Following last year's changes to credit card 'interchange fees' which had sweeping effects for bank-issued American Express cards, Westpac and AMEX have teamed up to offer a new type of card combo: a Visa issued and serviced by Westpac, together with an AMEX card issued and serviced by American Express.
While it means the cards are no longer 'combined' onto one account (you'll receive separate monthly statements for each, each card has its own credit limit, and so on), you can still apply for both cards via single application, and the points you earn from all your spends are still pooled into a single rewards account.
If you're collecting Qantas Points, those will be transferred straight across to Qantas Frequent Flyer on a monthly basis, or if you opt for Altitude Rewards, your points will all be credited to the one Altitude account, keeping everything in the same place when it comes time to put your reward points to work.
With annual fee waivers in the first year combined with an offer of up to 75,000 bonus Qantas or Altitude points across both cards, here's what the Westpac Altitude Platinum credit card pairing has to offer.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle: fast facts
- Grade/tier: Platinum
- Card type: Visa + American Express
- Loyalty program: Qantas direct ('Altitude Qantas') or Altitude Rewards
- Points capping: While Westpac Altitude Platinum used to have a monthly points cap, this is no longer the case, so regardless of how much is spent every month, you'll continue earning points on eligible purchases.
- Qantas Points earned per $1 spent (Altitude Qantas, split as Visa / AMEX):
Spend within Australia, excluding ATO payments: 0.5 / 1
International transactions: 0.5 / 1.5
Charges directly with Qantas: 1.5 / 2
Payments to the ATO: No points / 0.5
- Or, Altitude points earned per $1 spent (Altitude Rewards, split as Visa / AMEX):
Spend within Australia, excluding ATO payments: 1 / 2
International transactions: 1 / 3
Payments to the ATO: No points / 1
- Altitude Rewards airline conversion partners: Virgin Australia (3:1, except Velocity Auto-Redemption which remains at 2:1), Air New Zealand (180:$1), Cathay Pacific (3:1), Malaysia Airlines (3:1) and Singapore Airlines (3:1)
- 1 Altitude point ($1 spent on Visa) = 0.33 Virgin Australia Velocity points (0.5 if using Auto-Redemption), 0.33 Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles, 0.33 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 0.33 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.0055 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars
- 2 Altitude points ($1 spent on AMEX in Australia) = 0.66 Virgin Australia Velocity points (1 Velocity point if using Velocity Auto-Redemption), 0.66 Malaysia Airlines Enrich mile, 0.66 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 0.66 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.0111 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars
Fees, charges and interest: 4.5/5
- Visa annual fee: $150, currently waived in the first year
- Separate AMEX annual fee: $49 (including in the first year)
- Qantas Rewards fee: $50/year (when earning points via Altitude Qantas)
- 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: 3.0% (both cards)
- 'Recommended' income to apply for the Visa: $30,000 p.a.
- Income requirement to apply for the AMEX: $50,000 p.a.
Earning points for free flights: 4/5
With a solid earning rate equal to 1.5 Qantas Points or 1.5 Velocity points per A$1 spent overseas on the American Express (when choosing Altitude Qantas or Velocity Auto-Redemption), this card is particularly rewarding for international travellers and those who shop regularly at overseas-based websites.
Opting-in for Qantas Points also allows you to earn two Qantas Points per $1 spent directly with Qantas, such as on Qantas Club membership costs and flight bookings in Australian dollars, on top of the points you'd normally earn when taking the flight.
Eligible new customers could also pocket up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points or up to 75,000 bonus Altitude points (equal to 37,500 Velocity points via Velocity Auto-Redemption), which come in two serves: some points from the Westpac-issued Visa, and some from the AMEX-issued AMEX.
From Westpac, there's a bonus 60,000 Qantas or Altitude points when applying by April 2 2019 and spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval using the Westpac Altitude Platinum Visa.
Then from AMEX, 15,000 bonus Qantas or Altitude points when spending a separate $3,000 on eligible purchases using the American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Card within the same time frames, giving you up to 75,000 bonus Qantas or Altitude points in total.
Just keep in mind that payments to the ATO don't accrue any points on the Altitude Platinum Visa, but you can earn 0.5 Qantas Points or the equivalent of 0.5 Velocity points per $1 spent (via Velocity Auto-Redemption) on ATO payments and all other government charges when using the American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Card.
Inclusive travel insurance: 4/5
You may qualify for complimentary international travel insurance on journeys of three months or less when pre-paying at least $500 of your travel expenses for that trip before it commences: such as paying for your flights or hotels using your Altitude credit card.
This could allow you to redeem airline frequent flyer points to book your ticket while simply using your credit card to cover off a few nights of accommodation costs while still being covered, but as always, read the policy documents carefully to ensure you qualify for the cover and that the insurance meets your needs.
Transit accident insurance and purchase security insurance are available too, along with extended warranty cover when buying eligible new appliances using your Altitude credit card: again, all subject to eligibility criteria and the policy wording, so have a good read of those documents (available from Westpac and AMEX) before deciding if these insurance products are right for you.
Airport lounge access: 0.5/5
As is standard of most Platinum-grade cards, complimentary airport lounge access isn't offered with Altitude Platinum, but is available via the higher-tier Westpac Altitude Black AMEX + World Mastercard combo.
However, customers who opt-in for Altitude Qantas can earn one extra Qantas Point per $1 spent on Qantas Club membership purchases, over and above their applicable card's regular 'everyday' earning rate.
Westpac Altitude Platinum credit card combo: the verdict
Currently with no annual card fee for the Visa in the first year, the Westpac Altitude Platinum AMEX + Visa pairing unleashes a solid earning rate on international transactions, and on spend directly with Qantas for those earning Qantas Points.
On other purchases in Australia, these cards are less rewarding than what you'd get from the Westpac Altitude Black AMEX + World Mastercard combo, but with a strong sign-up deal and access to things like AMEX Offers - where spending money at certain businesses triggers a cash rebate on your credit card statement - there's still plenty of value to be had at a modest ongoing annual fee.
Although the conversion rates from Altitude Rewards to its partner programs have recently changed, having these options still gives you the flexibility to transfer points on occasion as a 'top up' if you've already earned some points in those other schemes from flying, while converting your points at more favourable rates to Velocity when opting for Auto-Redemption.
You can apply for the Westpac Altitude Platinum credit card combo here.