In January, Grab announced a major GrabRewards devaluation that takes effect from 2 March 2020.
The “Grabpocalypse” will see earning rates cut by up to 60% and redemption costs increase by almost 40%. There is no silver lining. Any way you look at it, the effective rebate offered through GrabRewards will soon be negligible.
We’ve now got 7 days before the devaluation kicks in, so here’s what you need to do to get your house in order.
(1) Burn all your GrabRewards points
It goes without saying that any GrabRewards points left in your account will become significantly less valuable at the stroke of midnight on 2 March 2020.
How much less valuable? Almost 40%, if you’re looking to redeem Grab vouchers.
|Grab Voucher Cost Before | From 2 March 2020|
|Member||500 | 550 (+10%)||2,200 | 2,500 (+14%)||4,200 | 5,000 (+19%)|
|Silver||500 | 550 (+10%)||2,100 | 2,500 (+19%)||4,000 | 5,000 (+25%)|
|Gold||500 | 550 (+10%)||2,000 | 2,500 (+25%)||3,800 | 5,000 (+32%)|
|Platinum||500 | 550 (+10%)||1,900 | 2,500 (+32%)||3,600 | 5,000 (+39%)|
There will no longer be any discounted redemption rates for elite members; redemptions will now cost the same across tiers. You’ll also lose the ability to redeem S$15, S$20, and S$25 denomination vouchers, which offer the highest points:value ratio.
Therefore, it’s best to zero your balance before 2 March 2020. Any Grab vouchers redeemed will be valid until 30 June 2020, so you’ll still have plenty of time to use them.
Alternatively, consider redeeming your points for KrisFlyer miles. The rate of 1,400 points: 160 miles (1,500 points for non-Platinums) is still available, although there’s no knowing how long that will remain- we saw Grab introduce more KrisFlyer transfer options in December 2019 with a poorer value of 10 points: 1 mile.
Remember that GrabRewards only allows you to do one KrisFlyer 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 one go, so you’d best get cracking if you haven’t started.
Is there any situation where you might want to hold on to your GrabRewards points? Well, I suppose that could make sense for people who have no interest in redeeming Grab vouchers. If you’d been spending your GrabRewards points on things like cash rebates at GrabPay merchants (2,500 points= S$5), or STAR$ transfers (2,500 points= 5,000 STAR$= S$5), then your (redemption) situation is the same before and after 2 March 2020 because those rates aren’t changing.
|Update: STAR$ have disappeared from the rewards catalogue; perhaps there was a run on the bank|
For example, a Platinum member whose points stash has been earned entirely on GrabPay would retain the same 2% rebate on points accumulated up to 2 March 2020 (the subsequent rebate would be 0.8% on account of the reduced earn rates). In that case, there’s no need to rush out and burn your points, assuming you had no desire for Grab vouchers in the first place.
I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who takes frequent Grab rides, and if you’re like me, you definitely want to cash out now.
(2) Frontload any large GrabPay purchases
The GrabRewards earn rates take a massive cut on 2 March 2020 too, with up to a 60% reduction in the points you earn.
|GrabRewards Earn Rates from 2 March 2020 (Points/S$1)|
|GrabExpress||GrabFood/ Rides||GrabPay/ GPMC|
|GPMC= GrabPay Mastercard. Earn rates for Express/Food/Rides assume payment with GrabPay|
This means you have 7 days left to make hay at the old rates. If you were planning to make any big ticket purchases, now’s the time.
Thankfully, the launch of the GrabPay Mastercard has exponentially increased the number of places you can use your GrabPay balance- any merchant which accepts Mastercard is fair game.
Since there are still some credit cards offering rewards on GrabPay top-ups (for now), you’ll be able to double dip on credit card and GrabRewards points. How long more that goes on for, I don’t know, but I do know that from 2 March 2020 your second dip will be a lot less generous.
|Protip: Remember that American Express will stop awarding points for GrabPay top-ups from 1 March 2020. Be sure to top off your account before then!|
(3) Earn or re-qualify for GrabRewards elite status
The cut in earn rates also means it’ll become more expensive to earn and maintain elite status with GrabRewards- 2.5X more expensive, to be precise.
Here’s how much it costs to earn elite status in GrabRewards before and from 2 March 2020.
|Min Cumulative Spending To Earn Status Before | From 2 March 2020|
|Silver||S$60 | S$150 (2.5X)|
|Gold||S$240 | S$600 (2.5X)|
|Platinum||S$680 | S$1,700 (2.5X)|
|Assumes all spending made on GrabPay|
And here’s how much it costs to maintain GrabRewards status before and from 2 March 2020.
|Min Cumulative Spending To Maintain Status Before | From 2 March 2020|
|Silver||S$60 | S$150 (2.5X)|
|Gold||S$160 | S$400 (2.5X)|
|Platinum||S$450 | S$1,125 (2.5X)|
|The figures here are lower because once you’ve hit a particular status, you earn points at that status level throughout the re-qualification period.|
Regardless of what you think about the GrabRewards devaluation, it’s still better to be Platinum in a nerfed program than a regular member in a nerfed program.
Your Grab app will show you how many points you’re shy of re-qualification, as well as when you need to earn them by. Ignore the date in the app. For all intents and purposes, you need to re-qualify by 2 March 2020.
Take The Milelioness’ case, for example. She’s short of 1,882 points for Platinum re-qualification. If she earns them via GrabPay prior to 2 March, she’ll spend about S$189. If she delays, she’ll need to spend S$471.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to earn the points you need to re-qualify. Simply take your GrabPay Mastercard and use it as your general spending card for a couple of days. Even if you don’t have anything in mind, it may be worth buying some NTUC or Cold Storage vouchers just to make up the difference.
You can cry, you can rage, but the GrabRewards devaluation is still going to happen on 2 March 2020. As I’ve mentioned before, you could take your business elsewhere, but there really aren’t many substitute loyalty programs for ridesharing, food delivery, or mobile payments. In any case, it’s simply not realistic to avoid the Grab ecosystem altogether; such is the scale to which it’s grown.
So be sure to cash out your points (if you take Grab rides), frontload any major spending, and settle your status qualification or re-qualification before the Grabpocalypse. A new world awaits on 2 March 2020, and it’s not pretty.