WestJet Rewards offers a unique program that is very different from other frequent flyer programs. Instead of earning miles or points, you earn WestJet dollars that can essentially be exchanged dollar for dollar against your airline ticket.
Your points will never expire as long as you keep your account active once every 12 months. That is straightforward enough.
Earning WestJet Dollars
Aside from earning Dollars from flying. There are several other ways to earn with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), who has a strong partnership with WestJet.
Keep in mind that there is a current 15% transfer bonus promotion with RBC Rewards points, where 1,000 RBC Rewards points is equal to 11.50 WestJet dollars, instead of the usual 10 WestJet dollars. A minimum of 1,000 transfer points required between May 16, 2016 and June 19, 2016.
You can also keep your account active with a RBC cobranded WestJet credit card. Below are the highlights of their 2 credit cards:
- $99 annual fee
- $49 annual fee for a supplementary cardholders
- Earn $250 WestJet Dollars on your first purchase
- Earn 2% in WestJet Dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacation packages
- Earn 1.5% in WestJet Dollars on all other purchases
- Receive 1 annual round-trip companion voucher with choice of: $99 for Canada and the Continental United States, $299 for Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean or $399 for Europe (not including taxes, fees and charges)
- Earn 1 free checked bag on all WestJet flights
- $39 annual fee
- $19 annual fee for a supplementary cardholders
- Earn $50 WestJet Dollars on your first purchase
- Earn 1.5% in WestJet Dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacation packages
- Earn 1% in WestJet Dollars on all other purchases
Both credit cards are great ways to help you keep your account active. If you fly with WestJet a few times a year, I would definitely have the World Elite version in your wallet.
Also worth noting, you can also earn Earn 1% worth of WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on RBC Travel Insurance.
WestJet revamped its elite status program in 2014, which made it much more attractive. Here is a quick recap on some of the key highlights of each tier:
This is the basic level that everyone is enrolled in at the beginning.
- Earn 1% worth of WestJet Dollars for up to $1,499 a year in spending with WestJet
- Earn 3% worth of WestJet Dollars for spending between $1,500 and $3,999 a year with WestJet
- Earn $35 bonus WestJet dollars when passing the $1,500 spending threshold
This is the first elite status tier where the benefits begin to look attractive. You qualify after passing the $4,000 spending in a calendar year.
- Earn 5% worth of WestJet dollars for spending between $4,000 and $ 5,999 a year with WestJet
- Earn 4 free airport lounge vouchers
- Earn 4 advance seat selection vouchers
- Earn 1 free first checked bag
- Earn 1 roundtrip companion flight to anywhere in Canada
This is the highest elite status tier, after spending $6,000 or more in a calendar year.
- Continue to earn 5% worth of WestJet dollars for all spending above $6,000
- Earn 1 companion flight on any WestJet flight
- Earn 1 additional companion flight on any WestJet flight after hitting $10,000 of spending (earn additional companion passes for every $5,000 beyond)
- Earn 10 free airport lounge vouchers
- Earn 4 advance seat selection vouchers
- Earn free first and second checked bag
- No fee for same-day flight changes at check-in
- Priority security screening (at select airports)
- Advance boarding
No Hassle Rewards
Just like fixed reward credit cards. The reward redemption is very straightforward. It is dollar for dollar, with a minimum redemption of $25.
They advertise that there are no blackouts to worry about and no additional taxes and fuel surcharges to worry about. This is because you are purchasing your flight ticket first, and then reimbursing your ticket with WestJet dollars.
Because it is a fixed reward redemption, it makes a lot of sense when purchasing cheap tickets, but you cannot get additional value for business class reward redemptions as you would when redeeming miles with other frequent flyer programs.
Need a Shaken if it were to Join an Airline Alliance
I am on the fence about this because I do wish that WestJet would join an airline alliance. But that would mean that they would have to give this dollars model to be more in line with the rest of the industry. It may not be a bad thing to give up their model, but currently, I really like this as an alternative option to compete with other reward programs in Canada.
So for now, I think that leaving things be with WestJet is the way to go. They offer a competitive product as it stands. I see them as similar to the Alaska Airlines of the United States, on a smaller scale.
What I would suggest is to increase the number of co-share partners from the existing list of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Qantas where you can earn WestJet dollars when flying with them.