I’ve always considered myself to be more of an Uber man just out of habit, but because of the recent devaluation of their partnership with SPG (1 point per US$2 when not staying in a Starwood hotel, vs US$1 previously, 2 points per US$1 when staying in a Starwood hotel, vs 2/3/4 per US$1 depending on elite status), I feel less obliged to put all my transport spending with them.
In any case, when I’m paying with my own money I’ll always do a quick comparison between Grab and Uber to see who’s cheaper (my biggest annoyance with the Grab app is it forces you to turn on location services, whereas Uber does not).
One big advantage that Grab has over Uber in Singapore is the presence of a rewards program, which I’m going to attempt to explain here.
How Grab Rewards works
For every $1 you spend with Grab, you get 1 point.
However, there are ways of accelerating your earnings. There’s currently a promotion with GrabCar/GrabTaxi where you earn
- 8X points when you pay with cash (seriously, does anyone who uses this app pay with cash?)
- 16X points when you pay with your credit card via GrabPay.
For GrabShare/JustGrab, you earn
- 15X points when you pay with cash
- 30X points when you pay with Grabpay
What does that work out to in terms of rebates?
As per the Grab rewards catalogue you need
- 2,200 points for a $5 Grab voucher
- 4,200 points for a $10 Grab voucher
- 6,000 points for a $15 Grab voucher
- 7,400 points for a $20 Grab voucher
- 9,000 points for a $25 Grab voucher
(The amount of points needed decreases as your status with Grab increases (see next section). Amounts shown here are for a base-level member)
Assuming the $1= 1 point base rate, the effective rebate is ~0.2-0.3%. But of course the base rate is not meant to be the “regular” rate. I suspect that Grab will have a series of ongoing points promotions, tweaking the bonus points to drive (see what I did there) users to pick one option over another. For example, it’s trying to encourage riders to pick its new JustGrab option, which is why it’s offering higher points earning. As Grab diversifies into new offerings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the incentive structure shift accordingly.
Where GrabCar/GrabTaxi is concerned, you earn a rebate of 3.6-4.4% assuming you pay via credit card. For JustGrab/GrabShare, your rebate is 6.8-8.3%. if you pay via credit card.
Based on my inexpert opinion, any rebate >5% is not financially sustainable in the long term. My guess is that Grab is taking a hit on this program to drive adoption and loyalty, and further down the road we’ll see earnings closer to the 3-5% rebate mark. So take advantage while it lasts!
As you take more and more rides with Grab, your status in the Grab Rewards program will increase.
- At the 3,000 point mark, you hit Silver
- At the 9,000 point mark, you hit Gold
- At the 19,000 point mark, you hit Platinum
I believe that both base and bonus points count towards status earning. To me, the main advantage that elite status has is the ability to redeem cash vouchers for fewer points.
If you were a Platinum member, you could redeem a $5 voucher for 1,900 points and $10 for 3,600. This implies a higher rebate.
Grab splits the year into 2 periods for the purposes of points expiry. The first rewards period runs from 1 Jan to 30 June, and the second from 1 July to 31 Dec.
Any points earned in one rewards period expire at the end of the 2nd. So the 100 points I earn on 1 Jan 2017 and 30 June 2017 will expire on 31 Dec 2017.
I’m guessing this won’t be that big a deal for someone who is using Grab regularly, as I imagine the rewards program is meant to encourage.
There really isn’t anything to compare to here, because Uber has no loyalty program (no, I don’t consider Uber VIP to be a loyalty program). Assuming Grab and Uber come out to be about the same price, I’d probably switch over to Grab just to get the points.
EDIT: Actually, come to think of it, there is something to compare this to- CabRewards, the program run by Comfort. You earn 1 Cabpoint for every $1 of spend (5X points during your birthday month), and 1000 cab points get you a $5 voucher. That’s a 0.5% rebate. And you need to wait 14 working days for your voucher to be mailed to you. And they wonder why taxis are dying…
My friend raised a good point in that if your job allows you to expense taxis, you’re better off taking Grab and accumulating the points for your personal use.