How Westpac's latest credit card changes will affect you

By Chris Chamberlin, November 27 2017
Disclaimer

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.

  • $50 yearly fee to earn Qantas Points
  • No points cap on Platinum cards
  • Changes to Altitude Black earn rate, annual fee

Westpac is reshuffling its Altitude credit cards deck and dealing out some surprisingly good news: some spenders will fork out less in fees to earn more points, with others are being unleashed from the confines of their current monthly points cap.

The changes come in preparation of the bank’s new partnership with American Express, which will see AMEX directly-issuing Westpac-branded credit cards as standalone products from next year, separate to the bank’s Mastercard and Visa cards which continue to be provided by Westpac.

Here’s how Westpac’s latest round of revamps affect you.

Westpac firms up timeline for closing American Express cards

Westpac will stop directly-issuing new American Express credit cards from February 1 2018, the bank has confirmed, with all existing Westpac-issued American Express cards to be cancelled on April 4 2018.

That doesn’t mean your entire Westpac credit card account will be shut down, as you’ll still be able to spend on your Westpac Visa or Mastercard: you just won’t be able to buy things using your existing Westpac American Express card after that date.

Ahead of this change, Westpac’s new line-up of American Express rewards cards will be unveiled in “early 2018” – and as these will be issued directly by American Express Australia, we expect to learn more about the transition options for existing Westpac cardholders when the new cards launch.

Read more: Westpac to stop directly-issuing American Express cards

Westpac Altitude annual fee shuffle

The bank’s top-of-the-line Altitude Black Mastercard will become more affordable next year with the current ongoing annual fee of $395 decreasing to $250 as of April 4 2018.

However, choosing to earn Qantas Points on any Altitude Black, Platinum or Classic credit card (by opting-in to the ‘Altitude Qantas’ rewards option) will attract a new yearly ‘Qantas Rewards Fee’ of $50, over and above the card’s regular annual fee.

For Altitude Black cardholders, that’s still $95/year less in fees compared to the current pricing – or an even-higher $145/year saving for those earning Altitude Rewards points instead – although Platinum and Classic cardholders will pay more overall than they do now to earn Qantas Points.

No additional rewards fee will apply when choosing to earn points via the Altitude Rewards program instead, from which credit card points can be converted into frequent flyer points with Virgin Australia Velocity, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and more.

No more points capping on Platinum cards

Currently, Westpac Altitude Platinum cardholders can earn up to 3,750 Qantas Points per month via Altitude Qantas, or the equivalent of 3,750 Velocity points per month via Altitude Rewards (delivered as 7,500 Altitude points).

From April 4 2018, that points cap disappears, allowing cardholders to earn an unlimited number of points on their everyday purchases: helping to offset the additional $50/year fee as will apply to earn Qantas Points from the same date.

The number of points Platinum cardholders can earn per dollar spent remains unchanged and will not be subject to ‘tiering’ – where the earn rate is reduced after spending a certain amount each month – with the points cap also being removed on the no-longer-for-sale Altitude Platinum Plus cards.

Earn more Qantas Points on the Altitude Black Mastercard

Whipping out Westpac’s Altitude Black Mastercard currently delivers 0.625 Qantas Points per dollar spent when earning points through the Altitude Qantas scheme.

From April 4 2018, that earn rate increases to 0.75 Qantas Points per dollar spent, being 20% more points than are earned today, and for a lower annual cost at that ($300 all-inclusive from the same date, against the current $395 fee).

Customers enrolled in the Altitude Rewards program will continue to earn 1.25 Altitude points per dollar spent on their Altitude Black Mastercard, equal to 0.625 Velocity points (no change), with all other Westpac Visa and Mastercards continuing to earn the same number of points per dollar spent as well.

Disclaimer

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 with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

It will be quite interesting to find out what the incentive will be for existing Westpac card holder to apply a Westpac branded Amex card and if the 2 Amex issued CC per person rule will apply. I personally have the explorer and edge which I feel is the best combo for me at the moment and I don't see myself applying a separate Westpac branded Amex unless there are some other great perks. Certainly I ain't going to cancel my explorer or edge.
That's certainly something we'll be asking Westpac and AMEX when the details of the new cards are unveiled. It's my understanding that the David Jones cards don't contribute towards your AMEX 'credit card count' in terms of how many cards you can hold (in the same way that existing AMEX cardholders can still earn bonus points when applying for a new David Jones card, for example), so we'll be sure to suss out the rules for the new Westpac cards when launched.

03 Jul 2017

Total posts 4

What card do you use when you cannot use an amex?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Apr 2013

Total posts 12

Thanks for the heads up Chris. Will be interesting to see how they manage the fees under Westpac's Premier Advantage Package which provides fee free cards. Will they add on the $50 if you want to continue to earn FF points or add this to their benefits offering. Also if Amex are going alone with their issuance, will that remove the fee free card from the package and start to charge? Second also...! Will Amex debits be taken away from Westpac internet banking and added to their own site? I

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 35

I have used my Westpac Amex card as a guarantee for several overseas hotel bookings next May to July which I am now in discussion with hotels.com as the best way to change the card being used as some hotels overseas pre authorize the card early in the day you are checking in and if it fails they may cancel your reservation. Had this issue earlier this year when a card I used was to book a hotel was cancelled due to fraud and the hotel tried to pre authorize on the card the morning of my arrival and it failed. In that instance there wasn't a problem but I can imagine some people being caught out.
JPeuty Banned
JPeuty Banned

07 Nov 2017

Total posts 29

Don't stress, in my experience, hotels.com is a good outfit that will sort these matters out.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 11

Any idea how the Westpac SQ KrisFlyer card might be effected?
As this card hasn't been available to new customers for several years now, existing cardholders can contact Westpac for further information.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 137

Hopefully the qantas fee will be waived for customers with a Home Loan package. With the reduction in CC fees, the value of the package loses some of its lustre...
Di
Di

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 8

Then there are people like me who have retired and more than likely won't qualify if I have to apply for a new card, but have continued to make my monthly payments on my Black Altitude card without any problem.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 May 2015

Total posts 5

From Westpac :


Important notice - Your Singapore Airlines Westpac Platinum American Express® Card will close on 4 April 2018.

Sad news at it was one of the few with 1.25 points from ATO

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 584

tis a sad day...my parents have had this card since it launched

21 Sep 2011

Total posts 65

Some foundation black card members get discount annual fee for life. Not sure how this would affect them.

20 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

I've called Westpac four times since receiving the letter saying that changes will occur, but they claim not to know what the changes will involve. Earlier this month my partner received a credit card offer for the same Altitude black Mastercard/AMEX combination, without any warning that the AMEX will soon disappear. After spending more than two hours on the phone, I'm none the wiser - call centre staff and managers claim to have no idea what will happen with the cards, or when the new offer will be announced. I've held this card for more than 20 years, after losing the equivalent of a return trip to Europe when their deal with Ansett collapsed (and they promised they'd look after us as long as we held the card). Thanks for the article - it provides much more information that Westpac was willing to. I'm very disappointed in their customer service and lack of concern for loyal customers.

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