There are as many different AIR MILES cards as there are consumer profiles. If you are looking to earn more AIR MILES reward miles to save on your daily purchases or on your next trip, it may be time to consider an AIR MILES credit card. There are many cards on the market, but we are going to share our picks of the best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada so that you can reach your goals faster.

How does the AIR MILES Rewards Program work?

AIR MILES is one of Canada’s leading rewards programs along with PC Optimum and  Aeroplan. AIR MILES members earn miles by presenting their membership card when making purchases from AIR MILES partners, or by using their AIR MILES credit card. You can also use them together in certain stores to maximize the number of points earned on a transaction. Once they have enough miles, they can redeem them for travel, goods, or services. Miles can also be redeemed for cash back at partner locations: every 95 miles earns $10. When you open an account, you can choose to earn Cash Rewards Miles for cash back, Dream miles for travel and products, or a combination of both.

How do I earn AIR MILES?

AIR MILES is a free program that anyone can join. Once you are a member, you can accumulate miles by presenting your AIR MILES membership card when shopping in-store or online at AIR MILES partners. To earn miles even faster, you can get an AIR MILES credit card. These credit cards allow you to earn miles not only at partner retailers, but also on all your purchases.

In addition, if you present your AIR MILES membership and credit card to a partner at the same time, you will get twice the miles, depending on the terms of each card. If you use your credit card frequently, the reward rate may end up being higher than the annual fee. Obviously, if you don’t pay off your entire balance each month, the interest charges could easily void all the benefits of the AIR MILES program.

The best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada

Before choosing an AIR MILES credit card, make sure you ask yourself the right questions. What do you want to do with your miles? How often do you plan to use them? Do you already have too many credit cards? How do you want to use your credit card? Can you afford the annual fee? To help you decide, here is our selection of the 10 best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada.

Best AIR MILES card with benefits

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

Annual Fee: $120
Welcome Offer: Up to 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and free of charge for the first year.
Minimum income required:  $80,000 per person or $150,000 per household
Discount Rate:  Approximately 1.78%

In addition to being our pick of the best AIR MILES credit card for travelers, the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard could just as well be the best AIR MILES credit card of all. It is a great credit card for good reason. Let’s look into all the benefits.

It offers one of the best reward rates and one of the best welcome bonuses. Currently, new cardholders earn 2,000 bonus miles ($215 value) and have the annual fee ($120) waved in the first year, all worth approximately $335. Cardholders earn 1 mile for every $10 purchased, making it one of the most generous programs.

The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard offers several benefits for travelers. These include complimentary membership to the Airport Experience program provided by Loungekey, which provides access to a network of more than 1,000 exclusive lounges at 400 airports around the world. Travel and medical insurance are also provided for 15 days outside the province and country.

It also provides access to more than one million Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide, with no additional fees or roaming charges. Another important benefit of the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is the 15% discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America. Cardholders also benefit from purchase protection and an extended warranty.  With these, your purchases are protected against theft and damage for 90 days, and the manufacturer’s warranty is doubled by BMO.

Best AIR MILES no annual fee credit card

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

Annual Fee: None
Welcome Offer:  800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Minimum Income Required:  $15,000 per person
Discount Rate: Approximately 0.75%

If you do not want to pay an annual fee, the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard may be for you. Although it does not offer the same benefits as the other AIR MILES cards on this list, it comes with a significant welcome bonus of 800 miles ($80 in cash back).

The reward rate for the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard is relatively low at 1 mile for every $25 spent. However, you can earn 3 miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Cash Rewards partners to earn these points faster. And remember that by also presenting your membership card, you get twice the miles.

New cardholders can also benefit from a 1.99% balance transfer rate for 9 months (a 1% balance transfer fee applies). The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard also includes an extended warranty and purchase protection.

Best AIR MILES card for daily purchases

American Express Air Miles Platinum

Annual Fee: $120
Current Welcome Offer:  2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Discount Rate:  Approximately 2.32%

American Express credit cards are always popular choices for reward cards, and the American Express AIR MILES Platinum card is no exception.

This credit card is the one that offers the highest discount rate, at approximately 2.32%. It allows its holders to earn miles at a rate of 1 mile per $5 spent at eligible restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and gas or public transit purchases. For all other purchases, the reward rate is 1 mile for every $10 spent. Right now, new cardholders can also enjoy a 2,000-mile welcome bonus when they spend $1,500 on their card in the first three months.

In addition to its great earning rates, the American Express AIR MILES Platinum card offers several advantages and benefits. These include travel accident insurance (out-of-country only), rental car theft and damage insurance, purchase protection and a reservation program for your outings.

Although it has many advantages for travellers, it does not offer discounts in the first year (so the welcome bonus is less attractive than that of the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard). In addition, it should always be remembered that American Express cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard.

Best AIR MILES card for frequent travelers

American Express AIR MILES Reserve

Annual Fee: $299
Current Welcome Offer:  2,400 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Discount Rate:  1.42%

With an annual fee of $299, it is the most expensive credit card on our list, but it stands out because of its travel benefits. The credit card’s earning rate is 1 mile for every $10 spent at AIR MILES Partners, 1 mile for every $10 spent at eligible grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies (in Canada), and 1 mile for every $15 spent on the card everywhere else. As a welcome bonus, new cardholders can earn 2,400 bonus miles by spending $3,000 on their card in the first 3 months of card membership; the potential equivalent of 2 flights!

When it comes to additional benefits, the American Express AIR MILES Reserve comes with many benefits that travellers will particularly appreciate. The card gives you immediate access to AIR MILES’ Onyx status which allows you to get up to 40% off flights, amongst other things. In addition, the AIR MILES Flexfly program allows you to book flights with other airlines and to destinations that are not available under the AIR MILES flight program. 770 miles is equivalent to $100 to be used in this program.

Another exclusive feature of the American Express AIR MILES Reserve is the ability to redeem your AIR MILES for taxes and fees. You can also redeem your miles for business class seats, as well as get a ticket for a traveller once a year.

Another exclusive benefit of this credit card is the free Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to airport lounges around the world. In addition, you benefit from several types of travel insurance (out-of-province and out-of-country), waived AIR MILES flight administration fees and priority security at Toronto Pearson Airport. In addition to all the travel benefits listed above, the American Express AIR MILES Reserve also includes American Express Experiences coverage.

Best AIR MILES cards for businesses

BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard

Annual Fee: $120
Welcome Offer:  3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and no fees for the first year
Discount Rate:  Approximately 1.74%

This card is the perfect choice for business owners looking to earn miles and spend a lot on their credit cards. With the BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard,  you’ll earn miles at a rate of 1 mile for every $10 spent and 1.25 miles when you use it at participating Shell gas stations. Right now, you can get a welcome bonus of 3,000 Air Miles, the equivalent of $310, by choosing this credit card. To qualify, you will need to spend $5,000 on your card in the first 3 months after obtaining it. To add, the annual fee is waived for the first year.

Another benefit of the BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard is that it includes several types of insurance for your travels. These include:

  • collision damage waiver insurance;
  • personal and business property insurance;
  • accidental death or dismemberment insurance in rental vehicles and for accidents on board a common carrier.

You will also travel with peace of mind since the card offers protection:

  • on luggage and personal effects;
  • baggage or flight delays;
  • on trip interruptions, postponements, and cancellations.

To take advantage of these benefits, simply use your card when paying for your travel reservations.

BMO AIR MILES No-Fee Business Mastercard

Annual Fee: None
Welcome Offer:  1,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles
Rate:  Approximately 0.87%

Are you a new business or small business owner? If so, BMO AIR MILES No-Fee Business Mastercard may be for you. As a welcome offer, new cardholders can earn 1,000 miles, the equivalent of at least $100. To qualify for this offer, simply spend a minimum of $3,000 on your card within the first three months of opening your account.

Since it is free of charge, its discount rate is lower. Thus, you will earn 1 mile for every $20 spent. If you use your card at a participating Shell location, you earn 1.25 times the miles for every $20 spent. It is, therefore, an interesting option if you frequently use your vehicle for your work.

Another benefit of this card for your business is the inclusion of a liability waiver program, which protects you in the event of misuse of the card by an employee.

Best Air Miles cards for students

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for Students

Annual Fee: None
Welcome Offer:  800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Discount Rate:  Approximately 0.75%

Getting your first credit card is an important step in the transition to adulthood. This is how you start establishing and building yout credit score. That is something that you will need throughout your financial life: when you apply for a lease, a mortgage, insurance, and maybe even a cell phone. With the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for Students it is possible to start building credit while earning miles for the little things in between 2 sessions. It is offered to students aged 18 to 24, who have reached the age of majority in their province, and are enrolled in a post-secondary institution such as a CEGEP or university. 

To obtain it, you must also be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and have an annual income from employment, a grant or scholarship, a student loan, or a family allowance.

In terms of rewards, new members get 800 miles, provided they spend $1,000 on their AIR MILES credit card in the first three months. For every $25 spent at participating stores, you earn 3 miles, and for the same amount, 1 mile everywhere else.The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for Students is ideal for starting to build your credit score. At the same time, cardholders can accumulate miles to pay for well-deserved trips after months of study!

Partner credit cards

Some AIR MILES partners, such as Shell and IGA, also offer BMO Mastercard credit cards under their brand. Some offer additional benefits, while others are essentially the same as the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard. Make sure that your AIR MILES credit card maximizes your points at the partner stores. Things to look for include matching points earned with the store’s rewards programs or the ability to redeem Air Miles points for store points.

BMO World Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard 

Annual Fee: $99
Welcome Offer:  None
Minimum Income Required:  $60,000 per person or $100,000 for a household
Discount Rate:  Approximately 1.21%

If you own a car and use it regularly, the BMO Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard could be for you. This is the only card on our list that does not have a welcome offer. Nevertheless, it includes great benefits, with a competitive discount rate of 1.21%. Another perk is that you earn 1.25 times the miles for every $15 at Shell locations and 1 mile for the same amount everywhere else.

In addition, with this credit card, you benefit from exemption insurance if you get into an accident with a rental car, as well as luggage and flight delay insurance. Buckle up and add this card to your wallet to earn points and move from car to plane soon!

BMO Shell AIR MILES Mastercard

Annual Fee: None
Welcome Offer:  800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Discount Rate:  Approximately 0.75%

The BMO Shell AIR MILES Mastercard offers similar rewards to the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard. As a welcome bonus, you can earn 800 miles by spending $1,000 on your card within 3 months of joining. That’s the equivalent of $80 in cash back.

You’ll always earn 3 times the Air Miles at participating partners for every $25 spent on your card. And for purchases everywhere else, you’ll earn 1 mile for every $25 spent. It probably will not take long to spend $1000 when you use it to buy gas, groceries, and other daily needs. Another great idea is to buy items and use your BMO Shell AIR MILES Mastercard along with your AIR MILES points card.

BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard

Annual Fee: None
Welcome Offer:  800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Discount Rate:  Approximately 0.75%

Like the BMO Shell AIR MILES Mastercard, the BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard  offers the same benefits as the regular BMO AIR MILES card. This time, you benefit from earning 3 Miles for every $25 in card purchases at your IGA. You also earn Miles faster when you use your the BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard together with your AIR MILES card when you shop.

Not quite sure yet? Be sure to check out our credit card comparison tool. It can help you compare Air MIles and other types of credit cards from major financial insitutions across Canada. Part of making good personal finance decisions is having a full understanding of all your options. Hardbacon also has investing, mortgage, banking, and insurance comparison tools. Be sure to check them out. If you need help setablishing or rebuilding your credit score, Air Miles credit cards are an excellent tool.

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