Quick overview of the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* comes armed with a number of features designed for high-income globetrotters, like flexible airport lounge access and travel insurance*. It’s a particularly valuable asset if you:

  • Travel between provinces/territories or internationally at least 3-4 times per year;
  • Are frequently in need of a rental car; or
  • Regularly shop at retailers that accept only Mastercard.

But there’s no shortage of upscale rewards credit cards in the Canadian market, and if you don’t check off at least two of the boxes listed above you should consider other options that can help you earn a bigger bounty of rewards, or that offer superior travel perks.

Who's it for?

If you’re a regular international traveller, you often find yourself in a rental car, and/or you tend to shop at stores that accept Mastercard, but not Visa (e.g., Costco and No Frills), the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is probably a perfect fit for you. It will cover most of your travel needs and will help you earn rewards points at a decent clip.

But if you can live with a Visa or Amex, there are other cards out there that will either allow you to earn more rewards points on everyday spending or reap superior travel benefits, like better airport lounge access; more comprehensive insurance; and waived foreign transaction fees. And if you absolutely need a Mastercard for just a few merchants here and there, you can always elect to use a Visa or Amex as your primary travel card, while holding onto a no-annual-fee Mastercard as a back burner option.

Pros and cons



  • High-value welcome offer

  • Flexible airport lounge access

  • BMO Rewards points can be used to cover flight taxes and fees

  • Great for those who frequently rent cars

  • Good for Costco and No Frills shoppers



  • So-so earn rates relative to its annual fee

  • Points have low redemption value compared to other travel rewards programs

  • Charges foreign transaction fees

  • Relatively high minimum income requirements

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard welcome bonus

New cardholders can earn up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.* The first 45K points are earned by making at least $4,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months of opening the card, which is a relatively low spending barrier*. Another 3,750 points can be earned for each month in which you make at least $2,500 in eligible purchases, applicable for the period starting four months after you open the account and ending 15 months after you open the account* (12 months * 3,750 points = another 45K points). 90,000 BMO Rewards points should be enough to cover a round-trip flight from Toronto to Cancun or Vancouver to Honolulu.

The annual fees for both the primary cardholder ($150) and authorized users ($50) will also be waived in the first year, bringing the maximum welcome bonus value to $600*. That’s very competitive relative to other credit card welcome offers.

RelatedBest credit card sign-up bonuses in Canada

How to earn BMO rewards with the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* has the following three earn rates:

  • 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases*
  • 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments*
  • 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else*

The rate for eligible travel purchases* out to a 3.3% return on spending if you redeem the points for travel, or if you deposit them into a BMO Investment Account (see ‘How much are BMO Rewards Points worth?’ below). The 3 points per $1 rate works out to a maximum 2% return, which is competitive for travel spending and entertainment.

That said, there are several other Canadian rewards and cash back cards with superior earn rates on dining, so you might consider those instead if you eat out a lot. Read our article about the best credit cards for restaurants to find out which cards edge out the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*  in that respect.

Also, keep in mind that this accelerated rate applies to the first X amount you spend within these combined categories per year; after you cross that mark you’ll earn 1 point per $1 in those categories*.

How to redeem BMO Rewards with the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

Following BMO’s regrettable devaluation of BMO Rewards points in 2021, 1 BMO point is now worth about $0.0067 when redeeming for travel, including flights, car rentals, hotel rooms, and vacation packages (150 points = $1 in redemption value). Other redemption options include:

  • Investing BMO Rewards points in a BMO Investment Account
  • Cashing in points toward a statement credit (max value of $0.005 per point)
  • Redeeming points for products from diverse merchants like Le Creuset, Dell, and Rayban

Cardholders should be aware that the value they get for their points varies from one redemption path to the next. See the below table for details.

Redeem for travel
Redeem for investment
Redeem for merchandise
Redeem for gift cards
Redeem for statement credit
Single point value
Minimum redemption
No minimum 
15,000 points ($100 value) 
200 points ($1 value)

You can learn more about the BMO Rewards program by reading our complete BMO Rewards Guide.

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard key benefits

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* provides cardholders with Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass.* This authorizes you to relax in any of the 1,300+ airport lounges available.

But what makes this card stand out is that it offers four free entries each year*. Most World Elite Mastercards offer just the basic membership, in which each lounge entry costs $32 USD. Plus the free lounge passes from the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* are flexible; you can use them yourself, or they can be used to admit your travel companions. The combined value of these four lounge passes is $128 USD, equivalent to $174 CAD as of December 23, 2022. The value of that feature alone exceeds the $150 annual fee for the primary cardholder.

RelatedBest credit cards with airport lounge access

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard insurance coverage

The insurance package offered by the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is fairly comprehensive overall, with a few highlights that outperform the insurance offered by most travel rewards cards, and some weaknesses as well. The coverage is summarized in the table below:

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*: What's Covered?
Travel emergency medical* Under age 65, up to 21 days of consecutive coverage. Covers up to $5,000,000. Does not mention if must charge trip to your card.
Delayed and lost baggage* Up to $500 per person up to a maximum of $1,000 per trip for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. Up to $500 for baggage delay of over 6 hours.
Trip cancellation* Up to $1,500 per person up to a maximum of $5,000.
Trip interruption* Up to a max of $2,000 per insured person.
Flight delay* Up to $500 per person per trip for flight delays of more than 4 hours.
Auto rental collision/loss damage* Up to 48 days of consecutive coverage when you charge the full amount of your rental car to your card. Limited to vehicles up to $65,000 in value. The insurance will cover theft or damage to your rental car.
Hotel/motel burglary Up to $1,000 per occurrence for all insured persons combined
Common carrier travel accident insurance* Up to $500,000 per insured person; entire cost of trip must be charged to the card to be eligible for insurance.
Purchase protection* Covers theft of or damage to items within 90 days of purchase with the card.
Extended warranty* Extends a purchased item's original manufacturer's warranty by up to one year. Lifetime maximum coverage of $60K for Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection combined.

For those who rent cars with some regularity, it’s worth noting that this card covers theft or damage as part of its rental car insurance*. A similar protection applies to the theft/damage of personal property items from your hotel room, which seems to be the only complete coverage exclusion from the card’s travel insurance suite.

The total amount of out-of-province emergency medical coverage is an impressive $5M (most policies only cover up to $1M)—that said, it’s only valid for the first 21 days of a trip, and it only applies to those under age 65*. The primary cardholder, their spouse, and dependent children are covered. You can pay out of pocket to Allianz, the card’s insurance provider, if you’d like an extension of the coverage period or if you’re a senior citizen in need of a separate emergency medical policy, but the out-of-pocket charge for that might be pricey.

If you’re over the age of 65 or if you frequently stay in hotels, in which case it’s highly recommended to have some form of hotel/motel burglary insurance, we recommend that you check out our list of Canadian travel rewards cards with strong travel insurance to see if there might be a better card out there for your needs.

Extra benefits

  • Access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges*
  • Get valuable benefits and offers for digital everyday services from a variety of on-demand apps and subscription services
  • BMO Concierge Service*
  • BMO Roadside Assistance (must pay additional $69-$98 annually)*
  • Unlock Mastercard Travel Rewards cashback offers when you travel and shop outside of Canada 

Interest rates and fees

  • Annual fee: $150 for primary cardholder; $50 per supplementary card
  • Purchase interest rate: 20.99%
  • Cash advance and balance transfer: 23.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents) on Cash Advances; 23.99% on Balance Transfers
  • Foreign transaction: 2.5% charge per foreign transaction
  • Missed payment/late payment: Purchase interest rate and cash advance/balance transfer rate increase to 25.99% and 28.99% respectively if you have two late payments in a 12-month period

What people have to say

The best rate is redeeming for travel or as a transfer of cash to an investment account like BMO InvestorLine. It’s effectively a cash back card if you transfer to InvestorLine.


As Reddit user, /u/Primary_Tangerine625 explains, the best use of your BMO rewards is redeeming them for travel rewards or investing them through BMO's Investorline. 

How the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard compares

Features BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card American Express Cobalt® Card
Annual fee $150 primary; $50 additional $150 primary; $0 first additional and $50 each after that $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)
Welcome offer Get up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.* Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹ Offer ends October 31, 2023. Earn up to 15,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year (conditions apply)
Rewards earn rates 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.* 3X Scene+ points for each dollar charged on all eligible purchases¹ at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and Participating Co-ops, and more; 2 points for every $1 spent in four distinct categories: other eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more); all other eligible purchases earn 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent. 5 points per $1 spent on eligible eats and drinks, including purchases in grocery stores and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on eligible transit and travel purchases; 1 point per $1 spent on other everyday spending
Rewards redemption value Poor Average Excellent
Airport lounge access Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes. 6 Complimentary airport lounge access N/A
Insurance Good/Fairly comprehensive Excellent/Very comprehensive Good/Fairly comprehensive
Foreign transaction fee 2.5% 0% 2.5%

The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card edges out the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* in a number of key categories. Its points are worth more when redeemed for either travel or a statement credit; its travel insurance suite has no significant weaknesses or gaps; it offers more free annual airport lounge passes; and it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. That said, as a Visa it won’t be accepted at some major stores, like No Frills and Canadian branches of Costco. It’s also missing some of the BMO card’s rental car benefits, like insurance coverage for personal belongings damaged or stolen in a rental car*.

The American Express Cobalt® Card lacks some of the BMO card’s added travel goodies, like airport lounge access, but it can help you really rake in rewards points at a much faster rate than you would with BMO. If you spend $6,000 per year on groceries and $3,000 per year at restaurants you’ll earn 45,000 points with the Cobalt. And Amex Membership Rewards® points are worth more than BMO Rewards points when the time comes to redeem them. That said, Amex is not as widely accepted by stores as Mastercard, which may limit the number of points you can potentially earn, depending on where you shop.

¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.

Is it worth it?

For individuals seeking a credit card offering comprehensive travel insurance, lounge access, and a reasonably flexible rewards program, this card is a worthwhile choice. Moreover, if you frequently shop at Costco, owning a Mastercard of this caliber proves to be an excellent option.

Eligibility requirements

In order to qualify for the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* you must be at least the age of majority in your province or territory, and you’ll need a personal annual income of $80,000 or more, or a household annual income of $150,000 or more. BMO will expect an Excellent credit score, with no bankruptcies in the past seven years.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information

*Terms and conditions apply

†Statement based on a comparison of the redeemable value of the non-promotional travel rewards points earned on premium flexible Canadian credit cards as of May 3, 2022. “Flexible” is defined as points earned when you purchase travel anywhere and “premium” refers to cards with an annual fee of ≤ $150 or has an income requirement of ≤ $150,000 annual individual income.

Rudro is an editor with Money.ca. Rudro had previously served as Managing Editor of Oola, and as the Content Lead of Tickld before that. Rudro holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Toronto.


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