Beware the New Account Inactivity Fee for BMO MasterCard !

For several years, BMO MasterCard has had a fee for people who don’t use their card much. Specifically, if you had a credit balance on your card (perhaps because you over-paid a bill or received a refund for an item back to your card account) and if you didn’t use the card for 12 months, they would charge you $10 and take it out of your positive card balance. This year, however, they have started charging a fee to everyone!

Who Will Get Charged the BMO MasterCard $10 Inactive Card Fee?

If you don’t use your MasterCard one month, the clock will start ticking. If, eleven months later, you still have not used the card, they will bill your card $10.

What Can I Do To Keep My BMO MasterCard Active?

To avoid the fee, you need to

  • buy something that bills your credit card
  • receive a refund on your credit card account
  • pay interest on a balance on your credit card, or
  • pay other fees on your account, perhaps a fee for a cash advance, for example

at least once every 12 months.

How Can I Remember to Keep My BMO MasterCard Active?

You may want to set it up so that an annual or semi-annual bill is charged to your credit card account.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure you remember and pay the credit card bill or you could end up with a huge amount of interest due!

Why Would Anyone Keep a BMO MasterCard If They Are Not Using It?

Many people keep a credit card as a “backup” card in case their usual card is unavailable. This secondary card may seldom get used.

Other people don’t buy much on credit and may simply forget to use it for a year.

Some people also keep an older credit card “open” to maintain the information about the card on their credit history with Equifax and TransUnion.

Are There Any Other New Fees or New Fee Explanations (for 2016) for a BMO MasterCard?

Other fees that they are emphasizing include Cash Advance Fees and Dishonoured Payment Fees.

If you get a cash advance from your BMO MasterCard using

  • BMO Telephone Banking (whether self-serve or through an associate answering your call) or
  • through BMO Online, or
  • through BMO Mobile, or
  • through BMO Tablet Banking

You will be charged a fee of $3.50 in addition to any interest charges on the advance and any other fees, including currency conversion rates.

I thought they had stopped issuing MasterCard cheques but apparently not because there is also a fee if you bounce one.

If you write a MasterCard cheque that exceeds the amount of credit available on your account, it will bounce. (They will refuse to cash it.) If you do that, they will also charge you a fee of $40-$48.

So watch out that you don’t write a cheque at the same time as your pre-authorized bill payment appears on your credit card balance or you could get a nasty fee surprise.

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What Reward Gives Me the Most Value When I Redeem My Petro-Canada Petro-Points?

It’s been a couple of years since I last redeemed a huge chunk of Petro-Points and our balance has grown again. So when a reader recently asked for an updated review of the best reward choices to maximize the value of the points, it encouraged me to go review the Petro-Points rewards and figure out the best way to redeem our points for the most value.

These rewards do change from time to time so you should do a quick check yourself before making a decision. For example, they used to offer redemptions for Digital Media including music, movies, TV shows, eBooks and Audiobooks but that will be discontinued on April 1, 2016. The information in this article was collected on March 8 2016.

UPDATE January 9 2017: There is no longer a Best Buy e-Gift Card offered. There is now a HBC e-Gift Card offered.

There’s also a new rewards for the Student Price Card.

Want a quicker summary? Scroll down looking for a table of the value in $ of 1000 points for the various choices you can make.

The Extremely Popular Fuel Savings Rewards Card Choice for Petro-Points Collectors

One of the most popular uses for Petro-Points is to buy a Fuel Savings Reward Card and reload it from time to time to save money off each litre of gas pumped.

But the Fuel Savings Rewards Card isn’t the only choice. You can use points to buy

  • a “Fuel Savings Rewards Card” to decrease the price paid per litre by 5 cents or a different one that drops the price paid per litre by 10 cents a litre, or
  • a “Petro-Canada Gift Card” which is basically cash you can apply against your purchase regardless of how many litres you buy

Obviously you can only use these cards at a Petro-Canada station not at a competitor’s.

Why Buy the Fuel Savings Rewards Card Instead of a Petro-Canada Gift Card?

It seems a bit stupid to only get $0.10 off a litre if you could just get a gift card and pay for your entire purchase to immediately get the value from your points.

The reason is that you get more $$$ for your points if you redeem them for the “cents per litre” cards. That’s because Petro-Canada wants you to keep coming back to the station. They’re hoping if you do, you might also get the car washed or buy a Mars bar for your child.

So Petro-Canada gives you a more $$ per point if you redeem your points for a Fuel Savings Rewards Card than if you redeem them for a gift card. They even have “specials” fairly often where you can get the Rewards card for fewer points, increasing the $$ value of your points even more. Keep an eye out for big cardboard signs near the gas pumps for those kinds of specials.

On March 8, 2016 the offers on the Petro-Points website were:

Card Number of Points Saving Value Dollars of value per 1000 points
Fuel Savings Reward 12 000 to buy a card in store,
11 000 to reload a card online
5 cents per litre for 200 L $10 $0.83 and
for $0.91 reload
Fuel Savings Reward 10 cents 22 000 10 cents per litre for 200L $20 $0.91 for reload
Petro-Canada Gift Card 45 000 $25 $25 $0.056

You can see that today the Fuel Savings Reward cards offer the best value per point. Those values are often even higher due to various promotions.

The Also Very Popular Superworks Car Wash Points Purchase

Lots of drivers save their Petro-Points for car washes. It’s an easy way to pay to make the Lamborghini shine.

The website says, on March 8 2016, that a SuperWorks Car Wash costs 9 000 points. I don’t know the regular price for that car wash, so I can’t tell you the $ per point for that choice. Sorry!

What Else Can I Get That’s Not a Petro-Canada Product with Petro-Points?

You don’t just have to buy gas or get your car cleaned to use your Petro-Points. Here are some other offers.

The Newest Offer: Using Petro-Points to Get The Student Price Card

Obviously, this offer is only useful if you are a student. You can only use this card for discounts if you also have a Student ID card from one of the places listed on the SPC website.

For those who are the right kind of students, though, the offer is:

redeem 12 000 Petro-Points for a SPC card. The regular cost of the card is $10 (plus $2 for shipping). So the dollar value per 1000 points is $0.83 which is respectable but not epic.

The Best Way to Get Best Buy Savings Using Petro-Points

There were are two ways to change Petro-Points into savings at Best Buy and one of them was is a much better deal than the other.

UPDATE January 2017: Best Buy e-Gift cards are not offered any more.

The best buy for using your points at Best Buy is to buy Best Buy e-Gift Cards. (Yes, that is a deliberate tongue-twister!)

The e-Gift cards for Best Buy can be used at the online Best Buy website or at the store near you. You can only get this type of e-Gift card online. You can’t drive up to your local Petro-Can station to buy one. The “card” is just an email that they send to you and you print it off to take to the store (or just copy the information to use it online.) There is no real plastic or paper “card.” (That, by the way, makes it a bit less desirable to many people if they plan to give the e-Card to someone else as a gift.)

They sell the Best Buy e-Gift cards in sizes of $10, 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500.

Each Best Buy e-Gift card has the same value of $0.67 per 1000 Petro-Points. So buying these e-Gift cards gets you less than $1 in value for every 1000 Petro-Points. It’s also less value than a reload of your Petro-Canada Fuel Savings Rewards Card.

Your worse choice for Best Buy would be to get a regular plastic Best Buy gift card by redeeming your points at the gas station. That way, the value of the the card per 1000 points is only $0.50.

What Gives You The Most Dollar Value Per 1000 Petro-Points? CAA Membership and CAA Dollars

To get a CAA Basic Membership in Ontario, you can redeem 60 000 Petro-Points. In southern Ontario, a basic CAA membership costs $70. The dollar value per 1000 points is therefore 1.17. That’s the highest value offered on the site at the time this was written in March 2016. (There may be times when the Fuels Savings Rewards card comes with a special offer making it tie with this.)

You can also exchange 1 000 Petro Points for one CAA dollar. That means the dollar value per 1000 points is 1 dollar. That’s the second highest value offered on the site at the time this was written in March 2016.

If you register your CAA membership number online on the Petro-Canada Petro-Points site, you will also earn 20% more points on every purchase you make at Petro-Canada if you swipe your Petro-Points card or use a Petro-Points linked credit card. That’s actually a pretty hefty increase in points.

Another Way to Make 1000 Petro-Points Equal One Dollar

Itravel2000.com Rewards

You can redeem your Petro-Points for a discount on your itravel2000.com purchase.

10 000 points pays for $10 to be spent at iTravel2000.com. That’s a dollar value per 1000 points of $1.00.

That’s the same cost as the CAA dollars offer. HOWEVER: Read all of the terms and conditions and ask any questions before redeeming your points. The conditions are not simple and they might not work for you. The CAA dollars can be spent on a lot more things, more easily.

The Less Good Ways to Redeem Your Petro-Points

Gift Cards

On March 8, 2016 when I checked the Petro-Points website, all of the gift cards were being sold at a dollar value per 1000 points of $0.50. That’s a very low value. You should try to get more $$ for your points than that.

These gift cards are bought using your points at a Petro-Canada gas station, so not all cards may be available.

For 20 000 points you can get a $10 card for

  • League of Legends

For 30 000 points you can get a $15 card for

  • iTunes
  • Google Play
  • Xbox
  • Starbucks

For 40 000 points you can get a $18 card for

  • Sony

For 40 000 points you can get a $20 card for

  • Sony (hey that’s what the website says: but I’m willing to bet you can only get the $18 card anymore and they are sold out of the $20 ones….)

For 50 000 points you can get a $25 card for

  • iTunes
  • Cineplex
  • Chapters Indigo
  • Best Buy
  • Cinemas Guzzo
  • EB Games
  • Google Play
  • League of Legends
  • XBox
  • Home Depot
  • Hudson’s Bay
  • Sears
  • La Senza
  • Toys R Us
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gap
  • Homesense
  • Old Navy
  • Pharmaprix
  • Winners
  • the Keg Steakhouse & Bar
  • Cara Foods
  • Sir Corp. Restaurants
  • Earl’s
  • Pizza Pizza
  • Brewsters
  • St. Hubert
  • Pizza Hotline
  • Smitty’s
  • Starbucks
  • Cabela’s
  • SportChek

For 100 000 points you can get a $50 gift card for

    • iTunes
    • Cineplex
    • Chapters Indigo
    • Best Buy
    • Cinemas Guzzo
    • Sony
    • EB Games
    • Google Play
    • League of Legends
    • XBox
    • Home Depot
    • Hudson’s Bay
    • Sears
    • La Senza
    • Shoppers Drug Mart
    • Gap
    • Homesense
    • Old Navy
    • Pharmaprix
    • Winners
    • the Keg Steakhouse & Bar
    • Cara Foods
    • Sir Corp. Restaurants
    • Earl’s
    • Brewsters
    • St. Hubert
    • Starbucks
    • Cabela’s
    • Golf Town
    • SportChek

For 200 000 points you can get a $100 gift card for

  • Best Buy
  • Home Depot
  • Sears
  • the Keg Steakhouse & Bar
  • Earl’s
  • Cabela’s

How Can I Use My Petro-Points for Rewards to Maximize Their Dollar Value?

Here’s the handy summary table of rewards, as at March 8 2016 for redeeming Petro-Points. Your mileage may vary. (That’s a little “Retail” joke for you non-oil-patchers.)

Reward $ value per 1000 points, in $
CAA Basic Membership, Ontario only 1.17
CAA Dollars, Ontario and BC and check about other provinces by calling your CAA 1.00
itravel2000.com Dollars
(read terms and details carefully!)
1.00
Fuel Savings Reward Card redeemed online
(may be better if there’s a deal on offer)
0.91
Fuel Savings Reward 10 Cent Card redeemed online
(may be better if there’s a deal on offer)
0.91
Fuel Savings Reward Card at the station
(may be better if there’s a deal on offer)
0.83
SPC Card
(only available to the right kind of students)
0.83
Best Buy eGift Cards 0.67
Single SuperWorks Car Wash Pass
(Costs 9000 points)
???
Petro-Canada Gift Card 0.56
Gift Cards for Stores, Services and Restaurants 0.50


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Do you buy gas at Petro-Canada and collect Petro-Points? Or are you still furious with Trudeau, er, Pierre Elliott Trudeau? Have you redeemed any Petro-Points and if so, for what? Please share your views with a comment.