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Why I’m Downright Obsessed with the WestJet Mastercard (9 year review)

Why I’m Downright Obsessed with the WestJet Mastercard (9 year review)

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Travel reward credit cards can be a great way to save money on travel, as long as you pick the one that’s right for you. My card of choice for the last 9 years has been the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard (which I’ll just call the WestJet Mastercard from here onward).

With so many options for credit cards these days, it’s hard to decide which one will yield the most perks.

You have to consider sign up bonuses, minimum spend in your first three months, annual fees and earn rates.

This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with WestJet or RBC and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Related reading: Travel Planning Made Easy: the Easy and Organized Method!

Is the Westjet Mastercard Worth It?

This is the question I get asked the most from my friends and family.

While there are lots of great websites that compare travel reward cards side by side, many don’t provide anecdotal information.

A lot of features look good on paper, but real world application sometimes proves otherwise.  

In this post, I’ll be sharing my in-depth personal experience and review of using the WestJet credit card for the last 9 years and help you get a better sense if it’s worth it for you based on your spending habits and travel preferences.  

To put it briefly, yes the Westjet mastercard is worth it for my household.

As it is the only credit card I use, I am able to earn Westjet dollars relatively fast, I use the companion fare every year, and we mostly fly only on Westjet airlines.

However, on a quick side note, that has started to change with the super low fares offered by Swoop Airlines lately (click to find out why we’re making the switch).

How Does the WestJet Mastercard Work?

Let’s start with a quick overview. For a quick snapshot of how the WestJet mastercard works, this infographic provides a quick overview.

Qualification Requirements and Annual Fees

As you can see by my infographic above, to qualify, you need to have annual income of $80,000 or a total combined income of $150,000. The annual fee is $120 per year.

Travel hack: If you travel frequently and if you and your spouse can afford it, sign up for your own WestJet mastercards, instead of paying $59 to have a second card on the same account.

This way you each get the 350 WestJet dollars (welcome bonus) and annual companion voucher.

*2022 Update: the sign up bonus is up to 450 WestJet dollars, making this credit card even more worth it in my opinion. With the entire global travel industry being majorly disrupted right now, I’m not sure whether this bonus will stick around.

Benefits of the WestJet Mastercard

Your sign up bonus includes $450 WestJet dollars. These are dollars for dollar toward your flight cost, and not a point system.

You’ll receive these dollars in your WestJet rewards account within about 6-8 weeks after you first use the card.

When I signed up 5 years ago, it took about 4 weeks for mine to show up.

Your WestJet dollars are viewable online, in your WestJet rewards account; it will not be a voucher in the mail.

And since this reward system is dollar for dollar, it’s easy to keep track of how much you can redeem on flights.

For example, if you have $450 WestJet dollars, you can redeem those for 450 dollars off of your flight.

This is one of the reasons I love using the WestJet system over other travel reward cards that use points.

How many dollars does 30,000 points give you? Who knows!

And if you’re strategic about it, this is a great card to sign up for to introduce yourself to the world of credit card churning for travel benefits.

Essentially, signing up for credit cards to take advantage of their sign-up bonuses and then closing the account once you’ve qualified.

If you’re careful about it, you can earn some serious travel rewards.

Free Checked Bags and Luggage

One of the best benefits of the WestJet mastercard is the free checked bags for you and up to 8 people you’re traveling with (as long as you booked everyone on the same flight itinerary).

When bags are $35 one-way, the savings add up fast.

For example, if it’s you and your spouse traveling together, without the WestJet credit card, it would cost you $70 each round trip.

So, if you only take one flight per year, you’re saving $140, which makes the annual fee a wash. And then any flight over and above you start saving money and earn reward dollars.

Flying with your dog? Here’s my review of the best WestJet approved pet carriers (including the one I use)

Companion Voucher

Another huge perk of the WestJet mastercard is one companion voucher per year. This can result in big cost savings for you and your travel partner.

The companion voucher means that as long as you book one regular priced round trip ticket, you can use a companion voucher for the person traveling with you.

This means that if you’re flying anywhere in Canada or the continental US, their seat will cost $99.

If you’re flying to Hawaii, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean, their seat will cost $299.

And finally, if your travels are taking you to Europe, it will cost $399 for your companion’s seat.

Keep in mind that you pay the companion fare plus any applicable taxes and airport fees.

Travel hack: Depending how often and where you fly will determine which destination is best to use your companion voucher on. Since you only receive one companion voucher per year, you have to be a little strategic.

If you only take one flight per year, you might as well use the companion voucher for that flight. But, if you’re planning to fly more often you’ll have to do a little pre-planning.

In my opinion, the companion fare is definitely worth using if you’re flying to Mexico, Hawaii or the Caribbean or to Europe.

On North American flights, it’s worth using on holidays (when travel costs are highly inflated) or to destinations that are further or more expensive to get to.

For example, I usually fly out of the Edmonton or Calgary airports, and flights to Vancouver or Phoenix are relatively low cost.

Before taxes and fees, the fare itself isn’t that much more than the $99 companion voucher fare.

So, if I know I’ll be traveling somewhere more expensive in the same year, I will use my vouchers for one of those flights.

You Might Also Like: 10 Famous Destinations Around the World That Can Be Found in Canada

Another thing to keep in mind is that the companion fare isn’t based on calendar year; it’s based on your anniversary date of sign up.

My companion voucher is renewed every April, for example. And this is a ‘book by’ date not a ‘travel by’ date.

In other words, as long as you book your flight before your annual companion voucher expires, you can still travel after its expiry and be eligible to receive your new voucher.

Does the Companion Voucher Make the WestJet Mastercard Worth It?

I also have another way to calculate whether or not the companion fare is worth using on a specific flight.

Open up the WestJet website as if you were to book a flight. Plug in your destination and travel dates but only do this for one adult.

Choose the departing and return flights and click through to the page where it gives you your total fare breakdown.

Here you can see the cost of the base fare and then all the applicable taxes and fees.

For example, in my screenshot below, the base fare is $492.98 and taxes and fees total $163.23. The cost for the first passenger is $656.21.  With the companion fare, you would add $99 plus $163.23 which equals $262.23.

So, for 2 people, without using your WestJet mastercard companion voucher, you would pay a total of $1312.42. Using the companion fare, you would pay $918.44.

In this scenario, you would be saving $393.98. So, in my opinion, saving almost $400 is totally worth it, not to mention the additional $150 dollars of savings in luggage fees.

How Fast Can You Earn WestJet Dollars

On everyday purchases you receive 1.5% back in reward dollars. When you book a WestJet flight or a WestJet vacation package you receive 2% back in WestJet dollars.

This also gets bumped up to a higher earn rate of 5% when you also use your WestJet rewards account which is free to sign up.

And about once every 6-10 weeks I receive an email from WestJet indicating that they’ve placed an extra 50 WestJet dollars in my account for 2 days only, which is another added incentive to save money on flights.

I earn a few hundred WestJet dollars each year by using my WestJet mastercard. While I don’t use my credit card for every single purchase, I do use it on most purchases over $100.

I also fly a few times per year which helps build my rewards account a little faster.

My biggest savings are when I combine my companion voucher and WestJet dollars. For example, we recently booked return flights to Mexico for a total of $750 round trip for the two of us.

I used the companion voucher and topped up with WestJet dollars to bring the cost down.

The other awesome benefit of using your WestJet mastercard to earn reward dollars, is that there are no blackout dates.

Meaning when you want to book flights around Christmas or any other holiday, you can still use your WestJet dollars, which can result in major savings.

Drawbacks to the WestJet Mastercard

There is a downside compared to 5 years ago when I first signed up. WestJet now has ‘econo’ fares as an option on most flights.

These are the cheapest fares, but it also means you won’t earn WestJet dollars on these fares. Now you have to pay slightly more for the ‘base’ fare to earn reward dollars. And that has translated into a slower earn rate for me.

To explain, when I come across a choice of an econo fare or a base fare, I do a little math and usually end up booking the econo fare and don’t earn WestJet dollars.

I recently booked a trip within Canada. If booked the econo fare for my husband and I, we would save $70 dollars compared to the price of the base fare, but would have only earned 16 WesJet dollars, a difference of 44 dollars.

In that scenario, it wasn’t worth paying an extra $44.

Another one of the WestJet mastercard limitations is that to use the companion fare, the cardholder must be on the same flight and reservation.

Meaning, you won’t be able to book a flight for someone else and use the companion fare if you’re not on the same flight. And companion fares are also only valid for round trips, not one-way flights.

Final Verdict on the WestJet Mastercard

Let’s recap and answer the question, is the Westjet RBC World Elite Mastercard worth it? In my opinion, yes it is.

To make the WestJet mastercard worth it, you should be earning more benefits than the value of the $120 annual fee.

When you sign up, the card is absolutely worth it in the first year, since the 350 WestJet dollar welcome bonus outweighs the $120 annual fee by $230.

And then in each year after that, as long as you fly on WestJet at least one a year with one or more people, than this card is worth it.

If you consider yourself a moderate or casual traveler, this card will serve you well.  

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