Airlines Grab Singapore Airlines

GrabRewards adds new KrisFlyer conversion options

Grab's new KrisFlyer miles conversion options allow you to transfer more miles at one go...for a cost.

Back in October 2017, GrabRewards started offering KrisFlyer miles as a redemption option. They experimented with a few rates, but eventually settled on:

  • Platinum: 1,400 points= 160 miles
  • All other tiers: 1,500 points= 160 miles

Well, at least until now.

GrabRewards has added new KrisFlyer conversion options

The 1,400/1,500 points =160 miles rate is still available (it disappeared for a while yesterday, causing no small amount of anxiety amongst users), but Grab has added a few additional denominations on GrabRewards:

  • 500 points= 50 miles
  • 1,000 points= 100 miles
  • 5,000 points= 500 miles
  • 10,000 points= 1,000 miles
  • 20,000 points = 2,000 miles

Do note that you may not see all the options in your app. My understanding is that the higher value options only appear if you have sufficient points to redeem them. What they all have in common, however, is that they’re fixed at a 10:1 ratio.

How do the new and old options compare?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the new rate is inferior to the existing rate.

Points: Miles Existing Rate New Rate
Platinum 8.75:1 10:1
Other tiers 9.375:1 10:1
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Based on the current GrabRewards earning structure, here’s how the effective miles per dollar rate changes:

GrabPay
Grab rides and GrabFood (assuming GrabPay is used)
Existing New  Existing New
Member/Silver 0.53 0.50 0.32 0.30
Gold 0.80 0.75 0.48 0.45
Platinum  1.14 1.00 0.69 0.60

Why would anyone use the new rate then?

Given that the new rate is inferior to the existing rate, the question then is: why would anyone use it?

Well, the problem with the existing KrisFlyer redemption option is that GrabRewards only allows you to do one redemption of any denomination at a time. For example, you can redeem one block of 160 miles, but you can’t do a second until the first block has finished processing (usually in a couple of days). This effectively limits you to transferring 160 miles at a time.

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The new options allow you to transfer up to 2,000 miles at a time- 12.5X the existing option. Perhaps the intended use case was for people who needed to transfer more miles at one go.

But when you think about it further, it doesn’t really make sense either. 2,000 miles, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a very large amount. If you were just shy of 2,000 miles for a redemption, it’d be easier to buy them from KrisFlyer immediately at US$40/1,000 miles. Yes, that’s an incredibly expensive price (especially when compared to your other options), but if you’re desperate and just need a small top-up, it’s better than waiting a few days for transferred points to show up and risk your award space disappearing. 

Alternatively, you could convert DBS Points into KrisFlyer miles instantly via KrisPay with a 15% loss in value. Again, it’s not ideal, but it’s instant and if you’re just converting a small amount, your loss in absolute terms is minor. Other instant options include TapForMore and Velocity points transfers.

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The key question is whether a larger transfer block justifies a 6.25% (12.5% for Platinum members) loss in the value of your points. Given that it’s not even instant, the answer for me is a no.

Conclusion

Grab has labelled the new redemption options as valid from 5-31 December 2019, so my guess is they’re testing the waters here. If they see a good enough take up, we could well see these as permanent options.

To the extent that these are offered in addition to the 1,400/1,500 points= 160 miles rate, I’m indifferent. I wouldn’t use it, but hey, whatever floats your boat. What I don’t want is this to become the only option, because that’s clearly a devaluation.

I personally use GrabRewards points for Grab rides and food vouchers, not KrisFlyer miles. I just don’t think that’s the best way of using them, given how many avenues there are to earn KrisFlyer miles in Singapore.

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