Quick overview

The Student BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* is a solid option for students looking to dive into the world of credit cards and start earning rewards. With no annual fee and a generous welcome bonus of 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles, equal to $80 in AIR MILES Cash, it offers a great start for young adults building their credit history. 

However, as a student, pay close attention to the purchase APR of 20.99%. Many of the best student credit cards offer much lower interest rates, which help keep your spending and credit score in check.

Who BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* is best suited for?

BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* is tailor-made for students between the ages of 18 and 24 who are enrolled in a post-secondary institution. It’s perfect for those who want to earn travel rewards on their everyday spending, but can always pay their bills on time. 

While the card gives you 3x the Miles at participating AIR MILES partners and 2x the Miles at eligible grocery stores (e.g. Metro) for every $25 spent, you may end up at “partner” retailers more often, despite it costing more to shop there—not a desired outcome. 

Pros and cons of BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*

Pros

Pros

  • No annual fee: this makes it cost-effective for students looking to build credit without incurring additional expenses.

  • Earn cash back on everyday purchases, including up to 5% cash back on every purchase in your first three months.

  • Credit building: If you’re responsible, you can build a positive credit history, which helps you get better credit cards and more

Cons

Cons

  • Higher interest rates: If you can’t pay off your balance in full, opt for a low interest credit card

  • Limited additional benefits: While there are some benefits, it’s not the full suite of perks, but then again, there’s no annual fee.

Welcome bonus

  • Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles after qualifying: 
  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Student between the ages of 18-24 at a recognized post secondary school
  • Earn an income from employment, scholarships/grants, student loans, or family allowance. 
  • Equivalent to $80 in AIR MILES Cash, providing a substantial boost to your rewards balance.

Earn rate

  • Earn 3x the Miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners.
  • Earn 2x the Miles for every $25 spent at any eligible grocery store.
  • Earn 1 Mile for every $25 spent on all other purchases.

Key benefits

  • No annual fee, which is great for students
  • Decent welcome bonus
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection insurance

Insurance coverage

  • Extended Warranty: Enjoy an additional year of warranty on your purchases.
  • Purchase Protection: Your purchases are protected against theft or damage for 90 days from the date of purchase.

Extras

  • Save up to 25% on rentals at National and Alamo Rent A Car (check availability at desired rental location if you’re under 21)
  • The ability to add another cardholder at no extra cost
  • BMO PaySmart™ turns big purchases into smaller interest-free monthly payments for a low fee. 

How the BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* compares

BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard is a student credit card with a focus on travel rewards through the AIR MILES program. Let’s compare a few other student cards to see how it stacks up. 

BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* vs. CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

This could be broken down into AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan—but if choosing one loyalty program over another doesn’t sway you one way or the other, we’ll dig a little deeper. 

Neither card charges an annual fee, nor is there a minimum income requirement, and they both have the same purchase interest rate of 20.99%. 

The welcome bonus with the student CIBC Aeroplan card is better—where you get 10,000 Aeroplan points  which is up to $200 in value vs. the BMO card’s $80 welcome bonus. To unlock the welcome bonus, you just have to make a purchase on the card. However, the AIR MILES Mastercard has accelerated earn rates (though slightly more complicated). While both point programs focus on travel, AIR MILES Cash rewards allow you to collect Miles in your cash account and instantly use them in-store towards purchases. With Aeroplan, you’d have to log in to Aeroplan’s e-store where you can convert your points into Amazon, Lululemon and over 170 other online retailers (check often for promotions to earn more points or special discounts). 

The CIBC student card wins in the insurance category, where you get purchase security and extended protection, and also travel accident insurance and rental car insurance. 

So, if you’re focused on travel and you want to get started earning Aeroplan points to eventually unlock Aeroplan elite status with Air Canada, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is likely your better bet. 

BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* vs. TD Rewards Visa Card

Again, the big difference between these two cards is the loyalty program: AIR MILES vs. TD Rewards Points. 

There is no annual fee for either card. TD charges 19.99% APR (one point less than BMO), but TD starts to pull ahead, especially with its bundle offering. 

The TD welcome bonus is 19,697 TD Rewards Points (or $65 at Amazon.ca). You get $60 in value with UberOne, saving you money on delivery fees and 5% on rides. And, until May 6, 2024, if you also open a new TD Student Chequing account, you also get $100 with your bank account. 

And if you’re a Starbucks fan (who isn’t), you can earn 50% more TD Rewards Points and Starbucks Stars with this card. 

You can redeem your points with both programs for merchandise, though the best value is still for travel—airmiles.ca for AIR MILES and ExpediaForTD.com for your TD Rewards. 

Both cards offer purchase security and extended warranty protection, but TD throws in mobile device insurance for up to $1,000 of coverage. 

They also both offer payment plans and savings on rental cars, but the TD Rewards Visa Card just packs more of an enticing offer, especially if you want to bank with them. 

BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* vs. RBC ION+ Visa

Again, we’ll look at loyalty programs (AIR MILES vs. Avion), welcome bonuses, insurance, and for RBC, the opportunity to bundle. 

To start, RBC ION+ has an annual fee of $48 (charged at $4 per month), so let’s hope they’re packing in value. 

With RBC, you get a welcome bonus of 3,500 points and you can earn an additional 3,500 bonus points when you spend $500 in your first three months (worth up to $50 of value in gift cards).

Both cards offer accelerated earn rates, but Avion takes it further with a broader range of categories. You’ll earn 3x the Avion points for every $1 spent on gas, dining, food delivery, Uber/Lyft rides, streaming subscriptions and more. 

RBC and BMO give you the same purchase security and extended warranty insurance, but RBC is also giving you $1,000 of mobile device insurance. You can add-on travel insurance for a fee. 

You also save 3 cents per litre at Petro Canada gas stations, earn 50 BE Well points for every $1 spent at Rexall. And make that annual fee disappear when you sign up for an RBC Advantage Banking for students account. 

Again, while AIR MILES and Avion points are meant for travel, both cards promote spending in their e-stores. Check out airmiles.ca and avionrewards.com to compare and discover which program suits you best, but for the most part, they both have many partner retailers and options to earn more (though RBC’s ShopPlus browser extension makes it easier). 

Avion is a solid program and if you’re banking with RBC, get your annual fee waived with your student account to get the full bonus. 

Is the BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* worth it?

Wrapping up, BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* stands out as a strong contender for students looking to earn AIR MILES while building their credit. 

The no annual fee and generous welcome bonus are significant perks, but the high APR is a bit of a drawback if you don’t pay off your balance in full every month. When compared to other student cards in the market, BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* holds its ground, especially for those who frequent AIR MILES Partners. But if you’re more loyal to your bank than your credit card, look to bundle the deals to save money, especially as a student on a budget. 

FAQs

  • What is the interest rate on BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*?

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    The purchase APR on BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* is 20.99%, and the cash advance APR is 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents). It’s important for cardholders to manage their spending and make timely payments to avoid incurring high interest charges.

  • What is the annual fee for BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*?

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    BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard® has no annual fee, making it a cost-effective option for students looking to build credit and earn rewards without additional charges.

  • Can I add an additional cardholder, and if so, is there a fee?

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    Yes, you can add another cardholder to your BMO Student AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* account at no extra cost. This feature adds flexibility and allows you to share the benefits of the card with a family member or friend.

About our author

Tyler Wade
Tyler Wade, Content strategist & writer

Tyler Wade has worked in personal finance for over 5 years writing for brands like Ratehub, Forbes, KOHO, and now Money.ca. He was the host and producer of the Real Money Talk podcast. He's the father of two, husband to one, and loves all things tiny.

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