Point Hacks Credit Card Guide

Guide to Westpac’s Altitude Rewards credit cards and the Altitude Rewards program

Westpac’s Altitude Rewards program is a flexible points program which should be considered if you’re looking for a rewards-based credit card. You can also link the account to Qantas Frequent Flyer and earn Qantas Points.


Changes to the Westpac Altitude Cards 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 have also announced their changes, which we have outlined in more detail in an update here.

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
  • Retained existing earn rates on both Altitude Platinum and Altitude Classic cards, at least for the time being

This guide reflects the earn rates effective 1 July 2017.


Westpac Altitude Rewards program guide

Westpac Altitude Rewards is Westpac’s loyalty program for credit card points earn from your day-to-day spend. It’s similar to the other major programs out there in that there are a range of cards in which you can earn Altitude Rewards points, and a number of frequent flyer transfer partners you can use them with.

Altitude Rewards is a versatile program, and partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer and Air NZ Airpoints.

This guide attempts to cover off the ins and outs of Altitude Rewards, the card range and the best partners to transfer your points to.

Note: Westpac also owns St. George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA. These three other banks all share a common program which is very similar to Altitude Rewards – Amplify Rewards. The affiliate partners aren’t quite the same though.

Using Points – Program Partners and Transfer Rates

Let’s get into the points first – the range of frequent flyer program partners that Altitude Rewards have available to cardholders.

In short, Westpac has a wide range of airline partners, with:

Until recently, all (except Air NZ) transfer points over to the airline programs at 2 Altitude Rewards points to 1 frequent flyer point. Starting November 9 2016 though, the transfer rate to Krisflyer and Asia Miles will be reduced to 0.4 Krisflyer or Asia Miles.

If these changes at any time, this Altitude Rewards page should highlight this.

Note also that the Westpac Altitude Reward Business Cards have Qantas Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner, meaning you don’t have to direct sweep your points over to Qantas. There are very few cards on the market that offer Qantas transfers, and it’s a win for the flexibility of your points.

These programs are good options for competitive frequent flyer point redemptions in the region, and Westpac aren’t missing any key airline partners, which is great.

Earning points – the Altitude Credit Card range

In summary, the earn rate on the Altitude American Express cards is good, but if you’re in the hunt for Velocity or Qantas points, there are better MasterCard and Visa options out there.

If you want to maximise the number of flexible points you can earn, the ability to transfer points earned from a MasterCard or Visa to Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Asia Miles or Krisflyer is fairly valuable, and as a result, needs to be given some consideration.

Altitude Black American Express & World MasterCard

The Altitude Black is Westpac’s premium card, with an accompanying high annual fee. It’s geared towards those who spend the most on their card, want a higher earn rate, are happy to pay the larger annual fee and will get value from the ongoing benefits.

Card Details

CardWestpac Altitude Black &
Westpac Altitude Qantas Black American Express/Mastercard
Loyalty programQantas Frequent Flyer or Westpac Altitude Rewards
Points earned from spend1.25 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 benefitsPer year: 2 x Qantas Club or Priority Pass invitations
World MasterCard benefits
Minimum income $75,000 p.a.
Included insurancesExtended Warranty & International Travel Insurance (PDS)
Overseas transaction feeVisa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Annual fee$395

Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates

Frequent Flyer ProgramAmerican ExpressMasterCard
Domestic and overseas spendDomestic spendOverseas spend
Qantas Points*1.25 points / $0.625 points / $0.625 points / $
Velocity Points1.25 points / $0.625 points / $0.625 points / $
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles1 Mile / $0.5 Mile / $0.5 Mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 Mile / $0.5 Mile / $0.5 Mile / $
*Qantas Points are only earned if linked to Altitude Qantas Rewards

Given the number of benefits that come with Altitude Black, there’s a full standalone guide to the Altitude Black and Altitude Qantas cards here.

In brief, the benefits are:

  • Airport lounge access with Priority Pass membership and 2 included lounge visits, plus access to the American Express Sydney lounge twice per year – or if opted into Altitude Qantas, 2 x Qantas Club passes
  • Broader insurance coverage, including travel and extended warranty (See PDS here)
  • Access to Westpac concierge and their Black concierge App

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.

The earn rate from spend is one of the highest that Westpac offer. The Qantas earn rate at 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar on the American Express is competitive, but 0.625 on the MasterCard is low.

The Altitude Qantas earn rate, and the effective earn rate over to other Altitude Rewards airline partners including Velocity and Malaysia Enrich, are as follows:

  • 1.25 points per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.625 points per dollar on the MasterCard

For both Krisflyer and Asia Miles:

  • 1 miles per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.5 mile per dollar on the MasterCard

Altitude Platinum American Express & Visa

The Altitude Platinum is, in my view, a nice mid-range card in the Altitude range with an annual fee of $150.

Card Details

CardWestpac Altitude Platinum American Express & Visa
Loyalty programAltitude Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer
Points earned from spend1 Qantas Points or 2 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the American Express
0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the Visa
Minimum income $30,000 p.a.
Included insurancesExtended Warranty & International Travel Insurance (PDS)
Overseas transaction feeVisa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Annual fee$150

Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates

Frequent Flyer ProgramDomestic SpendOverseas Spend
American ExpressVisaVisa
Qantas Points*1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Velocity Points1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $
*Qantas Points are only earned if linked to Altitude Qantas Rewards.

It comes with fewer benefits than the Altitude Black, but gives access to the Altitude Rewards program with a more friendly annual fee.

With the Altitude Platinum card, you’ll get a range of insurances, including overseas travel insurance for trips of up to three months, transit accident insurance and extended warranty. You should check the descriptions for each policy if you plan to rely on them. Read the PDS 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.

The earn rate from spend is not as high as the Altitude Black. Again, the Qantas earn rate on the American Express is OK, but the 0.5 points per dollar on the Visa is bested by most other cards out there.

The Altitude Qantas earn rate, and the effective earn rate over to most other Altitude Rewards airline partners including Velocity and Malaysia Enrich, is:

  • 1 point per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.5 points per dollar on the Visa

For Krisflyer and Asia Miles:

  • 0.8 mile per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.4 mile per dollar on the Visa

In comparison to the Altitude Black there’s a points cap of 7,500 Altitude Rewards points or 3,750 Qantas Points per statement period. Bonus points from program partners are excluded from the cap.

Altitude American Express & Visa Guide

The entry-level Altitude Rewards card comes in with a $100 annual fee, and few extra benefits.

Card Details

CardWestpac Altitude American Express & Visa
Loyalty programAltitude Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer
Points earned from spend1 Qantas Points or 2 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the American Express
0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Altitude Points for every $ spent on the Visa
Points Cap5,000 Altitude points or 2,500 Qantas Points per statement period
Overseas transaction feeVisa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Annual fee$100

Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates

Frequent Flyer ProgramDomestic SpendOverseas Spend
American ExpressVisaVisa
Qantas Points*1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Velocity Points1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $
*Qantas Points are only earned if linked to Altitude Qantas Rewards.

The earn rates are the same as the Altitude Platinum card, but there’s a reduced points cap of 5,000 Altitude Rewards points or 2,500 Qantas Points per statement period. Again, bonus points are thankfully excluded from the cap.

The Altitude Qantas earn rate, and the effective earn rate over to most other Altitude Rewards airline partners including Velocity and Malaysia Enrich, is:

  • 1 point per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.5 points per dollar on the Visa

For Krisflyer and Asia Miles:

  • 0.8 mile per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.4 mile per dollar on the Visa

Personal Cards: Altitude Qantas vs Altitude Rewards

Westpac recently revamped and consolidated their ‘Westpac Earth’ card range, which had Qantas Points only cards into their Altitude range.

Westpac make it relatively easy to swap between Altitude Qantas and Altitude Rewards, which is particularly customer friendly:

If you have an Altitude Visa card, Altitude Platinum Visa card, or Altitude Black card, you may switch all cards linked to the card account between Altitude Rewards and Altitude Qantas programs at any time and any number of times, subject to the time it takes us to process each request. You should allow at least 10 business days for a request to switch to be processed or as advised at the time of your request.

This makes it possible to take a signup bonus in one currency (e.g. Altitude Qantas), and then earn points ongoing in another (e.g. Altitude Rewards), if there is value in doing so.

When choosing Altitude Qantas over Altitude Rewards cards, you’ll need to factor in the different earn rates of each currency and transfer rates to partner programs.

With Qantas Points, you will earn an additional bonus point per dollar when spending with Qantas.

All up, the choice between Altitude Qantas or Altitude Rewards is primarily up to your personal points earning preference – you might find a signup bonus from a card to be more valuable in raw Qantas points, but in the long-run when using the card ongoing, there may be more value in taking advantage of Altitude Rewards’ flexibility from having a wide range of transfer options.

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.

Altitude Rewards and Velocity Auto-Redemption

Westpac Altitude Rewards added new feature in early 2016 for Altitude Rewards cardholders – ‘Velocity Auto-Redemption‘.

In a nutshell, this will allow you to automatically convert your Altitude Points to Velocity Points on a monthly basis. The transfer rate is the same as if you initiated the transfer on demand.

Depending on your circumstances, I think that using Auto-Redemption may be a bad idea.

  • By enabling Auto-Redemption your full balance of hard-earned Altitude Rewards points is going to be moved over to Velocity, losing the benefit of Altitude Rewards as a flexible points program – but with no benefit other than convenience (once the 15% transfer bonus promo is over)
  • You’ll also lose the ability to take advantage of the 15% bonus on Velocity transfers that usually comes up twice per year, if Westpac keep participating in those promotions in future.
  • You’ll lose the ability to transfer to Velocity as soon as you’ve earned the points from your spend – you’ll need to wait until your statement date each month before the transfer kicks in

All up, the main benefit for using Velocity Auto-Redemption on a long-term basis is convenience.

The full set of terms are here.

Unless more promotions keep on coming through for using the service, I feel it is probably one to avoid.

My take – Who is Westpac Altitude Rewards and the Altitude Card range for?

Westpac Altitude Rewards is a pretty versatile program which I haven’t done enough justice to here on Point Hacks in the past.

It has a wide range of airline transfer partners, some very usable cards for most different levels of points collectors, and Westpac are starting to offer decent signup bonuses once more to attract new cardholders, which is good to see. Plus the fact that the Business card range partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer for points transfers is also good value.


Small Business Owner? Consider the Altitude Business Credit Card range

The Westpac Altitude Reward Business Cards have Qantas Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner, meaning you don’t have to direct sweep your points over to Qantas. This is a valuable benefit.

There are very few cards on the market that offer Qantas transfers, and it’s a win for the flexibility of your points.

This brings the list of airline partners for Altitude Business Cards to:

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Virgin Australia’s
  • Malaysia Airline’s Enrich
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles.

Altitude Business credit cards are available to any ABN/ACN holder that meets the approval criteria. The cards need to be used for Business or Investment purposes.

Altitude Business Platinum American Express and Visa Guide

There’s a $295 standard annual fee, and uncapped rewards points with this card, meaning it can be ideal for big spenders who can utilise the flexibility and earn rate of the American Express.

The Altitude Qantas earn rate, and the effective earn rate over to other Altitude Rewards airline partners including Velocity and Enrich, is:

  • 1.5 points per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.5 points per dollar on the Visa
  • 1 points per dollar on the Visa for overseas transactions
  • 0.25 points per dollar on Government transactions

For Krisflyer and Asia Miles:

  • 1.2 miles per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.4 miles per dollar on the Visa
  • 0.8 miles per dollar on the Visa for overseas transactions
  • 0.2 miles per dollar on Government transactions

Card Details

Card Altitude Business Platinum American Express and Visa
Loyalty programAltitude Rewards
Points earned from spend3 Altitude points per $ on the American Express
1 Altitude Points per $ on the Visa
2 points per $ on the Visa for overseas transactions
0.5 points per $ on Government transactions
Points capNo
Earns points at ATOYes - as a Government transaction
Included insurancesTravel insurance, purchase insurances and some business related insurances (PDS)
Overseas transaction feeVisa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Annual fee$295

Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates

Frequent Flyer ProgramDomestic SpendOverseas Spend
American ExpressVisaVisa
Qantas Points1.5 points / $0.5 point / $1 point / $
Velocity Points1.5 points / $0.5 point / $1 point / $
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles1.2 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.8 Mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1.2 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.8 Mile / $

Altitude Business Gold American Express and Visa Guide

The Altitude Business Gold account is very similar to the Platinum account, but with the following key differences:

  • Points cap of 20,000 points per statement period
  • Standard annual fee of $150

Card Details

Card Altitude Business Gold American Express and Visa
Loyalty programAltitude Rewards
Points earned from spend2 Altitude points per $ on the American Express
1 Altitude points per $ on the Visa
Points cap20,000 points per statement period
Earns points at ATONo
Included insurancesTravel insurance, purchase insurances and some business related insurances (PDS)
Overseas transaction feeVisa/MasterCard: 3.0% of the converted amount
American Express: 3.5% of the converted amount
Annual fee$150

Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates

Frequent Flyer ProgramDomestic SpendOverseas Spend
American ExpressVisaVisa
Qantas Points1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Velocity Points1 point / $0.5 point / $0.5 point / $
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles0.8 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $0.4 Mile / $

The Altitude Qantas earn rate, and the effective earn rate over to most other Altitude Rewards airline partners including Velocity and KrisFlyer, is:

  • 1 points per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.5 points per dollar on the Visa
  • 0.25 points per dollar on Government transactions

For Krisflyer and Asia Miles:

  • 0.8 miles per dollar on the American Express
  • 0.4 miles per dollar on the Visa
  • 0.2 miles per dollar on Government transactions

Read the full guide to the Altitude Business card range here →

Guide to Westpac’s Altitude Rewards credit cards and the Altitude Rewards program was last modified: October 26th, 2017 by Keith

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Comments Expand Comments

  1. Hi, I have been an Altitude Rewards Black member for a while. As I would like to earn some Qantas points (foot in both Qantas and Star Alliance), I have changed to Qantas Rewards part of Altitude Rewards. I was told by Westpac staff that I have to use the Altitude Rewards points within 90 days. Is this correct

  2. Wahyu

    It appears that to opt-out of “Velocity Auto-Redemption”, you need to call their customer service centre. I guess I will be making the call at the end of March….

    Thanks

  3. Dave

    Hi Keith,

    What other Business Credit Cards (Mastercard/Visa) have a better earn rate than the Westpac Altitude Business?

    Cheers

  4. Eugene

    FYI, just noted this on the Altitude travel site:

    Effective 08 February 2015, Altitude Black cardholders will receive 0.33 Altitude Points per $1 spent on the Altitude Travel Service. Click here for terms and conditions.

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