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BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard® Review

At a Glance
bmo harris bank premium rewards mastercard
3.8 / 5
Rating

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BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard®

  • Sign-up Bonus: 15,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months (worth approximately $150)
  • Rewards: 3 points per $1 spent on dining, hotels, and airfare, up to $2,500 in combined category spending; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases; 15% anniversary point bonus each year
  • Travel Benefits: Priority Pass Select membership (complimentary airport lounge access for cardholder); 24/7 concierge service; curated experiences through MasterCard’s Priceless program
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months from account opening; 0% APR on purchases for 6 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.24%, 17.24%, 20.24%, or 23.24%
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fees; balance transfers and cash advances 3% of the transaction amount ($10 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: $79 (waived first year)
  • Credit Needed: Excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard® is a travel rewards credit card with a decent rewards program that shines on spending in the popular dining, airfare, and hotel categories. It earns 3 points per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and airfare, up to $2,500 in combined category spending per calendar quarter. All other purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.

Like other popular, general-purpose travel cards, BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard’s points can be redeemed for a variety of travel, merchandise, and cash-like items. A solid sign-up bonus and useful airport lounge benefit further sweeten the deal. However, this card has some notable drawbacks too, so it’s definitely worthwhile to carefully analyze its pros and cons before applying.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account, you earn 15,000 bonus points. That’s worth about $150 when redeemed for travel.

Earning Rewards

BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard earns 3 points per $1 spent on dining, hotel, and airfare spending, up to a combined $2,500 in eligible purchases per calendar quarter. All other spending, including spending in the 3-point-per-$1 categories above the $2,500 quarterly spending cap, earns unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.

Redeeming Rewards

You can redeem your accumulated points for a wide variety of items, including general merchandise, hotel stays, cruises, vacation packages, gift cards, general merchandise, and statement credits. Redemptions are made through the BMOHarrisRewards.com website.

Points are generally worth $0.01 or less at redemption, with travel and cash redemptions generally offering better deals than merchandise. Redemption minimums vary by redemption method. For big-ticket items, such as airfare, it’s possible to combine points and cash to put your points to use faster.

Anniversary Point Bonus

Every year, on their cardmember anniversaries, cardholders in good standing get a 15% bonus on the previous year’s earnings. For instance, if you earned 20,000 points last year, you’d end the year with 23,000 points in the bank.

Airport Lounge Benefit

This card comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and 2 free passes to any of the more than 850 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. Once you’ve used the free passes, Priority Pass Select entitles you to unlimited lounge access at a cost of $27 per visit. The fee is automatically billed to your BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard, which you can present at entry.

Important Fees

The annual fee is $79, but it’s waived during the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%, and late and returned payments cost up to $37.

Introductory APR

This card comes with a 12-month, 0% APR balance transfer promotion, as well as a 6-month, 0% APR purchase promotion.

Regular APR

Once the respective promotional periods end, the 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. The cash advance APR is set at 25.49% on the day you open your account, subject to variation with prevailing interest rates.

Additional Travel Benefits

This card comes with a nice lineup of additional travel benefits:

  • 24/7 concierge service (which includes assistance with travel booking and trip planning)
  • Lost or damaged luggage insurance, which isn’t a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance
  • Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to your card
  • Complimentary hotel and flight upgrades where available

Additional Card Benefits

This card has some nice non-travel benefits too:

  • Extended warranties of up to 24 months on items with original warranties of less than 24 months
  • Price protection (reimbursement of the difference between a higher purchase price and lower advertised price) on purchased items for 120 days after purchase
  • Purchase assurance, which covers loss or damage to purchased items for 90 days from purchase

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit. Any notable blemishes in your credit history are likely to disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. Flexible Rewards Redemption Options. You can redeem points earned with this card for almost anything, including statement credits. That’s great news for cardholders who don’t want to be stuck redeeming for travel only.
  2. Nice Airport Lounge Benefit. BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard’s Priority Pass Select benefit starts new cardholders off with 2 complimentary passes to more than 850 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. After that, cardmembership allows you to pay just $27 per entry at that same wide selection of Priority Pass outposts. Though this isn’t quite as generous an airport lounge benefit as the totally free access offered by some branded airline cards and super high-end travel cards such as the Platinum Card from American Express, it’s a great deal for a card with a sub-$100 annual fee. Cards with more generous airport lounge benefits generally charge $300 or more per year. If you can take full advantage of this perk, you’ll likely cover your card’s annual fee in airport lounge credits alone.
  3. No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has no foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for cardholders who head overseas often. Some competing travel cards, particularly those with low or nonexistent annual fees, charge 2% to 3% on foreign transactions.
  4. 15% Boost to Point Earnings Each Year. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, you’ll receive a nice bonus each year: a 15% boost to your total points earnings over the previous 12-month period. For example, if you earn 10,000 points in a given year, then you receive 1,500 extra points. If you earn 20,000 points in a year, you receive an additional 3,000 points. This goes at least part of the way toward offsetting the pesky $2,500 quarterly spending cap in the favored categories.
  5. Solid Sign-up Bonus. This card’s 15,000-point sign-up bonus is worth about $150 when redeemed for travel and other items at the BMO Harris rewards marketplace. That’s not the best sign-up bonus in the travel category by a long shot, but it’s definitely a nice boost for new cardholders. Plus, it’s more attainable than some competing cards’ bonuses – it requires just $2,500 in spending over 3 months, compared with some cards’ requirement that newbies spend $4,000 or more over the same period of time.

Disadvantages

  1. Has an Annual Fee. This card charges a $79 annual fee. Though it’s waved in the first year, that’s still a hefty price to pay for frugal cardholders who don’t spend enough to offset the fee.
  2. Rewards Are Not Especially Valuable at Redemption. BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard’s points are not very value when redeemed. They’re rarely worth more than $0.01 apiece. That’s a far cry from branded airline cards like British Airways Visa Signature, whose points can be worth upwards of $0.03 or $0.04 apiece when redeemed for overseas flights. Even Chase Sapphire Preferred, a general-purpose travel rewards credit card, values points at $0.0125 apiece when redeemed at its in-house travel portal.
  3. $2,500 Combined Quarterly Spending Cap in 3x Categories. Unusually for an annual fee-charging travel card, BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard caps its 3-points-per-$1 tier at $2,500 in combined quarterly spending. If you spend freely on dining, hotels, and airfare, you’re liable to exceed that threshold on a regular basis. Frequent travelers and diners are better served by cards that earn points on all favored-tier spending, such as Citi ThankYou Premier.
  4. No Point Transfer Option. You can’t transfer points earned with the BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard to other credit cards or frequent traveler programs. If you’re a serious traveler who seeks to maximize the value of your loyalty currency at all times, this is a significant drawback. Many competing cards, such as Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred, allow point and mile transfers or redemptions at far more favorable rates.

Final Word

The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard® shares plenty in common with better known travel cards such as Citi ThankYou Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has a tiered point-earning system that rewards spending in discretionary categories, a broad set of redemption options that include travel and general merchandise, and some truly generous travel benefits.

On the other hand, it has some drawbacks that savvy travel credit card users are sure to notice – in particular, the $2,500 quarterly cap on high-tier spending and the lack of a point transfer option. These drawbacks aren’t necessarily disqualifying, but it’s never a bad idea to shop around before making your final choice.

Verdict
bmo harris bank premium rewards mastercard
3.8 / 5
Rating

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BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard®

The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard® is ideal for frequent travelers who spend moderately in its favored categories: airfare, dining, and hotels. Thanks to the airport lounge benefit, it’s also great for people who like to travel in style.

However, it falls flat for very heavy spenders who reliably blow through the $2,500 quarterly spending cap, and for prospective cardholders looking to maximize their earned rewards with generous redemption values.

The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards Mastercard’s top benefits include its flexible redemption options, solid airport lounge benefit, lack of a foreign transaction fee, 15% annual point bonus, a decent (if not stellar) sign-up bonus, and a solid airport lounge benefit.

Its key drawbacks include the $79 annual fee, sub-par redemption value for rewards, the $2,500 combined quarterly spending cap, and the lack of a point transfer option.

Overall, this is a great card for people who spend moderately in the favored categories and value low-cost airport lounge access. For everyone else, there are likely better alternatives.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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