Dear students: you can write a paper the night before it’s due, but you can’t boost your credit score the night before you need money. Or a new phone. Or a job. When used correctly, the BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard is a powerful tool that can help you rock student life, save money, and build a killer credit score too. Do free groceries, iPads, or flights to Vegas for spring break sound lit? The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard can help you get that stuff! 

Wait, are you learning local so you can live at home? We got you. The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard can still help build your credit and convert all your daily purchases into free stuff and special perks, no matter where you study. That’s why it’s one of the best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada. Before you drop stacks on a textbook or mini-fridge, check out this review. 

Annual Fee: None

Interest Rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents)

BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard Welcome Offer 

New customers who apply and get the BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard before July 31th, 2023 get 800 bonus AIR MILES. That’s worth roughly $80 in Cash Miles towards a purchase, or up to double the value in Dream Miles for a travel purchase. Not too shabby.

To get your bonus MILES, you need to make $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months of opening your account. What’s that, like, 2 textbooks? A trip to IKEA to furnish your dorm? A new laptop? Easy peasy, you got this.

Are AIR MILES actually worth it for students? 

YES! The AIR MILES program is heavily marketed to travel lovers, but here’s the deal: it’s so much more than just points for plane tickets. Full disclosure, AIR MILES are not the best travel rewards out there, ironically. But the freedom to collect and redeem MILES how you want makes it a killer program in a lot of other ways. Not to mention, they cornered the market to become one of the most famous loyalty programs in the country. 

You can earn AIR MILES almost anywhere thanks to their massive network of partner merchants. And a credit card like the BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard earns AIR MILES on every single purchase no matter where you make it. Hello, university bookstore! Bus passes! Energy drinks for all-nighters! 

Pretty much anyone can access this program to get money-saving benefits on stuff they had to buy anyway. But with a BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard, you can double down on your MILES to earn them faster for more free stuff and even better perks.  Here’s how it works: 

  • Dream Miles are the OG rewards that are best used for travel purchases. You can redeem them for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and even merchandise on the AIR MILES website. Oddly, you’ll get the best redemption value on concert tickets, followed by plane tickets. Dream Miles expire after five years, so don’t sit on them too long. 
  • Cash Miles are the new kid in class that act more like cash back. They have a lower redemption value, but you can use them in-store or online for discounts, free stuff, gift cards, and more. Bonus, they never expire.

You can choose whether you want to earn Dream Miles, Cash Miles, or some mix of both. It really depends on your needs, shopping habits, and where you think you’ll reap the greatest benefit. If you're going to school across the country, you might want Dream Miles to help with travel costs when you come home for the holidays. If you’re staying close to home, you might want Cash Miles to help with school supplies, free groceries, or a new iPad from the AIR MILES catalogue. 

Spoiler Alert! Once you earn a certain type of MILE, you’re stuck with it. You cannot swap Dream Miles for Cash Miles or vice versa. So think about your needs and goals, then choose accordingly. Luckily, you can log into your AIR MILES account and shake things up if your needs change. 

Earning MILES with your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard

With this AIR MILES student credit cards, you’ll earn 3 MILES for every $25 spent at an AIR MILES partner, and 1 MILE per $25 on all other card purchases. So who are these AIR MILES partners? Here’s a few of the big ones: 

  • Sobeys: because you need to eat
  • Shell gas stations: because you probably have a car or want an energy drink
  • Staples: because you need school supplies
  • Samsung: because you need tech

Pro Tip! You can double up your MILES when you shop at participating AIR MILES Partners. Open an AIR MILES membership account to get a member card; this is separate from your credit card. Then, present your AIR MILES member card along with your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard at the time of purchase. Boom! You just got 6 MILES instead of 3. You’re welcome. 

Try to level up your AIR MILES account status. Here’s why: 

AIR MILES collectors can level up their membership accounts to unlock top-shelf perks and significantly increase the redemption value of their MILES. There are two higher levels available, depending on how many AIR MILES you accumulate in a year. The more you use your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard and shop with AIR MILES partners, the more MILES you’ll accumulate to unlock either: 

Gold Collector Status

To qualify for Gold Status you need to accumulate at least 1,000 AIR MILES in a year. With the stuff you need for school and the cost of living, that’s not a tall order. Challenge accepted! Here’s what Gold Status gets you: 

  • Up to 30% off flights booked through AIR MILES with Dream Miles 
  • Up to 5% off merchandise purchased through AIR MILES with Dream Miles 
  • Pay with cash and MILES for hotels booked through AIR MILES 

Onyx Collector Status

To qualify for Onyx Status you need to accumulate at least 6,000 MILES in a year. Ok, so this one IS a tall order. But there are ways to hack more AIR MILES. If you pull it off, it’s totally worth it because here’s what you get: 

  • Up to 40% off flights booked through AIR MILES with Dream Miles 
  • Up to 10% off merchandise purchased through AIR MILES with Dream Miles 
  • Pay with cash and MILES for hotels booked through AIR MILES 
  • Personal shopping service to use Dream Miles for items not available in the AIR MILES Catalogue 
  • ShellGO+ Membership for additional discounts at Shell stations, specials offers, and exclusive perks 

Pro Tip! Want to qualify for Onyx Status? Hack your way to more MILES with a parent, or someone responsible that you can trust. The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard lets you add one additional cardholder to your account at no extra cost. If you add another person, like mom or dad, qualifying purchases with their card will accumulate AIR MILES on your account. 

Having said that, you are the only one legally responsible for balances owing and making payments on time. Everything reports to the credit bureaus under your name, so there is a risk your credit score could suffer if the other person doesn’t use the card as agreed. Choose someone who is responsible that you can trust, and make sure you’re both on the same page with expectations and boundaries. 

Travel & other benefits with your BMO Student AIR MILES card

It doesn’t matter if you’re trekking off to a distant school or staying close to home. You’re going to travel home at some point, and everyone deserves a bomb holiday after exams. Your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard can help you blow off steam with these travel perks: 

  • Redeem AIR MILES for flights, hotels, vacation packages, car rentals, etc. 
  • Up to 25% off car rentals through participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-a-Car locations
  • Up to 15% off tickets to Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada
  • Up to 20% off tickets to resident shows in Las Vegas 

Pro Tip! According to the BMO points calculator, 1,900 AIR MILES get you a flight from Vancouver to Las Vegas. Um, hello Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and USHER! Your welcome bonus knocks off 800 MILES. But you had to spend $1,000 to get them, so that knocks off another 670 AIR MILES. Only 430 more to go! That’s roughly $680 in additional card purchases. Can you manage that? Go buy a textbook. 

How to save money with purchase protection

Uh oh! You just spilled green-juice all over that $680 Philosophy textbook. You weren’t going to use it anyway, but now what? Good thing you bought it with your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard. Most items purchased with your card get complimentary insurance protection against theft or accidental damage for 90 days from the date of purchase. 

But then you get to class, pop open your laptop, and get the white screen of death. That was a big purchase and you wanted the AIR MILES, so you put it on your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard. Hold on, you didn’t buy the extra warranty protection through the retailer because it was too expensive? You didn’t want to risk not paying off the card in full this month? Super smart move! Most items purchased with your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard automatically get free warranty protection that extends the original manufacturer’s warranty by up to one additional year. Crisis averted! 

Watch out for interest charges & gaming transactions!

The only way to benefit from any rewards program is to pay your credit card balance off in full every month. Otherwise, interest charges completely wipe out the value of your AIR MILES. It could even cost money out of your own pocket making you worse off. Solution? 

Your BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard gives you a 21-day interest-free grace period from the date of purchase, to pay off the charges without having to pay any interest. Heads up though! There is NO interest-free grace period for gaming transactions, cash advances, balance transfers, or other cash-like transactions.

Rates & fees on your student AIR MILES Mastercard

The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard is a completely free rewards card. That means you do not have to pay a recurring annual fee to earn points and get perks. Booyah! The interest rates are pretty standard at 19.99% on card purchases, and 22.99% on cash advances. If you live in Quebec, the rate for a cash advance is lower at 21.99%.

If those numbers scare you, they shouldn’t. There’s only one right way to use a credit card, and that’s to pay off the balance in full every month. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to carry a small balance to build a credit history. That’s completely false and a rookie mistake. If you want to get the full value of your AIR MILES, stay out of debt, and build a rockstar credit score then you need to avoid carrying a balance like the ‘rona.

How can students qualify for a BMO AIR MILES Mastercard? 

Student credit cards are specifically designed to be easier to get than their traditional counterparts. You need to be at least the age of majority in your province but no older than 24, and enrolled at a recognized post-secondary school. You also need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with annual income from employment, a scholarship, student loan, or even a family allowance from the Bank of Mom & Dad. 

Luckily, there is no minimum income cut-off to worry about. Strangely, this student card is not available to anyone who has declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years. Are you an international student? No worries. BMO has a student MasterCard for you too. Visit your local branch to apply. 

Who is the BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard for? 

Wait, where did I lose you? The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard is for students, duh. But it’s best suited for the ones who like to travel and want to score great deals, deep discounts, and exclusive offers. The AIR MILES program is so flexible you can use your MILES like travel points or cash back. The benefit of the AIR MILES program are the additional travel perks and discounts you wouldn’t get with a straight cash back credit card

Heading off to college is a rite of passage and your first taste of freedom. Shouldn’t your credit card give you freedom too? We think so. The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard turns all your everyday purchases into rewards you can redeem on your own terms. For the (math)athletes, satisfy that competitive spirit and gamify your purchases to unlock Onyx Status. Be bold, be courageous, and build the best credit score! You can also compare this card with others and find a better fit!

The BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard: Our Rating 

Purchase Interest Rate3/5
Cash advance interest rate3/5
Annual Fee5/5
Purchase insurance4/5
Extended warranty insurance4/5
Travel insurancen/a
Emergency medical travel insurancen/a
Other Perks3/5
Benefits and perks of the BMO Student AIR MILES Mastercard:

* Earn up to 3 MILES per $25 spent
* Double up on AIR MILES
* Chance to level up collector status
* Redeem MILES for travel, products and experiences
* Purchase Protection
* Extended Warranty
* Free additional card
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