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Is Westpac about to reduce the Altitude Rewards points transfer rates to airlines?

UPDATE: Westpac has confirmed changes to points transfer rates. Read more here

Westpac may be about to reduce the points transfer rates from its popular Altitude Rewards credit card loyalty program to some airlines.

Several customers reported seeing an announcement about these changes published on Westpac’s Altitude Rewards website on Friday, but the information was quickly taken down.

According to those reports, the transfer rates to Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program and Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program would remain the same, but the rates to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Malaysia Airlines Enrich would be reduced. The changes would take effect on 9 November 2018.

We don’t know any more details about what was published briefly on Friday, and no formal announcement has been made. While it’s possible this is all a furphy, it seems to me that it’s more likely the information was released prematurely and we’ll indeed see changes announced soon.

The current transfer rates are:

  • 2 Altitude points = 1 Virgin Australia Velocity point
  • 2 Altitude points = 1 Malaysia Airlines Enrich mile
  • 2.5 Altitude points = 1 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer mile
  • 2.5 Altitude points = 1 Cathay Pacific Asia Mile
  • 180 Altitude points = 1 Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollar.

(Altitude points can’t be manually converted to Qantas points, rather customers earning Qantas Points have opted into the separate Altitude Qantas program.)

These rates are already underwhelming, at least compared to some other cards on the market (like the St George Amplify range I’ve written about before – but since St George is Westpac-owned, I wouldn’t be surprised to see reductions there too).

We’ve seen so many changes in the credit card space recently, mostly in response to RBA regulations that have made cards less profitable for the banks. But since Westpac has already shaken up its card range in response to the regulations, these latest changes (if confirmed) would more likely be for commercial reasons.

I reached out to Westpac’s media team for comment yesterday, but haven’t heard back. If that changes, I’ll let you know.

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