Westpac is making some changes to its Altitude Rewards credit card points scheme in November with new points transfer rates applying to many of its partner frequent flyer programs, affecting cards like Altitude Platinum and Altitude Black.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be earning fewer points on your everyday purchases – here’s what’s changing, and how you can keep those all-important credit card points flowing in beyond November.
Westpac Altitude Rewards changes: what’s happening?
From November 9 2018, the number of frequent flyer points you’ll get in return for manually converting your Altitude points will change, as follows:
|Current Altitude transfer rate||Transfer rate from November 9|
|Virgin Australia Velocity||2 Altitude points = 1 Velocity point||3 Altitude points = 1 Velocity point|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles||2.5 Altitude points = 1 KrisFlyer mile||3 Altitude points = 1 KrisFlyer mile|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||2.5 Altitude points = 1 Asia Mile||3 Altitude points = 1 Asia Mile|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles||2 Altitude points = 1 Enrich mile||3 Altitude points = 1 Enrich mile|
There’ll also be a small change to the minimum number of Altitude points that can be converted to Velocity, switching from a minimum transfer of 2 Altitude points – currently worth one Velocity point – to 6 Altitude points, which will equal two Velocity points.
Westpac Altitude Rewards: what’s not changing?
Critically, the conversion rate from Altitude Rewards to Virgin Australia Velocity is not changing for those who enrol in Velocity Auto-Redemption: that is, where the Altitude points you earn from your credit card are automatically sent to Velocity every month.
Even after November 9, those conversions will continue to run at a 2:1 rate, as opposed to the new 3:1 rate taking effect on manual transfers, so if you’re already using Velocity Auto-Redemption or you know you’ll want Velocity points and decide to switch this on, your points will continue to be transferred at the same rate as today.
The conversion rate on points transfers from Altitude into Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars also remains unchanged at 180 Altitude points = 1 AirNZ Airpoints Dollar.
Westpac Altitude Rewards: maximising your points
It should go without saying, but if you’re sitting on a pile of Westpac Altitude points and were ultimately planning to transfer them to KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Enrich, making those transfers before November 9 gets that conversion locked in at today’s more favourable rates.
Having said that, some of these partner frequent flyer programs adopt their own points expiry rules, so while your points won’t disappear when sitting in your Altitude account, transferring them to a frequent flyer program can start the clock ticking on their lifetime, so have a plan as to how you’ll spend them before their time is up.
For Velocity members, Auto-Redemption provides the best bet going forward, but keep in mind that when you do switch this on, your entire existing balance of Altitude points will be converted to Velocity, along with any new points you earn.
Accordingly, if you wanted to spread your points around by converting some of them across to a different airline frequent flyer program, you’ll need to do this before enabling Velocity Auto-Redemption.
One final tip: after the November changes take effect, cardholders collecting KrisFlyer miles would actually earn the most points by opting-in to Velocity Auto-Redemption, and subsequently transferring them onward from Velocity to KrisFlyer, because of the difference in conversion rates, and Virgin Australia’s direct points transfer partnership with Singapore Airlines.
It’s a little more complex, but gives you 11% more KrisFlyer miles in your account from the same starting balance of Altitude points, by auto-converting them to Velocity at a 2:1 rate, and then from Velocity to KrisFlyer at the program’s own 1.35:1 rate, which is more favourable than the direct 3:1 conversion from Altitude to KrisFlyer.