Grab Further Nerfs GrabPay: Only Transferrable Balance Usable For Payments to Insurance Companies

I think Pauline hit the nail on the head with her comment: just how many nails does Grab want in their coffin? I wasn’t expecting to have to write another “Grab nerf” article this soon, but here we are.

While we expect the Grab game to be done and dusted come 4th April after American Express removes rewards from the last remaining few cards that give miles/cashback for Grab top-ups, Grab has quietly made further nerfs to its wallet app. Since 30th March 2023, insurance companies along with other merchants, can only be paid via transferrable GrabPay credits.

Transferrable vs non-transferrable credits

For those who are not familiar, money in your GrabPay wallet are separated into transferrable funds and non-transferrable ones. When you top up your GrabPay wallet, there is an indication whether the funds are transferrable. Typically, amounts topped up via bank accounts, PayNow, or debit cards are considered transferrable, while top-ups done via credit cards are non-transferrable.

This change essentially blocks users from paying selected merchants with money in their GrabPay wallets that was topped up with a credit card. The list of merchants was helpfully shared by OZZ (and alphabetically sorted by Hamizan) and includes a whole bunch of insurance companies and even one PAYPAL and an inexplicable SINGSAVER.


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What to do with your balance

Pay for stuff that are still allowed
For those who have topped up their Grab wallets with their credit cards in hopes to pay their insurance premiums – tough luck. You are now stuck with non-transferrable credits that you can only use for Grab services or other payments, and many of such transactions are things you would rather pay with high-earn credit cards. This is thus not a very ideal scenario for people who like to optimise their spend (and I’m guessing you’re here because you are one of them).

Request refund
A better recourse would be to request for a refund via Grab’s helpdesk. Anecdotally, there have been quite a few who managed to get their top-up transaction reversed to their credit card.

Pay to businesses accepting PayNow UEN payments
Alternatively, you can also use it to make payments for companies that accepts payment via PayNow. GrabPay can be used to pay PayNow UEN (i.e. PayNow tied to a company’s Unique Entity Number), and from what I know, virtually every business with a business banking account of one of the major banks in Singapore would be able to accept PayNow payments via Grab. My tuition centre, for instance, accepts payments via PayNow QR only, but customers can still use GrabPay to pay (for now).

Store for future use
You could also possibly just leave your credits for future use. GrabPay is still able to pay for tricky stuff like utilities or school fees (for now). When news of top-up rewards being taken away hit the grapevines, many people’s reaction was to top up for future use. My response, as usual, is that you lose interest with each passing day the funds sit in your Grab wallet.

At a 4% p.a. return which isn’t too difficult to achieve from a variety of banks out there, every S$1,000 that idles in your Grab wallet could have earned about $3.33 a month. Your 1.5% cashback is thus negated if you leave your funds unused for about 4.5 months or more.

Moreover, this incident also shows you the risks of storing funds in your GrabPay wallet; the uses of your money can be silently restricted with no prior warning! I wouldn’t store too much funds in my Grab wallet prior to this incident, and now I’m even more reluctant to do so.

Grab is living up to their name or something

Implementing nerfs without prior warning is really bad form. Most companies seem to understand this; American Express, for instance, nerfed top-up rewards and gave slightly more than a month of notice.

Grab probably does realise this, but pushes with such nerfs anyway. People who have topped up ahead of Amex’s nerf would no doubt be burnt by such a move.

As such, rather than wait for pointsback sales, I have also emptied my entire stash of GrabRewards points, all 113,225 of them that I haven’t managed to expend in pointsback campagins.

It hurts the optimiser side of me, of course, but I have decided that peace of mind is more valuable than increasing the value of points I get during pointsback sales. Besides, GrabRewards sales have been few and far in between these days, and usually don’t offer as much value as they once did.

I don’t want to wake up one day and realise that my points have gone down in value, and given Grab’s track record I wouldn’t put it past them to do something like this. Anyway, it seems like chasing away optimisers is their goal these days, and if that is indeed their objective I must say they are really… nailing it.

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