Tl;dr: spoiler alert – not in a rush to spend all my GrabRewards points; the earn rate is nerfed much more than the redemption rates. Continue earning 10 Points per dollar now before 2nd March.
Grab is updating their rewards programe for the worse – a lot worse. Here are three ways GrabRewards is becoming suckier on 2nd March 2020:
- Earn rate will become 4 points per dollar (from 10 per dollar)
- Redemption cost will become 5,000 points for $10 off (from 3,600 points)
- Higher value redemptions of $15, $20, and $25 are going away
Let’s get one thing out of the way: fortunately, the top-up game continues. GrabPay MasterCard remains the top-of-class card to use right now with 10% cashback or 4 miles per dollar on any transaction, and then some more rewards in form of GrabRewards points. We are just going to live with fewer points from now onwards. Much, much fewer.
Nerfs, nerfs, nerfs
The current earn rate of 10 points per dollar and 3,600 Points for a $10 ride voucher represents 2.77% cashback in form of Grab rides/food deliveries. At the new 4 points per dollar earn rate and 5,000 points for $10 ride voucher, the cashback has been nerfed to merely 0.8%.
The triple whammy is having higher value vouchers of $15, $20 and $25 go away, since those gave greater value on your points, with the $25 representing as much as 2.84% cashback. Goodbye long-distance Grabs and sumptuous dinners fully paid by Grab Points 😢
KrisFlyer miles have also become slightly more expensive, with each mile now going for 10 points. I still see the old option for 160 miles at 1,400 miles (8.75 points per mile), but I’m not sure it’s staying for long.
I have previously stated that the GrabPay MasterCard provided 12.77% cashback or 5.14 mpd. This will now change to 10.8% and 4.4 mpd.
Make hay while the sun still shines
It’s not all bad though, because $10 off for 5,000 points still means 2% cashback on all points you have already earned, and those you earn from now till 2nd March. If this bad news is discouraging you from earning points now, don’t. Now is the time to make hay while the sun still shines. 2% cashback on top of your top-up rewards is still fantastic.
As someone who uses Grab heavily for payments, I’m more affected than most, with more than 135,000 Points. My initial strategy was to use Grab Points to offset my Grab rides since this offered the most value, but I’m also someone who is quite frugal about taking cabs despite my growing stash of Grab Points. Cash equivalents are fungible with cash!!, I thought. Well, they kind of are, until the sole controller of this particular currency decides to severely devalue its value.
At 3,600 for every $10 off, I have about $376.66 worth of Grab Points. That will change to $271.20 come 2nd March, and I can’t even use more than $10 for each ride. Ouch. A reminder that points or miles in any kind of loyalty reward programme can and will be devalued and shouldn’t be hoarded. Props to Grab, at least, for announcing the change with a lead time of more than a month.
Dealing with a stash of Points
Given my travel habits, I could probably use a couple of the $10 – $25 rewards over the next month, probably treating myself better and taking more rides, and I expect that I can preemptively redeem vouchers before 2nd March to lock in the current lower rates, with the vouchers expiring at the end of March. Moving forward, I am ready to accept a reduced rate of 2% cashback on my earnt points and keep them for future use.
Changing them for CapitaStar STAR$ at a rate of 2,500 for 5,000 STAR$ (redeemable for $5 CapitaMall voucher) is also possible which translates into the same 2% cashback, but for a lot more things other than Grab rides/food. This was also recently increased in cost, and probably wouldn’t be changing in the near future so there is no rush to cash out one’s points now unlike Grab rides.
Outside of CapitaMall stores, places accepting GrabPay QR payments also allow you to convert your GrabRewards points at the same 5,000 points for $10 ratio. This is a pretty good option to burn up all my points at a 2% cashback rate since it can be done in a single transaction.
While converting to KrisFlyer miles is also an option, I have always thought that the conversion rate of GrabRewards points to miles was pretty bad because it essentially meant buying miles at 2 cents each, which is way higher than what I’m willing to pay (which is honestly less than 1 cent per mile). I would continue not to do so, unless I really run out of choices for my points.
Throwing us a bone, Grab is discounting some rewards that might be well worth your points if you patronise places like Starbucks and Burger King. Grab seems to be making 2,500 Points worth $5, so these are excellent value if you eat at such places. I will be looking to pick up a few of these deals to optimise the usage of my points.
It was inevitable that Grab would start chopping off generous incentives to crank up its profitability. The nerfs announced are a little like lopping off a couple of fingers; painful, but merely a flesh wound for credit card optimisers. The only question left is: when would Grab would start dismembering other perks? Removing top-up rewards may well represent a decapitation for GrabPay, at least to optimisers like me.
Until such time, keep calm and continue clocking those rewards and let’s not weep over heads that haven’t rolled.