Westpac reduces points earn rates on American Express credit cards

Sally McMullen 1 May 2017

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Westpac joins NAB and Commonwealth Bank, offering cardholders fewer points per dollar spent with AMEX.

It’s been a big day for dual credit cards across the market. Similar to Commonwealth Bank and NAB, Westpac will cut how many points you can earn per dollar on your American Express rewards or frequent flyer credit cards from 1 July 2017. As the advantage of a dual credit card previously depended on the higher earn rate that came with the AMEX card, this is a big blow to many Westpac points chasers.

Along with the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and a suite of other banks who’ve dropped the value of their rewards programs this year, we can attribute Westpac’s revamped rewards earn rates to interchange fee regulations. As of 1 July 2017, interchange fee regulations will be capped at 0.8% per transaction. As high-end rewards cards typically collect 1.5% to 1.7% in interchange fees per transaction, banks are preparing for the loss in profits from these fee regulations by cutting back the value of their rewards programs.

How will the points earn rates change across Westpac cards?

The earn rate changes we can expect vary across the different Westpac credit cards, so you can compare how the current earn rates rate against the new ones below. A few of the cards listed are no longer available for new applications, but we’ve included them for the benefit of existing cardholders.

CardCurrent earn rateNew earn rate as of 1 July 2017
Altitude Black credit card3 Altitude Points per $1 spent on American Express and 1.25 Altitude Points per $1 on Mastercard or 3 Altitude Points per $1 spent overseas.2.5 Altitude Points per $1 on American Express and 1.25 Altitude Points per dollar on all eligible purchases with Mastercard. Cardholders will also no longer earn points on ATO transactions.
Altitude Qantas Black and Earth Black1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on American Express and 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent overseas with Mastercard.1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent with American Express and 0.625 Qantas Points per dollar on all overseas spend with Mastercard.
Altitude Platinum credit cardThis card can currently collect 1 Altitude point per $1 spent with American Express on ATO transactions.This card will no longer earn points on ATO payments
Altitude Platinum PlusThis card is closed to new applicants, but existing cardholders can earn 3 Altitude points per $1 spent on American Express.Existing cardholders will earn 2.5 Altitude points per $1 spent on American Express.
Altitude Qantas Platinum Plus and Earth Platinum PlusThese cards are closed to new applicants, but both cards offer 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on American Express.Both cards will offer 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on American Express.
Altitude and Earth credit cardsThe Earth credit card is no longer available for new applicants, but you could collect 1 point per $1 spent on ATO transactions with American Express across both of these cards.These cards will no longer offer points on ATO purchases.

As you can see, no changes have been announced for entry-level Altitude Rewards credit cards, except for the loss of ability to earn points on ATO purchases. As of 2 May 2017, the Westpac BusinessChoice Rewards Visa card will earn 0.33 Qantas Points per $1 spent on ATO transactions, down from the current earn rate of 0.66 Qantas Points per dollar. Altitude Business Gold customers will earn 0.5 Altitude Points, rather than up to 2 points per dollar spent on government purchases.

Although there aren’t any changes to the exchange rates between Altitude Rewards and the partnered frequent flyer programs, you will need to spend more in some instances to redeem the same number of frequent flyer points. We already saw Westpac increase the number of points needed to exchange Altitude Rewards for KrisFlyer and Asia Miles last September.

ANZ parted ways with American Express earlier this year due to the pressure of the interchange fee regulations. While American Express-issued credit cards aren’t impacted by these fee regulations, many banks are making changes to their dual cards American Express and Visa or Mastercard products to prepare for the future losses.

This means many cardholders will no longer enjoy the same benefits they signed up for. If your bank has announced changes to its earn rates, make sure to compare how these will differ to ensure your card is still offering you the most competitive benefits, otherwise, it may be time to consider a switch.

For more information on how the interchange fee regulations will impact how you earn points with your credit card, please see this guide.

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