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 Mastercard credit card 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 Roo, simply opt for 'Altitude Qantas' instead.
New cardholders who apply by June 2 2019, are approved and spend at least $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval could also receive a bonus 80,000 Qantas Points or 80,000 Altitude points (equal to 26,666 Velocity points).
With reasonable earning rates and elevated income and credit limit requirements, we'd peg this card as a reasonable fit for working professionals with heavy spending and travel habits: less so for those on lower incomes.
Westpac Altitude Black: fast facts
- Grade/tier: Black
- Card type: Mastercard
- Loyalty program: Qantas Frequent Flyer direct or Altitude Rewards
- Points capping: Earn uncapped points without tiering via either rewards option.
- Qantas Points earned per dollar (Qantas Frequent Flyer option):
Everyday spend, excluding ATO payments: 0.75
Spend directly with Qantas: 1.75
- Or, Altitude Rewards points earned per dollar (Altitude Rewards option):
All spend, except for ATO payments: 1.25
- Altitude Rewards airline conversion partners: Virgin Australia (3:1), Air New Zealand (180:$1), Cathay Pacific (3:1), Malaysia Airlines (3:1) and Singapore Airlines (3:1)
- 1.25 Altitude Rewards points ($1 spent) = 0.416 Virgin Australia Velocity points, 0.416 Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles, 0.416 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 0.416 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.00694 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars
Fees, charges and interest: 4/5
- Annual fee: $250
- Qantas Rewards fee: $50/year (when earning points via Altitude Qantas)
- Additional cardholder fee: $0
- Interest rate on purchases: 20.49% p.a.
- Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 45
- Interest rate on cash advances: 21.49% p.a.
- International transaction fee: 3.0%
- 'Recommended' income 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 card.
Choose 'Altitude Qantas' and a near-free Sydney-Melbourne hop in Qantas economy is yours after spending $10,667 on purchases, or, choose the regular Altitude Rewards option and convert your points to Virgin Australia for a Sydney-Melbourne flight after a spend of $18,720.
Customers opting for Altitude Qantas also collect an additional Qantas Point per dollar spent on Qantas flight bookings and Qantas Club membership purchases, although an extra fee of $50/year now applies for this opt-in, and note that Qantas Points can't be manually converted from Altitude Rewards, so that opt-in path is the only way to earn Qantas Points from this account.
Also don't forget Westpac's offer of 80,000 bonus Qantas Points or 80,000 bonus Altitude points (equal to 26,666 Velocity points via Velocity Auto-Redemption) for eligible new cardholders who apply by June 2 2019 and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval, which can get you flying even faster.
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 card 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: 2/5
Altitude Black cardholders are treated to two airport lounge visits each year, depending on their frequent flyer earning preferences.
Cardholders collecting Qantas Points 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 card: the verdict
With a $250 annual fee, the Westpac Altitude Black card appeals to higher spenders and frequent travellers, and may quickly pay for itself if you're poised to take full advantage of the benefits.
Included on that roster: complimentary airport lounge visits, uncapped frequent flyer points and the long list of insurance covers, which can help you wind up ahead.
Note that while an extra $50/year charge now applies when earning Qantas Points – taking the total yearly cost to $300 – that's still lower than the card's previous all-inclusive annual fee of $395, with even higher savings enjoyed by those choosing to earn Altitude Rewards points instead.
You can apply for the Westpac Altitude Black credit card here.