Australia’s best dual credit card account: Westpac Altitude Black

By Chris Chamberlin, October 5 2017
Australia’s best dual credit card account: Westpac Altitude Black

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

NOTE: As of February 1 2018, all new Westpac Altitude Black credit card accounts will not be issued with a companion American Express card, only a Mastercard. Existing cardholders can use their Westpac-issued American Express cards until April 4 2018.

Credit cards can be a great way to earn frequent flyer points, but keeping track of your purchases, points and outstanding balances across multiple credit card accounts can be time-consuming – and that’s where ‘dual’ credit card accounts come in handy.

With both an American Express and a Visa or Mastercard attached to a single account, you still benefit from earning more points where AMEX is accepted while also collecting some points where it isn’t: all while paying only one annual fee, receiving one monthly statement and making one monthly payment which covers all of your spend, regardless of which card you used.

For new customers, a dual card account also requires only one application to receive both cards – an American Express and a ‘non-AMEX’ card – which then share the same credit limit to keep things straightforward.

Following major changes across almost all Australian banks this year in response to the RBA’s new credit card interchange fee regulations, Westpac’s Altitude Black combo emerges as the best dual credit card account in Australia, pairing an American Express card with a World Mastercard on the one account.

Awarding the highest number of points per dollar spent on everyday purchases of any ‘Big Four Bank’ American Express card, the Westpac Altitude Black AMEX delivers 1.25 Qantas Points or the equivalent of 1.25 Virgin Australia Velocity points per dollar spent, uncapped.

(Cardholders can choose the Altitude Qantas rewards option to earn Qantas Points, or the Altitude Rewards option where points can be converted across to Virgin Australia Velocity and more, although payments to the ATO don’t earn points via either option.)

That’s 25% more points per dollar spent than the comparable NAB Qantas Rewards Premium AMEX and the NAB Velocity Rewards Premium AMEX (which also provide no more points after spending $5,000 per month), and significantly trumps the CBA Diamond Awards AMEX, which now gives only 0.2 Qantas Points or 0.25 Velocity points per dollar spent on most purchases in Australia.

Then there’s the companion Westpac Altitude Black World Mastercard for earning points where American Express isn’t accepted, which provides 0.625 Qantas Points per dollar via Altitude Qantas or the equivalent of 0.625 Velocity points per dollar via Altitude Rewards, again uncapped.

NAB’s Qantas Rewards Premium Visa and Velocity Rewards Premium Visa provide only 0.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent by comparison, which is again capped at $5,000 per month across NAB’s entire AMEX + Visa dual card account: so if you’ve spent $5,000 on a NAB AMEX, you’ll earn zero points using an attached NAB Visa in the same month.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Diamond Awards World Mastercard also provides fewer Qantas Points than Westpac – 0.5/$1 compared to Westpac’s 0.625/$1 – and levies an extra $30/year charge for doing so, while capping your earn at 400,000 Qantas Points per year across both Diamond cards.

Opt for Velocity points instead (via the Commonwealth Awards program) and you can increase that slightly to 0.625 Velocity points per dollar of Mastercard spend, and while that’s the same as Westpac’s Altitude Black Mastercard, CBA caps that at 500,000 Velocity points per year.

ANZ no longer issues American Express cards at all, leaving Westpac’s Altitude Black combo as the best dual credit card account for earning frequent flyer points in Australia.

Extra features of Westpac Altitude Black

Along with earning a reasonable number of frequent flyer points on your everyday purchases, Westpac is also offering a solid sign-up offer for new customers along with a reduced annual fee of $195 in the first year (normally $395).

Eligible new customers could collect 80,000 bonus Qantas Points or 80,000 bonus Altitude Rewards points (equal to 40,000 Velocity points) when applying via this link by October 26 2017 and spending at least $5,000 on purchases within 90 days of approval, either using the AMEX or Mastercard, or a combination of both.

There’s also a further bonus of 20,000 Qantas Points or 20,000 Altitude Rewards points (10,000 Velocity points) on the table for customers who apply via Australian Business Traveller by October 26 2017, awarded on card approval.

A grand total of 100,000 Qantas Points would be enough for a return Qantas business class upgrade to Asia...
A grand total of 100,000 Qantas Points would be enough for a return Qantas business class upgrade to Asia...

Westpac’s Altitude Black cards provide four airport lounge visits each year as well, being two visits to the AMEX Sydney Airport lounge, plus either two Qantas lounge visits when choosing Altitude Qantas rewards or a complimentary Priority Pass account with two lounge visits included when choosing Altitude Rewards.

There’s also the option of having an additional cardholder on the account (such as your partner or spouse) at no extra cost to maximise the frequent flyer points you can earn, with all points credited to the primary cardholder’s rewards account each month.

A more advanced (and expensive) strategy for earning credit card points

While dual card accounts are great for time-poor spenders who want to keep things simple and straightforward, more advanced points fiends might instead choose to mix and match cards from different banks to earn the absolute highest number of points per dollar spent.

For instance, the $450/year American Express Qantas Ultimate Card provides a higher 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on everyday purchases, while the similar and $375/year American Express Velocity Platinum Card dishes up 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on the same, uncapped.

Both of those cards have higher earning rates than enjoyed via the Westpac Altitude Black AMEX, but come without a ‘backup’ card to use where AMEX isn’t accepted: so you’ll be paying a second annual fee to hold a points-earning Visa or Mastercard as well.

Heavy spenders might consider the $425 ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa which churns out one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $7,500 per month and 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent thereafter, or the $375/year ANZ Rewards Black Visa which provides the equivalent of one Velocity point per dollar spent up to $5,000 per month, and 0.5 Velocity points per dollar spent thereafter.

ANZ is currently waiving those annual fees in the first year for new customers, but for a lower ongoing annual cost – particularly if you shop where AMEX is accepted most of the time – something like the HSBC Platinum Qantas Visa could be a more affordable pairing for your AMEX.

Awarding one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $2,500 per month and 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent thereafter (up to 7,500 Qantas Points per month), a much lower ongoing annual fee of $199 applies: $649/year in total when paired with the AMEX Qantas Ultimate Card to maximise your frequent flyer points, compared to $395/year ongoing with the Westpac Altitude Black combo.


Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 300

It is just a shame the major banks other than ANZ have not signed up to Apple Pay.

05 May 2016

Total posts 564

Apple Pay is not accepted in a lot of places. I don't use it.

13 Apr 2017

Total posts 3

If the machine accepts contactless payments, then Apple Pay and Android Pay should both work as all they're doing is emulating a contactless card. Just make sure you're holding the phone to the right spot for long enough.

That said, I have encountered issues with some older machines that aren't common, specifically old ANZ Ingenico 3070 ands Commbank Ingenico 5100 machines with separate contactless readers, where they just beep angrily at you and complain, l however these machines aren't too common anymore

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2014

Total posts 50

True, but what is utterly ridiculous is the Citibank AU isn't on board when it's offered in America. I emailed Citi about 1.5 years ago re the issue and they responded stating they have no plans to support Apple Pay which is unfortunate given the number of Cards they underwrite including Coles.


03 May 2013

Total posts 479

Don't forget the Qantas Ultimate card give $450 flight credit with Qantas negating the annual fee.

05 May 2016

Total posts 564

Indeed. And with the ANZ having no annual fee for the first year you could get that and cancel it before the year's up and if you can't find a better option then consider getting this Westpac card.

27 May 2012

Total posts 1

As you indicated in the article you can no longer gain points for paying the ATO. Up until they changed that I agree it was the best combo card.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Nov 2016

Total posts 5

Chris - I am confused and have two questions! First, Which card will give me the better rate on conversion from dollars spent to SIA miles - a Westpac Altitude Black or my existing Amex Explorer? Also, I have an old Westpac Earth Black which gives QF miles but I want to switch entirely to SIA for the future. Westpac tell me that 'you have to use up your points within 3 months of cancellation of the card' Surely once they have gone to QF they can't claw them back? (I don't have many left anyway, but its odd....).

Hi austrav, while we can't give readers personal financial advice, we can say more generally that Westpac Altitude Black currently adopts a 2.5:1 conversion rate for converting Altitude points into KrisFlyer miles, while Explorer uses a 4:3 conversion rate. However, you should also consider the earning rates of your desired card, and how that will translate into KrisFlyer miles. (Explorer earns the equivalent of 1.5 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent, for example, while WBC Altitude Black earns the equivalent of 1.0 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent via AMEX.)

Secondly, Westpac's comment may have been referring to Altitude Rewards points which are housed with the bank and later converted into frequent flyer points, not Qantas Points which are already in your account. We can't speak on behalf of Westpac, but once you've earned frequent flyer points in your actual frequent flyer account, banks can't normally pull them out (except where there's been an error or a refunded purchase). That said, Westpac is your contact here.

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