As Australians grow accustomed once more to the idea of traveling, particularly by air, it’s time to review your frequent flyer points to make sure that you have enough to take you to those bucket list destinations that have reluctantly been on hold. And if your points total is falling some way short of where you need it to be, the Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas) could be the perfect way to top it up.
It comes with a significant quantity of bonus Qantas Points to give your balance a real boost, a satisfactory ongoing points earning rate, and other complimentary benefits to suit the traveller. There’s even a tempting balance transfer offer if you have a sizeable balance on your current card that you need time to pay off.
Inside this review
- Bonus Qantas Points
- Keep on earning Qantas Points
- Qantas Points redemption options
- Complimentary insurance cover
- Extremely long balance transfer offer @ 0%
- SmartPlan repayments
- Shopping privileges
- High interest rates – as expected
- Moderate annual fee, discounted first year
- The verdict
- How this card compares with others
Bonus Qantas Points
Sign up for the card, spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days, and you’ll be rewarded with a large quantity of bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer points. If you already have at least 35,000 QFF points that you’re itching to use, the addition of the bonus points should give you enough for an Economy return fare to Europe or the US. Even if your current points balance is zero, those bonus points are likely to be more than enough to get you to Honolulu and back.
Keep on earning Qantas Points
It’s not just about the bonus points. You’ll continue to earn Qantas points, with no points cap1, on all of your eligible purchases with the card.
Eligible purchases include most non-cash transactions, which means that you’ll earn points on almost everything except cash advances, purchases of foreign currency, card fees and interest charges, balance transfers, BPAY/Post Billpay payments and government payments.
The Qantas Points earning rate is 0.5 points per dollar, which is not a stellar rate, but reasonable given the relatively low annual fee. And you can always increase your points earning by using your card to make purchases at Qantas partners, including Woolworths, BP, Uber, Hello Fresh and more than 250 stores at the online Qantas Shopping Mall, where you’ll earn points both for shopping and for paying with your card.
Qantas Points redemption options
Although there’s no doubt that the most cost effective way to use Qantas points is to redeem them for award flights and seat upgrades, there are other redemption options, such as:
- Retail gift cards
- Vouchers for restaurants, movies and other entertainment
- Travel, holidays, accommodation bookings
- Car hire with Avis and Budget
- Merchandise from the Qantas Rewards Store online
Complimentary insurance cover
The complimentary insurance cover accompanying this card has recently been upgraded for Westpac Platinum card holders, who now receive much the same high level of cover as Westpac Black card holders:
- Overseas travel insurance for cardholders and their families, covering multiple annual trips of up to three months’ duration, activated by using the card for at least $500 of prepaid trip expenses for each person traveling and requiring cover.
- Overseas transit accident insurance, where the fare for the bus, ferry, plane or train was paid for with the card.
- Interstate flight inconvenience cover, to compensate for luggage loss, delays and cancellations for a period of 14 days, where the airfare was purchased with the card.
- Rental vehicle insurance excess in Australia, a useful additional cover to complement the overseas insurance excess included in the overseas travel cover.
- Extended warranty insurance, doubling the manufacturer’s Australian warranty for items purchased with the card, up to a maximum of 24 extra months.
- Purchase security insurance, covering new items bought with the card against loss, theft or accidental damage for four months.
Extremely long balance transfer offer @ 0%
Transfer your balance from your existing credit or store cards onto your new Westpac Altitude Platinum card, and pay no interest for a very long introductory period. This would be a great way to stretch out the repayment term for a recent major purchase you made on your current credit card.
Plan your budget so that you have the full repayment amount ready after the promotional period has expired (or divide the balance by the number of months in the promotional period, and pay it off monthly in bite-size chunks) in order to avoid paying the high revert interest rate on any remaining balance.
There’s a small balance transfer fee to pay upfront, a not unreasonable requirement given the very long interest-free period.
Even the best financial plans can go astray sometimes, and you may find yourself running up a balance on your new Westpac card that you can’t clear at the end of the month. If this happens, you can choose to participate in a SmartPlan monthly repayment program and take advantage of an interest rate that’s lower than the normal interest rate on outstanding purchases, as well as retaining your up to 45 interest-free days on new purchases.
The Westpac Extras program comes with the card, and brings you cashback on your shopping with the brands you love. You’ll be notified by email of available offers (e.g. spend $150 at a specified store and get $50 cashback) and any cashback you earn in this way will be credited to your card account.
High interest rates – as expected
In spite of the availability of SmartPlan repayments, this kind of premium card is not designed to benefit anyone who expects to have an interest-bearing card balance on a regular basis. Anyone in this situation should look for a low interest credit card, rather than a card with a high rate of interest like the one on this card, on purchases balances carried beyond the payment due date.
The cash advance interest rate (and balance transfer revert rate) is even higher than the interest rate on carried-over purchases.
Moderate annual fee, discounted first year
The ongoing Qantas Points, initial bonus points and attached complimentary benefits are all available for a moderate annual fee (which includes the rewards points program fee), but in the first year, to welcome you aboard, you’ll pay a reduced annual fee. That’s one more reason to try this card out.
If you’re looking for a frequent flyer points card at a moderate price in a program with plenty of redemption options, this card could suit you well. The generous bonus points and a tempting balance transfer offer to sweeten the deal make it well worth considering, provided you expect to be paying off your new purchases account balance in full each month.
How this card compares with others
Before making your final decision, take a look at some similar frequent flyer credit cards, just in case there’s one that might suit your lifestyle and spending pattern even better. Perhaps either the NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card or the St.George Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas) has features that would be a good fit for you.
1From 1 January 2022, earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 up to a maximum of $100,000 spent on eligible purchases annually. Bonus Qantas Points not included in the cap.