Westpac lowers earn rates on some Altitude cards, Altitude Black worst hit

Westpac have announced upcoming changes to the earn rates of their Altitude credit cards, with the hardest hit being the Altitude Black – but are keeping their existing arrangement of American Express companion cards alongside a MasterCard to earn the most points with a single account.

Whether you choose to earn Altitude Points or Qantas points, earn rates on both companion American Express account and overseas spend on the Mastercard account will be reduced starting 1st July 2017.

Again, AusBT got in there quickly with the scoop and 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
CardOld Earn Rates Changes in Earn RatesNew Earn Rates / Points Caps 
American ExpressMastercardAmerican ExpressMastercard
Altitude Black
(Altitude Rewards)
3 Altitude Points per $ spent1.25 Altitude Points per $ on eligible spend
3 Altitude Points per $ spent overseas
-0.5 Altitude Points per $ on the Amex

-1.75 Altitude points per $ on overseas spend with Mastercard
2.5 Altitude Points per $ spent1.25 Altitude Points per $ on all eligible spend including overseas
Altitude Black
(Qantas Points)
1.5 Qantas Points per $ spent0.625 Qantas Points per $ spent
1.5 Qantas Points per $ spend overseas
-0.25 Qantas Points per $ on the Amex
-0.875 Qantas Point per $ spent overseas
1.25 Qantas point per $0.625 Qantas Point per $ on all eligible purchases including overseas

Altitude Black effective Frequent Flyer Program earn rates from 1st July 2017:

The ‘effective earn rate’ is what we care most about when considering bank rewards programs – this is the equivalent number of points you can earn per dollar spend after factoring in the transfer rate to the likes of Velocity or KrisFlyer.

Frequent Flyer ProgramDomestic Spend Overseas Spend
American ExpressMastercardMastercard
Qantas Points1.25 point / $0.625 point / $0.625 point / $
Velocity Points1.25 point / $0.625 point / $0.625 point / $
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer1 mile / $0.5 mile / $0.5 mile / $
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 mile / $0.5 mile / $0.5 mile / $

Other notable changes are the lower point earn on ATO payments for business cards like the Westpac BusinessChoice Rewards (down to 0.33 Qantas Point per $ from 0.66 points) and Altitude Business Gold.

Summing Up

The earn rate reductions are not too painful for Altitude Black given the competition in the market – but the one reduction I find a bit confounding is the removal of the points bonus on overseas spend, given that the foreign transaction surcharges are not changing.

What banks earn from overseas transactions on credit cards, to my knowledge, are not impacted by the RBA legislation going through later this year. As a result, any changes to overseas earn rates and card surcharges are not directly linked to the legislation… and instead are likely to be about mitigating profit lost from other transactions.

That said, it’s good to see no points caps being added to the Altitude Black card, but is disappointing to see the removal of points earn at the ATO on the Amex for those who wanted to pay their personal tax bills with this card.

We’ll be updating our ATO guide and Westpac Altitude Black guides in due course.

Westpac lowers earn rates on some Altitude cards, Altitude Black worst hit was last modified: August 4th, 2017 by Keith