual fee for the extra cards.

However, if you do not plan to add any additional card , either card will cost you $120 per year. Remember that the first year is free with the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard.

Minimum income

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The BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* requires a minimum personal income of $80,000 or a combined income of $150,000.

Advantage: American Express

Net advantage for the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card, which is accessible to more people.

Acceptance

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You will be able to use the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card at all stores who accept American Express, such as grocery stores like Metro, Super C, Safeway, Walmart, as well as all service stations and many restaurants or home food delivery services.

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You will be able to use the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*d at all stores who accept Mastercard (virtually every business in Canada). You can also use it at Costco or Walmart.

Advantage: BMO

A net advantage for the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: you can use it anywhere, even at Costco.

However, if you shop at Metro, Super C, Safeway or are used to going to restaurants that take American Express, the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card may be best for you.

Besides, some IGA stores have begun accepting American Express credit cards.

Insurance

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The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card offers these insurances:

  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • Purchase Warranty (90 days)
  • Purchase Protection Warranty (1 year)
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The BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* offers these insurances:

  • $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • Purchase Warranty (90 days)
  • Purchase Protection Warranty (1 year)
  • Out-of-province hospital insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Departure flight delay insurance
  • Baggage insurance in case of delay
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
Advantage: BMO

From an insurance perspective, the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* significantly outperforms the American Express one. Especially since this card is one of the few credit cards in Canada that offer travel insurance no matter the amount paid on the card .

The benefits

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The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card offers several benefits:

  • an annual exchange of travel credit (up to 750 miles)
  • access to American Express online promotional offers
  • access to the Front Of The Line service to buy tickets for shows before the general public
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The BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*offers several benefits:

  • 15% discount on airline tickets on all AIR MILES flights in North America
  • Free and unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi access
Advantage: BMO

If you regularly travel within North America using your AIR MILES miles, the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* has the exclusive benefit of a 15% discount on flight rewards. This can make a big difference, especially for families.

Conclusion

As I said in the introduction, these are the two most popular credit cards for AIR MILES members. However, they are quite different in many aspects.

If your goal is to earn more AIR MILES Reward Miles for everyday purchases outside of AIR MILES Partners, the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card is the one for you.

However, if you shop regularly at AIR MILES Partners and want a card that will also be useful for your purchases at Costco or for your travels – especially because of the insurance and benefits offered – the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is a great choice.

Don’t forget that applying for one card does not prevent you from applying to the other one! It’s a way to earn more AIR MILES Bonus Miles!

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