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When it comes to choosing the ideal credit card, it makes sense to have your own wishlist against which any card’s features can be checked. So if yours reads something like this – Rewards Points, Bonus Points, Flexibility, Complimentary Benefits, Security – you need to seriously consider the Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card. Prepare to be surprised at how much you get for a fee that’s probably lower than you expect, and waived altogether in the first year.
So let’s roll out the wishlist.
Tick this one off right away, because this is a rewards card account. You can choose between Westpac’s proprietary Altitude Rewards points or Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Here are the relevant earning rates, not the highest available, but quite reasonable for the price of the card:
Altitude points never expire as long as you hold an Altitude card, and Qantas points won’t expire provided you don’t go longer than 18 months without earning or using some points, even if it’s just a few.
There are no points caps, or thresholds beyond which the earning rate declines, in contrast to the restrictive caps or thresholds found on many competing rewards points or Qantas points cards.
When you first start collecting points, accumulating enough of them to redeem your first reward can seem like climbing a mountain. Credit card issuers have recognised this, and many cards now have a sign-up or first purchase bonus designed to give your points account a kickstart and boost your enthusiasm.
So here’s another wish you can fulfil. The bonus with this card is a very generous 60,000 points, earned by spending $3,000 in 90 days of holding it. That’s not such a high target – $1,000 per month – especially when the $30,000 minimum recommended income, as a basis for card application, is taken into account.
Since you have a choice, the bonus is particularly substantial if you start by selecting the more valuable Qantas points rather than Altitude points. You can switch later if you want to.
This card comes with plenty of options.
Firstly, you can choose between Altitude and Qantas points: opt for one program when you first apply for the card and switch to the other at a later stage, if you wish. You can change your mind as often as you like, subject to the time it takes to process your request. Any points already earned will remain in the program where they were earned.
Secondly, both loyalty programs are loaded with redemption possibilities.
Qantas points redemption options
Qantas gives you award flights, not just with Qantas but with more than 50 affiliated airlines, including Jetstar. This is by far the most cost effective way to use points. Those 60,000 points will get you all the way from Australia’s east coast to New York or Europe (60,000 points).
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also use Qantas points for Qantas flight upgrades, and merchandise and retail gift cards from the Qantas store (although these last two options don’t deliver anywhere near as much value per point as air travel does).
Added flexibility is granted by the Points + Pay option, in case you don’t have quite enough points for your chosen redemption and wish to pay the balance in cash. Plus, you can earn one bonus point, on top of the normal points, for every dollar you spend with the card on purchasing Qantas flights.
Altitude points redemption options
Not to be outdone, Altitude also lets you fly with your points, allowing you to convert them into frequent flyer points with five partner airlines: Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Malaysian Airlines. Even more airlines can be accessed through Altitude Travel. The Altitude online store also has a range of merchandise and gift cards similar to those found at Qantas, but generally requiring lower card spending for the equivalent redemption.
Additional Altitude program features include the option to apply points against the purchase price of a new Holden, and the ability to set up Velocity points auto-redemption, to have one Velocity point credited to your Virgin Australia frequent flyer account in exchange for every two Altitude points you earn. Just set and forget.
Your platinum card wishlist wouldn’t be complete without some platinum lifestyle complimentary benefits. Here’s what you’ll get with this card:
Although security may be last on your list, it should perhaps come first, because you won’t be able to take advantage of any of the benefits if you’re hesitant about using the card because of concerns about fraud. But Westpac gives you a Fraud Money Back Guarantee (provided you follow a few simple precautions) and also participates in the Verified by Visa one-time password systems for more secure online shopping.
If you download the Westpac mobile banking app to your Samsung smartphone you will transform your phone into a digital wallet for Tap & Go payments (because using the card itself for Tap & Go is so last century). You can also use a secure fingerprint log-in on your phone for card payments, get a Quick Balance for your card account or points account in seconds, and put your account on hold with a few taps if you temporarily misplace the card (saving you the annoyance of having to cancel a card you later find).
If you truly want to pay on the go, you also have the option of paying with a Westpac PayWear waterproof wristband or your Fitbit.
Here’s a benefit that’s probably not on your list because you didn’t know it existed. If you manage to run up a balance on your card that you are struggling to repay, or if you make a major purchase that you’ll need time to clear from your account, you can choose to commit to a SmartPlan monthly repayment program and take advantage of an interest rate that’s lower than the advertised purchase interest rate – 18.24% p.a instead of the normal 20.24% p.a. You’ll also be able to retain your up to 45
interest-free days on purchases if your unpaid balance is totally covered by one or more SmartPlans.
High foreign transaction fees
Something that certainly won’t be on your 'most wanted’ list is a foreign transaction fee, but it’s an unfortunate reality. The transaction fee for foreign currency payments, and overseas merchant fees even if in Australian dollars, is 3% of the amount spent.
None of this will be a problem if you don’t intend to use the card overseas or online, but it’s something you need to be aware of (and most cards do charge a foreign transaction fee of up to 3%).
Typical interest rates
The 20.24% p.a. purchase interest rate and 20.74% p.a. cash advance rate are fairly standard for a platinum rewards card. If you think you will need to pay interest on your purchases on a relatively regular basis, don’t choose a rewards credit card. Look for a low interest rate card instead.
Reasonable annual fee, waived first year
With an annual fee of $200* p.a., plus an extra $50 if you opt for the Qantas rewards program, and no charge for a supplementary card, it costs less than you might expect for a platinum rewards card with tons of options and heaps of benefits.
However, you can try it out for the first year and pay no fee at all if you choose to earn Altitude Rewards points, and only $50 for the Qantas rewards program if you choose to earn QFF points.
How does it compare with similar platinum rewards cards?
'Platinum Rewards’ is one of the most popular varieties of credit cards. You can check out all the competing cards and list them side-by-side on our 'All rewards’ page in our Features Section.
A card that ticks all the boxes
Looking back at that credit card wishlist, with most cards you may find it difficult to tick everything off without paying more than you were prepared for. But this card has the advantages of a satisfactory points earning rate, an upfront points bonanza, significant platinum benefits, security and hi-tech convenience, and an acknowledgment that sometimes you may need to change your mind about which kind of points you want to earn without changing your card.
Our household uses our credit card quite a lot, between $3200 to $4500 each month. With the card we are able to earn reward points very fast, especially whenever you use the AmEx card and get the double points.
The only downside is that not all merchants accept AmEx, and if some do, they charge a surcharge fee ranging from 2% to 4%. Thus it limits our usage and we have to use our MasterCard instead.
I have this card for emergencies only and I find it very handy. The Qantas points I earn from this card will hopefully help me to go to New York and Europe in the future, which are on my bucket list. I plan to use this card while I am away.
The promised Qantas Frequent flyer points have not been given. I was promised 10,000 points upon joining, and after 5 months, 15 phone calls, 5 emails, still no points.
There are at least 5 different departments in and outside Westpac handling separate tasks to manage these cards. When dealing with Westpac, they just say “nothing do do with us, speak to a different department”. Pinpoint Marketing is one of their contractors that handles reward points.
Their customer help line is useless. They have a long list of excuses to draw from to get you off the line as quickly as they can such as “points will be in next month’s statement”, “points have already been processed”, “your matter has been escalated”, etc.
If choosing between Altitude points or Qantas FF points, choose Qantas. The Altitude site is very buggy. Pinpoint Marketing, which handles the Altitude points website, is only open 9-5 Mon-Fri so to speak to someone you need to call during work hours. The login system is very buggy. I’ve had to change my login about 3 times now and it still doesn’t work.
Problems, problems, problems.
Allows me to shop and know that I have the required money available. Makes my budget easy to follow as I do receive the monthly statement. Shows me at the end of the month where I have been what I have spent. Rewards me with points for items I purchased.
I have used this credit card for the past 6 years and managed to collect rewards to a substantial value. I use the card for almost every single transaction. From groceries to bills to donations. I save my Altitude points to get Harvey Norman gift cards. I have redeemed almost $800 in gift cards to date.
I’m very happy with the Visa, but the American Express does not have a chip and sometimes does not go through. Why is this, do you think? I would be even more happy with the Altitude Platinum Credit Card if a chip was provided on both the Visa and the Amex.
I would also prefer it if the second card had a different number on it so one could tell who had used the credit card, the primary cardolder or the secondary cardholder
I use this card to pay for nearly all my purchases which I then pay off in full every month. Receiving the added bonus of points is useful as I then apply and have received many practical items to help make my dollar stretch that bit further. Overall a beneficial card when you can pay it off in full.
My Westpac Altitude came with both MasterCard and AmEx credit cards with 1 point per dollar on MasterCard and 2 points per dollar on AmEx. I think Altitude is a good rewards program because the reward points can be used for flights direct from a range of airlines if you want, or for other things through the store. The flexibility is a real plus point.
I am very happy with this card. I was an original Westpac Ignite cardholder and Westpac upgraded me, so I can now earn reward points with no annual fees. I have always paid out my card in full each month, so I have never had to pay any interest.
I try not to use this too much – fees are excessive. Seemed cheap when I first got it, but that wears off once you start using the card and only make the minimum payments. The chip worries me because of the scam issues – banks should supply protective sleeves with the cards when they are issued to guard against the problem.
|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.
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.
Overseas travel insurance
Valuation based on similar annual travel insurance policies available online for trips of up to 60 days.
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||$1,059|
|Net customer value||$1,009|