Nerfed: GrabPay to block AXS transactions from 16 January

From 16 January 2023, GrabPay will remove support for AXS transactions, (mostly) ending an era of free miles and cashback for bill payments.

This was a long time coming, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. 

From 16 January 2023, GrabPay will no longer support AXS transactions. This largely means an end to free miles or cashback on taxes, insurance premiums, education expenses, MCST fees, town council fees, utilities bills and the like. 

It’s especially unfortunate because MAS seems to be on the cusp of increasing e-wallet annual payment limits to S$100,000, which would have dramatically increased the amount of rewards one could earn on bill payments. 

That said, it’s not quite game over. 

GrabPay ends support for AXS transactions

Yet another use case for GrabPay goes bye-bye

As spotted by a MileLion community member last evening, Grab will be adding AXS transactions to its list of unsupported transactions, effective 16 January 2023.

❓ Why can’t I use my GrabPay Card at some merchants?

Grab is dedicated to ensuring you have a fuss-free payment experience. However, if you’re unable to use your GrabPay Card at some merchants, it may be because the merchant or entity is unsupported. All merchants have a Merchant Category Code (MCC), which we use to verify the merchant type.  

You may refer to the list below for the types of merchants and transactions that are not supported:

  • If the merchant does not support Mastercard*
  • Adding your card to Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay
  • Domestic ATM withdrawals
  • Merchants involved in lottery (MCC 7800) or sports betting (MCC 7801780279959754)
  • Merchants involved in cryptocurrency trading
  • Certain drug, tobacco and alcohol stores (MCC 512259675993)
  • Merchants which may not be in compliance with regulatory guidelines set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for Anti-Money Laundering or Counter-Financing of Terrorism 
  • eWallets and Remittance Services. Examples include: Revolut, YouTrip, BigPay Singapore, ShopeePay, Lazada top-ups, Amaze, EZ-Link app, Remitly, and Western Union
  • AXS Pte Ltd (wef 16 Jan 2023)

 Please note that we review and update this list on a regular basis. 

There was some hope that only the GrabPay Card would be affected, but a quick check of the PayNow section shows that QR payments via GrabPay Wallet will be nerfed too (for the uninitiated, there’s an option to scan a QR code at AXS machines or on e-AXS and pay via GrabPay Wallet). 

Is it game over?

Not quite. 

Don’t get me wrong. The loss of GrabPay support for AXS is a gut punch, insofar as it removes all possibility of earning free miles or cashback wherever cards are not accepted, such as:

  • Corporate tax
  • Income tax
  • MCST fees
  • Property tax

However, where Mastercard payments are accepted, you can still top-up your GrabPay account with a miles or cashback earning card, then pay with your GrabPay Mastercard to accomplish the same end. Examples include:

  • Hospital bills
  • Insurance premiums (not all insurers accept card payments, but some do e.g. AIA & Singlife; I’ve been paying my MINDEF Group Term Life plan premiums with cards every year)
  • Season parking
  • School fees
  • Town council fees
  • Utilities

There may be some additional inconvenience involved, in cases where you need to travel down to a physical location to swipe your card. But so long as there’s an option to pay with a card, not all hope is lost.

What would truly be game over is:

  • GrabPay adding the abovementioned transactions to its “naughty list” of unsupported payments (unlikely)
  • American Express excluding GrabPay top-ups from earning rewards on the AMEX HighFlyer Card or AMEX  True Cashback Card (probably only a matter of time)

What should you do now?

What’s your best course of action now? It depends:

  • If your bills are already due, then you should absolutely top-up your GrabPay account and make payment before 16 January comes round 
  • If your bills are not yet due, then I don’t think prepaying a whole year’s worth of bills is worth saving 1.5% (or earning 1.8 mpd), especially given how high interest rates are now. That’d be penny wise, pound foolish.

For those who have already topped up significant funds to their GrabPay wallet, remember that all funds originating from credit cards are considered non-transferrable balances, and cannot be sent back to a bank account. My advice would be to liquidate as much as you can via AXS bill payments, otherwise hope that you’re still able to pay bills via the GrabPay Card directly as mentioned in the previous section.

In terms of which cards to use for GrabPay top-ups, I’m sure you know the drill by now.

💳 Cards for GrabPay Top-Ups
CardEarn RateRemarks
AMEX HighFlyer Card
Apply
1.8 mpdOnly for owners of SMEs
AMEX True Cashback Card
Apply
1.5% cashbackNo cap

You’ll notice I’ve removed the UOB Absolute Cashback Card, even though there’s still one day to go till 15 January 2023, when the earn rate gets nerfed from 1.7% cashback to 0.3% cashback. My opinion is that it’s too risky to top-up now, since your transaction may only post after the deadline. If you want cashback, use the AMEX True Cashback Card instead.

Can you still earn miles on bill payments?

Going forward, the only way to earn miles on bill payments where cards are not accepted would be to use a payment service like CardUp or Citi PayAll. These charge a small fee in exchange for earning rewards. 

ProviderFeeCost Per Mile
Pay + Earn2.5% 1.52-2.50 
2.25% (code: GET225)
S$30 off first payment with code: MILELION 
1.38-1.83
2%1.1 cents
(promo till 31 Jan 23, T&Cs apply)
1.9%1.36-1.9
(only for SC cards)

Whether or not the fee makes sense depends on how much you value a mile. I personally would consider options that let me buy miles at less than 1.5 cents apiece, but your situation may differ.

It sure can’t beat free though!

Conclusion

From 16 January 2023, GrabPay will end support for AXS transactions, which closes the door for free miles or cashback on a significant number of bill payments. There’s still time for a last burst of fire, though I’d encourage you to carefully weigh the opportunity cost of locking up funds in prepayments. With interest rates being what they are now, you should be able to put that money to better use elsewhere.

If it’s any silver lining, you can continue to earn free miles or cashback on non-AXS bills where Mastercard is an accepted form of payment. Just how long that’s the case remains to be seen, but well, make hay while you can.

GrabPay: inching ever closer towards the grave. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Mark

“GrabPay: inching ever closer towards the grave.”.

Yep. At this stage Grab is like a 100-year old, who is blind, has multiple organ failure, and requires daily dialysis. Like such a person, the demise of Grab is very imminent.

Also, I don’t understand the final use-case above of topping up Grab to use the Grab Mastercard. For those places that accept mastercard wouldn’t you just use some other mastercard (like UOB or Citi) and earn 1.3 or 1.4pmd directly? The *only* case I can see for using Grab Mastercard is if you specifically wanted cash back.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark
Adam

Those use cases are typically excluded from rewards on those cards.

Mark

Of course. Silly me!

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark
Tom

moot point as grab top ups are considered as quasi-cash facilities and excluded from earning miles typically — leaving amex cashback to be the only viable option.

Dennis

Hey Aaron, could you share how to pay for MINDEF group term life premiums via CC? Can’t seem to find the option in the customer portal…

George

I don’t see it too, could you share that with us? I asked their CSO and they mentioned that MINDEF insurance is not included.

Wanderer

Are your premiums paid on an annual or monthly basis? Mine is paid on a monthly basis and I don’t get any personalised link for payment.

Alamak

So….What’s the best way now still earn some miles/cashback while paying credit card bills via AXS (or others)?

cheesecake

Was there even official communication from Grab regarding this nerf? I don’t recall being notified of this change via their app. Aren’t SG financial institutions mandated by MAS to provide “adequate notice” to customers?

Maw

What’s the best alternative now to earn rewards from AXS payments?

E E

So if the flow goes CB->Grab Wallet->AXS-onlin–>Credit Card bill payment with paynow

Is there a daily limit? coz i can do more then 5K a day.

Jack

5K per day per account

WJH

to be more specific, it is 5K per day per card. Using the same card on another account without work.

Rep

Are there any limitations to prepayment of credit card? If I remember correctly, there is no cashback if prepay outstanding balance of AMEX TC if its before statement date? Or is AMEX the only issuer with this limitation.

CH Lim

Lets say you prepay and max out $30k limit on Grabpay via AXS with Highflyer card, thats like 54k miles.

30k at 4% pa is $1.2k, or $100 per mth, prepaying taxes 4 mths in advance = $400

Either way simi not worth it?
$400 gets you 54k miles = $0.007cpm
$1200 gets you $0.022cpm

*Assuming you fly premium cabins with $0.04 cpm

BBQ le

Hey bro, I just tried to pay tax using grabpay master card through AXS app and grabpay card has been blocked so time to update this article to reflect reality on the ground. I have also verified with grab agent and they confirmed that garb pay and grabpay master card have been removed from AXS. That is the nail on The Coffin bro.

Zezima

Looks like someone didn’t read the article. 🤣

GK Wong

Didnt receive any notification.. until i tried to pay axs today and goggle what’s going on and found this article.. now i have $5000 stuck in my grab wallet.. what a bunch of croonies at grab.

D C

You can request to refund it to your account. I did that and Grab allowed it

L C

How did you request it?

Jeremy

Any idea why the exclusions? Is it the bank charges on grab? Axs charges?

who’s losing out ? Besides the customer

Ledal

It seems like insurance payment (AIA) with the GPMC is also not possible

Km

Did something happen with amex high flyer? Topped up grab with amex high flyer on 14 jan (before the nerf). High flyer points were credited on 14 Jan then clawed back on 17 Jan! So 0 points from grab topup! I checked the amex website and it doesn’t seem like the t&c were updated? Any idea what’s happening? Does grab top up count towards the $5000 spend for bonus miles for new card holders?

Km2

Sorry, really stupid mistake on my part, I didn’t know the points automatically transfer

Jin

SAM kiosks, while having a smaller scope of bills, should presumably still work? I recall those take Mastercard.

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