Westpac customers can now apply for the bank’s new Westpac-branded American Express cards issued directly by American Express Australia – but at this stage, applications are available by invitation only.
That’s because the application process requires a unique ‘personal offer code’ to get past the first screen: without this, you can’t apply:
The new card range offers a Black-level American Express with a choice between earning Qantas Points or Altitude points in a customer’s existing Westpac Altitude Rewards account, and a Platinum-grade card with the same options.
By having American Express issue these cards as opposed to Westpac directly, the bank is able to continue offering high frequent flyer earning rates that otherwise wouldn’t be sustainable with a Westpac-backed AMEX, under new credit card ‘interchange fee’ regulations imposed by the Reserve Bank.
While we expect these cards to eventually welcome applications from the general public, if you’re one of the Chosen Ones to receive a unique invitation code (check your Westpac online banking inbox or notifications, or your snail mail letterbox), here are your options:
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Card
Whichever rewards option you select, you’ll start by paying no annual fee in the first year ($199 thereafter), with two yearly visits to the AMEX Lounges at Sydney or Melbourne Airports included as well, along with the expected travel insurance inclusions, and no points capping.
Opt for Qantas Points and you’ll take home 15,000 to 20,000 bonus points (depending on your unique offer) when you apply by March 15 2018 and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within three months of card approval.
You can also earn 2.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent directly with Qantas such as on flight bookings and Qantas Club memberships; 2 Qantas Points per dollar spent abroad; and 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Australian purchases, except for government spend (including ATO payments) which attract 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
Or, choose Altitude Rewards instead to collect 30,000-40,000 bonus Altitude points (equal to 15,000-20,000 Velocity points, again, depending on your unique offer) when you apply by March 15 2018 and spend $3,000 within three months of card approval.
Spend in foreign currencies reels in five Altitude points per $1 spent (worth 2.5 Velocity/Enrich points or 2 Asia Miles/KrisFlyer miles), while purchases in Australia earn 3 Altitude points per $1 spent (that’s 1.5 Velocity points or 1.2 KrisFlyer miles), and government charges attract one Altitude point per $1 spent (0.5 Velocity points or 0.4 KrisFlyer miles).
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
Slip a Platinum card into your wallet instead and you’ll enjoy many of the same perks like travel insurance and uncapped points earning, again in your choice of program, plus no annual fee in the first year ($49 thereafter).
For Qantas Points, you’ll get 10,000 of them when you apply by March 15 and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within three months of card approval, plus two Qantas Points per $1 spent directly with Qantas.
That’s complemented by an earn rate of 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on all overseas purchases in foreign currencies and 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent in Australia, except for government bodies in Australia at which you’ll get 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
Choose to earn Altitude Rewards points instead and you’ll receive 20,000 bonus Altitude points (10,000 Velocity points) when you apply by March 15 and spend $3,000 within the first three months.
On international transactions in foreign currencies, you’ll earn a comparable 3 Altitude points per $1 spent (equal to 1.5 Velocity/Enrich points or 1.2 KrisFlyer/Asia Pacific miles); 2 Altitude points per $1 spent in Australia (1 Velocity point or 0.8 KrisFlyer miles), and 1 Altitude point per $1 spent with Australian government bodies (0.5 Velocity points/0.4 KrisFlyer miles).
Westpac's new approach to American Express cards
All of these new American Express-issued, Westpac-branded cards attract a 3% international transaction fee on foreign purchases – an improvement to the 3.5% payable on Westpac’s current range of AMEX cards, which will all close on April 4 2018.
From that date, the only working American Express cards in Australia to show the Westpac logo will be those directly issued by American Express, as pictured above.
Existing Westpac customers who receive an invitation code from Westpac will be able to apply for one of these new cards – which will have a separate credit limit to any existing Westpac cards, and will be serviced directly by American Express, not Westpac.
That means online banking will be performed via the American Express website, payments will be made directly to American Express – not Westpac – and any customer service enquiries will also be fielded by AMEX.
However, any Altitude Rewards points earned on these new American Express cards will be credited to the cardholder’s existing Westpac Altitude Rewards account, which means you can keep all your points together in the one place, including if you continue to hold a Westpac-issued, points-earning Visa or Mastercard.
These new American Express cards will also support Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, as with all other AMEX cards directly issued by American Express Australia.
Australian Business Traveller exclusively revealed Westpac’s plan back in January 2017, when the bank floated a draft of how an AMEX-issued, Westpac-branded American Express card could operate.