You can get the benefit of two QFF points-earning cards with a single application for the American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Card Bundle (Qantas). The combination delivers both Visa card acceptability and a higher Qantas points earning rate on the Amex card, which comes at a bargain-basement price when you choose to have both cards.
This is a departure from the companion card format formerly used by all of the Big Four banks. In this new Westpac version, the two cards are issued and administered separately by Westpac (the Visa card) and American Express. So you’ll get two card accounts, but one set of valuable benefits, including huge bonus points and complimentary insurance cover.
Two different rewards programs available
The two-card bundle can be linked to either QFF points or Westpac’s own Altitude Rewards program. In order to earn Qantas points on both cards you’ll need to opt for the Qantas version when you apply for the card bundle.
Up to 75,000 points
The two cards come with two separate spending targets for first-purchase bonus points. And if you can’t quite meet both targets, you should still be able to manage one of them.
There’s a total of 75,000 points up for grabs, worth $750 at a relatively conservative valuation of 1.0 cents per point. Here’s how you qualify:
Certainly, a total spend of $6,000 in three months is a big target, but you may perhaps be able to re-schedule an already planned major purchase so that it fits in this period for one of the cards, leaving a target of only $1,000 per month of everyday spending for the other card.
If you’re still not absolutely certain that you can meet even one $3,000 target, you should avoid using the Amex card in the first three months (since it has a much lower points bonus) and concentrate on using the Visa card (because the higher points bonus more than compensates for the lower points earning rate).
Satisfying points earning rate on Amex card
After the first 90 days you’ll want to bring out your Amex card at every possible opportunity, where it doesn’t attract a surcharge of more than 1.5% since this would usually exceed the value of points earned. The reason for favouring the Amex card is its much higher QFF points earning rate. The details are:
While the Visa card points rate is uninspiring, the Amex rate delivers the sought-after target of at least 1 pt per $1 spent for most purchases. Now that the vast majority of supermarkets, petrol stations and restaurants, and even many utilities, accept Amex cards without imposing a surcharge, there are plenty of opportunities to earn the higher rate on everyday purchases.
No points capping
One of the best features of the potentially high points earning rate is that there is no points cap or threshold on either card. The rate stays the same for every dollar spent. Unlike some competing cards, It does not reduce or disappear once a specified monthly spending amount has been reached.
Spend your Qantas points wisely for the best return
How much is a Qantas point worth? The answer is, it depends how you spend it. Using them to buy merchandise from the online catalogue brings the worst result, delivering a value of little more than 0.5 pts per $1 spent for most items. Retail gift cards and hotel accommodation redemptions fare slightly better, returning about 0.6 cents per point. Short domestic Qantas flights can put a value of more than 0.7 cents, net of taxes, on each point, while long-haul flights creep closer to 0.8 cents.
However, there are better ways to use points. A recent exercise carried out by Choice found that points redeemed for Qantas seat upgrades (i.e. purchase an economy fare, for example, with cash and pay for an upgrade to business class with points) were worth around 4.8 cents for domestic flights and 2.4 cents for international flights.
Complimentary insurance cover adds security to points earning and redemption
The fact that this is a bundle of two separately-administered cards adds a slightly different twist to the insurance cover. You’ll be issued with two separate sets of small print, one covering the Westpac Visa card and the other covering the American Express card, but the two policies are essentially identical. The cover provided is:
In order to be eligible for the overseas travel cover you must use at least one of the cards for a minimum of $500 of prepaid travel costs for your trip. So plan to use only one of the cards for prepaid travel expenses until you have reached the $500 target and can claim against that card’s cover if necessary. It appears that spending $250 on each card, for example, will not qualify.
You could, however, use Qantas points for your airfares and still activate the overseas travel insurance by using one of the cards to pay for the taxes associated with award flights, and your pre-booked accommodation and activities.
For the other policies, you would need to claim against the cover provided for the card you used to purchase the item or journey to be insured.
The privileges accompanying this card don’t stop at insurance. You’ll also get a worldwide 24/7 platinum concierge service – a potential boon for travellers – attached to the Visa card, plus access to American Express benefits like Amex Invites (pre-sale tickets and reserved seating) and Amex Offers (discounts and cashback for spending with specified retailers during a promotion period).
High interest rates as expected
Platinum rewards cards with overseas travel insurance are not accompanied by low interest rates. In this case the rates are 20.24% p.a. for purchases on both cards and *20.74% p.a. for cash advances on the Visa card. (Cash advances are not available on the Amex card.)
Avoid these high rates by paying off your purchases balance in full on the due date, and by steering clear of cash advances.
45 days interest free on purchases
Unfortunately, you’ll get a lower number of interest-free days on purchases than are available with some competing cards: up to 45 days each statement cycle rather than the more attractive 55 days. Having Up to 45 days on purchases before you need to pay off your balance is still more than satisfactory, but it’s one more point to bear in mind when comparing card offers.
Three components to the annual fee, but two are waived in the first year
The package’s annual fee has three parts: Visa card ($150) + QFF points program fee ($50) + Amex card fee ($49), a total of $249. You can’t have the Amex card without the Visa card, but the fee for the addition of a platinum Amex card is particularly low.
The news gets even better, though. In the first year you will not have to pay an annual fee for either the Visa or the American Express card, saving you $199. All you will have to pay is the $50 Qantas rewards program fee.
Valuing Qantas points at a conservative 1.0 cents each, you would recover the total package’s annual fee in the second and subsequent years by spending, for example, $17,500 in Australia (excluding government purchases) on the Amex card plus $14,800 on the Visa card.
Compare similar card offerings
The Commonwealth Bank is the only remaining bank of the Big Four to offer Amex companion cards, to accompany its Awards program Mastercards. ANZ and NAB have dropped Amex cards, so Westpac is something of a trailblazer with this effectively separate Amex card bundled with a Visa.
However, Qantas points collectors can still find competitive deals without needing an American Express card. Visit our Qantas page to check out what’s on offer at a similar price, including the NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card, the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card and the ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum Credit Card.
A card for committed Qantas points collectors
This card will appeal to dedicated Qantas points collectors who want to avoid points capping and also cover all bases by having a high points earning card (Amex) and a high acceptance card (Visa) for a cost likely to be lower than the combined fees for holding two completely separate and unlinked cards.
|Cash advances||0.00%||*20.74% p.a.|