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The BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* offers a lucrative sign-up bonus, a market-leading cash back rate of 5% on groceries*, an impressive roadside assistance package, and the best extended warranty and purchase protection terms offered by any Canadian credit card.* But some of its fine-print spending limitations put a damper on what would otherwise be our highly enthusiastic endorsement of the card.
Ultimately it’s a great fit for high-income ($80,000+) singles, who can maximize the card’s cash back rates without chafing under its strict spending caps. But it’s far less suited to couples or families, who have more to gain from competing cards with higher spend ceilings.
Pros and cons
- Valuable sign-up bonus
- High 5% cash back rate on groceries*
- Free roadside assistance*
- Excellent extended warranty and purchase protection terms*
- Restrictive spending limits for most cash back categories
- Sign-up bonus structure is head-scratchingly complicated
- High minimum income requirements
With up to $260 in cash back for new applicants, the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard® has one of the best sign-up bonuses in Canada, albeit with an unnecessarily complicated structure. New cardholders can get an annual fee rebate for the primary cardholder ($120 value), plus 10% cash back for their first three months, on up to $2,600 in spending.*
Unfortunately that 10% isn’t a ‘flat’ rate, i.e., it doesn’t apply to all your eligible spending. Instead, the rate only applies up to certain spending maximums in the following purchase categories:
- Up to $500 spent on groceries ($50 cash back)
- Up to $500 spent on recurring bills ($50 cash back)
- Up to $300 spent on gas and electric vehicle charging ($30 cash back)
- Up to $300 spent on ground transit ($30 cash back)
- Up to $1,000 spent on everything else ($100 cash back)
Overall it’s a good sign-up bonus for those with diverse spending habits, who, given the offer’s annoying restrictions, have the best chance to max out the available cash back.
Earning cash back
The card earns at the following rates after the 3-month welcome period ends:
- Groceries: 5% cash back up to $500 spent per month ($25 in cash back)*
- Transit: 4% cash back up to $300 spent per month ($12 in cash back)*
- Gas: 3% cash back up to $300 spent per month ($9 in cash back)*
- Recurring Bills: 2% cash back up to $500 spent per month ($10 in cash back)*
- Everything Else: 1% cash back, unlimited*
If you exceed a monthly spending limit on groceries, transit, gas, or recurring bills, the enhanced cash back rate for that category will drop to 1% for the remainder of the month. When a new month starts you’ll earn again at the enhanced rate.
The 5% earn rate on grocery purchases* is technically the highest among cash back cards in Canada†, but that eye-popping rate is severely hampered by the $500 monthly spending limit in that category. While singles might come in at or around $500 spent per month on groceries, even small families will surpass that limit by a long way. And keep in mind that the limit applies to all the credit card spending across the account. So if you get your partner a supplementary card for $50, you won’t suddenly have a $1,000 combined monthly spending limit for groceries. You’ll still earn at 5% on only the first $500 in grocery spending for both cards combined.
Given this restriction, couples and small families are advised to instead check out other credit cards for saving on groceries, most of which have higher spending caps.
†Statement based on a comparison of the non-promotional grocery rewards earn rate on Canadian cash back credit cards as of January 4, 2023.
Redeeming cash back
Cash back you accumulate can be redeemed as a credit against the card’s statement, or it can be deposited into a BMO chequing account, savings account, or InvestorLine account. The redemption policy is particularly flexible, as cash back can be redeemed at any time, with only a $1 minimum redemption amount. This is better than a number of competing cash back cards, which might allow for redemptions only once a month or even once a year, and which sometimes have higher minimums required for redemption.
BMO is one of the few Canadian credit cards that include a roadside assistance package at no extra cost.* Cardholders get a free membership in the Dominion Automobile Association (DAA), which is valued at $69 annually.
Tow truck assistance is provided within Canada and the mainland U.S. (not including Hawaii and overseas territories), and includes up to four service calls per year. Provided services include the following:
- Battery boosts
- Changing flat tires
- Lockout service
- Up to one hour of winch service for vehicles stuck in mud, a ditch, or snow
- Emergency delivery of up to 10 litres of gas (the cardholder has to pay for the gas)
- Towing of up to 10 km to the nearest repair facility
For a point of reference, comparable plans from Canadian Tire and CAA cost $69.95 and $92 respectively, so the complimentary membership that comes with the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard® is quite valuable, particularly for urban commuters. The 10 km towing limit is less relevant for rural drivers.
Related: The difference between free vs. paid roadside assistance in Canada
Though its travel insurance is middling, the real highlights of this card’s insurance package are the very generous purchase coverages. Most credit cards, even those that are expensive and high end, offer only an extra one year of extended warranty and 90 days of purchase protection. This card doubles those standard terms, which gives it the best purchase coverage of any credit card in Canada. The card’s insurance suite is summarized in the table below:
|BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: What's Covered?|
|Travel Emergency Medical:* Up to 8 days of consecutive coverage for those under age 65. Covers up to $2,000,000.|
|Delayed and Lost Baggage:* Up to $750 per person, to a maximum of $2,000 per trip for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage. Up to $200 for baggage delay of over 12 hours.|
|Unexpected Return Home Benefits:* Reimbursement for transit home in the event of the death of an immediate family member. Up to $2,000 reimbursement per person/$10,000 per trip.|
|Flight Delay:* Up to $500 to cover reasonable accommodation and travelling expenses when a flight is delayed 6+ hours.|
|Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage:* Up to 48 days of consecutive coverage, limited to vehicles up to $65,000 in value. Also covers theft or damage to personal effects up to a maximum of $1,000 per person, per occurrence.|
|Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance:* Up to $500,000 per insured person.|
|Purchase Protection:* Covers theft of or damage to items within 180 days of purchase with the card.|
|Extended Warranty:* Extends a purchased item's original manufacturer's warranty by up to two years.|
While you can’t predict if something you purchased will unexpectedly stop working or if it will be stolen, having a lengthy purchase protection and extended warranty period increases your chances of getting reimbursed if those unfortunate circumstances do eventuate.
Other notable perks
- Free access to over 1M Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots*
- Additional cash back with partner brands like Apple, Nike and Marriott via the Mastercard Travel Rewards program
- Up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car at participating locations*
- 24-hour concierge access*
- Airport lounge access via Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey* ($32 USD per entrance)
Interest rates and fees
- Annual fee: $120 for primary card; $50 per supplementary card
- Purchase interest rate: 20.99%
- Cash advances and balance transfers: 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 rates increase to 25.99% and 28.99% respectively if you have two late payments in any consecutive 12-month period
Note that unlike a number of other upper-tier credit cards from the Big Five banks like Scotia or RBC, BMO doesn’t incentivize bundling the card with, say, a BMO chequing account. It appears that after the first year’s annual fee rebate comes and goes, cardholders are stuck paying the annual fee for subsequent years, even if they’re a BMO chequing or investing customer.
Related articles: The benefits of bundling products from the same bank
BMO generally approves applicants who have a good credit score (at least 700+), and who meet one of the below income requirements:
- Make at least $80,000 in annual income personally
- Have at least $150,000 in combined annual household income
Applicants must also be Canadian citizens or permanent residents and at least the age of majority in their province or territory of residence. Those who have declared bankruptcy in the past seven years are ineligible.
How does it compare to the competition?
|Features||BMO CashBack® World® Elite Mastercard||Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card||SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express|
|Annual fee||$120||$120||$9.99/month (Equals a total fee of $119.88 annually)|
|Welcome offer||10% cash back for three months (max $260 cash back)* + annual fee rebate for primary cardholder*||Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).¹ No annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards.¹||In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months. Conditions apply.|
|Cash back rate(s)||5% groceries*; 4% ground transit*; 3% gas/electric vehicle charging*; 2% recurring bills*; 1% everything else*||After the welcome period ends earn 4% cash back on groceries, recurring bills, and subscription purchases; 2% back on gas and daily transit; 1% back on all other purchases.||Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas station purchases in Canada, 4% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases in Canada (up to $1,200 cash back annually) and 2% cash back on all other purchases.|
|Cash back redemption policy||Any time (minimum $1 cash back)||Once annually each November||Once annually each September|
There are a number of other cash back cards that reward grocery spending, such as the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card. It offers only 4% cash back on groceries compared to the 5% offered by the BMO credit card, but its maximum spending limit for earning at that rate is $25,000, compared to the $6,000 annual maximum spend that the BMO card allows for its 5% rate. So if your grocery expenditures are less than $500 per month/$6K per year, you’ll earn more back with the BMO card. But if you spend, say, $1,000 per month on groceries, you’d earn $480 in cash back annually from the Scotia card compared to only $360 from the BMO card.
Another cash back card to consider is the SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express. It earns 4% cash back on eligible gas station purchases in Canada, 4% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases in Canada (up to $1,200 cash back annually) and 2% cash back on all other purchases. Its annual fee is $9.99/month (Equals a total fee of $119.88 annually). The only real drawbacks with the SimplyCash® Preferred Card are that it doesn’t waive the first year’s annual fee, so you can’t really try it out risk free, and because it’s an Amex it won’t be accepted by as many merchants as either a Mastercard or Visa. So if you’re considering that card you should first check to see if your favourite retailers are on our list of Canadian merchants that accept Amex.
¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.
Should you apply for the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*?
The BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* makes sense for high-income singles who check off at least one or two of the below boxes:
Groceries are one of your top three monthly expenses
You’re an urban driver
You’re about to make a major purchase for which long extended warranty and purchase protection periods would be a boon (e.g., a computer, a major appliance, etc.)
But if you don’t have a car, you can’t take advantage of some of the card’s auto-related selling points (roadside assistance, good cash back for gas, etc.). And if you’re buying groceries for a family of any size, you’ll easily pass the maximum monthly spending limit to earn at the card’s highest cash back earn rate, and you should instead consider another of Canada’s best cash back cards in order to maximize your savings.
- Best gas credit cards in Canada
- 10 ways to save money on groceries
- Best credit cards for travel insurance
*Terms and conditions apply
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.
American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.