Tag Archives: loyalty

Breaking down the Grab Rewards program

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

Effective rebates

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.

click to enlarge

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!

Grab Status

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.

Points Expiry

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.

Overall thoughts

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.

Leaders Club takes back free memberships




The spate of good news just continues. So those of you who signed up for a free membership in the Leaders Club should have received an email this morning that looks something like this.

These things happen. I certainly hope no one was actually planning to stay at an LHW property, but those of you who managed to get Sixt Platinum status through this deal shouldn’t worry too much. I’d be very surprised if the Sixt and LHW systems were integrated enough to result in a cancellation of your Platinum status.

In theory this offer was open to holders of Diners Club cards, and if you’re a bona fide member I suppose you might be able to make a case if you really wanted to. That said, it could be that the offer was only open to US-based holders of Diners cards or some other segmentation, so don’t expect too much.

Well, easy come easy go.

Plaza Premium launches loyalty program, Citi Prestige and HSBC VI holders take note

Plaza Premium is a contract lounge operator that has more than 140 lounges across 35 airports in 16 countries. The quality of contract lounges can vary greatly, but Plaza Premium is generally one of the better ones- their new lounge in Hong Kong, for example, wouldn’t look out of place for a top tier airline.

Plaza Premium has partnered with Arrture to start its own free-to-join loyalty program where you earn points every time you visit a Plaza Premium lounge. Note that although there are 140+ Plaza Premium lounges, not all are currently participating in this loyalty program. 37 currently are (including, importantly, the one in Singapore) and you can see the full list here.

The program is still in its infancy, but right now the deal is that you earn 100 points every time you visit a Plaza Premium Lounge, and once you hit 2,000 points you can redeem a free Plaza Premium Lounge coupon.  As per their website, they plan to offer other redemption options in the future. At the very worst you could gift that coupon to someone else. You can’t sign up for Arrture online, unfortunately, as you need to pick up a physical form from a participating Plaza Premium lounge.

Why is this interesting? Because Plaza Premium lounges can be accessed through the Priority Pass program, and a lot of miles earning credit cards in Singapore will offer a handful of free visits a year.

Not too long ago I did an article on credit card lounge access. Here’s a recap of who gives you what

Card No of Free Visits Subsequent Visit Guest Visit
Citibank Prestige Unlimited N/A Free
Citibank Premiermiles 2 per annum US$27 US$27, however 2 free visits can be shared between guest and cardholder
DBS Altitude (Visa only) 2 per 12 month membership period US$27 US$27, however the 2 free visits can be shared between guest and cardholder
CIMB Visa Infinite 3 per year US$27 US$27
ANZ Travel Card 2 per quarter with S$10,000 spend N/A N/A
ANZ Signature Priority Banking Visa Infinite 2 lounge passes with min S$5,000 spend in a month N/A N/A
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite 6 per year

(Unlimited if you have the Priority Banking version of the SCB VI)

S$38 S$38

(US$27 if you have the Priority Banking version of the SCB VI)

HSBC Visa Infinite Unlimited N/A S$35
OCBC Voyage 2 per 12 month membership period, unlimited visits to Plaza Premium Lounges till 30 Sept 16  (Thanks Jey for pointing this out!) US$27 US$27
OCBC Elite World 2 per 12 month membership period US$27 US$27
Diners Cards 1 free visit to Diners Club partnered airport lounges from Apr-March Fees apply Guest fees apply
Krisflyer Ascend 4 vouchers for selected SATS and Plaza Prem. Lounges per membership year N/A Voucher can be used for a guest as well
UOB JCB Card Unlimited access to JCB-partnered airport lounges till 31 Mar 17 except in Singapore N/A Guest fees chargeable
Maybank Horizon Platinum Visa 1x Access available with min S$400 spend on airtickets within 3 months of charge. Lounges in SG, JB, KL and HK S$42 Guest fees chargeable @ 20% discount to S$42

I think you know where I’m going with this.

Image result for hsbc visa infiniteImage result for citibank prestige singapore

If you hold a HSBC Visa Infinite or Citibank Prestige card, you get unlimited visits to Priority Pass lounges. Therefore, even if you already have lounge access elsewhere, it might be worth the 5 minutes dropping by the Plaza Premium lounge in T1 every time you depart SIN just to register a visit (as per the T&C, both paid visits and complimentary visits via your credit card issuer count towards points earning).

I personally don’t think the current reward (20 visits= 1 free visit) is that exciting, but I’m keen to see what additional rewards they add to this program. So I would start building my points balance regardless, if I had a card with unlimited lounge access. Obviously, if your credit card only comes with limited visits per year you might be wiser to save those visits for when you really need them.

I see what Plaza Premium is doing here and it’s really quite clever. They know that credit cards which come with unlimited lounge access tend to be top tier ones, owned by people who probably have lounge access of their own already (through flying premium cabins or airline loyalty programs). Since Plaza Premium earns a fee every time someone Priority Passes their way into the lounge, it would make sense for them to encourage such individuals to start utilizing the visits they would otherwise not bother to make.

Too bad I can’t justify paying the annual fees for either the Citibank Prestige or HSBC VI, or I’d be making a lot of trips to Terminal 1…

(HT: Head for Points)