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, Complimentary Benefits, Security – you need to seriously consider the Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Altitude). There’s even a zero-interest balance transfer if you can make use of it.
Prepare to be surprised at how much you get for a fee that’s probably lower than you expect, and even lower in the first year.
So, let’s roll out the wishlist.
Tick this one off right away, because this is a rewards card account. It comes with Westpac’s own Altitude Rewards points for every dollar spent, at the following earning rates:
Altitude points never expire as long as you hold an Altitude card. 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 cards.
*Cash advances, purchases of foreign currency, card fees and interest charges, balance transfers, BPAY/Post Billpay payments and government payments do not count as eligible purchases, and will not earn Altitude points.
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 an extremely generous 130,000 points, earned by spending $3,000 on eligible purchases with the card in the first 90 days of holding it. That’s not such a high target – $1,000 per month – especially when the $30,000 minimum income, as a basis for card application, is taken into account.
Altitude lets you fly with your points, allowing you to convert them into frequent flyer points with four partner airlines: Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand. Even more airlines can be accessed through Altitude Travel.
The Altitude online store also has a range of merchandise and retail gift cards, and you can also convert your points into cashback on your card account if you wish.
Your platinum card wishlist wouldn’t be complete without some platinum lifestyle complimentary benefits. Here’s what you’ll get with this card:
Please note that these insurance conditions were correct at the time of writing, but will be updated on 27th October 2021, and you should read the latest Product Disclosure Document for Westpac Credit Cards Complimentary Insurance if you need to confirm any details.
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 Apple or Android smartphone you will transform your phone into a digital wallet for Tap & Go payments. 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).
Although the balance transfer feature is well down the list, it could be at the top of yours if you have run up a large debt on your existing card that you can’t afford to repay at once, especially if you are struggling with an interest rate of 20% p.a., or more. Just apply to transfer balances from your existing credit card (or cards) when you make your card account application. Give yourself 24 months to get your finances in order and repay your debt in a situation where every cent of your repayments will be reducing the balance instead of being gobbled up by interest.
There is an upfront 1% balance transfer fee to pay, but you’ll still save lots with this long 0% interest period.
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 new 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 19.99% interest rate on purchases.
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.
Another possibly unexpected benefit comes in the form of Westpac Extras – personalised cashback offers for specific stores that you’ll receive by email. It means that in some cases you’ll be earning rewards points and getting a cashback on the same purchase.
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 payments to overseas merchants 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).
The 19.99% p.a. purchase interest rate and 21.49% 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.
With an annual fee of $150, and no charge for a supplementary card, it costs less than you might expect for a platinum rewards card with plenty of benefits.
However, you can try it out for the first year and pay a discounted fee of only $49.
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 even a balance transfer and an annual fee discount to make your early relationship with your card even better.
‘Platinum Rewards’ is one of the most popular varieties of credit cards. You can check out competing cards, such as the American Express Platinum Card and the Bendigo Bank Platinum Rewards Card, on our rewards credit cards page.
Reviewed by Yvonne Taylor
Lead Product Analyst