Grab has announced an upcoming devaluation for Singapore-based users, probably one that’s gonna really hurt this time.
Learning from the strong backlash the last time they devalued their rewards system without notice, Grab has now put out a five-week notice on an upcoming devaluation happening in March.
There’ll be a reduction in how many points you earn per transaction, and an increase in the number of places you can earn points at, from 2 March 2020.Grab Rewards, January 2020
In gist, Grab will be lowering Grab reward points earned across all use categories, and across all tiers. To add salt to the wound, Grab will also be raising redemption rates for Grab vouchers.
Adding the both together, this development is a double whammy, resulting in significantly lower the yields henceforth for using Grab.
The low down: How much less points will you earn
The headline sounds gloomy, but here’s the specific changes:
- All Grab transactions will earn between 2 to 4 points, depending on tier.
- All Grab transactions with payment made through GrabPay will earn the same number of points across all categories.
- Paying for Grab rides with cash will no longer earn any points.
At present, entry and silver members can earn either 2 points (GrabExpress), 3 points (for Grab rides) or 5 points (for GrabPay in-stores or online), while gold members earn 50% more at between 3 to 7.5 points. Platinum members can earn twice of that, between 4 to 10 points.
With the revised earn rates, that represents an up to 60% slash rate off the number of points earned.
Redemptions for Grab vouchers will also go up
Apart from lowering the amount of points you will receive, Grab is also raising the number of points required to redeem for Grab vouchers.
If you recall, Grab tried to do it once back in 2018, but suffered a huge backlash due to its no-notice revision. In a bid to calm things down, Grab then reverted the number of points required for redeeming Grab vouchers for its silver, gold and platinum members.
And the revised rates compare to the current redemption rates:
|Before 2 Mar 20||After 2 Mar 20||Before 2 Mar 20||After 2 Mar 20||Before 2 Mar 20||After 2 Mar 20|
|Member||500||550 (+10%)||2,200||2,500 (+14%)||4,200||5,000 (+19%)|
|Silver||500||550 (+10%)||2,100||2,500 (+19%)||4,000||5,000 (+25%)|
|Gold||500||550 (+10%)||2,000||2,500 (+25%)||3,800||5,000 (+32%)|
|Platinum||500||550 (+10%)||1,900||2,500 (+32%)||3,600||5,000 (+39%)|
With these changes in redemption rates, it will now take a Grab user – at member level – to rack up $275 in spend in order to redeem $1 rebate (0.36% effective rebate), up from the previous $167 (0.6% rebate).
If you are an entry-level member and intending to save up for a $10 voucher, you will need to spend $1,825 on Grab rides first before redemption, making it a 0.55% value. While you are at it, you will achieve platinum status too! Previously, you will only need to spend $1067 to get enough points for a $10 voucher (0.94% value).
If you use GrabPay a lot, the drop is even more stark: previously you could simply spend $125 in-store via GrabPay and get a $1 voucher (a 0.8% value), but now you will will need to spend $275 to get the same voucher, making it a 0.36% value.
Platinum members has it worst: it used to take $360 of GrabPay spending in stores to get a $10 voucher (a 2.7% rebate value), but moving forward it’s gonna take a holy $1,250 to get the same voucher, reducing the rebate value to a measly 0.8%.
Qualification for higher tiers remain the same
While the rewards earn rates has gone down significantly, Grab has not revised its qualification requirements for the higher tiers. This will also mean a significantly higher spending to achieve the higher status, and the rewards may not be entirely worth.
|Tier||No. of points required||Cumulative spend required |
(based on highest earn category, i.e. GrabPay)
|Before 2 Mar 20||From 2 Mar 20|
It’s noteworthy to mention that it is now much tougher to earn Platinum status. At $1,700, that’s a holy 170 rides in a year with an average cost of $10, equating to about 1 ride every two days.
Grab Vietnam & Indonesia also hit by devaluation; Grab Malaysia stops awarding points for cash transactions
Grab Indonesia was hit by a drastic devaluation in its rewards programme since 9 January 2020. Previously Grab users in Indonesia could earn 8 to 16 points if they paid by GrabPay wallet or 4 to 8 points if paid by cash, but since 9 January 2020, the rate has been reduced drastically to 1 to 2 points for GrabPay payment, depending on your tier.
Grab Indonesia reward points table before and after 9 Jan 2020
Grab Vietnam has also undergone a similar devaluation effective today (22 Jan 2020), where users earn a reduced earn rate of 3 points (member, silver members) to 9 points (platinum members) per VND10,000 (SGD0.60) spent.
Previously, users could earn anything from 9 to 18 points on select categories, so this represents a 50% reduction.
The only other country that has a slight change is Malaysia, where Grab will stop awarding reward points for cash payments.
So where’s the best place in SEA to earn Grab Rewards now?
With the changes that have been introduced in some of the markets, Malaysia remains the best place to use Grab. For the equivalent of S$1, you will get at least 4.5 Grab points. There’s also a limited time bonus from now until 15 March 2020, where you get 3x bonus if you use your GrabPay wallet in Malaysia, so if you are a platinum member, you get a whooping 27 points per S$1 (RM3) spent. Note that the GrabPay wallet is separated by country; you will need to top up your RM wallet if you use GrabPay in Malaysia.
Other countries good for earning Grab rewards include Thailand (4.23 to 8.45 points per S$1 spend), and Philippines (4.53 to 9.06 points per S$1 spend). Vietnam’s a little tricky – you need a Vietnamese bank account to set up the e-wallet in order to earn the attractive rates of up to 15.52 points per S$1 spend, so that’s practically out of reach for foreigners.
Singapore is after all not the country with the worst rewards value, the honour goes to Indonesia at a miserly 1 point per S$1 spent.
It’s worthy to note that the Grab reward points pool across all the different countries, even though you may have a separate GrabPay wallet for each country. This means that points earned overseas can be redeemed in Singapore and vice versa, so if you play it well you can still get a good rebate.
Given the massive reductions in Grab reward points earned across some markets, it’s safe to say that Grab is probably feeling the pain of the generous rewards it has dished out in the past years, in hope to make their app ‘sticky’.
As recently as 2018, when GrabPay wallet was newly introduced in Malaysia, I recalled that a RM90 purchase instantly netted me 1350 points – almost enough for a $5 Grab voucher.
Good things definitely won’t last for long, as we all know very well. The writing is definitely on the wall, given the last devaluation exercise back in 2018, it was about time that Grab did another round of devaluation, given that these rewards has a cost to them, at least for Grab.
This is on the heels of more and more banks not giving out miles/points for GrabPay top-ups, making it even harder to choose GrabPay at places when I can use credit cards.
What this round of devaluation also means to me is that, I will probably be using Grab even less frequently than I current do. As it is, the surge pricing for Grab rides are ridiculous at times (S$20 from City Hall to Tanjong Pagar, anyone?), I find myself turning to ComfortDelgro’s app more often today.
Despite the lowered valuations of the rewards, there are still instances where it still makes sense to use GrabPay, given that there aren’t really any other mobile wallets that has a rewards programme. I foresee that this will be my last year as a Platinum member with Grab, but seriously, it doesn’t quite matter.