Ranked as the number two airline credit card in Canada, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard was last reviewed by Rewards Canada in 2016, six years after it was introduced in 2010 and since it has been another six years the review is due for an update! The card for Canada's second largest airline has proven very popular with Canadians as it was one of the first cards to offer an annual companion pass and first checked bag free benefit. In fact in our discussions with many readers and the general public many actually get the card for those two reasons rather than for earning the actual WestJet dollars with the card.
Read our old review here: WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard Review (Old 2016 version)
The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is the co-brand card for the WestJet Rewards frequent flyer program. The card was launched in 2010 with RBC and has always been a decent travel rewards card option for WestJet travel. It is the ideal card for individuals who travel on WestJet regularly and check bags as well as for couples or families who travel on WestJet at least once per year. There is one other versions of the card, the WestJet RBC Mastercard which is more of an entry level card with a lower annual fee that has lower earn rates and doesn't provide as many benefits.
The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard comes with a $119 primary card annual fee which is now on the lower end as we have seen more of these premium cards bump up their annual fees. Supplementary cards are only $59 each which is higher than most competing cards that charge $50 for each additional card but lower than its most direct competitor the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card.
Typically, the standard welcome bonus offer on this card is 250 WestJet Dollars however right now the welcome bonus on the card offers up to 450 WestJet Dollars. With this limited time welcome bonus you'll earn 250 WestJet dollars on your first purchase with the card and an additional 200 when you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
The interest rate on the card is 19.99% on purchases. 22.99% on cash advances and balance transfers. These rates are equivalent to or below many cards at this level. As it is a World Elite Mastercard, the card does have higher annual income requirements of $80,000 personal or $150,000 household.
The card earns WestJet dollars and earns those dollars as follows:
The card had a new earn benefit added to it in 2021 called Status Lift. Status Lift is a response to the 2020 changes to the Aeroplan co-brand cards which started offering elite status qualifying points when you hit certain spend levels on the cards. Status lift works the same way, you will be awarded with $500 in WestJet elite status qualifying spend for every $15,000 spent on the card between January 1 and December 31 each year. You can earn up to $1,500 in qualifying spend each year ($45,000 in card spending) which on its own is half of the requirement for Silver elite tier status.
|Spending Category||Percent earned per dollar spent||Effective Rate of return (Travel)|
|WestJet & WestJet Vacations||2%||2%|
|All other spending||1.5%||1.5%|
As this is a co-brand airline card you guessed it, the dollars you earn on this card are redeem for flights on WestJet through the WestJet Rewards program. WestJet's program works more like a cash back program rather than your traditional frequent flyer programs which have or had set mileage award charts. One WestJet dollar is equivalent to one Canadian dollar and you can redeem them when you have as little as 15 WestJet dollars in your account. When you redeem you are buying an actual ticket from WestJet (not an award ticket like your traditional frequent flyer programs) for cash and then applying WestJet dollars towards that ticket as a discount. So if you buy a ticket for $450 and have 125 WestJet dollars you can apply that amount to the ticket and end up paying $325 plus any taxes and fees. Just like virtually all frequent flyer programs you cannot use WestJet dollars toward the taxes and fees portion of the tickets.
WestJet Rewards also has a flight redemption option called Member Exclusive Fares. These are sort like WestJet's take on the traditional frequent flyer reward chart as you need to have the full amount of dollars to redeem for them. When they were first introduced they provided excellent value (such as $99 one way in Canada) and you could also redeem for flights on partner airlines like Qantas. However more recently WestJet revamped this redemption option and the potential outsized value it provided has disappeared. The new incarnation of Member Exclusives Fares is akin to a small discount on the fare you would normally pay if you were just using cash. Sure a discount is great but the competitiveness of this option when compared to other programs is no longer there. At the time these were changed WestJet also removed the option to redeem for travel on their partner airlines. There are still ways you can use WestJet dollars on airlines like Air France, Delta and Qantas and that is to book a WestJet codeshare on those airlines, in those cases you can redeem WestJet dollars towards the fare.
Finally you can also redeem your WestJet dollars for vacation packages booked via WestJet Vacations.
This is the area where this card shines as it has some great features and benefits that are particularly useful to those who fly with WestJet. Two of those key benefits are the first checked bag free and the annual companion voucher and these are what make this card popular. I remember being at my kid's sporting events and the other parents on the team telling me that's why they have this card. Some get it for the free bags others for the companion fare and of course, for some it is for both of those benefits.
When you hold the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard, you and up to 8 guest travelling on the same reservation can each check your first bag for free. That is at least a $30 savings per person per direction of flight. If you have a family of four and you all check bags in both directions on a round trip that's $240 in savings right there. The crazy thing is you don't even have to purchase those actual flight tickets on your WestJet RBC World Mastercard! So long as you are a cardholder, which will be identified by your WestJet Rewards number you can take advantage of this benefit.
The second and potentially most valuable benefit that this card comes with the annual Companion Voucher. That's right it's annual - not just limited to a one time welcome bonus like this card's biggest competitor and not with an annual spend requirement to earn it like others. You get it each year when you pay your annual fee on the card and it can provide some amazing value. Prior to March 2016 this offer was limited to Canada and the Continental U.S. but that was expanded to be able to use on any WestJet operated flight. The way it works is that when you purchase one ticket with WestJet you can get a companion ticket for as a little as $119. If you don't have this card right now and get it by March 7, 2022 your first companion voucher will waive that fee for Canada, Continental U.S., Hawaii or Mexico as part of the current welcome bonus (As detailed above). After that or if you already have this card here are the annual companion ticket options (prices don’t include taxes, fees and charges):
The cost of two tickets without the voucher
The cost of two tickets with the voucher
In the above example the voucher provides a $565 savings. Not bad considering the card only costs you $119 per year and then you have to take into account the card will save you on your bag fees on this flight as well!
One more example, here is Calgary to London Heathrow in Premium Economy on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner:
The cost of two tickets without the voucher
The cost of two tickets with the voucher
Here you have $918.50 in savings just from the voucher. That's over seven years of annual fees saved in one fell swoop on this card and you still get this voucher each and every year.
If you are a family of four or more, and do fly WestJet, Rewards Canada recommends that two people in the family each get their own card (not a supplementary card but rather own account) as that would provide you with two companion vouchers to use each year. To learn more read the following article:
Recommended reading: Why my wife and I each grabbed our own WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercards
WestJet also provides the option to exchange your annual round-trip companion voucher for 4 business class lounge vouchers.
The card also has a strong insurance package that places it in the middle of the road with its competitors. It includes emergency medical insurance (15 days for those 64 and under; 3 days for 65+), travel accident insurance, trip interruption insurance, hotel and rental car insurance. Plus it also has extended warranty and purchase protection. Some key insurances it is missing compared with competing cards are baggage insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
As with the majority of World Elite Mastercards in Canada, the card offers Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey. This means you get free membership in LoungeKey which is a lounge access program that is pretty much the same as Priority Pass (they are both run by the same company) While the card covers your annual membership it does not cover the actual lounge visit fees which are currently US$32 per person.
Finally another benefit to be aware of with this card is unlimited free Wi-Fi through Boingo at over 1 million hotspots worldwide for up to four devices and this includes Wi-Fi on WestJet and several other airlines.
The ultimate guide to accessing business class lounges for Canadians!Check it out here
The current limited time welcome bonus of up to 450 WestJet dollars and the $0 companion fare! If we take the Toronto-Maui example from above that first year $0 companion fare would save you an additional $398.99 for a total savings of $964. Plus you could use the 450 WestJet dollars towards those flights as well for even more savings. And that brings us to the companion voucher in general. It is the most valuable benefit on this card and it is great that you get it every year without requiring any spend on the card other than paying your annual fee.
Next is the first checked bag free benefit, to save $30 or more per bag per direction is such a great benefit for those who buy fares that don't include checked bags. In fact by having the card, you can actually choose those lower fares to save some money.
The primary card $119 annual fee could also be seen as a good thing as we have seen many premium cards including some direct competitors bump up those primary card fees as high as $150 annually.
There are just a few things that are not so good about this card. The first is the earn rate, while 1.5% on the majority of purchases is equal to many competitors, the latter tend to have category spend accelerators (ie grocery, dining, recurring bills etc.) where you can really rack up to points and miles. This card's only accelerator, the 2% back is only good for WestJet purchases whereas other cards will award a similar amount or more on WestJet and other travel purchases including hotels, car rentals and so on. Take the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® for example, it earns 1.5% back on all non-travel purchases just like the WestJet card however if you make a WestJet or any other travel purchase on the HSBC card you'll actually get 3% back compared to the 2% on the WestJet card. On top of that with the HSBC (and many other cards) you are not limited to only redeeming with WestJet, you can redeem for a purchase with any travel provider. So that's something to take into consideration.
The second issue we have with the card is more so with the WestJet Rewards program and not the card itself but being a co-brand card these go hand in hand! This is an inherent issue with all co-brand cards as you are limited by the attached reward program. And with WestJet Rewards you are limited in the redemption options in terms of where and whom you can fly with. With the WestJet dollars you earn you are limited to only redeeming for WestJet flights or WestJet code-share flights on partner airlines. This limits the number of destinations you can get to using WestJet dollars (or portion thereof) and there is no outsized value in redeeming what you have earned like you can find with traditional frequent flyer programs (such as first class on Lufthansa).
Should you get this card? As is always the case it depends on your travel habits! If you travel on WestJet then in most cases the card will make sense but not always. If you are a solo traveller who rarely checks bags and who only flies WestJet once or twice per year you are better off getting a credit card that offers a higher return like the aforementioned HSBC Mastercard as you'll get a better return on your purchases that you can still redeem on WestJet flights. Being a solo traveller you won't make use of the companion voucher so you are better off with that higher earn elsewhere. However if you travel at least once a year with two or more people or as a single traveller frequently with checked baggage on WestJet then the card is a no-brainer as you can make use of the companion voucher and the first checked bag free benefits to save you a ton of cash. On the flip side if you travel to places that WestJet doesn't serve or their partners don't serve the card doesn't make much sense. With all that being said, at a minimum if you know you are going to fly WestJet at least once, and this goes for even that solo traveller as well you may want to get the card just to save on that one flight. How? Why? Well for the $119 annual fee you can get up to 450 WestJet dollars with the welcome bonus. This means you can save $311 on that one WestJet flight and then cancel the card. Don't tell them that we told you to do this though! ;-)
Overall this card makes great sense for a lot of Canadians who foresee themselves travelling on WestJet with a companion at least once per year or a few times per year individually. The benefits the card comes with are really second to none as no other card has a companion voucher offer like this (Can't compare the Alaska card as they serve so few cities in Canada) and very few have a checked bag benefit. When you get this card it isn't so much the WestJet dollars you earn on your everyday spending even though they will add up, it is about those two huge benefits it comes with.
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