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When it comes to choosing the ideal credit card, it makes sense to have your own wishlist against which any card’s features can be checked. So if yours reads something like this – Rewards Points, Bonus Points, Flexibility, Complimentary Benefits, Security – you need to seriously consider the Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card. Prepare to be surprised at how much you get for a fee that’s probably lower than you expect.
So let’s roll out the wishlist.
Tick this one off right away, because this is a rewards card account. You can choose between Westpac’s proprietary Altitude Rewards points or Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Here are the relevant earning rates, not the highest available, but quite reasonable for the price of the card:
Altitude points never expire as long as you hold an Altitude card, and Qantas points won’t expire provided you don’t go longer than 18 months without earning or using some points, even if it’s just a few.
There are points caps to be aware of. Altitude points are capped at 7,500 per month, while Qantas Points are capped at 3,750 per month. This is unlikely to trouble most cardholders, since you’d need to outlay $7,500 in a single month to earn 7,500 Altitude points or 3,750 Qantas points. If you regularly spend this much, you would probably find the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card a better fit.
When you first start collecting points, accumulating enough of them to redeem your first reward can seem like climbing a mountain. Credit card issuers have recognised this, and many cards now have a sign-up or first purchase bonus designed to give your points account a kickstart and boost your enthusiasm.
So here’s another wish you can fulfil. The bonus with this card is a very generous 60,000 points, earned by spending $3,000 in 90 days of holding it. That’s not such a high target – $1,000 per month – especially when the $30,000 minimum recommended income, as a basis for card application, is taken into account.
Since you have a choice, the bonus is particularly substantial if you start by selecting the more valuable Qantas points rather than Altitude points. You can switch later if you want to.
You can choose between Altitude and Qantas points, but your decision is not set in concrete. You can switch between the two programs to suit your needs as often as you like (although any points already earned will remain in the program in which they started). Travelling a lot this year? Choose Qantas points. Shopping a lot next year? Switch to Altitude points to earn retail vouchers.
Secondly, both loyalty programs are loaded with redemption options.
Qantas points redemption options
Qantas gives you award flights, not just with Qantas but with more than 30 affiliated airlines, including Jetstar. This is by far the most cost effective way to use points. Those 60,000 points will get you all the way from Australia’s east coast to New York or Europe (60,000 points).
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also use Qantas points for Qantas flight upgrades, and merchandise and retail gift cards from the Qantas store (although these last two options don’t deliver anywhere near as much value per point as air travel does).
Added flexibility is granted by the Points + Pay option, in case you don’t have quite enough points for your chosen redemption and wish to pay the balance in cash. Plus, you can earn one bonus point, on top of the normal points, for every dollar you spend with the card on purchasing Qantas flights.
Altitude points redemption options
Not to be outdone, Altitude also lets you fly with your points, allowing you to convert them into frequent flyer points with five partner airlines: Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Malaysian Airlines. Even more airlines can be accessed through Altitude Travel. The Altitude online store also has a range of merchandise and gift cards similar to those found at Qantas, but generally requiring lower card spending for the equivalent redemption.
Additional Altitude program features include the option to apply points against the purchase price of a new Holden, and the ability to set up Velocity points auto-redemption, to have one Velocity point credited to your Virgin Australia frequent flyer account in exchange for every two Altitude points you earn. Just set and forget.
Your platinum card wishlist wouldn’t be complete without some platinum lifestyle complimentary benefits. Here’s what you’ll get with this card:
Although security may be last on your list, it should perhaps come first, because you won’t be able to take advantage of any of the benefits if you’re hesitant about using the card because of concerns about fraud. But Westpac gives you a Fraud Money Back Guarantee (provided you follow a few simple precautions) and also participates in the Verified by Visa one-time password systems for more secure online shopping.
If you download the Westpac mobile banking app to your Samsung smartphone you will transform your phone into a digital wallet for Tap & Go payments (because using the card itself for Tap & Go is so last century). You can also use a secure fingerprint log-in on your phone for card payments, get a Quick Balance for your card account or points account in seconds, and put your account on hold with a few taps if you temporarily misplace the card (saving you the annoyance of having to cancel a card you later find).
If you truly want to pay on the go, you also have the option of paying with a Westpac PayWear waterproof wristband or your Fitbit.
Here’s a benefit that’s probably not on your list because you didn’t know it existed. If you manage to run up a balance on your card that you are struggling to repay, or if you make a major purchase that you’ll need time to clear from your account, you can choose to commit to a SmartPlan monthly repayment program and take advantage of an interest rate that’s lower than the advertised purchase interest rate – 18.24% p.a instead of the normal 20.24% p.a.
High foreign transaction fees
Something that certainly won’t be on your 'most wanted’ list is a foreign transaction fee, but it’s an unfortunate reality. The transaction fee for foreign currency payments, and overseas merchant fees even if in Australian dollars, is 3% of the amount spent.
None of this will be a problem if you don’t intend to use the card overseas or online, but it’s something you need to be aware of (and most cards do charge a foreign transaction fee of up to 3%).
Reasonable annual fee
With an annual fee of $150 p.a. and no charge for a supplementary card, it costs less than you might expect for a platinum rewards card with tons of options and heaps of benefits.
How does it compare with similar platinum rewards cards?
'Platinum Rewards’ is one of the most popular varieties of credit cards, but for the sake of brevity, here are three of the card’s strongest competitors:
What’s missing from all of these cards, however, is the element of choice. Although the ANZ card comes in an alternative variety offering solely Qantas points (the ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum Credit Card) there are very few cards which allow you to switch between two loyalty programs at will, as this Westpac card does, and access Qantas points at a relatively low price.
A card that ticks all the boxes
Looking back at that credit card wishlist, with most cards you may find it difficult to tick everything off without paying more than you were prepared for. But this card has the advantages of a satisfactory points earning rate, an upfront points bonanza, significant platinum benefits, security and hi-tech convenience, and an acknowledgment that sometimes you may need to change your mind without changing your card.
The one overlimit fee I was charged was more than the amount I was over limit. My other accounts would have covered it so disappointed not contacted. Accepted worldwide which is wonderful for travelling. Have learnt to ensure a good balance on card before travelling though. Having just one card for debit and a credit is very useful.
We were offered this particular credit card as a result of over 50 years of being a loyal customer with both personal, business and retirement accounts over this time.
We pay no annual fees on this card, which includes comprehensive travel insurance when using the card to purchase air fares, cruises and overseas accommodation. We also accumulate frequent flyer points on practically every purchase made with this card.
I do not believe this offer would be possible with any other credit card provider.
I’m very happy with the Visa, but the American Express does not have a chip and sometimes does not go through. Why is this, do you think? I would be even more happy with the Altitude Platinum Credit Card if a chip was provided on both the Visa and the Amex.
I would also prefer it if the second card had a different number on it so one could tell who had used the credit card, the primary cardolder or the secondary cardholder
My Westpac Altitude came with both MasterCard and AmEx credit cards with 1 point per dollar on MasterCard and 2 points per dollar on AmEx. I think Altitude is a good rewards program because the reward points can be used for flights direct from a range of airlines if you want, or for other things through the store. The flexibility is a real plus point.
I have used this credit card for the past 6 years and managed to collect rewards to a substantial value. I use the card for almost every single transaction. From groceries to bills to donations. I save my Altitude points to get Harvey Norman gift cards. I have redeemed almost $800 in gift cards to date.
As a free service that came with our home loan, this card provides us with total security when overseas, plus gives us a further fee-free travel insurance cover. It also has an attached platinum American Express card, which provides extra frequent flyer points when we use it for purchases. Also, the frequent flyer points accumulated by using either card have been very useful when booking flights.
I have had this card for years and never had a problem. I pay it off in full every month so that interest never accrues. It is accepted everywhere and often I can use the American Express version of the card, which then gives me more frequent flyer points.
The only point I don’t like is that Westpac puts a cap on how many points you can earn. We use this credit card for everything, so it could potentially earn a lot more points.
I use this card to pay for nearly all my purchases which I then pay off in full every month. Receiving the added bonus of points is useful as I then apply and have received many practical items to help make my dollar stretch that bit further. Overall a beneficial card when you can pay it off in full.
This credit card is convenient and easy to use. Westpac’s new cash-back system for cardholders can also save you hundreds. However, if you don’t travel much or use Visa concierge services, it is a very expensive card for daily shopping and rewards. Westpac provides exceptional security against credit card fraud.
I believe the fees to be quite high, especially for loyal long-term customers with a great credit rating.
I think the Interest rate is too high, and obscene for any cash advances given current interest rates.
Loyal long-term customers should be considered for better interest rates on the odd occasion they may be charged for not paying on time.
|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.
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.
Overseas travel insurance
Valuation based on similar annual travel insurance policies available online for trips of up to 60 days.
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||$1,059|
|Net customer value||$909|