Review: Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card

Earn frequent flyer points with Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Air New Zealand, or, Qantas via opt-in.

By Chris Chamberlin, February 24 2020
Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card
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.

Notes
The Good
  • Convert the Altitude Points you earn into frequent flyer points.
  • Every year, get two free airport lounge visits.
The Bad
  • Want to earn Qantas Points instead of Altitude Points? There's an extra fee.
Added Value
  • Bonus offer of 150,000 Altitude Points for eligible new customers.

Introduction

If you want the flexibility to earn points on your credit card spend but to choose where those points wind up at a later date, Westpac's Altitude Black Mastercard credit card could be just what you're looking for.

You'll have the freedom to first earn points in the Altitude Rewards program before transferring them to the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and others.

The journey starts with 150,000 bonus Altitude Points for eligible new customers who apply by November 11 2020 and spend $4,000 on eligible purchases using their new Altitude Black credit card within 90 days of card approval.

That's equal to 50,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, given Altitude Points can be converted over to KrisFlyer at a 3:1 rate.

Alternatively, 150,000 bonus points currently gets you $500 in cashback or up to $700 in e-Gift cards with Altitude Rewards1.

Westpac Altitude Black: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Black
  • Card type: Mastercard
  • Loyalty program: Choose Altitude Rewards or Altitude Qantas
  • Points capping: Earn uncapped points without tiering via your chosen rewards option.
  • Altitude Points earned per dollar (Altitude Rewards option):
         Most everyday spend, except for ATO payments: 1.25
         Selected airlines*: 6.0, up to $10,000 per calendar month
         International spend, and at selected Australian merchants~: 2.0
  • Or, Qantas Points earned per dollar (Altitude Qantas option):
         Everyday spend, excluding ATO payments: 0.75
         Spend directly with Qantas: 1.75

* Selected airlines include Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Emirates and Singapore Airlines, on direct purchases made in Australia. Above $10,000 per month, these transactions earn points at the Mastercard's regular rate of 1.25 Altitude Points per $1 spent.

~ Other selected merchants include David Jones, Myer, The Iconic, Spotify Premium, Uber, Uber Eats and Airbnb.

  • Altitude Rewards airline conversion partners: Virgin Australia (3:1), Air New Zealand (180:$1), Cathay Pacific (3:1), Malaysia Airlines (3:1) and Singapore Airlines (3:1)
  • 1.25 Altitude Rewards points ($1 spent on most everyday purchases) = 0.416 Virgin Australia Velocity points, 0.416 Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles, 0.416 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 0.416 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, $0.00694 in Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars

Note: Following Virgin Australia's entry into voluntary administration and the inability for Velocity Frequent Flyer members to redeem their points until at least May 19 2020, points conversions from Altitude Rewards to Velocity are currently suspended.

Fees, charges and interest:

  • Annual fee: $250
  • Qantas Rewards fee: $50/year (charged in addition to the base annual fee, but only when earning points via Altitude Qantas)
  • Additional cardholder fee: $0
  • Interest rate on purchases: 20.49% p.a.
  • Interest-free days on purchases^: Up to 45
  • Interest rate on cash advances: 21.49% p.a.
  • International transaction fee: 3.0%
  • Minimum income to apply: $75,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $15,000

Earning points for free flights:

Whether you choose Altitude Rewards or Altitude Qantas as your loyalty program, there's no limit to the number of points you can earn from your Altitude Black card.

Altitude Rewards gives cardholders the opportunity to earn points from their credit card spends, while being deciding what to do with those points later on – such as when it's time to travel.

With several partner frequent flyer programs to choose from, that flexibility can be handy: particularly if every holiday calls for flying with a different airline or alliance, as you can convert a specific number of points across to the frequent flyer program that best-fits that trip, without being locked into that program the next time you travel.

Of course, the option of earning Qantas Points directly into Qantas Frequent Flyer is available too.

While the card's base earning rate via this path is more fruitful in terms of the number of frequent flyer points earned (or the equivalent in Altitude Points), it's widely known that Qantas often charges more points to book comparable flights than some of those Altitude Rewards transfer partners.

As such, while you could earn points at a higher rate via the Qantas path, you'll most likely need to spend more of those points when it comes time to fly: and that's on top of the relatively high taxes and fees as are also levied on these tickets by Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Inclusive travel insurance:

International journeys of six months or less may be covered by Westpac's complimentary insurance offering – underwritten by QBE – provided you hold a return ticket and charge at least A$500 of eligible travel costs to your Altitude Black card before departing Australia.

That amount can be your flights, any airport and departure taxes, pre-paid accommodation and any 'overseas itinerary items' such as an arranged tour, so you could even book your flights using points and simply pre-pay a night or two of accommodation to still be covered.

Restrictions to this cover may apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information or to confirm whether your intended journey is covered by this policy, speak directly with the card issuer or insurance underwriter.

On the home front, a generous array of other insurance covers come packaged with the card as well, including transit accident insurance; interstate flight inconvenience insurance; purchase security, extended warranty and 'price guarantee' covers, and even rental car excess cover of up to $5,500 when hiring in Australia.

Of course, check the policy documents – and with the card issuer and insurer – to confirm eligibility and whether any additional restrictions are currently in effect.

Airport lounge access:

Altitude Black cardholders are treated to two airport lounge visits each year, depending on their frequent flyer earning preferences.

Cardholders collecting Altitude Points receive a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership, offering with two free visits every year to any of the 1,300+ lounges in its network, and further visits available at an additional fee.

Those earning Qantas Points instead receive two Qantas Club lounge passes per year, valid in domestic Qantas Clubs and Qantas international business class lounges with the exception of Los Angeles.

Westpac Altitude Black credit card: the verdict

With a $250 annual fee, the Westpac Altitude Black card appeals to higher spenders and frequent travellers, and may quickly pay for itself for those poised to take full advantage of its benefits.

Included on that roster: complimentary airport lounge visits, uncapped frequent flyer points and the long list of insurance covers, which may help you wind up ahead.

Those choosing to earn Qantas Points do pay an extra $50/year charge – taking the total yearly cost to $300 – whereas those preferring Altitude Points pay only the base card fee of $250, with no separate 'Altitude fee'.

You can apply for the Westpac Altitude Black credit card here.


Bank disclaimers: ^The interest free period is the maximum number of days during which interest is not charged on new purchases. If your account has an interest free period for purchases, to be entitled to that interest free period, you need to pay off the “monthly payment balance” listed on your statement of account (not the full closing balance) by the relevant payment due date.

1. Converting Altitude Points: You can redeem the points earned on your Altitude Black Altitude Rewards credit card for cash back or gift cards via the Altitude Rewards website. The estimated cashback and gift card value in above examples are based on current redemption rates as at 20th July 2020 and is subject to change without notification. All redemption of Altitude Rewards points are subject to availability and the Altitude Rewards Terms and Conditions (PDF 2MB).

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 not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 490

ANZ wake up and take note. 1.25 QF points  per dollar spent on your now Visa only offering for Black card holders is in order. Capping it at 7500 is also too low-its a black card it should be uncapped!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2014

Total posts 3

i always read with interest about free access to lounges with black earth cards. I have those cards and i have never been able to find out anything. Yes you can use but where how when? it is a total coon. as i mainly use the cards for travel insurance . If they were serious each year they would send you out the 2 vouchers to use with conditions attached. Living in Cairns which is my choice I can fly Cathay or Silkair so the card is useless to my way of understanding. Once again if they were serious they would let us use then flying Cathay who is a one alliance partner.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

Hi globalspark. It is thanks to websites like this that help us to understand a lot of the hidden perks or issues associated with CC's. To my understanding of the article, if you have the Westpac Black Altitude Rewards card you are entitled to priority pass membership that entitles you to two free visits to a priority pass lounge.


In your case flying from Cairns International, the Reef Lounge located airside would be available to you through priority pass, regardless of what airline you wished to fly internationally from Cairns.


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