Reviews

Review: Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, December 22 2017
Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card
Notes
The Good
  • Choice to earn points in six frequent flyer programs
  • Two free airport lounge visits each year
The Bad
  • Extra fee to earn Qantas Points, or for automatic earning of Velocity points
Added Value
  • 80,000 bonus points for eligible new customers

Introduction

If you want the flexibility to earn points on your credit card spend but to choose where they 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 Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and two other carriers. Or, there's the option of Altitude Velocity to automatically earn Velocity Points, or Altitude Qantas for direct earning with Qantas.

New cardholders who apply by October 15 2019, are approved and spend at least $4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval could also receive a bonus 80,000 Qantas Points (via Altitude Qantas) or 80,000 Altitude points (via Altitude Rewards), equal to 26,666 Velocity Points.

Otherwise, selecting Altitude Velocity provides a tempting offer of 80,000 bonus Velocity Points when you apply by October 15 2019 and spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval – plus, if you spend an additional $6,000 on that card in the first year ($10,000 in total), you'll also get 50 Virgin Australia status credits.

All things considered, with reasonable earning rates and elevated income and credit limit requirements, we'd peg this card as a reasonable fit for working professionals with heavy spending and travel habits: less so for those on lower incomes.

Westpac Altitude Black: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Black
  • Card type: Mastercard
  • Loyalty program: Choose between Altitude Qantas, Altitude Velocity or Altitude Rewards
  • Points capping: Earn uncapped points without tiering via your chosen rewards option.
  • Qantas Points earned per dollar (Altitude Qantas option):
         Everyday spend, excluding ATO payments: 0.75
         Spend directly with Qantas: 1.75
  • Or, Velocity Points earned per dollar (Altitude Velocity option):
         All spend, except for ATO payments: 0.5
  • Or, Altitude Rewards points earned per dollar (Altitude Rewards option):
         All spend, except for ATO payments: 1.25
  • 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) = 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 (when earning points via Altitude Qantas)
  • Velocity Rewards fee: $50/year (when earning points via Altitude Velocity)
  • 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%
  • 'Recommended' income to apply: $75,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $15,000

Earning points for free flights:

Whether you choose Qantas Frequent Flyer (Altitude Qantas), direct-earning with Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer (Altitude Velocity) or Altitude Rewards as your loyalty program, there's no limit to the number of points you can earn from your Altitude Black card.

Choose 'Altitude Qantas' and a near-free Sydney-Melbourne hop in Qantas economy is yours after spending $10,667 on purchases, or, choose the regular Altitude Rewards option and convert your points to Virgin Australia for a Sydney-Melbourne flight after a spend of $18,720.

While the direct-earning Altitude Velocity option attracts an extra $50/year Velocity Rewards fee, taking this path provides more Velocity frequent flyer points per dollar spent (compared to converting through Altitude Rewards), giving you enough points for that same Sydney-Melbourne flight after a spend of $15,600.

It also provides two complimentary Virgin Australia Economy X seat upgrade vouchers each year to use on selected domestic flights, which become available when you spend with Virgin Australia using your Mastercard, the value of which should offset that extra $50/year charge.

Customers opting for Altitude Qantas can instead collect an additional Qantas Point per dollar spent on Qantas flight bookings and Qantas Club membership purchases, also for an extra fee of $50/year as applies for this opt-in. Note that unlike Velocity, Qantas Points can't be manually converted from Altitude Rewards, so that opt-in path is the only way to earn Qantas Points from this account.

Also don't forget Westpac's offer of 80,000 bonus Qantas Points or 80,000 bonus Altitude points, or 80,000 bonus Velocity Points, for eligible new cardholders who apply by October 15 2019 and spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval, which can get you flying even faster.

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.

Joining this is a generous array of other cover 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.

Airport lounge access:

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

Cardholders collecting Qantas Points get two free Qantas Club visits each year, while those opting for Altitude Rewards points get a free Priority Pass membership, complete with two visits every year to any of the 1,000+ lounges in its network.

Otherwise, choosing the Altitude Velocity option unlocks two Virgin Australia lounge passes each anniversary year, which can be used for entry into Virgin Australia domestic lounges when flying Virgin Australia.

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 if you're poised to take full advantage of the benefits.

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

Note that while an extra $50/year charge applies when earning Qantas Points, or with the opt-in Altitude Velocity package – taking the total yearly cost to $300 – that's still lower than the card's previous all-inclusive annual fee of $395, with even higher savings enjoyed by those choosing to earn Altitude Rewards points instead.

You can apply for the Westpac Altitude Black credit card here (Altitude Qantas or Altitude Rewards), or here, for Altitude Velocity.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

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!

Guvner

Guvner

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 28

Little tip if you get the Qantas version, you can still register for priority pass. So you get both teh QC invites and teh PP card.

vperez

vperez

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2014

Total posts 49

Wait, what. I've had the Qantas version for years and was unaware of this. 

lakepacificair

lakepacificair

25 Nov 2016

Total posts 27

Please elaborate further. How do you action PP membership while still collecting QFFlyer points? Thanks.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 365

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!

Mr Mink

Mr Mink

QFF

16 Nov 2014

Total posts 17

still impatiently waiting on the 80K bonus QF pts (I was approved at beginning of June - they do threaten up to 12 weeks before you get em. Any experience from others on how long it takes in real life?

SimonFrost

SimonFrost

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2013

Total posts 29

I got mine in August, met the spend criteria and didn’t get the points.... called the number on the back of the card this week, got the points allocated almost immediately. Poor form that that’s what I had to do - but it got it done!

globalspark

globalspark

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.

Skipp

Skipp

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.

Papeto

Papeto

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jan 2016

Total posts 5

After more than 3 months of making the minimuim spend, still waiting for the bonus points. About to lodge a formal complaint for deceptive inducement with Westpac. Been given the normal run around by Westpac and QFF.

sharky093

sharky093

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Dec 2017

Total posts 1

I have applied mid June and I am yet to see the 80,000 show up. Bit disappointing as my Amex ultimate had 100,000 show up after I paid my first statement. I have called a few times, but so far no conclusion.

Good Drying

Good Drying

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jan 2018

Total posts 4

Got mine in Aug 17. Made spend in 2 months.

Still waiting on 80k bonus points.

No help from help Centre.

Went on Westpac Facebook page today and sent Message.

Got reply in less than an hour.

Waiting on phone call.

Good Drying

Good Drying

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jan 2018

Total posts 4

Got this card in August 2017. Met all the qualifying conditions in first 2 months.

Still no bonus points ??!!

Mr Mink

Mr Mink

QFF

16 Nov 2014

Total posts 17

I was approved at end of May 2017 as I already noted. In early Dec.17 rang (that is 3mths to spend + 12 weeks+ post) - and was fobbed off and they did not even check anything. In late Jan.18 rang again from o'seas and they said they would ëscalate"the issue. It was only today that I rang again - after failing to get any result y'day, and was finally told that yes, it had been approved after my Jan. call and the 80K pts would transfer over on my next statement due at end of Feb. Only 9-10 months! They naturally did not bother advise me in any way whatsoever of this "congratulations" or finally positive action on their part.

I would say avoid like the plague as it seems you have to beg them or chase them for them to fulfil their end of the bargain (pts spend was going over monthly to my QFF acct so knew there was no error in acct no.). This is the worst bank performance ever - or maybe chasing NAB, who in the last month when you cancel the card did not give me any FF points at all! (they clearly value their customers so much they give you a kick in the pants as you are leaving!). Given the Amex card folds its tent with Westpac on 4 April I can see absolutely no reason to stay hitched to Westpac, to put it mildly. Caveat emptor, and chase them to comply with their end of the bargain you signed up for if you do.

Good Drying

Good Drying

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jan 2018

Total posts 4

BINGO!!!!

Got on to the Westpac Facebook page.

Sent Message this morning.

Dialogue with someone called James.

Bonus points being transferred on the 18 feb.

Good result.

Don’t waste your time with the Call Centre.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard credit card