Thursday, March 4, 2010

WestJet Frequent Guest Program Review

I have done a complete review of the WestJet program, it is quite long so I will not post all of it here, as well you can see in the previous post a quick overview. However please post your comments, good,bad or neutral below. WestJet does read our blog and they are known as a very proactive company when it comes to comments from their Guests.

The complete review is on our main Rewards Canada site, you can read it here

Here is an excerpt:
Key Features
The biggest feature with the WestJet Frequent Guest Program is no black out dates. As long as seats are available (ie for sale on the website) then you will be able to redeem for them. There are no black out dates and there is no limit to number of seats per flight or per route like legacy frequent flyer programs. Although most legacy programs have introduced access to all seats at all times it requires more miles, typically double the base requirement or more whereas with WestJet the value of your rewards remains the same regardless of the ticket value.

Jet-Away bonus rewards are an interesting way to reward members without giving away tons of dollars and relatively unique to the Frequent Flyer Program industry but again they are taking a page from the credit card industry where numerous cards offer complimentary companion tickets. With these rewards however WestJet is keeping revenue in mind as you have to buy a ticket to go along with the companion ticket.

The WestJet Frequent Guest Program allows for transfers between members for a flat $20 fee, compared to most frequent flyer programs that have a base fee plus a certain amount of cents per miles transferred.

Overall what is good about programs like the WestJet program is that you don't have to have a lot of points to redeem and get some sort of reward versus the set point programs like most frequent flyer programs where you need a minimum amount of points to redeem for a flight.

Downfalls
The $1500 annual spend level will keep the ultra-leisure traveller away unless they get the RBC MasterCard. The spending is also per person, so if you think, by booking your family of four a trip and spending $1600 in base fares reaches the first level, think again, each person will only have $400 towards the first level.

The main downfall of the credit card type or WestJet type of program is that value is lost when you have to redeem for expensive/non-seat sale flights as you have to redeem more points versus the set point programs which require the same amount of points for a flight regardless of what it is selling for (of course this is the best case scenario not taking into account black out dates, availability etc)

As well the credit card is right in the middle of the pack as the 1.5% return on the World MasterCard version falls below cards like the Capital One Miles Plus and Diners Club MasterCards, but is equal to cards like the TD Travel Visas.

The 12 month annual spend levels will make it tough for the less frequent flyer to accrue WestJet Dollars. While Aeroplan has a 12 month inactivity rule, all you have to do is earn 1 or redeem 1 mile to keep your account and balance active and growing. With WestJet if you don't hit that $1500 in the 12 month period, say you spend $1350, you won't get anything.

The 5 Year expiry on your earned dollars is about average for the industry but only for programs that have life span regulations on earned miles/dollars. Many Asian frequent flyer programs have a 3 year life span and in Canada Aeroplan has a 7 year life span while others have no life span as long as you have activity in your account.

No online capabilites for redemption yet, that will come soon but in the meantime it means calling WestJet to take care of bookings when you want to redeem WestJet dollars.


Once again, you can read the complete review here

25 comments:

  1. I just did a quick comparison of what you get at the first reward level, for WestJet you spend $1500 in base fares and get a $50 credit. With Air Canada for $1500 in base fares I can do a round trip to Hong Kong from YYC and then a round trip from YYC to YWG and earn just over 15,000 Aeroplan Miles, which is good enough for one short haul reward ticket which could be worth as much as $300 before taxes, or 6 times more then the WestJet dollars.

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  2. But if you look at similar flights like YYC-YYZ, you could fly around 3-4 round trips for a $1500 base spend and get the $50 credit with WestJet or 10,000-13,000 Aeroplan miles which you wouldn't be able to redeem for flights.

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  3. superdawg: look at it differently. People save their points for years trying to obtain a good reward. Three years savings of that scenario gives you $150 WJ dollars total, whereas three years flying with AC will get you enough miles to fly to Hawaii. Hmm....

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  4. One thing that is not 100% clear on the WestJet site is if you earn WestJet dollars on flights you are redeeming those dollars for. All I find is this: "Eligible published fares exclude: reward program redemption" which could mean the WestJet Program and/or Air Miles.

    Because if you can't it got me thinking more about the RBC WestJet card and that it could also have been a better proposition... why? Take the following example:
    - A person spends $100,000 in a year on their WestJet RBC World MasterCard and they get $1500 in WestJet dollars to be redeemed at WestJet but do not earn WestJet dollars on the flights.
    - Then take a TD Visa cardholder, they spend $100,000 and get $1500 to use on any booking anywhere, they book on WestJet.com, call up TD and redeem points against that booking plus since the flight was paid for (not redeemed) they get value towards there annual spend with WestJet and potentially 2.5% back in WestJet dollars. Same goes for the Capital One MasterCard and DinersClub Cardholders except they redeem for even less spending then the TD Visa.

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  5. Totally underwhelmed by the WestJet offer. However, the aeroplan program has devalued it's offerings for points and manipulated flights and their messaging to the extent that I am fed-up and moving to $ per points system. It won't be WestJet but I'll still fly WestJet over AC when possible.

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  6. this program isn't too exciting...between the move to the booking engine and now this? I just received another email from Westjet telling me that my newly created account from their last change has to be changed again...yes, a rambling rant here but I feel like Westjet is rambling with their new program. I feel like they are trying to get me onto Air Canada flights.

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  7. The blog says the new Westjet program is "in the middle". I disagree. I say it's near the bottom. Yes, the RBC MC may have the same return rate (1.5%)as cards like the TD travel Visa, but with the RBC card you're locked into Westjet, with TD you can redeem for ANY travel.

    The article also keeps saying that after you surpass $1500 in annual spending, you begin to accrue at 2.5%. This is not quite as straight-forward as that. It's my understanding that you must reach the $4500 level to get the next reward level. If you spend $4000/year with Westjet, you still only get the $50 reward.

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  8. $4000 will get you the $50 plus $62.50 ($2500 x .025), the $4500 you get some Bonus WestJet dollars and the Canadian Jet-away. The way the program is set up and written makes it a little confusing.

    You are correct in the that the TD card you can redeem for any travel, whereas this one is only WestJet however in terms of cards like Scotiabank, ATB, Desjardin etc, the return is only 1%, so that is why I put it somewhere in the middle. There are lots of cards that are better and there are lots of cards that are worse.

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  9. I have the Westjet card and like it fine except for one thing. The online account services for checking and downloading transactions is absolutely pathetic. When the card came out, it took several months before transactions were even accessible online, and now it seems you can only download the past three months. It's almost bad enough to make me look for another card. Our previous CIBC card was much better in this regard.

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  10. Sorry, the Westjet Reward Program is a total joke. Totally useless. I tavel on business more than 8 months a year and already spent 000's of $$$ with Westjet. Wow, I got a free companion ticket...big deal, the rules are (nicely hidden)I have to travel with the conpanion at the same time. So in short, I have to pay the ticket for myself to get my companion fly with me...why would my companion go to a place where I do business all day long...pretty boring. Flying to the very limited vacation destinations they offer is another problem using a companion ticket. Conclusion, compared to other Frequent Flyer Program (such as Delta, the WesJet frequent flyer program is useless.
    ..and Customer Service, well it fits the Reward Program, useless as well.....

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  11. I travel on WestJet maybe 2-3 times per year. After reading about the $1500 spend limit, this may not be for me.

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  12. WestJet rewards stops when you reach the $ 7,500 milestone. No more rewards! I reached this in 6 months and I need to wait until my membership year iss over to start over again!

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  13. @Anonymous

    According to my WestJet contact that is not correct. The Bonuses end at $7500 but you continue to earn 2.5% WestJet Dollars on all your spending above this level.

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  14. Tired of West JetApril 3, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    A total joke I fly my 3 kids from Calgary to Hamilton 2-3 times per year and spend 1500 per trip, so 3000-4500 per year and because I cannot claim them together (which means I need to open an account for my 6, 7 and 15 year old kids) in order to try to reach 1500 spend on all 3...Westjet IMO has been going downhill for the last couple of years, before you could pay cash for stuff on the plain, you can't anymore, you used to be able to reserve your seats for free, now they charge you...it's a money grab everytime I fly with them and now this joke of a program has sent me to Air Canada for good because with the 3000-4500 I will spend every year on my kids flights I can get Aeroplan miles from Calgray to YYZ, so what if I have to drive 45 minutes to Pearson, at least I get rewarded for my efforts. Congrats West Jet you just lots my support.

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  15. The $1,500 requirement was removed in fall of 2011 so you now earn WestJet dollars right from your first spend with WestJet

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  16. This card now should be compared against Alaskan Airlines.. $75 annual fee vs $99 westjet elite world mastercard. WJ has now changed the World Mastercard to the "Elite World MC" and has changed the benefits. Each now has an annual companion ticket. Alaskan Air program points do not expire...so now Rewards Canada should take a look at this

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  17. Now that Westjet has partnered with American Airlines, you can get American Aadvantage miles by flying on Westjet. Since the AA program earns points based on distance and not on the cost of the ticket, you can earn a lot more miles this way.

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    1. Check out our post on when this was announced:

      http://blog.rewardscanada.ca/2012/06/now-earn-westjet-dollars-on-all.html

      Without going into huge details (I'll save that for another post) I would say that the WestJet program is better for those people who do not fly too much but for those who fly semi-regularly or in business/first class then AAdvantage is the way to go.

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  18. what the ....! How confussing.after reading all the comments its not favoring Westjet and i was seriously thinking of signing up for the plan and RBC card but not convinced now!!So now what is the best credit card to get for someone who flies at least once a month now that I work in the oil patch. ALCOTRAZ

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    1. I would say you would be better off with a card like the TD Visa Infinite or Platinum Card, the new Scotia Amex cards, the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard (when it returns), Cap One Aspire or the Amex Gold Rewards Card as you can redeem points for WestJet bookings and still earn WestJet dollars on the actual flight but not be tied into WestJet as all those cards let you book travel how you want and them redeem the points against the charge. Basically you are in control of what airline, hotel etc you use. The one advantage of the WestJet card coming in October will be the $99 companion ticket option

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  19. I've been on the Westjet program for 2 years. I spent $5000 in year one and 7000 in year two. The companion fare you use at the 4500 level was useless to me. I travel on business and I can't think of a reason for someone to travel with me to Edmonton or Winnipeg. The international companion fare my wife and I used to go to Hawaii. I had accumulated $430 in my account over 2 years. The flights were $500 each. Taxes were $122 each. So we paid $314 for 2 flights to Hawaii as a reward for spending $12000 over 2 years. Not an overwhelming experience. I assume it will take me 2 more years to do the same. Also, we could have flown out of Bellingham, Washington (1 hour away) for $600-700 for the both of us. Wesjet fares are not cheap. So the companion deal often doesn't make sense because when you add up the fare you have to pay for and the taxes for you both, it winds up costing the same as another airline, sometimes out the the US, sometimes our of YVR. I switched from Aeroplan to Westjet because one disadvatage of AC is you have to fly Tango Plus to earn any real miles. Internationally thats okay, because that's their base fare, but if you fly in Canada, the Tango fare is much cheaper (same as Westjet).

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  20. I love the Westjet progam. I got the credit card and signed up for the frequent flyer number. Since March of this year, I have booked over $7000 in flights and they also had a March through December promotion..if you booked more than $6000 in flights during that period, you get $500 westjet dollars. So far since joining, I have accumulated just under $2000 Westjet dollars, just for flying Westjet. Also, if you go over $6500 in flights for your qualifying year, you get a system wide flight for free AND a Canadian jetaway. I have also accumulated 8 lounge passes, 16 free seat selections. The lounge passes are awesome, free drinks, buffet food and snacks in Toronto and at Edmonton, which I have enjoyed. I can use the Westjet dollars for westjet vacations, one for one, even taxes. I will take kids to Mexcio, price is just over $2200 and I can go whenever I want. Aeroplan and airmiles are impossible to book for direct flights. I would recommend to anyone. You can also convert your AVION to Westjet, which gave me another $560 Westjet dollars. Also, if you go over $7500 for the year, you can call them and they will restart you.

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  21. I hate the part that you cannot use your dollars toward just hotel or just car rental? It is very hard to use the dollars I earn and seriously thinking of switching back to my TD travel infinite card! They don't need you to get the more expensive package on westjet vacation website and still honor all the TD dollars. I will not sign up with Westjet when my next Annual fee come due.

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  22. I don't understand why it takes so long to get your rewards balance updated after a flight. It's frustrating.

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  23. The WestJet Rewards program is anything but! You earn no status, get no perks other than a 'handful' of WestJet dollars per flight (which by the way are only good for the airfare - you are still stuck paying the large Canadian taxes & fees - so in effect it actually costs you a lot to use them).

    Give me miles, give me boarding priority, seat selection and upgrades, give me lounge access just don't give me the WestJet Rewards program.

    Plus signing up for a WestJet # and then having to register it with the rewards program as a seperate step - what's with that?????

    Bottomline: If you are a frequent flyer, do not fly WestJet.

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