Today marks the start of Grab’s April 2022 Power Up Challenge. It’s been three months since I wrote about one of these monthly challenges, and it’s because there isn’t really anything new about it. No news is good news sometimes, but since then there have been some changes that could hint to the future of Grab as a rewards boosting tool.
Given the ability to earn rewards on top ups, points on expending the top-up amounts, more points on completing Power Up Challenges, and sales on point redemptions, it’s not hard to see why I write a lot about Grab. Signs, unfortunately, point towards a less rewarding future for reward chasers like us.
Bank/PayNow VPA Top Ups
Last month, some people reported that only top ups via bank transfer or PayNow VPA counted towards their challenge. This time round, it seems like it’s standard for every user.
No biggie, all one has to do is to dutifully top up the amount with one of those methods, then transfer the funds back out. One can then top up the Grab wallet with one of the reward-bearing cards for cashback. It’s a pesky little extra step, but everything is instant.
It is, however, obvious that Grab is going to continuously push this method of top-up. The company would obviously be better off not eating the credit card fees that fund the cashback we get, and this is one sure-sign the company is weaning users away from card top ups.
Grab has recently introduced a new investment product on top of AutoInvest (thanks Win for pointing this out in the chat). While AutoInvest uses credits in your wallet (and therefore can be funded through topping up with credit cards), Earn+ accepts… you guessed it: PayNow or bank transfer. I may be wrong but this seems like the first feature introduced by Grab that does not accept payment via its own Grab wallet credits.
Where are the (good) pointsback sales?
While Grab had pretty frequent and rather generous pointsback sales last year where useful redemptions were heavily discounted, it’s almost 4 months into the year without good ways to expend one’s Grab points. Aside from a GrabFood voucher sale – which is pretty lame, I might add, as using a GrabFood voucher precludes one from using other promos given by the platform – and one other sale that was too lousy for me to remember any details, there hasn’t been a good pointsback promotion.
I think devaluation of Grab points would be an untenable thing for Grab to do. They have repeatedly and heavily advertised each point to be worth 0.2 cents, and I don’t see them decreasing the redemption value of each point.
What they can – and probably have already done – is a “soft” devaluation. Most veteran Grab users would only redeem points when they are worth significantly higher than 0.2 cents, and such opportunities are becoming rare. My guess is that 0.2 cents per point would be as good as it gets for our points, and if there is any chance to get higher than this I would be liquidating my points stash as much as possible.
No more top up rewards
I feel that this is very likely to happen, and it could be done by means of fee on top ups, or perhaps Amex cards being excluded altogether. Changes made without prior notice are gross, but I feel like stopping a payment method suddenly isn’t something as bad as say devaluing the value of points overnight, and it is a possibility of happening.
Grab previously announced a $1 surcharge for Visa top-ups ahead of time, so here’s hoping they’d announce any changes to our few remaining top-up cards with enough time for us to enjoy one last round of rewards at that time.
Might not even be that attractive now
My challenge tier is 20,000 points for $2,000 of spend on top of the 6 points per dollar I get, as well as 1.7% cashback from topping up my Grab with UOB Absolute. All in, they represent 4.9% rebate, most of them in Grab points which is slightly worse than cashback. Without a potential upside to redeem Grab points at higher than a 0.2-cent valuation, this earn rate is already inferior to quite a few other cashback cards in the market.
|Base Points + Top Up Cashback*
|Total Max Rewards
In fact, aside from the first two tiers, the rest all have a rate under 6%. It’s still decent, and we have to remember that Grab’s exclusions are typically not as strict as credit cards (although they’re becoming more stringent), but those whose spending fit UOB EVOL or OCBC FRANK, or something like HSBC Revolution may want to think twice about putting spend towards Grab.
While it made sense to complete these challenges every month when Grab points were more valuable, skipping this month’s challenge might be something to consider, particularly if you belong to one of the tiers with a lower earn rate, have better cards to put your spend on, or don’t have a creative way to make the challenge requirements without actual spending. Don’t ask me how.
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