Thursday, December 1, 2016

WestJet Rewards tweaks elite tier status qualifying and related earn for 2017

WestJet Rewards revealed their 2017 changes to the program which will see the program become more rewarding for those who travel frequently (or earned status via their status matches) while becoming less rewarding for those who tend to travel not as much. There are tweaks to earning elite status, Silver, which now becomes easier to earn and earning WestJet dollars changes in terms of how they are awarded on spend and the rate at which they are earned for Teal and Silver members.

These are WestJet's current requirements to reach status and what that status will earn:

As of February 6, 2017 it will change as follows:

First off you can see that now to reach Silver Elite status you only need to spend $3,000 with WestJet on flights within a 12 month period. That's down $1,000 from the current requirement. This should allow more people to hit the lower elite level status sooner.

Teal or regular WestJet Rewards members are the ones who take the loss with these new changes. Gone is the increased WestJet dollars earn rate after hitting $1,500 as is the 35 WestJet dollars bonus when hitting the $1,500 Milestone award level.

Silver Members also see a reduced earn rate of 3% instead of 5% leaving only Gold members earning 5% on spend. There is one big caveat with this however, when you have Silver or Gold Status and you hit your 12 months reset date on spending you earn rate will not drop down to 1% anymore. As long as you have Silver status you will always earn 3% and if you are Gold you will always earn 5%.

WestJet provides the following chart showing the reduced 3% earn rate will actually earn you more since you earn it on all spend and not just on the portion above $4,000 in the current requirement:

This in reality only works well for those in that $4,000 - $5,500 range, spend more than that and you'll actually earn less until you hit that Gold Elite status at $6,000.

For example if you spend $5,800 with WestJet, current Silver members would earn 180 WestJet dollars while under the new earn rate you would earn 174 WestJet dollars. This means a small portion of people in that $5,500 to $5,999 range will earn slightly less.

The good news is that if you are already a WestJet Rewards members or join before February 6, 2017 they'll extend the current earn rates if you are Teal or Silver:
To show our appreciation to our valued members and transition them into the new earn rate structure, we will be temporarily honouring the higher earn rates on WestJet flights for members enrolled in the program prior to February 6, as follows:
  1. Effective February 6, 2017 and until January 31, 2018 Teal members with qualifying flight spend between $1,500 and $2,999 will receive 3% earn on that portion of spend, which is the earn rate they would have received had the change not occurred.
  2. Effective February 6, 2017 and until January 31, 2018 Silver members with qualifying flight spend between $4,000 and $5,999 will receive 5% earn on that portion of spend for their current qualifying year, which is the earn rate they would have received had the change not occurred. Silver members who requalify for Silver when their qualifying year ends will automatically earn the constant 3% under the new program rules instead of the 1% they would have previously started with had the change not occurred.
Members who enrol any time after changes come into effect on February 6, 2017 will be immediately subject to the earn rates.
Overall these changes are primarily good as the constant higher earn rate when you hold Elite status will mean you will be earning more WestJet dollars towards those future redemptions (except for that 5,500 to 5,999 spread for Silver) and the fact that you can hit Silver status with only $3,000 in spending will definitely see the ranks of that level expand and more people should enjoy the benefits of Silver like first checked bag free, 4 airport lounge vouchers and 4 advance seat selection vouchers. However a good proportion of flyers who won't reach those elite levels will take a hit as Teal member if they are in that 1,500 to 2,999 spend range with the loss of the Milestone benefit and the increased earn rate. To me it looks like a move to get those semi-frequent WestJet travellers who won't hit elite status to get onboard witht the WestJet RBC MasterCard as it provides some of the benefits seen in Silver (first checked bag free). Heck they even put it in the FAQ of these new changes:
Of course if you join the program now you'll at least benefit from the 3% earn rate on 1,500 to 2,999 spend for one more year. So join now!

As a current Gold Elite member I am looking forward to keeping my earn rate at 5% for the next year and bit. How about you? What do you think of the changes?

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