Back in August Westpac Altitude Rewards has flagged a number of changes, which were due to kick in shortly after.

Cardholders then found that the transfer rates to Asia Miles and KrisFlyer on Altitude’s website didn’t actually change, despite the planned devaluation – and until late last week, the new date was uncertain. This allowed cardholders to continue to transfer points out at the unaffected higher rates.

Changes to Westpac’s transfer rates for Asia Miles and Krisflyer are now known, with the Altitude Rewards website now stating 9th November.

Our previous take on the proposed changes

What’s happening – changes in the transfer rate of Altitude Rewards points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, and Air New Zealand Airpoints.

If you have interest in any of these points currencies, have a think about whether you should transfer out some or all of your balance now to avoid losing around 25% of the value your Altitude Rewards points.

Image above from Scott Lewis on Flickr

What’s not changing? The specific points earn rate on your Altitude Rewards credit card, and the transfer rates to both Velocity and Malaysia Airlines Enrich program.

Decisions to make

It’s hard to make specific and general advice here – everyone’s circumstances are different. But these are the kind of things you should be considering:

  • Do you have a redemption in mind requiring extensive travel on either Singapore Airlines or on oneworld airlines?
  • How often do you redeem via Velocity (who’s transfer rates aren’t changing)? Is it worth leaving some points in Altitude for the possibility of future bonuses on transfers to Velocity?
  • If you transfer out any points to Asia Miles and/or KrisFlyer now, can you use them in the three year period before they will expire?

I suspect that many people with large balances might be served well by transferring out a portion to Asia Miles or KrisFlyer now, but if your Altitude balance is lower and you don’t want to make speculative transfers in case it’s the wrong decision, then there’s no right thing to do here.

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The frequent flyer program transfer rate changes

Currently the transfer rate from Altitude Rewards to both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles is 2 Altitude Points to 1 KrisFlyer mile or Asia Mile. This is changing to 2.5:1 for these programs.

The transfer rate of 2:1 is being kept for Velocity and Enrich.

ProgramNew Transfer RateOld Transfer Rate
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer2.5:12:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles2.5:12:1
Air NZ Airpoints180:1160:1

There will be no change to the number of Altitude Points required to redeem Velocity Points and Enrich Miles.

For Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars, the old transfer rate of 160 Altitude Rewards points to 1 Airpoints Dollar is being changed to 180 Altitude Rewards points for the same. Air NZ Airpoints are generally a poor redemption option, so I won’t talk about that further.

How do Altitude Rewards cards stack up for points earn now?

This is where it gets complex, as all Altitude Rewards-linked credit card have different points earn rates. Here goes:

Velocity Points (unchanged)KrisFlyer MilesAsia Miles
Current Effective Earn RatesAmexVisa/MCAmexVisa/MCAmexVisa/MC
Altitude Black1.50.6251.50.6251.50.625
Altitude Platinum10.510.510.5
Altitude Business Platinum1.
Altitude Business Gold10.510.510.5
Future Effective Earn Rates
Altitude Black1.50.6251.
Altitude Platinum10.
Altitude Business Platinum1.
Altitude Business Gold10.

Given the change in earn rate for KrisFlyer, and the fact that KrisFlyer and Velocity have their own transfer option, it’s worth looking at whether you should now transfer to KrisFlyer via Velocity.

Outside of the Velocity 15% bonus transfer promotion, the maths looks like this, using 100,000 Altitude Rewards points under the new transfer rate:

  • 100,000 Altitude Rewards points = 40,000 KrisFlyer Miles, or…
  • 100,000 Altitude Rewards points = 50,000 Velocity Points
  • 50,000 Velocity points = 37,037 KrisFlyer Miles after transfer.

So outside of Velocity transfer bonuses, you’re still best off going direct to KrisFlyer.

During a 15% bonus though:

  • 100,000 Altitude Rewards points = 40,000 KrisFlyer Miles, or…
  • 100,000 Altitude Rewards points = 57,500 Velocity Points
  • 57,500 Velocity points = 42,952 KrisFlyer Miles after transfer.

So you’ll be better off transferring Altitude Rewards points to KrisFlyer via Velocity during a 15% bonus period, if you can plan to do so. However you can’t always count on every bank rewards program being included in these promotions.

Summing Up

This obviously isn’t great news, but I think it was to be expected. Altitude Rewards was one of the last holdouts of the round of changes made to rewards credit cards this year.

It seems like Westpac have cherry-picked the frequent flyer programs that were costing them the most and reduced the earn rates for those programs accordingly – while this makes the earn tables for these cards more complex, at least Velocity wasn’t also affected ‘just because’.

The odd circumstances around how the previous changes were communicated, along with a date for them kicking in, has not been explained – and the visibility of what’s going on generally to existing and potential cardholders has not been great. Let’s assume now though that these changes will go through in November as stated.

Westpac confirms new date for transfer rate changes for Asia Miles & KrisFlyer from Altitude Rewards was last modified: February 3rd, 2020 by Keith