BMO CashBack Mastercard Review

The BMO CashBack Mastercard is a solid no-annual-fee cash-back card that makes redemptions easy and straightforward. Its earn rate of 3% on groceries is the highest in Canada for a no-fee card, and in addition it offers 1% cash back on recurring bill payments. Everything else earns at 0.5%. You can redeem your cash at any time, starting with just $1 earned. 

This card has a low $15,000 annual income requirement, which makes it accessible, even to students. And, because it’s from a big bank, it’s perfect for those who want to maintain all their accounts with one provider while enjoying the security of banking with a major household name.

BMO CashBack Mastercard*

BMO Cash Back Mastercard

Annual fee $0
Rewards 3% cash back on grocery purchases; 1% back on recurring bill payments; and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
Welcome offer 5% cash back for the first three months and 1.99% for 9 months on balance transfers (plus a 1% balance transfer fee). Welcome offer available until October 31, 2020.
Minimum income required $15,000 (student eligibility may differ)
Purchase interest rate 19.99%
Best features Excellent earn rate on groceries; redeem cash any time, starting from $1 earned
Who it’s good for People who spend big on groceries, as well as students, and those who want simplicity and to bank with a trusted bank name

Get more details about the BMO CashBack Mastercard*

8 things to know about the BMO CashBack Mastercard

1. Everyday cash back rewards

Groceries are a big spending category for most Canadians, and the BMO CashBack Mastercard offers an easy and accessible way to earn cash on this expenditure. Pay for your food at a grocery store and you’ll get 3% back—the highest earn rate in this category of any no-fee cash back credit card in Canada. Its closest competitors, the PC Financial World Elite and Triangle World Elite Mastercard from Canadian Tire, technically allow for a 3% return on groceries but through their rewards program. And both cards require a personal income of $80,000. The $15,000 personal income requirement of the BMO CashBack Mastercard makes its excellent cash-back rate very accessible. 

It’s important to note that this earn rate is capped at the first $500 in grocery purchases per monthly statement period, after which time you’ll earn the card’s base rate of 0.5%. This cap resets every month, so it’s possible you won’t even hit it.

Recurring bill payments, or bills that are paid on a monthly or regular basis, earn a slightly elevated 1% return up to $500, after which time it drops to the 0.5% base rate. All other everyday purchases earn at 0.5%, with no limit to how much you can earn. 

2. Welcome offer

Looking to entice new customers, the BMO CashBack Mastercard is offering a very tempting welcome of an accelerated 5% cash back or for the first 3 months up to $1,500 in purchases  (whichever you hit first). This is a strong bonus for an entry-level, no-fee card. 

3. As a Mastercard, it’s accepted virtually everywhere

As a credit card, you can anywhere where Mastercard is accepted. And, aside from more “typical” grocery stores you can even earn 3% cash back on groceries, from No-Frills and Walmart Supercentre grocery store locations. You can use this card at Costco but be aware that since Costco is a discount warehouse and not considered a grocery store, you’ll get 0.5% cash back instead with grocery purchases.

4. Flexible cash back redemptions

If you’re looking for ease and flexibility, you will not find a company with a better redemption system than BMO. First of all, unlike some other cards, you don’t have to wait for your rewards. You can redeem your cash back at any time of the year. And, even better, you can redeem cash back in increments starting from just $1, far more flexible than the minimums imposed by some other companies. And, if you’d like to have your cash automatically redeemed at every $25, that service is only a click away when you update your account. 

5. Income requirements

No-fee cash back cards tend to underdeliver by either not offering great rates of return or by requiring an inaccessible personal minimum annual income. We’ve covered the great rates, and you can add to that a super-accessible $15,000 minimum annual income which puts this card within reach for many Canadians. And, if you’re a university or college student, you can even get this requirement waived if you apply for the BMO Mastercard as your first credit card (if you’re considering getting the card as a student, click here). 

6. Balance transfer offer

Accelerated earn rates get all the headlines but for those carrying a balance on a high-interest card, the balance transfer offer of 1.99% for 9 months (with a 1% balance transfer fee) will come as a very welcome bonus. Simply move that debt over and buy some low-interest time to pay it down. Note: you won’t earn rewards on balance transfers and once the promotion ends at the end of October, the interest rate will increase to 22.99%.

7. Fees

The BMO CashBack Mastercard is a no-fee card, which means you don’t have to pay annual fees for you or any additional authorized users. The regular purchase interest rates of 19.99% and cash advance rate of 22.99% are in line with typical rewards cards.

8. Card Perks

Of course, the downside to no-fee cards is that they usually include few if any frills, and the BMO CashBack Mastercard is no exception. That said, cardholders do receive discounts of up to 25% on car rentals from National and Alamo, automatic extended warranty which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on purchases up to an additional year, and purchase protection.

Are there any drawbacks to the BMO CashBack Mastercard?

The BMO CashBack Mastercard has a lot going for it, but there are a couple of caveats. 

First, there are spending caps on the bonus categories. That said, they’re quite generous at $500 per month and do reset every month. However, if you consistently spend over $500 on groceries per month, you might want to consider other credit card options without caps. 

Second, the base earn rate is 0.5%. You’re not going to see a lot of money back at that rate. But the reality is that’s a pretty standard return for most no-fee cards from a big bank.

BMO CashBack Mastercard alternatives

If you’re looking for a way to maximize your return on groceries without paying an annual fee, here are some other cards to consider. 

Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard

The Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard is a no-fee cash back card lets you earn 2% back on purchases in up to three bonus categories including drug stores, hotel-motel, restaurants—and groceries. Even better, there are no caps on earnings. 

Rogers Platinum Mastercard

Another no-fee card, the Rogers Platinum lets you earn a flat rate of 1% cash back on every purchase, so while this won’t be the best rate on groceries, it doubles the typical 0.5% rate on all other purchases. 

PC Financial Mastercards

If you shop regularly at Loblaws banner stores, like No-Fills, Fortinos, or Real Canadian Superstore, you can earn between 1% to 4% in points on your grocery bills, depending on which PC Financial credit card you qualify for according to your annual income. Like the other cards on this list, there is no annual fee.

Get more details about the BMO CashBack Mastercard*

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