Today is a special day in the loyalty space, WestJet Rewards is celebrating their 10th anniversary. Normally, I wouldn’t get too excited about this milestone, but WestJet Rewards is one of the best travel rewards programs in Canada (if not the world in my opinion).
The reason why I think it’s so good is that it’s an easy to understand program since it uses a cash back type of rewards system and it seems to just get better every year. Yes, there were some devaluations recently, but I would argue that there are been more positive than negative changes in recent years. Trust me, that’s not normal!
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of WestJet Rewards, I spoke to d’Arcy Monaghan, Vice President Loyalty and Guest Strategy at WestJet and he shared some interesting things about the program including a special promo.
WestJet Rewards birthday surprises
- Silver status for this summer
- First 10 members that qualify will be upgraded to Gold status
- 20% off select sale base fares
From March 4-10, You can earn Silver status for this summer when you register and book a minimum of $800 qualifying spend on travel within Canada between April 14 – June 24. The first 10 members that qualify will be upgraded to Gold status. Check out the WestJet website to register.
In addition, you can save 20% off base fares on travel between Canada and the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. This deal applies to Basic & Econo fares only with travel dates between March 11 – April 30, 2020. There are blackout dates of April 8-10, 13, 2020. Details of this offer can be found here.
How WestJet Rewards has evolved over the last decade
During my chat with Monaghan, he gave me some context about WestJet Rewards and how it’s evolved over the years.
When you look at the loyalty landscape in Canada, WestJet is relatively young at just 10 years old but they have over 6.5 million members. Their growth since 2012 has been 40% so it’s clear that many people love WestJet Rewards.
“It’s unprecedented in the market with the growth we’re seeing,” said Monaghan. “Our co-branded credit card (the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard) has also seen significant growth with a 30% increase since 2014.”
There’s no denying that WestJet Rewards is a unique program since it pretty much uses a cash back program for their rewards. I don’t think there are any other airlines in the world that offer this type of loyalty program.
The recent changes to WestJet Rewards
If you haven’t heard, as of April 1, 2020, there are changes coming to the companion voucher that’s included annually as a benefit for WestJet RBC World Elite cardholders.
- The base fare companion voucher will now cost $119 CAD (up from $99) for base fares for round-trip travel to/from Canada and the continental U.S.
- The base fare companion voucher will now cost $399 CAD (up from $99) for base fares for round-trip travel to/from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Hawaii
A lot of people were really upset by this change, but Monaghan had a very interesting point.
“We have never raised the price of the companion voucher, it’s very unique in our program compared to our competitors. Since 2016, the revenue per available seat has gone up 60% on average in the market. We didn’t increase it to what we could have, we kept it a lot lower.”
WestJet is well aware that members are smart about how they use the companion voucher with many people booking trips to Hawaii during the winter peak season or during spring break. When booking premium seats, a couple could easily save $1,300 and that’s factoring in the new prices that are coming into effect in April.
It’s also a good time to point out that WestJet has made quite a few positive changes to their rewards program in 2019. A platinum tier was introduced which gives people 8% back in WestJet dollars on qualifying spending, it became easier to reach gold tier and you got extra seat selection vouchers, while silver tier members got an extra free bag and zone 2 boarding.
What WestJet Rewards members can look forward to
Monaghan told me that he’s very excited about the WestJet lounge that will be opening in Calgary’s airport later this year. He’s gone on the record saying that he thinks it’ll be the best domestic lounge in North America.
As a lounge snob, I can tell you that’s a bold statement. I’ve been in some excellent lounges including the American Express Centurion lounges in multiple cities. To be honest, as long as the lounge is better than Plaza Premium lounges, I’ll be happy. That said, I rarely fly out of Calgary so it’s not like I’ll get to enjoy this new lounge.
I was also told that the WestJet Rewards Platinum tier Facebook group has been a great source of info for the company. These are WestJet’s top consumers so they take their feedback very seriously. Some of the suggestions they’ve made have been implemented into WestJet Rewards. Every quarter, there’s a senior leader who can answer questions in the group. They’ve had people from loyalty, network planning, communications and planning involved so different departments can get a sense of how they’re doing.
WestJet Rewards at a quick glance
If you’re unfamiliar with WestJet Rewards, here’s a quick breakdown of the program. You’ll earn WestJet Dollars on WestJet flights, WestJet vacation packages, or cars and hotels booked on westjet.com. The amount of cash back you earn is based on your status.
- Teal status earns you 1% in WestJet dollars up to $2,999 in spend
- Silver status earns you 3% in WestJet dollars from $3,000 – $4,999 in spend
- Gold status earns you 5% in WestJet dollars from $5,000 – $7,999 in spend
- Platinum status earns you 8% in WestJet dollars and kicks in one you spend $8,000
As your status increases, you get additional benefits such as advanced seat selection, lounge passes, priority boarding, companion vouchers and more. Read my WestJet Rewards review now for the full details.
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
If you really want to turbocharge your earn rate, you should get the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard. Cardholders earn 1.5% in WestJet dollars on everyday purchases and 2% on WestJet flight and vacation purchases which stacks with your WestJet Rewards tier. That means you could earn up to 10% cash back in WestJet dollars if you’re a Platinum member. In addition, you get the following benefits:
- $250 WestJet dollars welcome bonus
- Annual round-trip companion voucher starting at $99
- First checked bag free for the primary cardholder and up to 7 additional guests
- Comprehensive travel insurance package
- Save 3¢/L on fuel and always earn 20% more Petro-Points when you link your WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
- Membership access to over 800 airport lounges worldwide with Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey (fees apply for lounge access)
When you look at what WestJet Rewards gives you and combine them with the benefits that come with their premium credit card, it’s really not that hard to see why it’s one of the best loyalty programs out there. The changes they’ve recently implemented have been mostly positive and there’s no denying that WestJet Rewards is an easy program to understand.