Westpac's Altitude Black card is offering 80,000 bonus Qantas or Altitude points plus $200 off the 1st year annual fee. There are many ongoing card benefits, including Qantas or Priority Pass lounge invites and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
- 80,000 Qantas Points or Altitude Rewards points
- $200 off the first year annual fee, making it $195 (usually $395)
- 1.25 Qantas Points or 2.5 Altitude Points for every $1 spent on the American Express
- 0.625 Qantas Points or 1.25 Altitude Points for every $1 spent on the MasterCard
- 2 x Qantas Club or Priority Pass invitations per cardholder year
- Access to World MasterCard benefits, including Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after one paid stay
- Overseas Travel Insurance, Purchase Protection etc. (PDS)
- $195 annual fee for the first year (usually $395 p.a.)
- $5,000 minimum spend in 90 days required to earn bonus
- Bonus points offer not available with switches, upgrades, customers accessing employee benefits or packages.
- Offer ends: 28th June 2017
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Westpac is offering 80,000 Qantas or Altitude Rewards points plus a discounted first year annual fee with the Altitude Black premium Amex and MasterCard account.
This product is geared towards those who can spend a decent amount on their card, want a high earn rate, are happy to pay the larger annual fee and will get value from airport lounges and elite hotel perks.
The annual fee for the first year is reduced to $195 (usually $395 p.a.), which is good given the extensive amount of benefits available and the decent earn rates for ongoing spend with the card. There’s also a recommended minimum income requirement of $75,000 p.a.
Changes to the Westpac Altitude Black from July 1st
Due to legislative changes relating to the costs incurred by retailers for accepting credit cards (more on this here) some banks have made changes to the features of their credit cards. Westpac recently announced their changes, which we have outlined in more detail in an update here, so if you apply for the Altitude Black card between now and then, you’ll have two sets of points earn rates – those in place now, plus those in place from that date onward as outlined in this guide.
In summary, Westpac have:
- Lowered earn rates on companion American Express accounts
- Lowered earn rates on Mastercard account overseas spend
- Retained existing earn rates on Mastercard account eligible purchases
Best uses of the 80,000 Qantas or Altitude Rewards point sign-up bonus
The current bonus for new, approved customers is 80,000 Qantas Points or Altitude Rewards points. 80,000 Altitude Rewards points is equivalent to 40,000 Velocity Points, or 32,000 KrisFlyer or Asia Miles.
A great feature is that Westpac also allows you to switch your Altitude Rewards account between earning points directly into Qantas Frequent Flyer or into Altitude Rewards.
Given the size of the sign-up bonus for Qantas Points is higher than for other transfer partners via Altitude Rewards, that could be used as part of a smart strategy to maximise your points. Pick up Qantas Points when you sign up, and then earn more flexible points from spend with Altitude Rewards. There’s more on that in our Altitude Rewards guide.
We’ve written up our take on the best uses of Qantas Points before and the current bonus offer goes a long way to achieving them.
You could also try and build your balance and aim for one of the ultimate (and best value) redemptions that Qantas offers: a round-the-world trip in Business or First Class.
You can also check out our Best Uses of Points guides for Velocity, KrisFlyer and Asia Miles.
The earn rate from spend on the Altitude Rewards Black cards is one of the best that Westpac offers. Basically, you’ll get the best earn rate by using the American Express card on spend.
The account comes with an American Express which has higher points earn rates on most spend than the accompanying ‘World’ MasterCard. In the current market, where points caps are becoming common, uncapped points earning is a key benefit of the Altitude Black.
Points can be earned as either Altitude Rewards – which partners with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich and Air New Zealand Airpoints – or if you select the Altitude Qantas Black option, to Qantas Frequent Flyer only.
The 1.25 point per $ effective earn rate for Velocity and Enrich is particularly high, while the 1 effective points per $ for KrisFlyer and Asia Miles is respectable and still worth considering.
|Card||Westpac Altitude Black &
Westpac Altitude Qantas Black American Express/Mastercard
|Loyalty program||Qantas Frequent Flyer or Westpac Altitude Rewards|
|Points earned from spend||1.25 Qantas Points or 2.5 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the American Express
0.625 Qantas Points or 1.25 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the MasterCard
|Travel benefits||Per year: 2 x Qantas Club or Priority Pass invitations
World MasterCard benefits
Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after one paid stay
|Minimum income||$75,000 p.a.|
|Included insurances||Extended Warranty & International Travel Insurance (PDS)|
|Overseas transaction fee||Visa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates
|Frequent Flyer Program||American Express||MasterCard|
|Domestic and overseas spend||Domestic spend||Overseas spend|
|Qantas Points*||1.25 points / $||0.625 points / $||0.625 points / $|
|Velocity Points||1.25 points / $||0.625 points / $||0.625 points / $|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles||1 Mile / $||0.5 Mile / $||0.5 Mile / $|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1 Mile / $||0.5 Mile / $||0.5 Mile / $|
|*Qantas Points are only earned if linked to Altitude Qantas Rewards|
It is worth noting for those who have to pay the Australian Tax Office that Westpac offers the ability to earn points on ATO transactions made for personal purposes on the Altitude Black American Express, unlike many other cards on the market.
The terms of the card don’t permit points to be earned generally for business-related transactions, so bear that in mind.
Airport lounge access benefits
If you opt for the Altitude Rewards Black, you’ll receive airport lounge access with Priority Pass membership and two included lounge visits per year, which are valid at the new Catalina Lounge at Darwin Airport. Additional visits are charged at a $27 USD fee.
If you opt for Altitude Qantas Black, you’ll be sent two single-entry Qantas Club invitations which can be used at any Qantas Club (domestic) or Qantas International Business Class lounge. The passes are sent after your first Altitude Black Card spend ‘on selected Qantas products and services’, defined as Qantas flights or Qantas Frequent Flyer or Qantas Club joining and membership fees.
With both Altitude Rewards Black and Altitude Qantas Black, you’ll also receive two lounge visits free of charge to the newly-opened Sydney International American Express lounge too, usually a cost of $55.
All up, it’s a useful range of lounge access for those who aren’t travelling in Business Class all the time.
Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status upgrade with the World MasterCard
The World MasterCard also comes with Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after a one night stay, alongside the increased points earn on overseas transactions.
World MasterCard products in the Asia-Pacific region are all eligible for an upgrade to Starwood Hotels Gold status after a single paid stay at any Starwood hotel in the region.
SPG Gold status can be handy, and comes with the following benefits:
- Earn three Starpoints for every U.S. dollar spent on eligible stays — a 50% bonus over the entry-level preferred status
- 4 p.m. late checkout (when available)
- An upgrade to an enhanced room at check-in: corner room, higher floor, or better
- A choice of welcome gift upon arrival: choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet or a drink
- Earn one Starpoint per dollar spent on most Delta flights, and one Starpoint per dollar on eligible Emirates flights
With the Marriott and Starwood merger now in full swing, Starwood Gold is also matchable to equivalent status with Marriott hotels globally, increasing the value of the benefit.
If you’ve also registered for Emirates ‘Your World’ rewards with Starwood, Emirates will let you know by email when your account has been upgraded.
Included insurances and other benefits
The Westpac Altitude Black comes with travel and extended warranty insurance coverage. As I say with every credit card guide, the value of each card’s insurance can only really be assessed by you looking at the PDS and deciding whether it is a fit for your needs. Read the full PDS here.
This guide references some of the benefits of insurance policies provided with this credit card.
You should read the PDS and obtain independent professional advice before obtaining this product.
You’ll also gain access to Westpac Concierge and their Black Concierge app, which could give some useful restaurant or ticket reservation shortcuts, amongst other potential uses.
Altitude Qantas vs Altitude Rewards
The Altitude Card range offers a choice of which points program you want to direct your points into: either Qantas Frequent Flyer or Westpac’s own loyalty program Altitude Rewards.
You’ll earn the sign-up bonus with the card in one program, but you can later switch to the other option on request, however, your points won’t move with the switch.
When choosing Altitude Qantas Black over Altitude Rewards Black, you’ll also need to factor in the different earn rates of each currency and transfer rates to partner programs.
The choice between Altitude Qantas or Altitude Rewards is dependent on your personal points earning preference.
You might find the sign-up bonus from the card to be more valuable to take as Qantas points, but then using the card ongoing, there may be more value for you in taking advantage of Altitude Rewards’ flexibility from having a wide range of transfer options.
Altitude Rewards: a quick overview
In short, points can be transferred into Velocity and Malaysia Airlines Enrich at a rate of 2 Altitude Rewards points to 1 frequent flyer program point/mile and 2.5 Altitude Rewards points to 1 mile for Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
Note: Westpac have discontinued the Altitude Bonus Partner program starting in May 2017, which means cardholders will no longer have the ability to earn bonus points on spend at a range of retailers and partners.
Summing up: the Westpac Altitude Black and Westpac Altitude Qantas Black credit cards
This is the kind of card that you need to take a critical look over the ongoing benefits and sign-up bonus to assess whether the annual fee is worth it for you.
When the sign-up bonus is large, like now, it’s a compelling offer.
Most infrequent travellers may be able to get some use out of the lounge access and Starwood-Marriott status, particularly if you educate yourself on how to make the most of both benefits.
You’ll earn more points in some specific categories (e.g. travel or supermarkets) with some American Express Membership Rewards cards, but on the whole, the across-the-board earn rate for Velocity, KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Enrich can’t be beaten.
All up, it is an appealing product with this large sign-up bonus, and assessing value in subsequent years should be based on use of the benefits and the high points earn rate.
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