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Westpac’s credit card designers were certainly at the top of their game when they came up with the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card, which neatly packages most of the features that any credit card user could ask for, even though it comes with the usual hefty fee for a black credit card. If you choose this card, you’ll want to hang around for at least a year to make the most of the multiple benefits, including choice of rewards, high points earning rates coupled with substantial bonus points, and a suite of complimentary benefits.
Qantas or Altitude points? Take your pick.
Qantas frequent flyers can choose to earn QFF points, while anyone can opt for Westpac Altitude Rewards and redeem points for a range of consumer products, entertainment and travel, financial services and shopping gift cards, or even put them towards the purchase price of a new Holden. While you usually get a far greater dollar value from QFF points, Altitude points have the advantage of offering a larger range of redemption options, including converting them to points with Altitude’s partner airlines, which include Virgin Australia, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific.
Your points choice is not set in concrete, because you can switch between the two rewards programs as often as you like. Just remember to allow a few days for the change to be processed, and bear in mind that the points already earned cannot be transferred between programs.
You can also set up auto-redemption for Virgin Australia Velocity points, automatically receiving one Velocity point in exchange for every two Altitude points you earn.
Westpac’s highest points earning rate, uncapped
Here are the points earning rates:
0.75 QFF points or 1.25 Altitude points per dollar spent
While the Qantas points earn rate is not as high as that of some competing cards, it does have the advantage of being unrestricted by any points cap or threshold. Earn as many Qantas or Altitude points as you like, every month.
'Golden hello’ bonus points
Effectively a sign-up reward, a whopping 80,000 points (QFF or Altitude, depending on your initial reward choice) will be credited to your account, as long as you spend a minimum of $3,000 in 90 days of account approval. That’s $1,000 per month, an achievable target for most people considering a black-tier credit card.
To give you an idea of what this is worth, 80,000 points will buy you around $380 worth of retail gift cards delivered electronically, while 80,000 points is almost enough for a return economy flight to Los Angeles (90,000 points). Convert the Altitude points to Velocity, and the resulting 40,000 points could be used for five economy flights between Sydney and Melbourne (39,000 points).
Annual fee typically high
If you choose to earn Altitude Rewards points, the annual fee for this card is a reasonably high $250 p.a.. For any year in which you choose to earn Qantas points, you’ll pay an extra $50, bringing the annual fee to $300. While these are not small numbers, they are fairly typical given the points earning rates and attached complimentary benefits.
Almost every conceivable complementary benefit
This is the area where, on top of the high points earning rate, the card justifies its annual fee. (Note that you can get an additional card free of charge, unlike similar cards which charge around $65 for every extra cardholder.)
The extensive, money-saving complementary benefits include:
That’s quite a list, and it not only matches but in many cases exceeds the benefits offered with other black cards.
Anyone interested in a top-of-the-range card like this is unlikely to be concerned by the card’s interest rates, since they probably plan to pay off their purchase balance in full every month. But for the record, the purchases interest rate is 20.24% p.a., while the cash advance interest rate is slightly higher at 20.74% p.a.
Competing black cards
If you’re in the market for a black card, you’ll need to compare Westpac’s offerings with ANZ Rewards Black and ANZ Frequent Flyer Black cards, the NAB Rewards Signature Card and NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card, plus the Citi Prestige Card.
Westpac Altitude Black is designed for . . .
. . . someone who wants it all and can afford to pay for it, but still expects top value per dollar spent: a choice of Altitude Rewards or QFF points, a high points earning rate, bonus points, airport lounges passes and free insurance cover that’s better in many respects than the cover provided by competing cards.
Using Altitude card for a long time. When contacted customer service is very helpful. On two occasions when security of the cart was bridged, Westpac acted really quickly in informing as and replacing card. I using this card almost for all payments and found it very convenient way in dialling in different financial maters.
$395 annual fee. Rewards are pretty standard compared to the other big banks. AmEx Velocity (annual fee $349) is better — free domestic flight anywhere plus points, insurance etc)
If I need to speak to a customer rep it is easy (direct phone line).
3 points to the dollar on AmEx, 1.25 points to the dollar on MasterCard. As a family we rack up points quickly, and convert them to fuel and Woolies cards
I’ve had 2 non-authorised transactions in the past, but Westpac was quick to review and rectify.
My hubby worked for Westpac, so we’re not paying fees. I love the rewards they offer, including vouchers and so much else to choose from.
Whenever I need help I ring the help desk and always get a prompt solution from a representative.
Cards are always replaced quickly if lost. Whenever we had fraudulent transactions they always rang to make sure everything was OK.
This is a good and easy card to use. The rewards are quite good and you get extra points if you use their Bonus Partners or the American Express. The only problem is that a lot of merchants don’t except the AmEx or charge extra for it. The points never run out so can be used indefinitely, which is good, and there are a lot of different options for cashing out such as products, gift vouchers, and flights. The statement is straightforward and easy to understand.
I tend to use the American Express card more than the MasterCard because of the accumulation of points — not that I have ever redeemed any points, but I have accumulated a great many in the hope of one day redeeming them.
Most of my purchases are made online, so the card is convenient. I don’t like carrying lots of cash, so in store the card is convenient.
I think the cards are good looking and having a MasterCard with American Express is a great idea as many businesses do not accept AmEx. Rewards look great too. The annual fee, however, is an absolute rip off in my opinion. I think Westpac thinks they are AmEx Centurion or Visa Infinite, but they are not!
I saved lots of money by using the 0% balance transfer offer. I transferred another bank credit card balance to my Westpac black card.
I also earned lots of rewards points by using the card to pay bills and for shopping.
I got the card as part of my home loan package, so I don’t have to pay an annual fee of $395 again.
I’m happy with the way things work for me with this card. The Interest rate is good with days to pay, so I don’t have to pay the full amount each month.
The bank is good with communications and updates and statements on a regular basis.
The card is accepted at most places that I shop.
This credit card comes with some great handy features such as free travel insurance, extended warranty insurance and global lounge access through Priority Pass network.
The card also comes with complimentary SPG Gold membership, which is good for staying at Sheraton and Le Meridien hotels around the world.
The downside is high interest charges as well as a very high annual fee.
I had very good customer service when my card was scammed. I was reimbursed very quickly, and new cards were issued within a couple of days. Westpac knew I was scammed before I knew! Very diligent!
I would certainly recommend this card from Westpac bank, and I couldn’t live without it as I use it for nearly all my transactions so that I can keep an account of my spending.
|Cash advances||1.73%||20.74% p.a.|
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $250 claim once every 5 years. There is no retail market for all-encompassing extended warranty insurance covering more than one item, so no premium saving.
Guaranteed pricing / price protection insurance
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $100 claim once every 10 years. Extensive conditions apply. There is no retail market for this type of insurance, so no premium saving.
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $200 claim once every 5 years. There is no retail market for this type of insurance, so no premium saving.
Interstate flight inconvenience insurance
Valuation based on similar domestic travel insurance policies available online that include interstate flight inconvenience.
Overseas travel insurance
Valuation based on similar annual travel insurance policies available online for trips of up to 60 days.
Rental vehicle excess cover (separate from travel insurance)
Valuation based on similar rental vehicle excess insurance policies available online.
Transit accident insurance
Valuation based on similar global transit accident insurance policies available online.
Waived Qantas Frequent Flyer joining fee
Valuation based on $89.50 Qantas Frequent Flyer joining fee spread over 5 years. Note that this benefit does not apply if cardholder chooses Altitude Rewards rather than Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
|Total estimated value||$1,391|
|Net customer value||$1,141|