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Are you a frequent flyer looking for a prestige card from a major bank, but a card that earns Velocity points rather than Qantas points? You may have found what you’re looking for in the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card (Velocity). It has most of the features sought in a premium card: a large number of sign-up bonus points, a respectable ongoing points earning rate, airport lounge passes and complimentary travel insurance. But there’s so much more to this card, as you’ll discover.
80,000 bonus points for reaching a moderate spending target
Since you’ll need an annual income of at least $75,000 to be eligible for this card, you will probably have no trouble in using it for $4,000 worth of purchases – an average of just $1,333 per month – in the first 90 days of holding it. Do that, and you’ll see 80,000 Velocity points credited to your points account – a great start if you’re new to the program, and a significant boost if you’re an old hand.
Sadly, you won’t be eligible for the bonus points programs if you have held a Westpac Earth or Altitude card in the last 12 months
Suggestions for using those 80,000 points
While the Velocity Rewards program has all the usual redemption options (an online merchandise catalogue, and gift cards to spend at retail stores or on travel and entertainment) there’s no doubt that you’ll usually get a better return by using your points windfall for flights or upgrades with Virgin and its partner airlines.
For example, if you regularly travel between the east coast state capitals, you could upgrade from a one-way Economy Getaway fare to Business Class, eight times.
Or, if you’ve already got a few Velocity points in your account, it puts a Premium Economy return to Singapore (89,400 points) within your reach.
Satisfying ongoing points earning rate
While the ongoing Velocity points earning rate is not spectacular, it’s certainly high enough to see your balance growing at a respectable rate as you spend with your card. The rate is 0.75 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases, and there’s no points cap or threshold to slow down your points earning.
‘Eligible purchases’ effectively covers all spending except cash equivalents like cash advances, balance transfers, card interest charges and fees, purchases of foreign currency and traveller’s cheques, government purchases (ATO, Australia Post, car registration, council rates, &c) and BPAY payments.
Spend more and earn 50 Velocity status credits
If you can elevate your Velocity Frequent Flyer membership level to one of the higher tiers (Silver, Gold, or Platinum) you can access privileges like higher points for flying, entry to airport lounges, priority boarding, advance seat selection, extra baggage allowance and exclusive upgrade offers. Status credits are mostly earned by purchasing Virgin flights or from retail purchases when linking your flybuys and Velocity accounts. But what if you fall tantalisingly short of the number of status credits required to maintain or improve your status for the following year?
You can remedy that by making sure that you spend at least $10,000 on your new card during the first year of holding it, to earn 50 valuable Velocity status credits. If you’ve already made a good start by spending $4,000 in the first 90 days (to earn the bonus points), it means that you need to spend only a further $6,000 in the remaining nine months – an average of just $667 per month, easily covered by everyday expenses.
Upgrade to Economy X twice a year
Could you make good use of extra legroom, priority security screening, priority boarding and dedicated space in the overhead lockers? That’s what you get in a Virgin Australia Economy X seat, and you can enjoy those privileges twice a year, even though you’ve only paid for a standard Economy seat. Simply make at least one card purchase from Virgin Australia each year and you’ll receive two upgrade vouchers in your Velocity account.
Virgin Australia lounge passes
Each year you’ll also receive two single-entry passes to Virgin Australia domestic lounges. These passes are worth $65 each – the normal entry price. Use them both yourself, or use one to extend the privilege to someone travelling with you.
Free insurance policies for travellers and shoppers
Like most premium cards, this one protects you with complimentary insurance policies, but because it’s a prestige card it gives you a much higher than normal level of protection. The policies in question are:
You’ll need to use the card to spend at least $500 on pre-paid trip expenses to activate the overseas travel policy, and purchase your fares with the card in order to be covered by the other travel policies. For the ‘shopper’s insurance’, simply use the card to purchase the item to be covered.
Free concierge service
Regular travellers may appreciate having a personal assistant, accessible by phone or online, to help with advice and bookings for travel, accommodation, dining, entertainment, and even event planning and gift selection.
Predictable interest rates
Cards offering rewards points are only useful if you intend to pay off your purchases balance in full every month (since interest charges would cost more than the value of the points earned). So make full use of the up to 45 interest-free days allowed on purchases, then repay your balance on or before the due date. But, for the record, the purchases interest rate is 20.49% p.a and the cash advance rate is 21.49% p.a.
Annual fee has two components
For all these benefits, you’ll pay the standard Black Altitude card annual fee of $250, plus a $50 fee for the Velocity Rewards program, a total of $300 each year. It may sound steep, but it’s actually significantly less than the cost of many other prestige cards, and the value of the points you’ll earn plus the many complimentary benefits will recover that amount several times over, year after year.
Check out the competition to make sure you’re making the right choice
You may want to take a look at competing Velocity cards before you make up your mind. Head over to the Velocity page in our Features section in order to compare cards side-by-side.
Ticks all the boxes for a prestige Velocity card
If you’re looking for a combination of Velocity points and prestige card benefits, this card may suit you very well. It should have everything you’re looking for, and more, with a justifiable price tag that’s not too hard to swallow.
|Cash advances||1.79%||21.49% p.a.|