A quick Friday update for you from WestJet’s neck of the woods: the base-level WestJet RBC MasterCard, which is intended for those who don’t meet the annual income requirements of $80,000 (personal) or $150,000 (household) on the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, has added a new companion voucher for travel within Canada that allows a second passenger to travel on the same itinerary for only a $199 base fare.
The WestJet RBC MasterCard
Compared to its World Elite big brother, the basic WestJet RBC MasterCard is much more bare-bones in its offering. You’ll get a signup bonus of 50 WestJet Dollars (WSD) upon first purchase, you’ll earn 1.5% back in WSD per dollar spent with WestJet and 1% back in WSD on all other purchases, and as of now, you’ll get an annual $199 companion voucher for travel within Canada. To compensate for these reduced perks, the annual fee is only $39 per year.
Before the introduction of the $199 companion voucher, there wasn’t really much of a compelling reason to apply for this card even if you did fly with WestJet frequently – after taking into account the annual fee, the net benefit was a measly $11, and the 1% earn rate was far from competitive as well.
The new companion voucher certainly can move the needle a bit. It’s valid on domestic Canada bookings in Economy, Economy Flex, Premium, and Premium Flex, but not on Business or Member Exclusive fares. Existing cardholders will receive their vouchers 4–6 weeks after card renewal, and new cardholders will receive their vouchers 4–6 weeks after their first purchase.
Having said that, the nature of companion fares is that their value is entirely dependent on the price of the ticket you’re buying: the higher the price you pay for the first passenger, the greater the savings you get from the companion voucher for the second passenger.
Travelling within Canada can get rather expensive if you’re flying long distances, travelling over a peak period, making plans relatively last-minute, or booking a fare in WestJet’s Premium class.
If you find yourself often facing these situations as a travelling couple, then the companion voucher could very well work in your favour. For example, if we look at summertime transcontinental flights booked a few weeks in advance, we see that fares have skyrocketed to the low four-figures.
Pulling up the fare on ITA Matrix, we see that the base fare comprises $493 + $428 = $921 of the total of $1,084, with the taxes and fees making up the remaining $165.
If we instead used the $199 companion voucher on the WestJet RBC MasterCard to book this itinerary for two people, we’d pay $1,084 for the first passenger, but only $199 + $165 = $364 for the second passenger, incurring savings of $720. That’s a pretty great return from signing up for a credit card! And of course, if you’re travelling as a family of four and both adults were to obtain the card, then you’d instantly double-up on those savings.
(The $99 companion voucher on the World Elite version of the card is certainly much stronger, as it’s half the price and includes the US as well, but I’d say the $199 version is still a generous perk on the for those of you who don’t meet the income requirements.)
Of course, this was just a single example of getting strong value out of the companion voucher. If you rarely find yourself in situations in which you’re considering purchasing expensive WestJet fares for at least two people, then the companion voucher wouldn’t be of much use to you, and consequently, neither would the base-level WestJet RBC MasterCard itself.
Who Should Get the WestJet Credit Cards?
Every rewards program has its strengths and weaknesses, and ever since I started covering the WestJet Rewards program, I’ve noticed that it’s particularly suitable to travellers who frequently fly domestically within Canada – with a particular emphasis on those living in Western Canada, where WestJet’s route network is the strongest.
You have several options for redeeming miles for travel within Canada, but WestJet Rewards can be much more useful than it first might seem. That’s largely because of WestJet’s Member Exclusive fares, which allow you to fly across the country for 125 WSD one-way plus taxes and fees.
I recently redeemed a Member Exclusive fare for the first time between Vancouver and Montreal. Cash fares were in the range of $450 one-way, but I found a Member Exclusive fare – on a booking made about one month in advance, for a travel date in the height of summer – for 125 WSD plus about $37 in taxes. Since the booking was for two people, the savings ended up being pretty significant.
The catch is that Member Exclusive fares can only be booked using your WestJet Dollars balance. You can apply for either the basic or the World Elite version of the WestJet RBC MasterCard (receiving 50 or 250 WSD, respectively), and then top-up those balances by purchasing WestJet Dollars from Points.com.
Of course, you could also redeem Aeroplan miles for travel within Canada, but since Aeroplan miles can be so much more valuable when redeemed internationally for long-haul trips, it can make more sense to save them for their best possible uses, and instead use WestJet Dollars on domestic flights instead.
That’s why I say that the WestJet credit cards are ideally suited for those who travel domestically often. Alas, it’s tougher to find good value in redeeming WestJet Dollars on big international trips, and the loyalty program still has some way to go before it can effectively cater to those types of redemptions. So if you primarily take long-haul international trips and prefer to travel in premium cabins, then the use-case for WestJet Rewards may not be quite as strong for you.
If you are interested in one of the WestJet RBC MasterCards, I’d be grateful if you considered applying through my affiliate link, which helps to support Prince of Travel. You can apply for the basic WestJet RBC MasterCard ($39 annual fee, 50 WSD signup bonus, $199 companion voucher) through the following link:
And you can apply for the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard ($119 annual fee, 250 WSD signup bonus, $99/$299/$399 companion voucher) through the following link:
(Alternatively, until July 15, you can try to search Google for some even juicier offers on the World Elite card, or you can dig through your inbox for a recent Prince of Travel Insiders email 😉)
The basic WestJet RBC MasterCard receives little to no fanfare compared to the World Elite version, so individuals who don’t meet the minimum income requirements on the World Elite have largely been missing out on the benefits of WestJet Rewards. It’s nice to see WestJet and RBC spicing up the base-level card with a $199 companion voucher, which can deliver tremendous value for travellers under the right circumstances.