The BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard® is a no-annual-fee travel rewards credit card whose unspectacular rewards program is best for consumers who spend moderately on gas and groceries. It earns 2 points per $1 spent on purchases in those 2 categories, up to $2,500 in combined category spending per calendar quarter. All other purchases, including gas and grocery purchases above the cap, earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
Earned points can be redeemed for a pretty wide variety of items, including travel purchases, gift cards, and general merchandise. Its sign-up bonus and introductory APR promotions aren’t bad either – nor are its solid travel benefits, such as Mastercard Priceless Cities. However, this card lacks truly valuable benefits, such as complimentary or reduced-cost airport lounge access, so it’s not ideal for serious road warriors. Before you select this card from among the many available travel options, make sure it’s right for you.
When you spend at least $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account, you earn 10,000 bonus points. That’s worth about $100 when redeemed for travel.
BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard earns 2 points per $1 spent on gas and groceries, up to a combined $2,500 per calendar quarter. All other spending, including spending in the 2-point-per-$1 categories above the $2,500 quarterly cap, earns unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
BMO Harris Bank lets you redeem your points on a diverse lineup of items, including hotel stays, cruises, vacation packages, gift cards, general merchandise, and statement credits. Redemptions can be made through the BMO Harris Rewards website. At redemption, points are generally worth $0.01 or less. Travel and cash redemptions generally offer better deals than merchandise, but redemption values can vary over time. Additionally, redemption minimums vary by redemption method. When redeeming for airfare and other larger items, you can combine points and cash to use your points faster.
Anniversary Point Bonus
As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your cardmembership anniversary brings a 10% bonus on your point earnings during the previous 12-month period. For instance, if you earned 10,000 points last year, you’d end the year with 11,000 points in your account.
There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%, while late and returned payments cost up to $37.
Newly opened accounts enjoy interest-free balance transfers for 12 months from account opening, and interest-free purchase transactions for 6 months from account opening.
Once the introductory APR periods end, this card’s purchase and balance transfer APRs rise to 15.24%, 17.24%, 20.24%, or 23.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. From the day you open your account, the cash advance APR is set at 25.49%, but can vary with prevailing interest rates.
Mastercard Travel Benefits
This card has some potentially valuable travel benefits backed by Mastercard:
- Lost or damaged luggage insurance, a bare-bones form of travel insurance that’s not a substitute for a more comprehensive policy
- Roadside assistance for stranded drivers
- Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to your card
- Mastercard Priceless Cities, which offers “one-of-a-kind experiences, special adventures, shopping and dining benefits, the best shows and sporting events, hotel upgrades, and small perks that make your city adventures more special”
Additional Card Benefits
This card has some nice non-travel benefits also backed by Mastercard:
- Extended warranties of up to 24 months on items with original warranties of less than 24 months
- Identity theft alerts designed to catch suspicious behavior before it affects your account
- Price protection (reimbursement of the difference between a higher purchase price and lower advertised price) on purchased items for 60 days after purchase
This card requires good to excellent credit. Any significant blemishes in your credit history could negatively impact your application.
- No Annual Fee. BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard does not charge an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal or light-spending cardholders who’d struggle to earn enough points to offset any recurring fee. Many popular travel cards do charge annual fees, though fee-bearing cards tend to be more generous than this one.
- Flexible Redemption Options. This card lets you redeem points for virtually anything – including statement credits, which are as good as cash. If you don’t want to be roped into redeeming solely for travel, this is a superior choice to branded, airline- or hotel-specific credit cards.
- 10% Boost to Point Earnings Each Year. Every cardholder whose account remains open and in good standing is entitled to a 10% boost to their previous year’s point earnings on or near their cardmember anniversary. The more you spend, the better this reward gets – at 20,000 points per year, it’s worth an extra 2,000 points every 12 months. While this doesn’t totally make up for the $2,500 spending cap in the grocery and gas category, it helps dull the pain for sure.
- Decent Balance Transfer Candidate. This card is a solid balance transfer candidate, thanks to its 12-month, 0% APR balance transfer promotion. Many travel cards forgo balance transfer deals altogether, making this feature notable for anyone seeking a solution to high-interest credit card debt.
- Solid Sign-up Bonus. This card’s 10,000-point sign-up bonus isn’t incredibly generous. When redeemed for travel, it’s worth about $100. Still, it’s definitely a nice perk for new cardholders, particularly in light of this card’s nonexistent annual fee. It’s also very attainable relative to other travel cards’ bonuses – it demands just $1,000 in spending over the course of 3 months, a far cry from the $4,000-plus spending requirements of some more generous cards.
- Rewards Have Sub-par Redemption Value. BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard’s points have relatively low redemption values. They’re almost never worth more than $0.01 apiece, and that’s only when they’re redeemed for travel and cash-like options. By contrast, airline- and hotel-specific cards like British Airways Visa Signature offer much greater redemption values – north of $0.03, in some cases. Even general-purpose cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) can value points at more than $0.01 apiece – Sapphire Preferred’s points are worth $0.0125 each when redeemed for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.
- $2,500 Combined Quarterly Spending Cap in 2x Categories. BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard caps its 2-points-per-$1-spent tier at $2,500 in combined quarterly spending, which is a major drawback for people who spend heavily on gas and groceries. If you spend enough that you expect to exceed the $2,500 cap on a regular basis, you’d be better served by a card that offers unlimited points earnings in favored tiers, such as Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee).
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s a big drawback for people who regularly travel outside the United States’ borders, even on road trips or quick weekend visits to Mexico or Canada. Many competing travel rewards credit cards waive foreign transaction fees, saving globetrotting cardholders 2% to 3% on their overseas travels.
- No Point Transfer Option. BMO Harris Bank doesn’t allow you to transfer points earned with this cards to other frequent traveler programs or credit cards. This is a problem for serious, savvy travelers seeking to maximize their loyalty currency’s value by choosing the loyalty options that work best for their chosen destinations or routes. Fellow travel rewards credit cards, such as Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (and its business version) and Chase Sapphire Preferred, offer point and mile transfers at a potentially valuable 1-to-1 ratio.
If you’re a casual traveler looking to turn points earned on everyday gas and grocery spending into a free flight or hotel night, you probably won’t notice (or care about) the BMO Harris Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard‘s drawbacks. After all, with no annual fee, there’s little downside to keeping this card in your wallet, even if you use it infrequently or in spurts.
On the other hand, frequent, savvy travelers are sure to immediately notice this card’s shortcomings – from the 3% foreign transaction fee, to the lack of point transfer options, to the middling redemption values and low overall earning rate. Basically, if you spend heavily enough and travel frequently enough to justify paying an annual fee on a more generous travel card, including BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard, you’re probably better off doing so.