It’s really hard to earn hotel points in Singapore without actually staying. Few banks offer hotel chains as transfer partners, and where these options exist, the conversion rate is generally dismal.
That’s why Marriott’s upcoming partnership with Grab may be potentially interesting. The two companies have announced a tie-up that will see closer integration going forward. Restaurants in Marriott hotels will start taking GrabPay and will be added to GrabFood; while two-way conversions between Marriott Bonvoy and GrabRewards will soon be available.
Marriott restaurants to move onto GrabFood & GrabPay platforms
Starting from November 2020, 600+ F&B outlets within Marriott hotels throughout South East Asia will be progressively migrated to the GrabFood platform.
If I’m not mistaken, quite a few of these are already on GrabFood in Singapore. You can currently order food from Akira Back, Li Bai and Wan Hao, assuming you’re willing to pay the islandwide delivery charges, and if hotel food is your idea of a quiet night in.
The addition of GrabPay at these outlets would have been a lot more interesting a few months ago, when it was still possible to double dip on credit card and GrabRewards points. That’s been (mostly) nerfed, although there are still a handful of ways to go about this.
- Use the AMEX True Cashback Card for 1.5% cashback
- Use the AMEX Singapore Airlines Business Credit Card for 0.9 mpd (aside: I’ve tested this and GrabPay top-ups count towards the sign-up bonus too)
I don’t really buy the press release’s claim that adding GrabPay to these restaurants will result in greater foot traffic though, seeing how poor value the GrabRewards program is after its devaluation earlier this year. At most, it’s an additional payment option.
Transfer points between GrabRewards and Marriott Bonvoy
This is the development I’m a lot more interested in. Beginning Q1 2021, GrabRewards and Marriott Bonvoy members will be able to transfer points between the two programs.
There’s no information yet about the rate that will be offered, and whether there’ll be an annual cap on the number of points you can transfer. However, I don’t think we should expect anything great. If Grab is only able to offer an average rebate of 0.4-0.8% through GrabRewards, (based on 2-4 points per S$1, and 2,500 points for a S$5 voucher), how much more will they realistically be able to offer here?
I’d love to be proven wrong of course, but the way I see it, this will predominantly be useful for those looking to cash out their orphan points in either program. I suppose it also means that AMEX Platinum and Rewards cardholders can now earn GrabRewards points albeit indirectly (Membership Rewards–> Marriott-> GrabRewards), but I suspect you’ll lose so much value in the process that it won’t be worth considering.
What does this mean for Grab’s partnership with Accor?
Back in January this year, Grab launched a partnership with AccorHotels. This allowed users to transfer points between GrabRewards and Accor Live Limitless, although the launch rate of 1,900 Grab points= 160 ALL points was quickly devalued by 35% shortly after.
The funny thing is- this partnership never really went anywhere. At the start, there was talk about integrating Grab’s booking services with the concierge at Accor properties, and perhaps even reciprocal status matching between the programs. Here we are 10 months later, and I’ve yet to hear a peep about this .
It sounds like the Marriott partnership will go much deeper than the Accor one ever did, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter quietly put out to pasture soon.
I’m curious to see what rate will be used for GrabRewards <-> Marriott Bonvoy points transfers, but like I said earlier, don’t hold your breath.
Now, if GrabRewards Platinum members were matched to Marriott Bonvoy on the other hand…