Westpac Altitude Black American Express, Mastercard credit cards

Review: Westpac Altitude Black American Express, Mastercard credit cards

What's Hot

  • Choice to earn points in six frequent flyer programs
  • Fast track to SPG Gold status
  • Four free airport lounge visits each year

What's Not

  • Reduced earn rates on Mastercard spend

X-Factor

  • 80,000 + 20,000 bonus points for eligible new customers

Introduction

If you want the flexibility to earn points on your credit card spend but to choose where they wind up at a later date, Westpac's Altitude Black American Express + World Mastercard credit card combo could be just what you're looking for.

You'll have the freedom to first earn points in the Altitude Rewards program before transferring them to the likes of Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and two other carriers, or if you're entwined with the Red Roo, simply opt for 'Altitude Qantas' instead.

New cardholders who apply by October 26 2017, are approved and spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval could also receive a bonus 80,000 Qantas or Altitude points

On top of this, Westpac is offering a further 20,000 bonus points on card approval to customers that apply via Australian Business Traveller by October 26, in addition to the standard offer of 80,000 bonus points.

With reasonable earning rates on everyday American Express transactions and elevated income and credit limit requirements, we'd peg these cards as a good fit for working professionals with heavy spending and travel habits: less so for those on lower incomes.

Westpac Altitude Black cards: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Black
  • Card type: American Express + World Mastercard
  • Loyalty program: Qantas Frequent Flyer direct or Altitude Rewards
  • Altitude Rewards airline partners: Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines
  • Qantas Points earned per dollar (Qantas Frequent Flyer option):
         American Express transactions (except ATO payments): 1.25
         Mastercard transactions (excludes ATO): 0.625
  • Or, Altitude Rewards points earned per dollar (Altitude Rewards option):
         American Express transactions (except ATO payments): 2.5
         Mastercard transactions (excludes ATO): 1.25

  • Altitude Rewards airline partners: Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines
  • 2.5 Altitude Rewards points ($1 spent on AMEX) = 1.25 Virgin Australia Velocity points, 1.25 Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles, 1 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 1 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.0138 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars
  • 1.25 Altitude Rewards point ($1 spent on Mastercard) = 0.625 Virgin Australia Velocity points, 0.625 Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles, 0.5 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 0.5 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.00694 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars
  • Points capping: Earn uncapped points without tiering via either rewards option

Fees, charges and interest: 4/5

  • Annual fee: $395 ($195 in the first year for new customers)
  • Additional cardholder fee: $0
  • Interest rate on purchases: 20.24% p.a.
  • Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 45
  • Interest rate on cash advances: 20.74% p.a.
  • International transaction fee: 3.5% (AMEX), 3.0% (Mastercard)
  • 'Recommended' income requirement to apply: $75,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $15,000

Earning points for free flights: 4.5/5

Whether you choose Qantas Frequent Flyer or Altitude Rewards as your loyalty program, there's no limit to the number of points you can earn from your Altitude Black cards.

Choose 'Altitude Qantas' and a near-free Sydney-Melbourne hop in Qantas economy is yours after spending $6,400 on the AMEX or $12,800 on Mastercard purchases within Australia.

Similarly, choose the regular Altitude Rewards option and convert your points to Virgin Australia Velocity for a similar Sydney-Melbourne flight after a spend of $6,240 on the AMEX, or $12,480 on the Mastercard at home.

Customers opting for Altitude Qantas also collect an additional Qantas Point per dollar when booking Qantas flights or paying for their Qantas Club membership.

Also don't forget Westpac's generous offer of 80,000 bonus Qantas Points or 80,000 bonus Altitude points (equal to 40,000 Velocity points) for eligible new cardholders which can get you flying even faster, plus a further offer of 20,000 bonus points when you apply via Australian Business Traveller.

Inclusive travel insurance: 4.5/5

International journeys of six months or less are covered by Westpac's complimentary insurance offering – underwritten by QBE – provided you hold a return ticket and charge at least A$500 of eligible travel costs to your Altitude Black cards before departing Australia.

That amount can be your flights, any airport and departure taxes, pre-paid accommodation and any 'overseas itinerary items' such as an arranged tour, so you could even book your flights using points and simply pre-pay a night or two of accommodation to still be covered.

Joining this is a generous array of other cover including transit accident insurance; interstate flight inconvenience insurance; purchase security, extended warranty and 'price guarantee' covers and even rental car excess cover of up to $5,500 when hiring in Australia.

Airport lounge access: 4/5

Altitude Black cardholders are treated to four airport lounge visits each year, which is on the generous side as most cards that offer this perk provide only half as many.

Two of those visits can take place at the American Express Sydney Airport lounge prior to any international flights, utilised either on separate trips or at the same time if travelling with a companion – just present your Altitude Black AMEX card for access.

Relax in the American Express Sydney Airport Lounge, even when flying economy...

Your other two passes vary based on your frequent flyer preferences.

Cardholders earning Qantas Points via their card get two free Qantas Club visits each year, while those opting for Altitude Rewards points get a free Priority Pass membership, complete with two visits every year to any of the 1,000+ lounges in its network.

Westpac Altitude Black credit cards: the verdict

With a $395 annual fee after year one, the Westpac Altitude Black card certainly appears pricey on the surface – but for the higher spenders and frequent travellers this card targets, it can quickly pay for itself.

It's also helped by a generous promotion within the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program, granting Gold-level status to World Mastercard holders (including Westpac Altitude Black) after making just one stay within Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

In turn, that provides you with 50% more Starpoints whenever staying at hotels like Westin, Sheraton and St. Regis along with welcome amenities, free room upgrades, a 4pm late check-out and more: all tangible benefits as you travel.

Add that to your complimentary airport lounge visits, uncapped frequent flyer points earned at reasonable rates and the long list of insurance covers and you'll almost certainly wind up ahead.

You can apply for the Westpac Altitude Black credit cards here.

Chris Chamberlin
Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

-2 Comment

  • twiningb

    twiningb

    11 Jul, 2016 12:56 pm

    The sample size is small, but I think it's worth noting that in my experience:

    For transactions processed the same day, despite the higher FTF rate, USD purchases came out slightly cheaper in AUD on the AmEx; conversely, GBP purchases came out slightly cheaper in AUD on the MasterCard. This is worth keeping in mind since the overseas points earn is identical. Conveniently, AmEx acceptance is near-ubiquitous in the US but much lower in the UK.

    In general, I'm very happy with this package.

    No member give thanks

  • Guvner

    Guvner

    2 Aug, 2017 03:56 pm

    Little tip if you get the Qantas version, you can still register for priority pass. So you get both teh QC invites and teh PP card.
    No member give thanks

  • Victor Perez

    vperez

    3 Aug, 2017 09:49 pm

    Wait, what. I've had the Qantas version for years and was unaware of this. 
    No member give thanks

  • Joe

    Joe

    3 Aug, 2017 12:06 pm

    ANZ wake up and take note. 1.25 QF points  per dollar spent on your now Visa only offering for Black card holders is in order. Capping it at 7500 is also too low-its a black card it should be uncapped!
    No member give thanks

  • Mr Mink

    Mr Mink

    5 Oct, 2017 12:46 am

    still impatiently waiting on the 80K bonus QF pts (I was approved at beginning of June - they do threaten up to 12 weeks before you get em. Any experience from others on how long it takes in real life?
    No member give thanks

  • joon8483

    joon8483

    16 Oct, 2017 04:12 pm

    Why did you say "fast track to SPG gold status"? This card doesn't earn starpoints
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    16 Oct, 2017 04:14 pm

    Click the links in the article to learn more. It's a promotion through Mastercard and SPG which boosts you to Gold status after your first stay. We never said that the card could directly earn points with SPG, however.
    No member give thanks

Guest

20 Oct, 2017 01:46 am

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