Westpac drops Amex dual credit cards

Sally McMullen 1 November 2017 NEWS

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The Altitude Rewards card range will drop its American Express card come April 2018.

UPDATE: Westpac announces new credit card partnership with American Express
Westpac may be dropping American Express from its Altitude Rewards credit card range, but a new partnership is in the works. Westpac will offer two new Amex-issued credit cards in early 2018. Read our coverage to find out more.

Westpac is now the third of the Big Four banks to can its American Express companion cards in 2017. As of 4 April 2018, Westpac is no longer offering dual Visa or Mastercard and Amex credit cards. This will impact its Altitude rewards range, including the Westpac Altitude, Altitude Black and Altitude Platinum cards.

Essentially, this means that cardholders will no longer have the choice of using either their Visa/Mastercard or American Express to make purchases. As Visa and Mastercard are generally more widely accepted than Amex, the major drawback of this breakup is the higher reward earn rates that you could usually get when spending with American Express. Despite Westpac cutting the earn rates across its Amex products in July earlier this year, cardholders could usually earn more points on that than their Visa or Mastercard.

You can compare the old and new earn rates, effective 4 April 2018, across the Westpac Altitude range in the table below. Please note that some Altitude cards offer cardholders the option to earn either Altitude Rewards or Qantas Points, so we’ve provided the details for both.

Card Old earn rates New earn rates
Westpac Altitude (Altitude Rewards) 1 Altitude point per $1 on Visa and 2 Altitude points per $1 spent on Amex up to 5,000 points per statement period 1 Altitude Point per $1 spent up to 5,000 points per statement period
Westpac Altitude (Qantas Points) 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Visa and 1 Qantas Point per $1 on Amex up to 2,500 points per statement period 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 up to 2,500 points per statement period
Westpac Altitude Black (Altitude Rewards) 1.25 Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on Mastercard and 2.5 Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on Amex, uncapped 1.25 Altitude Points per $1 uncapped
Westpac Altitude Black (Qantas Points) 0.625 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Mastercard and 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Amex, uncapped 0.75 Qantas Points per $1 uncapped
Westpac Altitude Platinum (Altitude Rewards) 1 Altitude Rewards point per $1 spent on Visa and 2 Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on Amex up to 7,500 points per statement period 1 Altitude Point per $1 uncapped
Westpac Altitude Platinum (Qantas Points) 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Visa and 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on Amex up to 3,750 points per statement period 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 uncapped
Westpac Altitude Business Platinum 1 Altitude Rewards point per $1 spent in Australia and 2 Altitude Rewards per $1 spent overseas with Visa. 3 Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on Amex No changes announced
Westpac Altitude Business Gold 1 Altitude Rewards point per $1 spent on Visa. 2 Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on Amex up to 20,000 points per statement period No changes announced

The Westpac Altitude Black will also be dropping its annual fee from $395 p.a. to $250 p.a. Although the points caps and earn rates have been lifted across some of the Visa cards, the absence of the Amex earn rates means that the overall rewards value is reduced.

Why is Westpac ditching its dual cards?

These changes are a result of the RBA interchange fee regulations that kicked in on 1 July this year.

Prior to July, banks often charged a fee between 1.5% to 1.7% to process transactions from premium rewards credit cards. The profits from these fees were then used to fund their rewards programs. This interchange fee has been capped at 0.8% since 1 July, so we’ve seen a bunch of card issuers cut back their rewards perks and earn rates to compensate for the loss. It also means that banks such as Westpac will no longer seek to maintain their companion cards with American Express.

Westpac is now the third of the Big Four banks to remove Amex from its rewards range. In March, ANZ also announced that it would cut ties with Amex across its three Rewards credit cards. NAB did the same across its Rewards range in October. That just leaves CommBank and its Awards credit cards in the ring, but it could only be a matter of time before they’re knocked out too.

If you own one of the Westpac Altitude Rewards credit cards, pay attention to when these changes kick in to avoid any nasty surprises. It might also be time to start comparing new rewards or frequent flyer credit cards. Or if you’re going to miss the perks of holding an American Express, you could start comparing Amex-issued credit cards. Whatever you decide, make sure you compare your options and ensure the combination of rewards, fees and extra features make it the right card for you.

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