Review: Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card

Earn frequent flyer points with Velocity, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and AirNZ, or, Qantas via opt-in.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, November 30 2020
Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card
Disclaimer

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

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

FF Program

Altitude Rewards

Sign Up Bonus

150,000 bonus Altitude Points (= 50,000 points in Velocity, KrisFlyer, Enrich or Asia Miles)

Annual Fee

$250 (+$50/yr with Qantas Rewards)

Interest Rate

20.49% p.a. on purchases
21.49% p.a. on cash

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.
Fees and interest
Points earned
Lounge access
Overall

Introduction

Now more than ever, flexibility is important when it comes to travel – and that's one of the key features of Westpac's Altitude Black Mastercard.

Those earning points in the bank's Altitude Rewards program can convert these into frequent flyer points with five different airlines whenever they choose, including Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Via that Altitude Rewards path, the journey starts with 150,000 bonus Altitude Points for eligible new customers who apply by March 31 2021 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 Velocity Points or 50,000 KrisFlyer miles, for example, given the 3:1 conversion rate used by Westpac on these transfers – or $500 in cashback or up to $700 in e-Gift cards with Altitude Rewards1.

As well, if a cardholder's needs change over time, they can switch to 'Altitude Qantas' instead, which delivers Qantas Points every month in place of Altitude Points, but without the choice of converting to multiple airline partners.

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, 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

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

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 deciding what to do with those points later on – such as when it's time to travel.

That's where the card's flexibility proves extremely useful.

By allowing you to convert points to different airlines, you'll be able to plan each trip without being tied to a specific airline program: and if one frequent flyer scheme doesn't have flights that suit, you can check what another is offering, all before converting your points.

When international travel returns, Singapore Airlines first class is just one of your many options.
When international travel returns, Singapore Airlines first class is just one of your many options.

Separately, the option of earning Qantas Points directly into Qantas Frequent Flyer is available too, but comes in exchange for that flexibility, as your points would then be locked into the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

Comparing the two rewards options, it's certainly true that when choosing Altitude Qantas, the number of actual frequent flyer points earned per dollar spent is more generous than the number of frequent flyer points or miles earned via the Altitude Rewards path.

Having said that, it's also widely known that Qantas regularly charges more points – sometimes, significantly so – to book comparable flights than some of those Altitude Rewards transfer partners.

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

Altitude Black travel insurance

Overseas 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 could include your flights, any airport and departure taxes, pre-paid accommodation, or any 'overseas itinerary items' such as an arranged tour, so it may be possible to book your flights using points and simply pre-pay a night or two of accommodation, to qualify for coverage.

Interestingly, the policy's definition of "overseas" also includes journeys to and from Christmas Island, Cocos Island, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, from mainland Australia or Tasmania.

Restrictions to this cover may apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the policy doesn't specifically rule out cover for "pandemics", it does state that there's no cover if you "fail to follow advice or take heed of a warning from any government, any official body, or any publication or broadcast by any member of the mass media."

For example, the Australian Government's blanket "do not travel" warning on overseas travel may see such journeys not insured for the time being, even if the traveller is able to acquire an 'exemption' to leave the country.

Other insurance cover

On the home front, a generous array of other insurance covers come packaged with the card and may be more useful for now, 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.

Alternatively, 'lounge visits' can be redeemed for a food and beverage credit at participating airport cafes, bars and restaurants, including in several Australian domestic airports. Check the Priority Pass website for the latest listings.

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.

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. 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.


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