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With over 30 years of experience and 10 million members, Air Miles remains one of Canada’s most established travel loyalty programs. The recent BMO acquisition brings an influx of new options to breathe fresh air into the program. 

While the card earn rates are currently lower than other travel credit cards, keeping a close eye on the program is worthwhile. Recent developments such as steeper flight booking discounts add excitement to the future of Air Miles. But what are the best options? 

Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Canada

CardFeeEarn (adjusted*)Welcome Offer
BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Mastercard®$120 (Waived first year)0.83-2.5 2,000 AIR MILES on $3,000 spent in first 3 months
BMO AIR MILES® Mastercard®$00.4-1.2800 AIR MILES on $1,000 spent in first 3 months. 0.99% balance transfer for nine months
BMO AIR MILES® Mastercard® For Students$00.4-1.2 800 AIR MILES on $1,000 spent in first 3 months
BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Business Mastercard®$149 (Waived first year)0.83-3.33Up to 15,000 AIR MILES on spending $45,000 in the first year
BMO AIR MILES® No-Fee Business® Mastercard®$00.5-0.625 Up to 5,000 AIR MILES on spending $15,000 in the first year
* To provide a direct comparison, earn rates are adjusted to points per $10 spent.
BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Mastercard®

BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Mastercard®

The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is a premium travel and rewards card offering enhanced earn rates on Air Miles partners and groceries. It comes packed with travel perks like lounge access, discounted flight tickets, and comprehensive insurance. The annual fee is rebated in the first year to sweeten the deal further. This card best suits the frequent traveller. 

  • Annual Fee: $120 (First year free)
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 23.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
  • Card Earn Rate:
    • 3x AIR MILES per $12 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners
    • 2x AIR MILES per $12 spent at grocery stores (up to $500 per statement cycle)
    • 1x AIR MILES per $12 spent everywhere else
  • Welcome Bonus: 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles for spending $3,000 within the first three months
  • Travel Benefits: Car rental insurance, travel medical insurance, flight insurance, Dragon Pass lounge membership ($32 fee per visit)
  • Eligibility: Minimum personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000, +750 credit score
  • Extra Features:
    • 25% discount on Miles used to book a flight once per year (Up to 750 air miles)
    • 25% discount on rentals from National Car Rental and Alamos Rent-a-Car
    • Free connection to +1 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide with Boingo Wi-Fi
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • BMO & Shell Go+ doubles the AIR MILES when you opt-in (Up to 4x the Miles) until Dec 31, 2023
    • Double Miles at participating partners

BMO AIR MILES® Mastercard®

BMO AIR MILES® Mastercard®

The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard is a no-fee rewards card with a robust balance transfer promotion. With a lower barrier to entry thanks to its +600 credit score eligibility, this card suits average credit holders looking to earn rewards without paying an annual fee. Key perks include 50% more miles at Shell gas stations, car rental discounts, and warranty protections. The welcome bonus is also accessible, given the low spending requirements.  

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
  • Card Earn Rate:
    • 3x AIR MILES per $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners
    • 2x AIR MILES per $25 spent at grocery stores (up to $500 per statement cycle)
    • 1x AIR MILES per $25 spent everywhere else
  • Welcome Bonus: 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles for spending $1,000 within the first three months. There is also a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for nine months with a 2% transfer fee
  • Eligibility: No income requirement stated, +600 credit score 
  • Extra Features:
    • 25% discount on rentals from National Car Rental and Alamos Rent-a-Car
    • 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil show tours in Canada and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas
    • Extended warranty protection
    • BMO & Shell Go+ doubles the AIR MILES when you opt-in (Up to 4x the Miles) until Dec 31, 2023

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

BMO AIR MILES® Mastercard® For Students

The no-fee BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard helps students build credit and earn rewards. Offering bonus grocery and partner Miles suits budget-focused students looking to earn AIR MILES. Perks like warranty protection and entertainment discounts provide good value beyond reward earnings.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
  • Card Earn Rate:
    • 3x AIR MILES per $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners
    • 2x AIR MILES per $25 spent at grocery stores (up to $500 per statement cycle)
    • 1x AIR MILES per $25 spent everywhere else
  • Welcome Bonus: 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles for spending $1,000 within the first three months.
  • Eligibility: Students aged 18-24 at a recognized post-secondary school, with income from employment, grants, loans, or family allowance, +600 credit score
  • Extra Features:
    • 25% discount on rentals from National Car Rental and Alamos Rent-a-Car
    • 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil show tours in Canada and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • Add another user for free

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Business Mastercard

BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Business Mastercard®

The BMO Air Miles Business World Elite card maximizes rewards for business spending. It offers the best earn rate across BMO Air Miles options. Cardholders can continue to rack up rewards through a tiered welcome bonus and additional employee cards. Travel protections and paid lounge access provide premium benefits for frequent business travellers. This card also has a unique benefit of up to five free virtual healthcare visits annually through a Maple partnership

  • Annual Fee: $149 (First year free)
  • Purchase Rate: 19.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Card Earn Rate:
    • 4x AIR MILES per $12 spent at participating AIR MILES partners
    • 1x AIR MILES per $12 spent everywhere else
  • Welcome Bonus:
    • Get 5,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $5,000 in first three months
    • Get an additional 5,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $10,000 in first six months
    • Get an additional 5,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $45,000 in first 12 months
    • Total potential welcome bonus is 15,000 Bonus Miles
  • Travel Benefits: Travel medical insurance, flight insurance, Dragon Pass lounge membership ($32 fee per visit)
  • Eligibility: Minimum personal income of $80,000, or household income of $150,000, or business revenue of $250,000, or $400,000 assets under management, 660+ credit score. Also must show business documents
  • Extra Features:
    • Get up to 22 extra employee cards ($50 annual fee per additional card)
    • Liability waiver program to avoid employee card abuse
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • Automatic rebates when spending at Mastercard Easy Savings merchants (1-25%)
    • Five free virtual health care visits for your or family members

BMO AIR MILES® No-Fee Business® Mastercard®

BMO AIR MILES® No-Fee Business® Mastercard®

The BMO Air Miles No-Fee Business Mastercard provides an easy way for businesses to earn reward miles with no annual fee. Extra employee cards, liability waivers, and automatic merchant rebates give business owners flexibility and control over spending. This card works well for small businesses aiming to keep costs low while earning Air Miles.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase Rate: 19.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Card Earn Rate:
    • 1.25x AIR MILES per $20 spent at Shell stations
    • 1 AIR MILE per $20 spent
  • Welcome Bonus:
    • Get 3,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $3,000 in first three months
    • Get an additional 1,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $6,000 in first six months
    • Get an additional 1,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $15,000 in first 12 months
    • Total potential welcome bonus is 5,000 Bonus Miles
  • Eligibility: Minimum personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 or business revenue of $250,000 or assets under management of $400,000, 660 + credit score. Also must show business documents.
  • Extra Features:
    • Get up to 22 extra employee cards ($50 annual fee per additional card)
    • Liability waiver program to avoid employee card abuse
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • Automatic rebates when spending at Mastercard Easy Savings merchants (1-25%)

Pros And Cons Of The Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

No matter which Air Miles credit card you get, there are certain pros and cons to consider regarding the Air Miles program:

Pros Of The Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

  • Free to join the program
  • Wide range of earning opportunities with retail partners
  • Special bonuses and promotions are available
  • Access to status tiers with extra benefits

Cons Of The Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

  • Hard to determine the redemption value of Dream Miles
  • Miles can’t be converted between Cash/Dream categories
  • There is no option to transfer miles to other loyalty programs
  • Miles expire after two years of account inactivity
  • A complex program that takes effort to maximize value

How To Earn Air Miles Using The Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

There are two types of Air Miles points (explained further below). You can earn miles by:

  • Using your Air Miles membership card at partner retailers in-store or online
  • Using a BMO Air Miles debit (with a AIR MILES® Chequing Account) or credit card for purchases
  • Shopping through the Air Miles online portal or app
  • Booking travel through the Air Miles travel portal
  • Taking advantage of bonuses and promotions
  • Completing online surveys

After earning points, you’ll need to keep an active account. This is because your points will expire after two years of inactivity. Aside from that, Air Miles enables you to transfer miles between collectors. You can send Air Miles to other accounts for a fee. Otherwise, you can merge accounts within the same household.

The Two Types Of Air Miles

When you open an Air Miles account, you must decide between collecting Dream Miles or Cash Miles. Dream Miles are tailored toward more expensive redemptions, whereas Cash Miles are for everyday expenses. You can choose between exclusively earning one variant or a percentage of both. For example, you can opt for a 50/50 split if desired. 

The only drawback is your Dream Miles and Cash Miles can’t be swapped after earning them. However, you can always adjust the allocation between two programs. 

FeatureDream MilesCash Miles
Type of RewardsVariable ValueFixed Value
Main UsesFlights, travel, merchandise, experiences, donationsGroceries, gas, eVouchers, donations
Value FluctuationYes, based on redemption methodNo, fixed rate
Average ValueVaries with reward type, on average 11.35 cents per mile (for flights)10.53 cents per mile
Redemption OptionsFlights & Travel, Merchandise, Experiences, Charitable DonationsIn-Store Rewards, Online eVouchers, Charitable Donations
Redemption IncrementsVaries with the reward typeIn $10 increments

Dream Miles – Variable Value 

Dream Miles fluctuate in value depending on your redemption method. They are designed for higher-value redemptions, such as flights and travel experiences. Notably, the value of one Dream Mile averages about 11.35 cents when redeemed on flights. Overall, these rewards encompass a diverse range of options, including:

  • Flights and Travel: Book flights or car rentals
  • Merchandise: Exchange miles for a wide range of goods
  • Experiences: Redeem for various leisure activities
  • Charitable Donations: Donate miles to several well-known charities

Cash Miles – Fixed Value 

Cash Miles offer a predictable redemption value. Instead of travel experiences, you’re limited to redemptions at participating sponsors. The partners are generally everyday costs such as groceries, gas, and coffee. 

The value of Cash Miles is a flat rate of 10.53 cents per mile. This is derived from the stated value of 95 Cash Miles per $10. You must redeem points in $10 (95 points) increments, with a maximum daily redemption limit of $750. The Cash Miles redemption options include:

  • In-Store Rewards: Redeem for groceries and fuel
  • Online eVouchers: Use for items like Uber Eats, Hudson’s Bay, and Starbucks coffee
  • Charitable Donations: Donate miles to several well-known charities

How To Choose The Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

Air Miles

Earn Rate

Many Air Miles cards offer elevated earn rates at certain retailers like grocery stores, gas stations, or Air Miles partners. Consider where you spend the most each month, and choose a card that aligns with your top spending categories.

Sign-Up And Spend Bonuses

Consider the one-time bonuses you can earn in addition to regular ongoing mileage earnings. Cards like the BMO Air Miles World Elite offer increasing bonuses for exceeding tiered spending thresholds. 

Annual Fee

Some options provide a rebate for the first year. Afterward, consider how much you spend a year to see if the boosted earn rate with a premium card is worth it.

Other Perks

Air Miles credit cards offer additional perks like travel insurance, discounts on car rentals, and more. Consider which perks are most important to you, and choose a card that offers the ones you need.

History Of Air Miles In Canada

Air Miles was created in 1988 by UK-based Loyalty Management Group (LMG) as the first coalition loyalty program of its kind in the world. The concept took off in several countries before reaching Canada in 1992.

Many brands joined the program, making Air Miles Canada’s most popular loyalty program within a decade. Over its 30+ year history, Air Miles has continued to evolve. As of 2022, Air Miles had over 10 million active collector accounts. In June 2023, Air Miles announced its acquisition by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) from previous owner LoyaltyOne. 

Bottom Line: Best Air Miles Credit Card In Canada

The BMO Air Miles cards highlighted in this article provide strong bonus category spend opportunities, outsized welcome bonuses, and valuable travel perks. These cards present unmatched earnings potential for frequent travellers and those who strategically spend on groceries, gas, or other Air Mile partners.

When selecting the best Air Miles credit card for your wallet, carefully weigh factors like annual fees, earn rates, one-time bonuses, and included insurance. Find the card that best aligns with your monthly budget and spending habits.

Air Miles Cards FAQs

Do Air Miles expire?

Air Miles expire if your account is inactive for a continuous period of 24 months. To maintain your points, it’s important to use your account regularly.

How to redeem Air Miles?

Your Air Miles redemptions are constrained by the variant of points you collect. You can redeem Cash Miles in-store or online on everyday expenses. Alternatively, you can redeem Dream Miles on bigger-ticket items like travel experiences. You can redeem Dream Miles online or by connecting with customer care.

Is Air Miles ending?

The Air Miles program is not ending. It continues to operate after the BMO acquisition. 

How much are Air Miles worth?

Cash miles are worth a flat rate of 10.53 cents per mile. Dream Miles vary, but average around 11.35 cents per mile. 
Lucas Elliott avatar on Loans Canada
Lucas Elliott

Lucas, a Toronto native, holds an Honours BBA (Finance) degree obtained from Wilfrid Laurier University. His career has spanned venture capital and blockchain startups. Aside from writing at Loans Canada, Lucas is a Hardbacon contributor, and content specialist at Croton Content. Additionally, his passion for exploring the world has taken him to an impressive 28 countries across Europe, North America, Asia, and Central America.

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