WestJet Rewards elite tier status tweaks went live today & our interview with WestJet about it!

Back on December 1st we let you know about changes coming to the WestJet Rewards Elite Status tiers and those changes officially went live today.

We had the pleasure of talking to WestJet’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Digital, Marshall Wilmot about these changes and the future of WestJet Rewards on today’s podcast. You can access the interview via our podcast page at www.rewardscanada.ca/podcast with links to iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud where you can download and listen to the episode!

As of today these are the requirements to earn status as well as the new earn rates for each level:

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 were already a WestJet Rewards member that
joined before February 6, 2017 they are extending 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 enroll 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
on board with 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:

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