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Comparison of the AMEX Air Miles Reserve, Platinum and BMO Air Miles World Elite Cards

Quite a few changes were made to the American Express Air Miles Reserve Card and BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard since I wrote the comparison post, so I thought I’d give a proper update to both cards at the same time. But this time, I added the American Express Platinum Credit Card into the mix as improvements to the card made it a more viable option.

What I do for a post like this is I compare certain categories and declare a winner for each category. Then I will name an overall winner. Keep in mind that this is still an objective ranking and you should still make your decision based on your personalized situation. There is not a one-shoe-fits-all recommendation.

Before we get into the comparison, let’s start with some of the highlights of each card and I put in bold the major changes:

American Express Air Miles Reserve Card (AMEX Reserve)

  • $299 annual fee
  • $50 annual fee for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 3,800 sign up bonus Air Miles(if you apply before January 20, 2020); earn 1,400 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and another 200 bonus miles for every $750 in spending (400 monthly, up to 2,400)
  • Earn 1 mile for every $10 spent on Air Miles partners (excludes purchases made at airmilesshops.ca), stand-alone grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada
  • Earn 1 mile for every $15 spent on all other purchases
  • Receive 4 complimentary visits per year to Priority Pass Worldwide Lounges
  • Receive Onyx elite status with Air Miles
  • Receive a Companion Flight Benefit (once per calendar year when redeeming for any reward flight flight for a companion on the same itinerary as the primary cardholder, up to a maximum of 1,700 reward miles)
  • Receive access to the Toronto Pearson Priority Security Lane
  • Receive access Toronto Pearson Priority Limo and Taxi Lanes
  • Receive access to FlexFly Redemptions
  • Receive ability to redeem miles to pay for taxes and fees on a flight redemptions
  • Receive waived Air Miles flight administration fee

American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card (AMEX Platinum)

  • $120 annual fee
  • No annual fee for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 3,500 sign up bonus Air Miles (if you apply before January 20, 2020); earn 1,700 after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months and another 150 bonus miles for every $500 in spending (300 monthly, up to 1,800)
  • Earn 500 bonus miles for every approved referral (up to 7,500 bonus miles)
  • Earn 1 mile for every $5 spent on drinks, food, gas & transit in Canada (up to $30,000 annually)
  • Earn 1 mile for every $10 on all other purchases (and subsequent purchases above $30,000 as mentioned above)
  • Receive 25% reduction on flight or package vacation redemption (once per calendar year, up to a maximum of 750 Bonus Miles)

BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard (BMO)

  • $120 annual fee (first year fee waived if you apply before January 15, 2020)
  • $50 annual fee for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 3,000 sign up bonus miles (earn 1,000 after the first purchase and another 2,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months)
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on all purchases
  • Receive 15% discount on all flights in North America booked with AIR MILES reward Miles with no blackout periods
  • Receive 2 Priority Pass lounges passes per year

Annual Fee

This is a straightforward comparison, the one with the lowest annual fee wins. The real question though is whether the annual fee is worth it. For this category, even though BMO and AMEX Platinum are tied, tiebreaker goes to AMEX Platinum because there is no fee on supplementary cardholders.

Winner: AMEX Platinum

Sign Up Bonus

The regular sign up bonuses are actually what we go by. BMO and AMEX Platinum usually have 1,000 sign up bonus, while AMEX Reserve is 2,400. The current promotions is what you should focus on when considering signing up for a card.

Winner: AMEX Reserve

Earning Ratios

The improvements to the AMEX Platinum card (and the reason I included it on this list) sets them apart. I value 1 Air Mile at 11 cents a piece, so you are earning 1 point for every $5 spent on specific categories, you are getting a 2.2% return (1 mile = 11 cents, so 11 cents /$5 = 2.2%). I used to bash Air Miles a lot for its dismal return, but this is a game changer!

Winner: AMEX Platinum

Lounge Access

One card gives more lounge access than the other two, so this is a very objective categories. AMEX Reserve offers 4 passes, BMO offers 2 and AMEX Platinum has none.

Winner: AMEX Reserve

Other Benefits

It is clear than the AMEX Reserve card has a host of travel benefits that could justify the higher annual fee. If you think about it, if you were planning on paying the fee anyway, you are paying $179 more ($299-$120). So the question is whether all the features and benefits justify the $179 additional fee.

Winner: AMEX Reserve


So based on all the factors listed above, I would say, go for the BMO card for the sign up bonus, first year fee waived promotions make it a no-brainer. If you want a good every day spending card, the AMEX Platinum is the leader. Otherwise, if you are looking for travel perks, BMO Reserve would be your card.

Since we are looking for an overall winner, I am going with the AMEX Reserve card. The reason I pick this card is that if you are going all out and can take advantage of all the benefits that any of the cards offer, mine as well go with the one that has the most so that you can justify the annual fee more easily!

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