On Thursday, the news was awash with Air New Zealand and BNZ’s major anouncement to changes with BNZ’s GlobalPlus credit card products, with BNZ opting for the card to change to a ‘cashback’ rewards scheme instead of an Airpoints/Status points earning system from 1 May 2015.

BNZ's GlobalPlus credit card and home loan products are no more - At least as we know it, from 1 May 2015.
BNZ’s GlobalPlus credit card and home loan products are no more – At least as we know it, from 1 May 2015.

BNZ have been a key Airpoints credit card supplier for 16 years, with the GlobalPlus brand and card being launched in 1998. There are a huge number of customers that have GlobalPlus credit cards, and although the earn rates have not been as competitive as some of the newer Airpoints credit cards on the market, I believe the brand has made the term ‘GlobalPlus’ synonymous with Airpoints here in New Zealand.

As these changes are quite major, I thought that I would detail the key points of the changes as well as perform a new review and analysis of the Airpoints credit cards on the NZ market, similar to the review I did in 2013 when Kiwibank launched their new Airpoints credit cards. Hopefully this will help some of those people wondering what to do with their cards, especially those that are in the changing GlobalPlus ‘boat’.


Why the changes?

My suspicion is there may have been some kind of terms or changes that Air New Zealand wanted BNZ to agree to in order to maintain the GlobalPlus/Airpoints relationship, which BNZ were not willing to undergo.

The official statement from BNZ is:

This program was started in the 90s- it’s no longer the 90s,” he said. “[Customers] want more flexibility and choice, they want to be able to earn rewards differently, and they want to be able to spend them differently as well.

The official Air New Zealand statement is:

Air New Zealand took the opportunity to review BNZ GlobalPlus’ participation in the Airpoints Programme, leading up to the expiry of the agreement, to check if their Airpoints offering to our members was the best it could be. Following the review, it was clear that Westpac were able to offer a wider range of Airpoints earning products at better earn rates for our customers. Westpac will be introducing new Airpoints earning products during the year.

So what happens if I have a GlobalPlus credit card?

Well, effectively, if you have a GlobalPlus card, you will continue to earn Airpoints and status points with Air New Zealand as usual up to 30 April 2015.

From the 1 May, you will start to earn ‘cash back’ on purchases at a ‘special earn rate’ for a varying amount of time (Classic and Gold – 6 months, Platinum – 1 year) before earning cash back at the same rate that Airpoints are earned currently for the type of card you have.
Home Loans will earn cash back at the same rate as Airpoints, with no ‘special earn rate/period’ effective 1 May 2015, and Insurances that used to earn Airpoints rewards will more earn Fly Buys from 1 May 2015, with 1 Fly Buys point for each $20 premium paid.

For more information about the GlobalPlus changes and the new cashback rewards system and earn rates, visit the BNZ’s website on the changes here.

BNZ have already started to E-Mail their GlobalPlus customers to inform them of the changes and letters will be sent to detail the new card benefits and changes soon, interestingly, their E-Mail subject was titled “Don’t let an airline dictate your bank“.
Over the last couple of days I have also heard the BNZ quite aggressively advertising all the great benefits of getting cash back for GlobalPlus credit card holders, so that customers can spend their cash rewards on anything they want to, not just flying. Should you stay with them is the big question – So I thought I would do some analysis and provide some comments on the various Airpoints credit cards on the NZ market to help people make that decision.

westpac_airpoints_bannerWestpac are coming to the party

Along with the GlobalPlus announcement was the news that Westpac are the new Airpoints partner, joining the likes of Kiwibank, American Express and ANZ to offer a suite of credit cards each with their own features, as well as a mortgage product.

A fair bit of work must have been done behind the scenes on their new Airpoints products, as information on their new cards was announced on the same day as the GlobalPlus changes.

Westpac appear to be very aggressive in their approach and look like they are very keen to ‘poach’ as many GlobalPlus customers away from BNZ as possible, offering triple (3x) Airpoints dollars for the first 3 month period (1 May – 31 July) for those that join their new card at launch, and 0% balance transfers for 12 months for those switching cards/banks.
In addition, three of the cards (the standard airpoints, Platinum and Business Mastercards) are applicable for a 12 months annual fee waiver for those who join during the promotional period.

Westpac are going to be offering 3 Consumer Airpoints products & 1 Business Airpoints product, as well as an Airpoints Home Loan at this stage.

 
Key Features of each of the Consumer Westpac Airpoints products

Westpac Airpoints Mastercard:
Effectively a basic Airpoints credit card, similar to the BNZ GlobalPlus Classic.

westpac_airpoints_standard

  • Earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $120 NZD spent
  • When spending in a currency other than NZ (eg. Online shopping overseas or when travelling whilst overseas), earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $100 NZD spent
  • Airpoints Dollars Advance up to $50 for use when redeeming Airpoints rewards (and you don’t quite have enough – This is paid back as you earn afterwards)
  • Lowest annual credit card account fee (of Westpac Airpoints cards) of $55 per year.

 
Westpac Airpoints Platinum Mastercard:
Effectively similar to the BNZ GlobalPlus Platinum, with many of the same or better benefits.

westpac_airpoints_platinum

  • Earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $75 NZD spent
  • When spending in a currency other than NZ (eg. Online shopping overseas or when travelling whilst overseas), earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $70 NZD spent
  • Earn 1 Status point per $225 NZD spent
  • Koru joining fee is waived for new members, with a $145 discount off the standard 12-month individual membership rate
  • Airpoints Dollars Advance up to $200 for use when redeeming Airpoints rewards (and you don’t quite have enough – This is paid back as you earn afterwards)
  • No Airpoints Dollar expiry, whilst holding the card
  • Overseas travel insurance of up to 35 days per journey when prepaid travel is bought using the card
  • Extended warranty insurance of an extra 12 months for goods purchased using the card, and purchase protection insurance
  • Annual credit card account fee of $145 per year.

 
Westpac Airpoints World Mastercard:
A new top-tier card that offers many benefits including the highest earn rate of all Airpoints credit cards on the NZ market, but also has a very high annual account fee. No GlobalPlus equivalent credit card.

westpac_airpoints_world

  • Earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $65 NZD spent
  • When spending in a currency other than NZ (eg. Online shopping overseas or when travelling whilst overseas), earn 1 Airpoints dollar per $50 NZD spent
  • Earn 1 Status point per $225 NZD spent
  • Koru joining fee is waived for new members, with a $145 discount off the standard 12-month individual membership rate
  • Airpoints Dollars Advance up to $200 for use when redeeming Airpoints rewards (and you don’t quite have enough – This is paid back as you earn afterwards)
  • Two complimentary Koru valet parking passes each year
  • No Airpoints Dollar expiry, whilst holding the card
  • Extended gifting to up to two people outside of the same household for Airpoints Dollars rewards and benefits
  • Priority Pass lounge access, allowing entry to over 700 lounges Worldwide (regardless of what airline you are travelling that day)
  • After paying for a stay at a Participating Starwood hotel or resort, receive a complimentary upgrade to Starwood Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest
  • A complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership and a free one-car-class upgrade (subject to availability) when booking using the card
  • Overseas travel insurance of up to 120 days per journey when prepaid travel is bought using the card
  • Extended warranty insurance of an extra 12 months for goods purchased using the card, and purchase protection insurance
  • A high annual credit card account fee of $390 per year. This fee is waived is $50,000 or more is spent on the card within a 6 month period.

 
Features with all Westpac Airpoints credit cards:

  • Balance Transfer of 0% p.a. for up to one year on the balance transferred (after applying and being successfully approved)
  • No international transaction fees when withdrawing money overseas from an ATM within the Global ATM Alliance (usually $8)

 
So which is the best card to have and use out of all the Airpoints-earning credit cards?

Ultimately, it depends on your circumstances.

I would put most people into two categories:

  • Those looking to earn the occasional Airpoints, but don’t want to have to pay much (such as in terms of credit card fees) to do it.
  • Those that are looking to maximise Airpoint Dollar earn, status point earn or would like to maximise as many other benefits as possible, and potentially don’t mind paying a little more upfront as long as they get a good return back.

For those looking to get the best Airpoints earn, it is hard to beat Westpac’s Black Airpoints World Mastercard, especially for the first 3 months (Effectively 1 Airpoints Dollar per $21.67 spent). However, the high annual account fee for this card is enough to make many raise an eyebrow.
As this card isn’t part of the annual fee waiver for the first 12 months either, it is also not possible to join this card and cancel it at the end of the first 12 months to enjoy the benefits, so this would rule it out as an option for many people.

The next level of benefits lie with the Platinum Airpoints cards, which for most banks is their top-tier card (with the exception of Westpac now with their ‘World’ card).
Interestingly BNZ was the last bank to offer a Gold (mid-tier) Airpoints credit card, with all providers now offering a ‘low/no fee’ or standard card followed by Platinum (and now Westpac with their black).

To provide a comparison, I put together the following table to examine each of the different Platinum Airpoints Credit Card offerings from each of the banks (current at 25 March 2015).
The best performing winner of each card ‘feature’ is highlighted in green.

airpoints_cc_platinum_comparison_25mar15update

How the Westpac Platinum Airpoints card compares:
The new Westpac Platinum Airpoints Mastercard offers very similar benefits to many of the other Platinum Airpoints credit cards offered by Kiwibank, American Express and ANZ, including an Airpoints dollar earn rate at a respectable $75, on par with all of the other cards (once the ANZ Airpoints Platinum card earn rate changes on 1 April 2015). It’s status point (SP) earn rate is middle of the pack, at 1 SP per $225, better than American Express and ANZ at $250, but more than Kiwibank’s 1 SP per $200.
It’s annual fee is slightly cheaper than the competition at $145 vs. $150 from Kiwibank and ANZ (American Express is $395 but offers one ‘free’ domestic flight per year – They have to pay for the flight somehow!).

All of the Platinum cards offer a $200 Airpoints Advance, Koru club joining fee waiver and at least $145 discount off the individual membership rate.

When comparing the Airpoints benefits, I think that overall, the Kiwibank Platinum Airpoints credit card comes out on topkiwibank_airpoints_platinumIt has a slightly higher fee of $150 vs. $145 from Westpac, but has the same Airpoints earn rate as the other cards (and if buying things like flights through AirNZ direct, an earn rate of $65 per Airpoints dollar), and a higher status point earn rate vs. the other cards of $200 vs. $225 from Westpac and $250 from American Express/ANZ – which will get you that little bit faster to earning Airpoints tier status for those aspiring travellers out there.
In addition, for those that do not have status, this card earns Koru lounge passes (at 1 pair per $20,000 spend – Which although sounds like a lot, is not too bad if you manage your spend appropriately) or for those that do have status, these passes can be used for extra guests into the lounge.
The card also provides complimentary travel insurance for up to 40 days (round trip) after purchasing some of the pre-paid travel expenses using the card.

Something the Kiwibank card does not offer is extended gifting (for those that are particularly generous with Airpoint benefits or would like to share rewards with friends or family) or extended warranty/purchase protection insurance, so if you place a high emphasis on these features then the Westpac Platinum Airpoints credit card is probably for you.

The ANZ Airpoints Platinum credit card is not a bad card, and will be a lot more competitive after 1 April 2015. Where it particularly shines is for those that do a lot of travel (or extended travel), to which the 90-day travel insurance feature is very attractive (the American Express Airpoints Platinum card has an even longer travel insurance duration cover of 180 days, and domestic insurance cover – See the terms and conditions for domestic cover as this is only provided a certain distance from ‘home’).
A couple of years ago I ran into an unexpected medical issue which ended up with me being hospitalised in Singapore, and luckily my GlobalPlus credit card covered me throughout the ordeal and having the peace of mind of coverage throughout the journey was excellent, from memory we were covered throughout the entire trip of just under 45 days, which was slightly higher than some other competing cards at the time.
The 0% commission on currency purchases is also a nice benefit to have as it is always good to have some cash when visiting a foreign country, as cash is king.

Although the Westpac Airpoints World Mastercard is certainly an interesting product, I am a little skeptical of the real-World benefits it offers seeing as Priority Pass has only limited use in the Asia Pacific (in NZ, only Auckland’s Emperor Lounge is offered and in Australia, only Melbourne and Cairns have a lounge available), Starwood Hotels and Resorts have no properties in New Zealand (although 4 in Australia) and for those Wellington-based travellers, Koru valet (provided by Air NZ) is non-existant at Wellington International Airport.
That said, I am probably not the target market for this particular card, and for the World traveller, they may see the benefits (although I would argue that someone that travels that much probably has status with one/more airlines and thus would have no need for Priority Pass, which probably makes up for most of the cost/benefit with this card).

No or Low Fee and Standard Airpoints Credit Card Comparison
If you are interested in earning Airpoints occasionally, and are not interested in paying a higher annual account fee, there are a number of Airpoints credit cards available.

See my below comparison chart for more information – Once again, the best performing winner of each card ‘feature’ is highlighted in green.

airpoints_cc_nolow_standard_comparison_25mar15update

Because none of these cards earn status points, the across the board benefit is an average Airpoints dollar earn rate, and some benefits between cards which each bank/provider uses to differentiate their card from another.

Of these cards, the ANZ Airpoints card performs particularly dismally, offering a poor Airpoints dollar earn rate (soon to change to become on-par with the rest of the ‘standard’ Airpoints cards) with the highest (shared) account fee and almost no extra/special benefits.
The American Express Airpoints card has the highest earn rate across this group of cards, but American Express is still not used everywhere (although all supermarkets, service stations and a reasonably high number of restaurants do take it as a form of payment) so it may not be best to rely on it completely for all ‘plastic’ transactions. It does have a zero dollar account fee, and supplementary cards are also free.

My recommendation in this group of cards would go to the Kiwibank Standard Airpoints credit card. It has the highest earn rate of the Visa/Mastercard provided cards, and some extra benefits with a good amount of Airpoints advance, Koru lounge pass earning with enough spend and Airpoints Dollars top up (and no Airpoints expiry). Although the annual account fee is the highest of the lot, the benefits help to make up for this.

The new Westpac Standard Airpoints credit card performs somewhere in the middle of the pack, with average features, earning and fees – There is nothing particularly outstanding to note with this card.

My other thoughts on cards at this level is that because many of the attractive benefits associated with the higher level cards are missing (eg. travel insurance, and status point earn) the idea of switching to a cashback rewards card is not absurd. Many of the cashback reward credit cards offer somewhere between 0.67-1% back of purchases, which is similar to the amount of Airpoints dollars earned.
You can also then spend the earned cash on whatever you want, as opposed to sitting in an Airpoints account until enough is saved up for a reward – Perhaps these are the types of customers that BNZ are heralding with their new GlobalPlus credit card changes?

A competitive market – Everyone wants your business
One positive thing with all the changes is that effectively all of the banks/providers of Airpoints credit cards are highly competitive at present: A great part of this will be due to the potential for them to ‘win’ GlobalPlus customers unhappy with the new changes from BNZ, but also to attract new customers during this period of hype. Regardless, it is win-win for everyone, and if you are thinking if changing soon, now is as good a time as any so take advantage of the extra promotions while they are offered.

Currently, there are the following promotions running (as at 23 May 2015):

Kiwibank:

  • 75 Air NZ Airpoints dollars when signing up to an Air New Zealand Airpoints Low Fee MasterCard® and spend $500 in the first 3 months. Plus the annual account fee is waived for the first year. Offer ends 31 May 2015. Balance transfer of 1.99% p.a. interest for 6 months when transferring from another banks credit card.
  • 100 Air NZ Airpoints dollars when signing up to an Air New Zealand Airpoints Standard MasterCard® and spend $500 in the first 3 months. Plus the annual account fee is waived for the first year. Offer ends 31 May 2015. Balance transfer of 1.99% p.a. interest for 6 months when transferring from another banks credit card.
  • 125 Air NZ Airpoints dollars when signing up to an Air New Zealand Airpoints Platinum MasterCard® and spend $500 in the first 3 months. Plus the annual account fee is waived for the first year. Offer ends 31 May 2015. Balance transfer of 1.99% p.a. interest for 6 months when transferring from another banks credit card.

American Express:

  • 0% p.a. interest on purchases for the first 6 months, and 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you apply for an Air New Zealand American Express card before 30 June 2015, are approved and spend $300 on your Card in the first three months.
  • No annual credit card free for the first year (usually $395) and 100 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you apply for an Air New Zealand American Express card before 30 June 2015, are approved and spend $500 on your Card in the first three months. This offer is only available to new (or anyone who has not had an AMEX card in the past 12 months) only.

ANZ (Updated 25 March 2015 to reflect promotion change):

  • 100 Air NZ Airpoints dollars when signing up to an ANZ Airpoints Visa and spend $1000 in the first 3 months on eligible purchases. Plus the annual account fee is waived for the first year. Offer available for ‘a limited time’. Balance transfer of 0% p.a. interest for 12 months when transferring from another banks credit card.
  • 200 Air NZ Airpoints dollars when signing up to an ANZ Airpoints Platinum Visa and spend $1000 in the first 3 months on eligible purchases. Plus the annual account fee is waived for the first year. Offer available for ‘a limited time’. Balance transfer of 0% p.a. interest for 12 months when transferring from another banks credit card.

Westpac:

  • 3x Airpoints Dollars between the period 1 May – 31 July 2015.
  • Annual account fee waiver on Airpoints Mastercard, Airpoints Platinum Mastercard and Airpoints Business Mastercard from card approval. Offer available for ‘a limited time’.
  • Balance transfer of 0% p.a. interest for 12 months when transferring from another banks credit card.

I suppose a thought is that it would *technically* be possible to sign up for an Airpoints credit card from one bank, earn the specified promotional benefit and then cancel/switch to another provider to gain their promotional benefit.. and just ‘do the rounds’ to gain a good couple of hundred Airpoints dollars.. which is not a hard way to potentially earn a free flight…

Hopefully this analysis of Airpoints credit cards on the market is useful and informative for those looking for advice on making a decision in light of these new changes.
In the interests of full disclosure, I do not earn anything from the advice provided in this post or through any of the links provided, and all of the opinions are my own. For those with any questions around the new credit cards from Westpac or the BNZ GlobalPlus changes, please feel free to post your questions/comments below, or if you have any thoughts about any of the credit cards available in NZ, and I will see if I can help you find an answer.

Happy earning all!

/ Jeremy

Author

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Westpac bumps BNZ as Air NZ points partner - Page 6 - FlyerTalk Forums

  2. I purchased travel tickets flying airnz with my bnz gold globalplus card.
    I have utilised the travel insurance before, but now can not find any information on my free cover ??

    • Jeremy Reply

      You would have received a booklet with the card in the mail which will include all the information about the complimentary insurance cover – It would have been in with the rest of the pack BNZ send out when you first received your GlobalPlus card, there’s quite a lot to read! Now that the BNZ GlobalPlus card has changed, the insurance may have changed as well. I know that BNZ have rebranded the card now so it is called ‘Advantage’ and they are currently not accepting sign ups to the new card at this stage; it is only for those GlobalPlus members who have decided to stay with the card.

      You can find the old information on their gold insurance policy here. However you should have a new Advantage card now which has a new document from BNZ explaining the insurance benefits here. There is also a FAQ document on the gold insurance policy for the Advantage card as well. It’s always good to read the policy, particularly the schedule of cover so you know what you are covered for and what you are not – and also how much you’re covered for. Hope this helps! 🙂

  3. Yes Thanks got that sorted today. Had to Ring BNZ tho’ could not find anything on line 🙁

Write A Comment