Westpac drop Amex companion credit cards - CBA holds out, but for how long?

UPDATE 19/4/18: Westpac has launched a pair of American Express issued rewards cards, available to all new cardholders as part of a bundle with Westpac issued Platinum and Black cards. More information here.

Westpac has become the third big bank to announce it will no longer offer American Express companion cards with its rewards credit card selection.

Citing regulation changes from the RBA, Westpac recently announced that it had reviewed its rewards card range. The result was some minor changes to points earn rates and caps on some cards, and the decision to can Amex companion cards.

From 1 February 2018, new card applicants will no longer receive an American Express companion card with their new Westpac plastic. Existing cardholders can continue to use their companion card for the time being, but from 4 April 2018, these too will close.

Other minor changes from Westpac included reducing the annual fee on the Altitude Black card to $250, bumping up the points earn rate on Altitude Black Qantas Frequent Flyer Visa cards from 0.625 points per $1 spent to 0.75 points and removing the points caps on both Altitude Platinum Rewards and Altitude Platinum Qantas Visa cards. These changes are effective from 4 April 2018.

The move from Westpac follows a trend set by ANZ in March this year. ANZ was the first big bank to can Amex companion cards in anticipation for RBA regulation changes which came into effect on 1 July 2017.

The new regulations bring Amex cards under the same interchange fee rules as other credit cards, effectively negating the value of offering them as far as big banks are concerned, as Mozo Data Services Director, Andrew Duncanson, explained at the time.

RELATED: American Express takes top credit card gong in Experts Choice Awards

NAB followed ANZ’s lead in early October, dropping Amex companion cards, effective from 13 November 2017.

The last big bank to still offer American Express companion cards with it’s credit card range in the Commonwealth Bank. But now that the other three big banks have announced plans to scrap American Express companion cards, CommBank may not be far behind, said Mozo Data Manager Peter Marshall.

“The big banks definitely have a history of making similar product decisions, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if CommBank follows suit and gets rid of Amex companion cards soon,” he said.

“Having said that, CommBank has already cut back the value of Amex companion cards to the point where you earn more on Mastercard anyway. So, who knows, maybe they’ll just decide to keep them as a show of good faith to customers.”

CBA retained it’s Amex companion card range when ANZ first announced it would be scrapping the scheme, but slashed the points earn rate on regular domestic spends to just 0.5 points per $1 spent. On the other hand, most of CommBank’s rewards cards earn 1 point per $1 spent on Mastercard.

“CommBank is the last credit card provider in the market offering Amex companion cards, so it seems these cards have become a thing of the past,” Marshall summed up.

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