Following in the footsteps of many of its fellow Canadian credit card issuers, the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard will be offering an elevated earning rate on select categories of spending throughout the summer.
Compared to its peers, however, WestJet is shaking things up and doing things a little differently. Upon registering your card for this offer, you’ll be able to choose between earning the double bonus points on all your grocery and restaurant spending in the form of WestJet Dollars, pure statement credit, or a direct donation. Let’s go over all the details.
3% Return on Groceries and Restaurants
From now until September 30, 2020, the regular earning rate on your WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard or base-level WestJet RBC MasterCard will be doubled when you spend up to $10,000 per card on groceries and restaurants. The extra rewards you earn will be provided in whichever way you choose: WestJet dollars, a statement credit, or a direct donation to Food Banks Canada help support your community.
Because you’ll need to choose between the three options, you’ll need to first register for this offer with your 16-digit card number and your WestJet Rewards ID. Only after registering will the bonuses apply.
As a reminder, the usual earning rates on the these cards for general purchases are:
1.5% WestJet Dollars on the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
1% WestJet Dollars on the base-level WestJet RBC MasterCard
Therefore, when the earning rate is doubled on grocery and restaurant purchases, you’ll effectively have the option of earning:
An incremental 1.5% in WestJet Dollars, statement credit, or a donation to Food Banks Canada on the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, for a total return of 3%
An incremental 1% in WestJet Dollars, statement credit, or a donation to Food Banks Canada on the base-level WestJet RBC MasterCard, for a total return of 2%
Whether or not a certain merchant will count as a grocery store or restaurant will depend on how MasterCard codes the transaction. Most of the grocery brands we’re familiar with should count; however, wholesale businesses like Costco, alcohol retailers like SAQ or LCBO, and general merchandise retailers like Walmart will not count.
Meanwhile, eligible restaurants are classified under MasterCard merchant category codes 5812 and 5814, which most physical restaurants should fall under. However, the treatment of food delivery services may vary: WestJet’s terms and conditions state that orders at eligible restaurants through Uber Eats and DoorDash are eligible, whereas food delivery orders placed through Skip the Dishes are not eligible.
Additionally, purchases at restaurant merchants whose primary business is not food sales (including bars, taverns, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs), as well as purchases through a third-party or on an online marketplace, will not qualify.
A maximum of $10,000 in spending on groceries and restaurants will be counted towards the doubled earning rate; any purchases beyond that limit will revert to the standard earning rate. However, WestJet notes that this limit applies per cardholder, and supplementary cardholders (which come with an annual fee of $59) are counted separately.
In terms of the processing times:
Bonus WestJet Dollars will be deposited into your WestJet Rewards account with the month-end statement, along with the regular WestJet Dollars you earn
Statement credits will post to your online credit card account within 3–5 business days after the transaction is posted
The donation will be calculated at the end of the offer period after August 31
Now, which of the three bonus options would be the best?
If we think about it, the Food Banks Canada donation, while a noble cause, is strictly less flexible than the statement credits, because you could always choose to donate your cash-back return to the charity as well (or to any charity of your choosing). In fact, you’d get a tax receipt for the donation in that case, whereas in general you wouldn’t receive one when donating loyalty points.
Therefore, in my view it comes down to a choice between bonus WestJet Dollars and statement credits. Now, if WestJet’s Member Exclusive fares were still available at the moment, then that would represent a very good opportunity to get a higher than 1:1 return on your WestJet Dollars.
However, with the Member Exclusive fares being paused at the moment (which I’ll expand upon later in this article), the only remaining way to redeem WestJet Dollars in the near-term would be to apply them 1:1 towards the cost of a WestJet flight. And that’s also going to be strictly less flexible than statement credits, because you could always choose to use your cash-back return to buy WestJet flights, or to spend in any other way you desire.
Therefore, the statement credit option is the most appealing to me, as it provides the greatest degree of flexibility. The promotion certainly does a good job of catering to those of you who might prefer cash more than points at the moment, especially as the line between cash and points grows ever-blurrier these days.
350 WestJet Dollars Extended to October 31
The promotion is valid for new WestJet RBC World Elite cardholders as well, as long as they register their card upon receiving and activating it.
To that end, there’s some more good news to report: the elevated offer of 350 WestJet Dollars, originally set to end on June 30, has now been extended to October 31, 2020. You’ll earn 350 WestJet Dollars upon first purchase (with no minimum spending required); along with the companion voucher, free first checked bag, and free onboard wifi, the card’s overall benefit package more than offsets the $119 annual fee.
You can watch my YouTube video on this card to learn more about its features:
As I mention in the video, I view the WestJet RBC World Elite as one of the simplest and most accessible ways for Canadian travellers to unlock excellent value from a single credit card, especially at a time when domestic travel is a greater priority than international travel.
And with many other credit card issuers choosing to lower their bonuses at the moment, it’s great to see WestJet and RBC extending the elevated offer throughout this period and continuing to entice new members to sign up.
If you haven’t gotten the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard at the moment and would like to apply, consider applying via our affiliate link to support the website.
What’s Happening with WestJet Member Exclusive Fares?
One point of uncertainty around the WestJet Rewards program is the future of the Member Exclusive fares. These represented easily the most valuable uses of your WestJet Dollars, but as of June 25, they have been paused until further notice.
I spoke to WestJet about this development last week, and learned that Member Exclusive fares are indeed merely paused, with the view to bring back an evolved program later this year (most likely towards the end of the year).
WestJet plans to enrich the Member Exclusive fares and make them more appealing for WestJet Rewards members by incorporating the ability to redeem for Premium and Business fares (including the lie-flat seats on their new Boeing 787 Dreamliners), as well as on their partner airlines like Delta, Air France/KLM, and Qantas.
Moreover, WestJet aims to incorporate the Member Exclusive fares more seamlessly with the rest of the customer experience and booking process; right now, the Member Exclusives are accessible only when checking off an unassuming checkbox on the main search engine, and WestJet hopes to make it a more central focus within the program at large.
Finally, there’s no confirmation yet as to whether the Member Exclusive fares will remain at their current fixed pricing levels, or if they’ll be returning in a different form. I suspect that part of the program will also be developed as a competitive response to what Air Canada offers in their new loyalty program, which is also scheduled to arrive at the end of the year.
Either way, given that WestJet has said it’s looking to develop their loyalty program into a more competitive offering, the new WestJet Member Exclusive fares are sure to provide more value than the baseline redemption option of applying WestJet Dollars at a 1:1 rate directly against the cost of a WestJet flight.
WestJet and RBC have come out with a tempting new offer for their MasterCard members, allowing them to earn rewards at double the usual rate on grocery and restaurant purchases throughout the summer and giving cardholders the flexibility in choosing WestJet Dollars, statement credit, or a direct donation for their bonus points.
For now, while the Member Exclusive fares are on pause, WestJet Rewards members may seek to derive value primarily from the 1:1 redemption rate and the companion voucher instead as they look to travel domestically throughout the rest of 2020.
Meanwhile, WestJet has promised to bring back Member Exclusive fares in a richer, more evolved form, giving us much to look forward to as both of Canada’s two largest airlines prepare to roll out new loyalty offerings towards the end of the year.