In this edition of Head-to-Head, we’ll take a look at two of the primary mass-consumer credit cards for Air Canada and WestJet: the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card and WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.
Despite the card similarities between the flagship co-branded credit cards of Canada’s two largest airlines, we’ll also look at the important differences to determine which card ultimately comes out on top.
1. Welcome Bonuses
One of the most compelling factors when deciding between two credit cards is the signup bonus.
The standard public offer for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is currently 25,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass, along with no annual fee the first year. Additionally, there is currently an in-path offer of 40,000 Aeroplan points and a $150 statement credit on Air Canada purchases.
Meanwhile, WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard currently offers $450 WestJet Dollars (WSD) and also waives the first year’s annual fee, until February 28, 2022.
It’s important to keep in mind that WestJet Dollars essentially have a fixed value equal to one dollar (tiny discounts via Member Exclusive fares notwithstanding), while Aeroplan points have a variable value based on your eventual redemption. Indeed, we value Aeroplan points at 2.1 cents per point (cpp) and WestJet Dollars at $1.02 per WSD.
Business class flights cost as low as 55,000 Aeroplan points for international flights, or as few as 6,000 points for a one-way short-haul flight in business class. This ability to redeem Aeroplan points for high-value business class and First Class flights makes them significantly more valuable than WestJet Dollars.
Furthermore, the WestJet RBC welcome bonus is structured as 250 WSD upon the first purchase, and another 200 WSD is earned after meeting the $5,000 minimum spending requirement, which may be steep for some individuals.
On the other hand, the TD Aeroplan card offers an initial 10,000 points after the first purchase on both the public offer and in-path offer, and has a minimum spend of only $1,000 to receive the additional 15,000 or 30,000 points on the public or in-path offer, respectively.
Verdict: While both cards have a strong welcome bonus, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card wins this category, as Aeroplan points are far more powerful. Both the public offer and in-path for TD offer superior welcome bonuses compared to the WestJet card.
2. Annual Fee
Both the Aeroplan and WestJet cards charge an annual fee upfront.
The TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa comes with an annual fee of $139, while the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard charges an annual fee of $119, making this comparison minor but fairly straightforward in WestJet’s favour.
Verdict: The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard has the more favourable annual fee and is cheaper by $20.
3. Earning Rates
The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard has an earning structure of 2% back on flights and vacations and 1.5% back on all other purchases, paid out in WestJet Dollars.
Meanwhile, the TD Aeroplan card offers 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar on groceries and gas and 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Verdict: In nominal terms, it appears that the WestJet RBC World Elite does better on most purchases, while the two cards are tied for grocery and gas. However, as mentioned previously, we value Aeroplan points much higher than WestJet Dollars.
Indeed, factoring in our valuations, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite earns a minimum 2.1% return, beating out the WestJet RBC’s maximum 2.04% return. The TD Aeroplan card scores a victory here thanks to the inherent strength of Aeroplan points.
4. Ease of Redeeming
You can apply WestJet Dollars towards the base fare of a WestJet flight as long as you have a minimum of 15 WestJet Dollars in your account. For WestJet Vacations packages, a minimum of 50 WestJet Dollars per booking applies.
(Note that for flights purchased with a Member Exclusive fare, the entire base fare for all guests on the booking must be paid with WestJet Dollars.)
Redeeming Aeroplan points has become easier as the program now allows for Points + Cash redemptions; however, you’ll still need 60% of the required Aeroplan points price in order to lock in a redemption.
Verdict: WestJet wins in this category due to the simplicity of its redemption structure and the lower minimum amount required to redeem.
5. Foreign Transaction Fees
Both the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and the WestJet RBC World Elite have a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, so they tie in this department.
Verdict: Both cards are equally disappointing in continuing to levy foreign transaction fees even though they’re geared towards travellers. Whichever issuer makes a first move in offering No FX Fees would surely earn a strong advantage in this comparison.
Perks and Benefits
Premium travel cards typically justify their hefty annual fees through their travel perks, so let’s see how Aeroplan and WestJet’s flagship cards stack up.
1. Free Checked Bags
Both credit cards offer free checked baggage for the primary cardholder and up to eight additional guests who are travelling on the same reservation.
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite also extends this benefit to supplementary cardholder, while the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard does not – giving the TD Aeroplan card an edge.
2. Companion Voucher
While the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite’s Air Canada Buddy Pass is a one-time benefit as part of the signup bonus, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard instead offers a companion voucher as an ongoing annual benefit, which is important to factor in when comparing the cards long-term.
As a promotional benefit and a competitive response to Air Canada, the WestJet RBC World Elite comes with a $0 companion voucher in the first year, and will require the standard $119 base fare in subsequent years.
3. Lounge Access
Meanwhile, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite does not offer any type of lounge access benefit, while WestJet allows you to convert a companion voucher into four lounge passes if you wish, marking another win for WestJet in terms of optionality.
4. Onboard Wi-Fi
As a World Elite Mastercard, WestJet’s credit card offers free Boingo Wi-Fi on WestJet flights and other airlines that use Boingo.
On the other hand, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite (or indeed any of the TD Aeroplan credit cards) does not offer any free Wi-Fi, making WestJet the clear winner here.
5. Elite Status via Spending
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite earns Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) to contribute to Aeroplan Elite Status. For every $10,000 spent on the card, the cardholder earns 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS to get them closer to the next tier of elite status.
Meanwhile, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard has recently introduced a similar new “Status Lift” benefit. For every $15,000 spent on the card, the cardholder earns $500 in qualifying spend towards a higher level of WestJet Rewards status, up to a maximum of $45,000 spent and $1,500 in qualifying spend earned.
On the surface, WestJet’s Status Lift offers a more meaningful boost in elite-qualifying criteria for the same level of spending – after all, $1,500 in status-qualifying spend is 50% of the $3,000 required to earn WestJet Silver status, while a corresponding $45,000 in spending would only earn you 4,000 SQM or 4 SQS towards Aeroplan Elite Status.
However, this comparison is flipped on its head when we consider one key additional component: spending on the TD Aeroplan card can also get you closer to entry-level Aeroplan 25K status by earning 100,000 Aeroplan points through eligible sources via Everyday Status Qualification, while the WestJet Rewards program includes no such option to earn status exclusively based on spending.
5. Other Benefits
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite gives preferred pricing and discounts on Aeroplan flight redemptions, while the WestJet RBC World Elite doesn’t offer any type of preferred pricing model for cardholders when booking WestJet flights.
6. Cardholder Promotions
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has put on some pretty strong promotions in the recent past, such as 20% points back on Aeroplan redemptions or up to 20x points on Air Canada flight purchases. WestJet has offered much fewer and weaker promotions in comparison.
Both cards are currently offering limited-time promotional offerings with food delivery services. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite gives you six months of free Uber Pass membership, while the WestJet RBC World Elite offers 12 months of free DoorDash DashPass membership.
Verdict: Looking over the card benefits as a whole, the two cards are fairly evenly matched. Both products offer free checked bags on their respective airlines, while WestJet’s ongoing annual companion pass and free Wi-Fi edge out the TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa’s limited offerings in those arenas.
While I’d say that the WestJet card’s benefit package is a shade stronger in terms of everyday travel perks, TD holds the edge in some of the more niche cardholder benefits, like being able to spend your way to elite status and consistent cardholder promotions that incentivize further engagement on the card.
1. Supplementary Cards
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite cardholders may add an additional cardholder for $75, while the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard allows an additional cardholder for $59.
Under the current welcome bonuses, the TD Aeroplan card includes a First Year Free offer on the first authorized user as well, as long as it’s added at the time of application.
Verdict: While the WestJet RBC World Elite has a lower authorized user fee, it’s worth noting that the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite extends more benefits, such as the free first checked bag, to the authorized user as well.
Which one you prefer will depend on whether you’re adding an additional card for the convenience of having a shared account or the upside of sharing cardholder benefits.
2. Travel Insurance
Both credit cards offer a competitive package of travel insurance, but there are a few key differences.
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite provides longer travel medical coverage for up to 21 days on out-of-province trips, or four days if you’re 65 or older.
Meanwhile, the WestJet RBC World Elite only covers you for the first 15 days or three days if 65 and older.
The TD Aeroplan card includes mobile device insurance, while WestJet does not. Furthermore, both cards offer up to $5,000 per person in trip interruption insurance, although the TD Aeroplan also includes trip cancellation interruption while the WestJet card does not.
In the case of lost or delayed baggage, WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard only covers $500 in emergency purchases after a four-hour delay, while the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite covers a higher $1,000 maximum, although only after a six-hour delay. Note that you could also be covered under the Montreal Convention on an international flight.
Both cards’ insurance policies also apply on trips booked through their respective loyalty currencies: flights booked on Aeroplan points when you pay for the taxes and fees with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, and flights booked using WestJet Dollars in the case of the WestJet card.
Verdict: On balance, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite’s insurance package is slightly stronger, with a longer period of medical insurance coverage and a wider range of insurance types.
3. Ease of Getting Approved
As a Visa Infinite product, annual income requirements for the TD Aeroplan card are set at $60,000 for an individual and $100,000 as a household.
Meanwhile, as a World Elite Mastercard, the WestJet RBC credit card has a higher minimum income level of $80,000 per individual or $150,000 as a household.
Verdict: While TD has a lower published income requirement, many applicants have recently reported challenges with TD’s application system and being denied for cards despite meeting all published criteria and maintaining excellent credit scores.
This strict approval process on TD’s part leaves this criterion as a tie between both cards.
4. Visual Appearance
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card went through a design refresh in November 2020, switching to a more minimalistic design. The 16-digit card number has been removed from the front of the card, creating a sleek, higher-end look compared to the WestJet RBC World Elite.
Verdict: TD’s recent redesign as part of Aeroplan’s relaunch gives it a much snazzier look.
Despite some meaningful advantages in the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard‘s favour, like an ongoing companion pass benefit, free Wi-Fi, and convertible lounge vouchers, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card holds the edge in terms of the overall value proposition due to their superior travel insurance coverage, stronger cardholder engagement, and ultimately the much more valuable nature of Aeroplan points vs. WestJet Dollars.
Having said that, there’s a strong case to be made for having both cards in your wallet, especially if you live in a city served by both of Canada’s two largest airlines and would like to take advantage of both of their offerings along your domestic and international travels.