Downgrades Coming To The WestJet World Elite Mastercard – What Are Your Alternatives?

One of the top airline credit cards in Canada is the .

And while the actual rewards are pretty standard (1.5% back in WestJet dollars on all purchases, 2% on WestJet), it has 2 great perks that provide great value for the WestJet traveller:

  • free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to 8 others travelling on the same itinerary, and
  • an annual companion voucher, starting at $99 plus taxes and fees.

The companion voucher in particular can bring some great value on its own.

By booking a ticket for yourself, you can bring one other person along with you for a set fee based on where you’re going:

  • $99 for Canada and Continental U.S.,
  • $299 for sun destinations, including Hawaii, and
  • $399 for Europe.

And keep in mind each price will have the standard taxes and fees bill added to it as well.

But some unfortunate changes to the voucher are taking effect on April 1, 2020.

Companion voucher will cost more

Yes, the companion voucher is going to cost more to use.

Here’s the new pricing structure for using the voucher starting on April 1:

  • $119 for Canada and Continental U.S.,
  • $399 for sun destinations, including Hawaii, and
  • Europe remains unchanged at $399.

It certainly isn’t great news. An extra $20 is not a terrible increase for the Canada and Continental U.S. voucher, but the increase of $100 for sun destinations is a tough one to swallow.

Mastercard concierge also being lost

Mastercard concierge service is also being lost as part of these changes, but all the World Elite Mastercard benefits are still available.

And RBC has stated that exciting new benefits are coming in its place.

WestJet Mastercard changes

It’s not all bad news. The companion voucher with the is also changing, but this time for the better.

Right now, the companion voucher costs $199 plus taxes and fees for flights within Canada. Now, it’s being expanded to include the Continental U.S. as well.

Credit card alternatives

If you’re not enamoured with these changes, here are a few alternatives to keep in mind.

Keep in mind the Westjet card’s normal rate of return is 1.5%, so all 4 of these cards beat that by a significant margin.

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Average Return Rate Annual Fee, Income Requirements Apply Now
Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard 20,000 miles (terms) 2.3% * $75
* No income requirements
Apply Now
American Express Cobalt Up to 30,000 points (terms) 3.76% * $120, charged out as $10 per month
* No income requirements
Apply Now
American Express Gold Rewards 25,000 points (terms) 3.44% * $150
* No income requirements
Apply Now
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Up to 30,000 miles (terms) 2.97% * 120, first year free
* 60K personal, 100K household
Apply Now

When it comes to companion vouchers, it can be hard to find ones that let you pay cash for the 2nd ticket. Usually you have to redeem extra miles, which may not be possible depending on your reward bank.

In this regard, the voucher that comes with the is one of the few choices available in Canada.

But it has its limitations. Alaska Airlines only flies to Alberta, B.C, and a few border cities like Seattle and Detroit. And they only operate flights to and from the U.S. West Coast, with no options to use your voucher within Canada.

For many, it may not be a great fit.

But for the right person, the voucher can be of great value. It costs $99 USD (roughly $130 CAD) plus taxes and fees to use. And while that’s more than the WestJet voucher, Alaska Airlines taxes and fees are lower than WestJet.

And that same price applies to anywhere Alaska flies, including Mexico and Hawaii, where the Westjet Voucher will cost $399 to use.

And the miles you earn are more flexible with Alaska. They can be used not only on Alaska Airlines, but its partners as well, some of which include:

  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Emirates,
  • Korean Air,
  • Icelandair, and
  • Qantas.

And the card has a lower annual fee of $75, with no income requirements (compared to the requirements of $80,000 personal and $150,000 household on the WestJet card).

For a few more perks, you could get the instead.

It has the same earn rates and voucher. But you’ll get free checked bags on Alaska Airlines for yourself and 5 others travelling on the same itinerary, and get the World Elite Mastercard perks as well for a slightly higher annual fee of $99.

Related: Alaska Airlines Credit Cards Review: Hidden Gems For The International Traveller

The rest of the cards here don’t have companion vouchers, but instead will just earn you more rewards when compared to the base 1.5% earn rate of the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.

And how could we not talk about our #1 ranked credit card, the .

With this card, you’ll earn up to 5 Amex Membership rewards points per $1 spent. On a typical $2,000 monthly spend, you’d earn 51,600 points every year.

The best way to use them? With the Amex Fixed Points Travel program. Maximize the chart, and you can get a value of up to 1.75 cents per point. That’s a return of up to 3.76% – 2.5 times better than the standard 1.5% of the WestJet card.

You can also pay for any travel purchase you make with the card using your points, where each point is worth 1 cent, and you’ve got a return of 2.15% – still better than WestJet.

And there are options to transfer to Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, as well as a host of other redemption options.

Want to pick and choose from 6 airlines to redeem your points? Then consider the – our #1 rated Aeroplan credit card.

You can redeem to these 6 airlines, including Aeroplan and British Airways at 1:1 ratios:

Amex airline transfer partners
We’ll focus on Aeroplan, which for most people will be the transfer option of choice. We value an Aeroplan mile at up to 2.5 cents when redeemed for flights within North America.

Earning up to 2 points per $1 spent, based on a typical monthly spend you’d earn 33,000 points per year, giving a return of up to 3.44% – more than double what WestJet gives.

And if the airline transfers don’t work out, you’ve got all the Amex Membership Rewards options listed above to fall back on as well.

Want to give Aeroplan a try, but would prefer an Aeroplan-branded card for some Air Canada perks? The best one is the .

You’ll earn up to 1.5 miles per $1 spent on your purchases. A typical $2,000 monthly spend would give you 28,500 miles per year. That’s a return of 2.97% – almost double that of WestJet.

And while that’s less than the card above, it comes with great Air Canada perks on Aeroplan reward flights:

  • first free checked bag,
  • priority check-in,
  • priority boarding, and
  • Maple leaf lounge access (only once per year).

They’re great benefits that make an already free flight that much sweeter.

Related: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Vs. American Express Gold Rewards Card: What’s The Best Aeroplan Card?

Your thoughts

What are your thoughts on the upcoming changes?

Are you considering a new credit card?

Let us know in the comments below.

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