If you take a lot of Westjet, then this is for you. Westjet dollars are fixed value (ie. 1 Westjet dollar = $1 off your flight), so you can use it in conjunction with any special offers Westjet may have (eg. their anniversary sale or a coupon code off Perkopolis).
Now that Westjet recently took delivery of their Boeing 787 aircraft with business class seats, there have been rumors that they will move to a variable value loyalty program like Aeroplan, but this remains to be seen.
In any case, being Canada’s second largest carrier, Westjet dollars are great to have in your arsenal for both planned and unexpected trips.
Step 1: Apply for the RBC Avion Visa Infinite
Right now there is a special promotion from RBC that allows you to get this card with extra welcome bonus (25k instead of 15k) and with First year free if you use a special link here. RBC has really good cards but I seldom see no annual fee offers , so I would hop on this when possible. In addition, the welcome bonus is award on first purchase, so there are no spending requirements. You can literally buy a coffee with the card and stick it in a drawer afterwards.
[Update Nov 2018: the offer is now 20k with 1k Minimum spend]
A great thing about Avion points is that they are transferable to other programs, including Wesjet, Avios, American Airlines and Asia miles.
Transferable miles are always worth more than non-transferable ones because you can “top off” exactly the number of miles you need for a specific trip instead of being stuck with a bunch of leftover miles on a specific program that is hard to use up. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about points expiring on a particular airline that you can’t make use of.
Anyway, Avion points transfer 100:1 to Westjet, so 25,000 Avion is worth 250 westjet dollars. RBC also runs a couple of promotions in a year that gives you 10-15% bonus when transferring to Westjet, so you can wait on that if you are not in a hurry. The last Westjet bonus was back in February, so I would bet the next one will be in August-October.
Step 2: Product Switch to the RBC Westjet World Elite
Product switching is when you call the Bank and ask to transfer your existing credit card to another card, keeping your credit limit. This does not require another credit hit, so is very useful to take advantage of multiple card offers without causing your credit score to go down.
Each bank has their own policies on product switching and whether you can take advantage of any welcome bonuses of the new card if you switched from another card. In RBC’s case, you are definitely eligible for the welcome bonus. Just call and say you collect westjet dollars and take a lot of flights with them so want to switch to the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.
This card does have a annual fee of $119, but gives you 250 Westjet dollars, free first checked bag and a companion voucher (second passenger on the same round trip itinerary flies at greatly reduced price – $99 for North America, $299 for Central America & Hawaii, $399 for Europe). You also get 3c off gas at Petro Canada locations, and 20% more Petro Canada points, if you collect those.
Again, the 250 Westjet dollar welcome bonus is on first purchase, so no minimum spending to worry about! I would say the free checked bag and companion voucher easily pays for the annual itself, if you can make use of it.
On the subject of annual fees, there have been reports of RBC waiving the annual fee if you call in and say you read about the Visa infinite competitor matching promotion – which is applicable if you hold a visa infinite card from another canadian bank. Your mileage may vary on this one (I tried twice but on both occasion I was told this offer is only for the Avion cards), but usually after trying again with a few agents you will get one who knows what you are talking about.
Step 3: Re-apply for the RBC Avion card!
This is another “your mileage may vary” situation as there is no guarantee RBC will award you the welcome bonus if you applied very recently, though there are multiple data points that suggests they will.
In fact, I did exactly this by switching my first Avion card to the british airways card and reapplying a week afterwards (I checked I am not a existing RBC client on the application). My second 25k points posted before I even made a purchase!
So with no minimum spending, you get $500 in Westjet dollars ($750 if you do step 3), free checked bags and a companion voucher in exchange for $119 in annual fees ($0 if you manage to do some sweet talking and get the AF waived) and a phone call.
In addition, RBC has a British airways card that you can product switch to instead of WestJet, which gives 50k Avios points for $165 annual fee.
Note that the final 10k Avios bonus is awarded after 1 year, but RBC is known to refund a pro-rated annual fee if you cancel early in your second cycle, so you won’t end up paying a full $165 in your second year. If you pull off the 3 step strategy above and time the points transfer with a 30% promotion, you will end up with 120k Avios points after completing the 5k minimum spend.
I would call this a pretty decent deal!