Westpac announces new credit card partnership with American Express

Sally McMullen 1 November 2017 NEWS

Westpac Editorial only Olga Kashubin_Shutterstock

Dual credit cards may be gone, but not all hope is lost for Westpac customers who seek the benefits of carrying an Amex.

Earlier today we reported that Westpac was dropping the American Express across its Altitude Rewards dual credit card range in 2018. However, this isn’t the last collaboration we’ll see from the two institutions.

Westpac is indeed removing the American Express credit card from its three existing Altitude Rewards credit cards come April 2018, but the bank has also announced that it’s entering a new partnership with Amex. This time, Westpac will offer two new credit cards to existing cardholders who want a product that is issued and serviced directly by American Express.

The new cards are due to arrive in early 2018 and specific rates, fees or features haven't been confirmed yet. However, Westpac has revealed that the cards will offer accelerated rewards potential for Altitude and Qantas Points collectors. Cardholders can look forward to higher points earn rates, uncapped points, complimentary insurances and access to American Express benefits including Amex Offers and Amex Invites.

If you already have a Westpac Altitude Rewards account, your American Express card will be cancelled from 4 April 2018. However, you’ll also have the chance to apply for one of these new Amex-issued cards which will come with a separate credit limit, statement and account.

So, why has Westpac chosen to ditch its companion cards for an American Express-issued alternative? The answer lies with the RBA’s interchange fee regulations that rolled out in July 2017. Prior to July, banks often charged a fee between 1.5% to 1.7% to process transactions from rewards credit cards. The banks used the profits from these fees to fund their rewards programs. This interchange fee has been capped at 0.8% since 1 July, so we’ve seen a number of card issuers reduce their rewards perks and earn rates to compensate for the loss. As such, Westpac has reviewed its rewards credit cards and decided to close all American Express cards issued by Westpac in April 2018.

Although we’ve seen three of the Big Four banks drop their companion cards (including NAB and ANZ), Westpac is the only one to announce a new American Express-issued option for cardholders who still want to enjoy the benefits of an Amex.

“We know how popular our American Express offer has been and our new partnership will ensure we continue to deliver innovative, market-leading products to our customers,” said Westpac's chief executive, consumer bank George Frazis.

While this is all of the information Westpac has released about the two new products, we’ll keep you updated as more details are confirmed.

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