Westpac’s credit card designers were certainly at the top of their game when they came up with the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card, which neatly packages most of the features that any credit card user could ask for, even though it comes with the usual hefty fee for a black credit card. If you choose this card, you’ll want to hang around for at least a year to make the most of the multiple benefits, including choice of rewards, high points earning rates coupled with substantial bonus points, and a suite of complimentary benefits.
Qantas or Altitude points? Take your pick.
Qantas frequent flyers can choose to earn QFF points, while anyone can opt for Westpac Altitude Rewards and redeem points for a range of consumer products, entertainment and travel, financial services and shopping gift cards, or even put them towards the purchase price of a new Holden. While you usually get a far greater dollar value from QFF points, Altitude points have the advantage of offering a larger range of redemption options, including converting them to points with Altitude’s partner airlines, which include Virgin Australia, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific.
Your points choice is not set in concrete, because you can switch between the two rewards programs as often as you like. Just remember to allow a few days for the change to be processed, and bear in mind that the points already earned cannot be transferred between programs.
You can also set up auto-redemption for Virgin Australia Velocity points, automatically receiving one Velocity point in exchange for every two Altitude points you earn.
Westpac’s highest points earning rate, uncapped
Here are the points earning rates:
0.75 QFF points or 1.25 Altitude points per dollar spent
While the Qantas points earn rate is not as high as that of some competing cards, it does have the advantage of being unrestricted by any points cap or threshold. Earn as many Qantas or Altitude points as you like, every month.
'Golden hello’ bonus points
Effectively a sign-up reward, a whopping 80,000 points (QFF or Altitude, depending on your initial reward choice) will be credited to your account, as long as you spend a minimum of $3,000 in 90 days of account approval. That’s $1,000 per month, an achievable target for most people considering a black-tier credit card.
To give you an idea of what this is worth, 80,000 points will buy you around $380 worth of retail gift cards delivered electronically, while 80,000 points is almost enough for a return economy flight to Los Angeles (90,000 points). Convert the Altitude points to Velocity, and the resulting 40,000 points could be used for five economy flights between Sydney and Melbourne (39,000 points).
Annual fee typically high
If you choose to earn Altitude Rewards points, the annual fee for this card is a reasonably high $300* p.a.. For any year in which you choose to earn Qantas points, you’ll pay an extra $50, bringing the annual fee to $300. While these are not small numbers, they are fairly typical given the points earning rates and attached complimentary benefits.
Almost every conceivable complementary benefit
This is the area where, on top of the high points earning rate, the card justifies its annual fee. (Note that you can get an additional card free of charge, unlike similar cards which charge around $65 for every extra cardholder.)
The extensive, money-saving complementary benefits include:
That’s quite a list, and it not only matches but in many cases exceeds the benefits offered with other black cards.
Anyone interested in a top-of-the-range card like this is unlikely to be concerned by the card’s interest rates, since they probably plan to pay off their purchase balance in full every month. But for the record, the purchases interest rate is 20.24% p.a., while the cash advance interest rate is slightly higher at 20.74% p.a.
Competing black cards
If you’re in the market for a black card, you’ll need to compare Westpac’s offerings with ANZ Rewards Black and ANZ Frequent Flyer Black cards, the NAB Rewards Signature Card and NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card, plus the Citi Prestige Card.
Westpac Altitude Black is designed for . . .
. . . someone who wants it all and can afford to pay for it, but still expects top value per dollar spent: a choice of Altitude Rewards or QFF points, a high points earning rate, bonus points, airport lounges passes and free insurance cover that’s better in many respects than the cover provided by competing cards.
Eventually I was told in writing that they would approve my application if I provided them with payslips and bank details, which I did, after which I heard nothing.
Six weeks later, I called them back to find out why I hadn’t been provided with my card yet, and I was bounced around a Filipino call centre for over an hour, before being told that because I’d disclosed that I own 16% of my employer that I was be deemed to be self-employed. This meant that I was not an employee, which meant that the information I provided was false, which meant that my card application was denied. Unbelievable.
I’m young (38) and I have already made $6m from a standing start, which means that I’m on my way to becoming a very rich old man. This experience has ensured that I will never bank with Westpac ever again.
I saved lots of money by using the 0% balance transfer offer. I transferred another bank credit card balance to my Westpac black card.
I also earned lots of rewards points by using the card to pay bills and for shopping.
I got the card as part of my home loan package, so I don’t have to pay an annual fee of $395 again.
This credit card comes with some great handy features such as free travel insurance, extended warranty insurance and global lounge access through Priority Pass network.
The card also comes with complimentary SPG Gold membership, which is good for staying at Sheraton and Le Meridien hotels around the world.
The downside is high interest charges as well as a very high annual fee.
This is a very good card with great rewards.
They give very good service with enquiries answered in Australia. Their website is very good and easy to use. They are there to help 24/7, and do help if you need them.
They give reward points quickly and have great rewards.
My hubby worked for Westpac, so we’re not paying fees. I love the rewards they offer, including vouchers and so much else to choose from.
Whenever I need help I ring the help desk and always get a prompt solution from a representative.
Cards are always replaced quickly if lost. Whenever we had fraudulent transactions they always rang to make sure everything was OK.
I love this card! The points for purchases are great and I can receive either rewards or money off my next bill.
I can use this card everywhere without excess fees and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s truly one of the best cards I’ve ever had.
Westpac is friendly and helpful. I especially like being able to deposit cash or cheques through ATM’s.
With added benefits of travel insurance with overseas travel, the Westpac Black Altitude card is a standout. It provides a range of gift card options and a good variety of product awards, and a pair of complimentary airport lounge passes annually to use through Priority Pass. This card has it all for avid travellers and shoppers.
It’s a good card to have if you have a Premier Advantage Home Loan package with Westpac, as the fees are already paid for in the Advantage Package fees.
It’s a reasonable offering for complimentary travel insurance. Rewards are reasonable, although you may wish to switch to Velocity Membership points when there is a promotional period on.
This credit card has a great feature in that it allows you to also redeem cash back on purchases using the points that you have available on the card. The items available for purchase using the card are also unique and are quite compelling and make me use my card so I can gain points!
The card is good, with a low interest rate and good perks like Altitude points and travel insurance. It’s good for travel insurance when you use the card for booking tickets to go overseas. Plus you get Altitude points to buy other stuff also, like toasters, iPads, computers, kitchenware, TVs and hi-fi equipment.
|Cash advances||1.73%||20.74% p.a.|
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $250 claim once every 5 years. There is no retail market for all-encompassing extended warranty insurance covering more than one item, so no premium saving.
Guaranteed pricing / price protection insurance
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $100 claim once every 10 years. Extensive conditions apply. There is no retail market for this type of insurance, so no premium saving.
Valuation based on the assumption of making a $200 claim once every 5 years. There is no retail market for this type of insurance, so no premium saving.
Interstate flight inconvenience insurance
Valuation based on similar domestic travel insurance policies available online that include interstate flight inconvenience.
Overseas travel insurance
Valuation based on similar annual travel insurance policies available online for trips of up to 60 days.
Rental vehicle excess cover (separate from travel insurance)
Valuation based on similar rental vehicle excess insurance policies available online.
Transit accident insurance
Valuation based on similar global transit accident insurance policies available online.
Waived Qantas Frequent Flyer joining fee
Valuation based on $89.50 Qantas Frequent Flyer joining fee spread over 5 years. Note that this benefit does not apply if cardholder chooses Altitude Rewards rather than Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
|Total estimated value||$1,391|
|Net customer value||$1,091|