Reviews BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards MasterCard review
BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards MasterCard review

BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards MasterCard review

Published: April 25, 2017
Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
3.3 rating
3.3 rating
3.3 / 5
Introductory Offer: 3.0
Net Value: 4.1
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

For $79 a year, the BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards MasterCard offers solid rewards for frequent travelers, but the card’s moderately high APR and short interest-free balance transfer period limit its appeal as a balance transfer card.

0% Introductory Period

  • 12 months balance transfers
  • 6 months new purchases

Transfer Fee
$10 or 3% (whichever is higher)

Introductory Purchase APR
0%

Regular APR
14.49-22.49%

Annual Fee
$79, $0 first year

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, concierge services, two complimentary airport lounge visits, VIP event access, travel assistance, car rental insurance, hotel burglary insurance, lost/damaged luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, roadside assistance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Rewards Rating:
2.8 rating
2.8 rating
2.8 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.7
Rewards Flexibility: 4.1
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

Designed for frequent travelers, the BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards MasterCard offers a generous spending bonus on restaurant, hotel and airfare purchases and limited airport lounge access; however, cardholders need to spend relatively heavily to make up for the card’s $79 annual fee.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 on dining, hotel and airfare
  • 1:1 on general purchases
  • 15% yearly bonus on annual eligible purchases

Sign-up Bonus
15,000 points when you spend $2,500 in first three months

Annual Fee
$79; $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$226

APR
14.49-22.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem for travel, merchandise, gift cards or statement credits
  • Can purchase airfare from outside sites and redeem for statement credit
  • No fee for redeeming points online

Cons

  • Bonus spending limited to $2,500 per quarter
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, concierge services, two complimentary airport lounge visits, VIP event access, travel assistance, car rental insurance, hotel burglary insurance, lost/damaged luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, roadside assistance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Travel Rating:
2.9 rating
2.9 rating
2.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.5
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards card offers more flexible booking and a more generous travel bonus than the average travel rewards card, but its rewards earnings are sharply limited by quarterly restrictions.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 on dining, hotel and airfare
  • 1:1 on general purchases
  • 15% yearly bonus on annual eligible purchases

Sign-up Bonus
15,000 points when you spend $2,500 in first three months

Annual Fee
$79; $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$226

APR
14.49-22.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem for travel, merchandise, gift cards or statement credits
  • Can purchase airfare from outside sites and redeem for statement credit
  • No fee for redeeming points online

Cons

  • Bonus spending limited to $2,500 per quarter
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, concierge services, two complimentary airport lounge visits, VIP event access, travel assistance, car rental insurance, hotel burglary insurance, lost/damaged luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, roadside assistance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Our reviews and best card recommendations are based on an objective rating process and are not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

If you’re a semi-frequent traveler, the BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards card offers some appealing benefits. It rewards frequent travelers with triple bonus points on dining, hotel and airfare, making it easy to quickly rack up points with your most expensive purchases. It also stands out from other travel cards by allowing you to book rewards-funded travel yourself – potentially saving you hundreds of dollars in cheaper travel if you shop around for the best deals.

The card’s quarterly restrictions on bonus spending limit how much you can earn, though, so it may not be as valuable if you travel more than a handful of times a year. It also charges a hefty $79 annual fee after the card’s first year.

Travel-centric rewards
If you spend a lot of time on the road or in the air, you can build up an enviable points collection with this travel-centric rewards card. The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards card’s rewards program is clearly set up for semiregular travelers looking to cash in on frequent travel. It offers three points for every dollar you spend on airfare, hotels or restaurant purchases. It also offers one point for every dollar you spend on anything else.

On the downside, BMO Harris caps quarterly bonus spending to $2,500 per quarter – roughly $833 a month. So if you travel more than a handful of times a year, you may be better off with a different card. There aren’t that many rewards cards that offer triple points on both hotels and airfare, though, so if you can afford the annual fee, it may be worth keeping this card around for your first $2,500-worth of quarterly trips.

Attractive bonus offers
The BMO Harris card also offers a pretty good sign-up bonus that can help temporarily shave down the card’s expense. The rewards card offers 15,000 bonus points – worth roughly $150 – after you spend $2,500 in the card’s first three months. In addition, BMO Harris offers a 15 percent points bonus every year, which can give you a significant boost if you’re a heavy enough spender.

Uncommonly flexible redemption
The most attractive perk offered by the BMO Harris card, though, is its flexible redemption policy, which is one of the most generous policies you can get. Unlike most travel cards that require cardholders to go through the bank to redeem points for travel, the BMO Harris Bank  Premium Rewards card lets you shop around and book travel yourself.

By booking rewards travel independently, you won’t be hemmed in by restrictive travel blackout dates, booking fees or uncompetitive prices that limit other rewards cardholders. You will also be able to maximize rewards earnings with the best possible deals. Points don’t expire on the BMO Harris Bank card either, so you can wait awhile before redeeming them.

Some premium travel benefits
The BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards card also offers a number of appealing travel benefits that can help take the sting out the card’s annual fee. In addition to standard card perks, such as car rental and travel accident insurance, the BMO Harris bank card offers premium travel benefits. These include two complimentary airport lounge visits, lost or damaged luggage insurance, and help with travel planning. You may be able to get more generous perks through other cards, but you’ll likely have to pay for them.

Expensive for what you get
The biggest downside to the BMO Harris Bank Premium Rewards card is its $79 annual fee. To make the most of this card, you need to travel relatively frequently. Otherwise, it’s not worth the hefty price. You may not want to use this card for purchases you can’t immediately pay off, since the APR is also relatively steep. Cardholders with the best credit scores are a charged a minimum APR of 14.49 percent, which is just slightly below average for a rewards credit card. But cardholders with lower scores can be charged an interest rate as high as 22.49 percent.

Reasons to get it:

  • You travel semifrequently and want to get more value out of travel spending.
  • You want more flexibility when redeeming rewards for travel.
  • You plan to spend heavily enough that rewards earnings will cancel out the annual fee.
  • You’re already a BMO Harris Bank customer and want a card with the same bank.

How to use it:

  • To maximize rewards earnings, use the card for all travel and restaurant spending.
  • Pay attention to how much dining and travel you’re purchasing. Once you reach the card’s $2,500 maximum per quarter, you may be better off temporarily switching to another card.
  • Take advantage of the card’s flexible redemption policy by shopping around for travel discounts. By purchasing cheaper tickets, you can squeeze more value out of rewards.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information. 

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.