There’s a new offer on the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard that I think you should know about.
Under better circumstances, this offer would be a lot more exciting, but my enthusiasm about this offer is certainly dampened by the airline’s recent decision to strip away the value of its Member Exclusive offerings.
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at the details.
450 WestJet Dollars After $5K Spend
As part of this highest-ever public offer on the WestJet RBC World Elite, which lasts until January 31, 2021, you’ll earn a total of 450 WestJet Dollars (WSD) as part of the signup bonus:
- 250 WestJet Dollars upon first purchase
- 200 WestJet Dollars upon spending $5,000 in the first three months
- $119 annual fee
450 WestJet Dollars can be redeemed at a 1:1 ratio for $450 towards the base fare of any WestJet flight, so that’s its minimum value. Moreover, upon spending the $5,000 to meet the minimum spending, you’ll also have earned at least 75 more WestJet Dollars on that spending, so you’ll end up with a total of at least 525 WSD, redeemable for $525 towards the base fare.
Deduct the $119 annual fee, and the net value on the offer is $406, which makes it a competitive signup bonus on paper.
Of course, it’s highly regrettable that the recent changes to Member Exclusive fares made it exceedingly difficult to get any sort of elevated value from what would otherwise be a pretty juicy bonus.
Indeed, consider the fact that the previous edition of Member Exclusive fares would’ve allowed the user to book two round-trips to anywhere in Canada using the total of 525 WestJet Dollars they earn from this bonus.
And what will 525 WSD get you now? Well, you could use 380 of those WestJet Dollars to cover a Member Exclusive fare from Toronto to Calgary. Congratulations on unlocking $22.60 in savings after paying for the taxes and fees out-of-pocket.
That leaves you with 145 WSD… which you might wish to redeem on the next leg of your journey from Calgary to Vancouver. Looks like you could earn a further 4 WSD to unlock a Member Exclusive fare for 149 WSD, thus benefiting from a further $8.19 in savings…
…oh wait. Or you could just redeem whatever’s left of your WestJet Dollars against the Basic Economy fare here and save even more.
As you can see, the fundamental logic of what makes a loyalty program rewarding is totally absent in this new program, a point that’s been belaboured over and over again through all kinds of blog posts, comments, written complaints, and social media tweets.
The intention isn’t to be harsh, but to spur WestJet – an airline that remains well-positioned to compete in Canada, if it wishes to do so – into taking action and correcting what has clearly been a step in the wrong direction on the loyalty side. Until that happens, it’s hard to recommend that Canadian travellers should take the time to get involved with the program and earn WestJet Dollars if the value for them simply isn’t there.
With that context in mind, a net value of $406 on the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard upon finishing the minimum spending is still $406 saved on WestJet flights if you were going to buy them anyway (or perhaps even $414 saved if you manage to unlock those lofty $8 in savings). Some travellers, who may prefer to fly with WestJet anyway, could certainly see value in those $406 minimum savings.
However, I’d also note that one of the most appealing things about the WestJet RBC World Elite was the fact that there was historically no minimum spending attached to the bonus.
Now that there’s a $5,000 minimum spend attached to the full 450 WSD, that also takes away from the attractiveness of this offer, given that there are several other points currencies out there – which can consistently deliver value in the range of three or four figures, rather than one or two figures – where we might instead put our spending to good use.
Annual Companion Voucher, Free First Checked Bag, etc.
WestJet flyers may also find value in the WestJet RBC World Elite’s other perks, such as the annual companion voucher or the free first checked bag on WestJet flights.
Even though Member Exclusive fares have been stripped of their value, the companion fare remains a potentially compelling way for travellers who fly as a couple or as a family to save money on their WestJet flights. With the companion fare, the first passenger pays full price, and then the second passenger pays:
- A $119 base fare for travel to Canada and the continental US
- A $399 base fare for travel to the rest of the WestJet network
A poignant comparison can be made between WestJet’s companion fare and the Air Canada Buddy Pass that was introduced as part of the new Air Canada & Aeroplan credit card offers.
The main difference is that WestJet’s companion voucher is delivered year after year as an ongoing benefit, whereas the Air Canada Buddy Pass is only a welcome offer for new cardholders; on the other hand, WestJet does require a minimum of a $119 co-pay compared to Air Canada’s buy-one-get-one-free offer.
Moreover, note that as of 2021 WestJet will introduce the ability to exchange the companion voucher for lounge access vouchers, including their new WestJet Elevation Lounge in Calgary.
Meanwhile, the first free checked bag on WestJet flights applies to the primary cardholder and up to eight passengers travelling on the same reservation. On top of that, free Boingo wifi (the same provider that WestJet uses for onboard wifi) is also offered as part of Mastercard World Elite’s overall benefit package in Canada.
450 WestJet Dollars on the WestJet World Elite Mastercard is the highest public offer we’ve seen on this card.
It’ll be attractive to folks who regularly fly WestJet and would appreciate the $525 (or $533) in savings after spending $5,000 on the card, but for those of us who would’ve previously jumped at this offer enthusiastically with the promise of redeeming WestJet Dollars for high value on domestic flights, that excitement simply isn’t there anymore until WestJet listens to member feedback and fixes their program.
As always, don’t forget to let me know your thoughts about this offer in the comments.