And that, my friends, is game over.
From 4 April 2023, both the AMEX HighFlyer Card and AMEX True Cashback Card will add GrabPay top-ups to their exclusion lists, ending the opportunity to earn 1.8 mpd/1.5% cashback on commonly-excluded transactions.
This well and truly marks the death of GrabPay, since there’s no reason at all to use it in the absence of credit card rewards (well, the UOB Absolute Cashback Card still earns 0.3% cashback…).
American Express nerfs GrabPay top-ups
Per an email sent out to customers, the AMEX HighFlyer Card and AMEX True Cashback Card will be updating their rewards exclusion list from 4 April 2023 as follows :
|AMEX True Cashback Card|
|❌ Exclusion list|
|a) Charges processed and billed prior to the Enrolment Date or charges prepaid on any Card Account prior to the first billing statement for that Card Account following the Enrolment Date;|
b) Cash Advance and other cash services;
c) Express Cash;
d) American Express Travellers Cheque purchases;
e) Charges for dishonoured cheques;
f) Finance charges – including Line of Credit charges and Credit Card interest charges;
g) Late Payment and collection charges;
h) Tax refunds from overseas purchases;
i) Balance Transfers;
j) Instalment plans;
k) Annual Card fees;
l) Payments for the purpose of GrabPay top-ups (with effect from 4 April 2023);
m) Charges at merchants or establishments that are excluded by American Express at its sole discretion and notified by American Express to you from time to time.
I’ll talk about the other new exclusions for the AMEX HighFlyer Card in a separate post, but for now I just want to focus on the GrabPay bit. This has been a long time coming, quite frankly, though it doesn’t make the demise any less painful.
Up till now, there was still a use case for GrabPay. While the blocking of AXS payments in January 2023 was a huge blow, you could still use the GrabPay Card as a conduit to earn miles/cashback on certain commonly-excluded transactions, provided the merchant accepted Mastercard.
For example, by topping up your GrabPay balance with an AMEX HighFlyer Card and paying with the GrabPay Card, you could effectively earn 1.8 mpd on:
- Hospital bills
- Season parking
- School fees
- Town council fees
- Travel insurance and certain other insurance premiums
That will cease to be the case from 4 April 2023. If you want to earn miles on these transactions, your next best option will be to use a bill payment service like CardUp or Citi PayAll.
If you want to make hay before the nerf rolls around, I suppose you could top-up your GrabPay account and prepay your various bills.
However, with interest rates so high at the moment, this could be a case of penny wise, pound foolish. There is an opportunity cost to tying up your money in prepayments, so unless your bills happen to come due in March/April 2023, it might not be the best idea.
Moreover, there’s a limit on how much hay can be made, since each GrabPay account has a S$10,000 monthly transaction limit (and can hold a maximum of S$5,000 at any time).
What cards still earn rewards for GrabPay top-ups?
With the loss of the AMEX HighFlyer Card and AMEX True Cashback Card, the only card on the market that still earns rewards for GrabPay top-ups is the UOB Absolute Cashback Card.
Even so, there isn’t much to get excited about here. On 15 January 2023, UOB nerfed the earn rate for GrabPay top-ups from 1.7% to 0.3%. It’s still better than nothing, I suppose, but not by much.
The AMEX HighFlyer Card and AMEX True Cashback Card will be adding GrabPay top-ups to their exclusion list from 4 April 2023, which kills off the two best options for earning free miles/cashback on bill payments.
If you want to be technical, the game isn’t 100% over: topping up a GrabPay account with the UOB Absolute Cashback Card still earns you 0.3% cashback. But given the S$30,000 annual transaction limit per GrabPay account, you’re talking about S$90 of cashback at best. I guess it’s still free money in a sense, but goodness me how far things have fallen.
Good while it lasted!