The American Express Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card Bundle is aimed at those who want a decent earn rate on spend, are happy to pay the larger annual fee and will get value from some of the additional benefits.
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How the bundled American Express cards from Westpac work
This is a bit technical but American Express is now issuing cards for Westpac directly, instead of being issued by Westpac (as previously used to be the case). However, for bonus points eligibility, this card is considered to be a bank-issued card, so won’t affect your eligibility for bonus points on American Express-issued cards. You can read more about bank-issued vs American Express-issued cards here.
What does this mean? You essentially have two credit card accounts, one from each provider, which are linked for the purpose of earning points. You can also only apply for the companion Westpac American Express card once you’re an existing Westpac credit card cardholder of an Altitude Platinum or Altitude Black Mastercard, or at the time of making an application for Westpac’s own card.
When it comes to earning points, you’ll earn your points from each card into either your Velocity, Qantas Frequent Flyer accounts or your Westpac Altitude Rewards account. We understand that points from either card will be credited to your rewards account separately.
The American Express Westpac Altitude card is 100% issued and serviced by American Express. This means you’ll be able to use their digital portal, including their dedicated website and the American Express app.
For existing American Express cardholders of other cards issued by Amex such as the American Express Explorer or Qantas Ultimate American Express, the Westpac card isn’t considered for bonus points eligibility purposes—we have been informed by Westpac that holding an American Express-issued card would not preclude you from earning the bonus points on a Westpac American Express card.
Finally, because the two cards are issued by two separate credit providers, it is likely that both will check your credit record.
The terms and conditions for earning points from Westpac’s American Express Altitude cards are here, while a number of terms documents for the Westpac Altitude Mastercard and associate rewards program and insurance policies are linked to from Westpac’s page, after clicking through from the link above.
Points earn rates from the American Express Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card Bundle
Points from both Altitude Black cards can be earned as either Altitude Rewards (partners include frequent flyer programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Virgin Australia Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich and Air New Zealand Airpoints), Altitude Velocity (earns higher Velocity Points on spend) or Altitude Qantas to Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
Note: if you opt for either the Altitude Velocity or Altitude Qantas, the card will incur an additional $50 annual fee.
|Card||Westpac Altitude Black|
|Loyalty program||Velocity or Qantas Frequent Flyer or Westpac Altitude Rewards|
|Points earned from spend on the Mastercard||0.75 Velocity or Qantas Points, 1.25 Altitude Points per $|
|Points earned from spend on the American Express||2 Velocity or Qantas Points or 5 Altitude Points per $ spent in foreign currency
1.25 Velocity or Qantas Points or 3 Altitude Points per $ on domestic spend
0.5 Velocity or Qantas Points or 1 Altitude Point per $ on government spend
|Travel benefits||Per year:
2 x American Express Airport Lounge at Sydney and Melbourne with the Amex card
2 x Qantas Club Pass, Velocity Lounge Pass or Priority Pass invitations
with the Mastercard
|Included insurances||Extended Warranty & International Travel Insurance (PDS)|
|Overseas transaction fee||3.0% of the converted amount|
|Minimum income requirement||$75,000 p.a.|
|Mastercard annual fee||$250 p.a. + ($50 annual Velocity or Qantas Rewards fee if you choose to earn with either Velocity or Qantas directly)|
|American Express annual fee||$199 p.a.|
Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates
|Frequent Flyer Program||MasterCard||American Express Companion card|
|Qantas Points*||0.75 points / $||1.25 points / $||2 points / $|
|Velocity Points*||0.75 points / $||1.25 points / $||2 points / $|
(transferred from Altitude Rewards)
|0.41 point / $||1 point / $||1.67 points / $|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles||0.41 mile / $||1 mile / $||1.67 miles / $|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||0.41 mile / $||1 mile / $||1.67 miles / $|
|*Points earn rate only if linked directly to Altitude Velocity or Qantas|
The American Express companion card (not the Mastercard) can be used for payments to the Australian Taxation Office, earning 1 Altitude Rewards point or 0.5 Velocity/Qantas Points per $ spent, as ATO payments are classified as ‘government spend’ in the terms and conditions on the application page.
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 now valid at an increasing number of airports in Australia. Additional visits are charged at a $32 USD fee.
If you opt for the Altitude Velocity Black, you’ll receive two digital single-entry Virgin Australia lounge passes which can be used at any Virgin Australia domestic lounges.
Note: You must provide them your Velocity Frequent Flyer number and then make the applicable spend with Virgin each year to receive the lounge passes.
If you opt for Altitude Qantas Black, you’ll be digitally 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.
Note: You must first register and then make the applicable card spend directly with Qantas to receive the lounge passes.
It is a useful lounge access benefit for those who don’t travel in Business Class often.
As part of the benefits that come with the new American Express Altitude Black card, you also get access to the Sydney or Melbourne American Express Lounge twice per year.
Included insurances and other benefits
The American Express Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card Bundle 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 for the Westpac Altitude Black here and for the American Express Westpac Altitude Black card here.
This guide references some of the benefits of insurance policies provided with this 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 Velocity vs Altitude Rewards
The Altitude Card range offers a choice of which points program you want to direct your points into: either directly into Velocity Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer or Westpac’s own loyalty program Altitude Rewards.
Note that there is an annual $50 Rewards fee on the Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard if you have selected to earn directly with either Velocity Points or Qantas Points (rather than Altitude Rewards).
When choosing Altitude Velocity or Altitude Qantas over Altitude Rewards Black, you’ll also need to factor in the different earn rates of each currency and transfer rates to partner programs. Our full guide to Altitude Rewards offers more detail about the program’s benefits.
In short, points can be transferred into Velocity (at a lower rate than earning direct with Altitude Velocity), Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Malaysia Airlines Enrich at a rate of 3 Altitude Rewards points to 1 frequent flyer program point/mile.
The choice between Altitude Velocity, 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 either Velocity or 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.
Summing up: the American Express Altitude Black Credit Card Bundle
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. Specially since the addition of the American Express companion card could make earning points and paying your credit card bill a little more complex.
That said, the points earn rates from spend are fairly competitive, and the lounge benefits are also fairly good with both cards.
Most infrequent travellers may be able to get some use out of the lounge access and other Mastercard as well as American Express benefits, particularly if you educate yourself on how to make the most of them.