While credit card rewards for GrabPay top-ups have mostly disappeared, there’s still a handful of options out there. One of them, however, is set to get a bit stricter.
From 15 August 2022, American Express will exclude GrabPay top-ups from welcome bonus spending on the AMEX True Cashback Card. This doesn’t mean it’s slamming the door on GrabPay top-ups altogether though, as cardholders can still continue to earn the regular 1.5% rate.
AMEX tightens rewards for GrabPay top-ups
For context, new AMEX True Cashback Card cardholders enjoy a welcome bonus of 3% cashback on up to S$5,000 spent within the first six months of approval. Any spend beyond this threshold earns the usual 1.5% cashback.
Currently, a cardholder could simply clock all S$5,000 on GrabPay top-ups and earn S$150 cashback in the process. While he wouldn’t be able to cash this balance out (GrabPay balances funded by credit cards cannot be transferred to a bank account), he could use it for a wide range of bill payments which would otherwise be ineligible to earn credit card rewards (see next section).
American Express has now published the following update to its rewards exclusion list (on page 4, section (4)).
The welcome bonus Cashback rate of 3% will not be awarded for all charges that are for the purpose of GrabPay top-ups, while the Cashback rate of 1.5% will continue to apply*
*With effect from 15 August 2022. Does not apply to existing Card Members
I realise the awkward phrasing can make it sound like existing cardholders will no longer enjoy the regular 1.5% cashback rate on GrabPay top-ups, but I’ve clarified with American Express that that’s not what’s going on here.
What’s happening is from 15 August 2022, newly approved AMEX True Cashback Card cardholders will no longer be able to earn 3% cashback on GrabPay top-ups. However, existing cardholders approved before this date will not be affected.
In other words, if your AMEX True Cashback Card was approved on 14 August 2022 or earlier, you can still earn 3% cashback on up to S$5,000 spent within the first six months of approval, including GrabPay top-ups.
And of course, if it’s already been more than six months since you got your AMEX True Cashback Card, this change does not affect you at all. You’ll still earn the usual 1.5% cashback on GrabPay top-ups, until further notice.
It does mean that the AMEX True Cashback Card (1.5% cashback) loses its edge over the UOB Absolute Cashback Card (1.7% cashback) when it comes to GrabPay top-ups, since the 3% bonus is no longer in the picture. A 0.2% difference might not be enough to encourage an existing member to switch, but if you don’t have either card yet, then there’s no reason why you wouldn’t go for the higher headline figure.
For the avoidance of doubt, there is no impact on the business-focused AMEX HighFlyer Card. GrabPay top-ups will continue to count towards the minimum spend required for sign-up bonuses, and earn 1.8 mpd as usual.
Why bother with GrabPay?
If you’ve been keeping track of GrabPay, you’ll know that its GrabRewards programme has been nuked into oblivion over the past couple of years. The latest nerf saw GrabRewards points removed for all credit and debit card payments, forcing customers to transact with their GrabPay wallets.
So why all the talk about topping up GrabPay? Because GrabRewards points aren’t the point. Ever since GrabPay started working with AXS again, it’s been possible to pay a wide variety of bills like MCST and town council fees, insurance premiums, utilities and income tax while earning 1.5-1.7% cashback, or 1.8 mpd.
All you need is a card that rewards GrabPay top-ups, and there’s still three left:
|💳 Cards for GrabPay Top-Ups|
|AMEX SIA Business Card|
|1.8 mpd||Only for owners of SMEs|
|AMEX True Cashback Card|
|1.5% cashback||No cap|
|UOB Absolute Cashback Card|
|1.7% cashback||No cap|
I don’t know about you, but I’d happily take a 1.5/1.7% discount off my income tax bill, or 1.8 mpd without any fees.
Remember: to use GrabPay on AXS, you’ll need to select “credit card” as the mode of payment (notwithstanding the fact the GrabPay Mastercard is a debit card), and “other bank”.
New AMEX True Cashback Card approvals from 15 August 2022 will no longer be able to enjoy 3% cashback on GrabPay top-ups, but at least the 1.5% cashback rate remains.
To the extent this doesn’t point to a further nerfing (and AMEX did take pains to point out that the base rate of 1.5% will continue to apply), I’d say it’s not time to panic just yet.