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Updated as of July 2022.
Grab is a big part of our lives here in Singapore and almost every household uses it in some way.
Be it Grab rides, GrabFood, or GrabPay, we will need to make payments via the Grab platform whenever we use it.
Every payment we make is an opportunity to earn rewards, and the method of payment we use will determine how much we earn in rewards from each transaction.
In this post, I will share how you can maximise the rewards earned while using Grab.
First, I will go over the payment methods that are available on Grab.
The first method of payment available on Grab is via the GrabPay wallet, Grab’s e-wallet.
In order to use the GrabPay wallet, you’ll need to fund it with cash.
This can be done via a credit/debit card, PayNow, or a bank transfer.
Typically, you don’t earn any rewards for topping up your GrabPay wallet.
However, there are a few cards that do award rewards for GrabPay top-ups, namely:
- AMEX True Cashback Credit Card
- UOB Absolute Credit Card
- Standard Chartered Cashback Debit Card
If you use any of these cards to make top-ups, you’ll earn cashback from the top-ups at rates of 1.5%, 1.7%, and 1% respectively.
Both the credit cards are entry-level credit cards that you can apply for if you have an annual income of at least S$30k.
You can check out this post to find out more about these credit cards.
The Standard Chartered Cashback card is the debit card that comes together with the Jumpstart savings account.
This is the only way to earn rewards for topping up your GrabPay wallet – doing so via other cards, PayNow, or bank transfer will not earn any rewards.
Also, note that topping up your GrabPay wallet with a Visa card will incur a fee of $1.
The cards listed above are AMEX and Mastercard cards, so they won’t incur this fee.
Regardless of how you top up your GrabPay wallet, when you finally make payments via your GrabPay wallet, you will earn rewards in the form of GrabRewards (GR) points.
But if you use any of the 3 cards mentioned above, you will earn cashback on top of the GR points that you are due.
Paying via the GrabPay wallet is the only way to earn GR points per transaction, ranging from 3 to 6 points/$1.
The conversion of GR points to cashback will be explained later.
If you don’t fancy the idea of needing to top up your GrabPay wallet to pay via GrabPay, you can also pay directly via a credit or debit card.
These transactions qualify as online expenses, so if the card you use to make payments would earn rewards for online transactions, you will earn the respective card rewards.
For example, the Citi Rewards card earns 4 miles per dollar (mpd) on online transactions.
So paying on Grab with the Citi Rewards card will earn 4 mpd.
However, if online transactions don’t qualify for rewards on the card you use, then you won’t earn any card rewards for transactions.
If you use a debit or credit card to make payments on Grab, you will not earn any GR points for the transaction.
Finally, if you’re not into cashless payments, you can choose to make payments with cash.
You don’t get to earn any rewards for paying with cash.
GrabRewards Membership Tier
Next, your GrabRewards membership tier will determine how many GR points you earn per dollar spent for GrabPay wallet and card payments.
So this is important to consider when trying to find out how to maximise your rewards while spending with Grab.
There are 4 different membership tiers: Member, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Your membership tier improves if you accumulate a certain amount of GR points within a specific period of time.
The number of GR points earned by each membership tier for spending with GrabPay is displayed below.
The earn rate for GR points is the same for Member and Silver tiers, so only 1 is displayed.
The cashback % is calculated based on how much spending is required to earn enough points to redeem a voucher with GR points.
This is calculated from typical earn rates and exchange rates where 2500 GR points can be redeemed for a $5 voucher.
For example, you would need to spend 2500/6 = $416.67 via GrabPay wallet to earn 2500 GR points as a Platinum member.
So the effective cashback rate is $5/$416.67 = 1.2%.
How To Maximise Rewards
Finally, let’s get to how you can maximise the rewards you earn while using Grab.
That is, comparing whether you should make payments on Grab via the GrabPay wallet or a credit/debit card.
To do this comparison, I will make some assumptions.
#1: 1 GrabRewards point = $0.002
First, we need to assign a monetary value to GrabRewards points in order to determine how much value we can expect to get out of it.
GrabRewards points are used to redeem vouchers, often at a rate of 2500 points = $5.
This works out to be 1 point = $0.002.
#2: GrabPay Wallet Top-Ups Are Made With Cards That Earn Rewards
Normally, the topping up of mobile wallets doesn’t earn any rewards.
But there are a small handful of cards that do earn rewards for these cases, namely the following:
- (1.7% cashback)
- AMEX True Cashback (1.5% cashback)
- Standard Chartered Cashback Debit Card (1% cashback)
Using any of these 3 cards to top up your GrabPay wallet (or any other mobile wallet) will earn rewards as stated above.
Obviously, if you’re looking to make use of GrabPay, topping up your wallet with these cards allows you to maximise your rewards because you’ll earn cashback for both wallet top-ups and GrabPay transactions.
#3: GrabRewards Platinum Members Earn Up To 2.9% Cashback With GrabPay
Next, I’ll assume that you’re a Platinum member on GrabRewards to compute the rewards rate you can earn using GrabPay.
The reason for this is simply that the rewards earning rate for Platinum members is the highest, so the comparison is done using the best-case scenario for GrabPay.
For Platinum members, GrabRewards points are earned at a rate of 6 points/$1 spent with GrabPay.
Since 1 point = $0.002, the rewards earned per $1 spent is 6 points = $0.012 = 1.2% cashback.
This means that you can earn anywhere from 2.2% – 2.9% cashback when using GrabPay, depending on which card you use to top up your GrabPay wallet.
#4: 1 Mile = $0.017
Just like how we need to assign a monetary value to GrabRewards points, we need to do the same for miles in order to tabulate the rewards potential for using a miles credit card over GrabPay.
According to The MileLion’s latest valuation of miles, miles should be worth at least $0.017.
If you’d like to find out how exactly he arrived at this value, you can check out his blog.
#5: You Fall Under 1 Of These 4 Profiles
- Student (debit cards only)
- Adult (travel miles)
- Adult (cashback, monthly spending >$600)
- Adult (cashback, monthly spending <$600)
I’ve generalised customers to belong to 1 of these profiles to determine the maximum rewards rate they can earn, tailored to their specific situations and preferences.
This will help to identify which payment method is the best for each customer profile.
Students only have access to debit cards.
Even though student credit cards are available, they do not offer better rewards rates than the debit cards that are already available to students, so they will be ignored.
Assuming all GrabPay wallet top-ups are made with the Standard Chartered Cashback debit card that awards 1% cashback, the total rewards rate is 2.2% (1% + 1.2%).
Debit Card Payments
A debit card that offers one of the highest rewards rates is the DBS Visa debit card.
It awards different rates of cashback for a variety of categories, as stated below:
- 4% for online food delivery
- 3% for online transport (ride-hailing, taxis, SimplyGo)
- 2% for FX spending including online spending
While these rates are fairly high for a debit card, it comes with a monthly spending requirement of $500, which is quite high in my opinion.
Also, the high rates are only for very specific categories.
So the amount of cashback you actually earn may be low if the eligible categories only make up a small fraction of the total amount you spend on the card.
To put it in perspective, say you spend $80 on transport and $100 on food delivery every month.
The amount of cashback you’ll earn is $80*0.03 + $100*0.04 = $6.40.
Assuming you spend exactly $500, the effective cashback rate is only $6.40/$500 = 1.28% < 2.2%.
This level of spending is just an estimate, but it gives you an idea of how low the effective cashback rate can be if you’re not spending a high amount on the selected categories.
Based on the assumptions I made, the better payment method for students is the GrabPay wallet using the Standard Chartered Cashback debit card to make top-ups.
Of course, the conclusion may be different if you spend a lot of money on transport and food delivery every month, so be sure to consider your own situation.
I will assume that working adults have access to regular credit cards, so I will only consider credit cards and not debit cards in this section.
If you’re interested in finding out more about credit cards, do check out my credit card rewards guide or my best credit card guide.
Remember that only cards that earn rewards for online spending should be considered since that is what Grab transactions are categorised as.
Also, before I go into the analysis of each customer profile type, I’ll tabulate the baseline rewards rate for adults using GrabPay.
This will be compared to the alternative of using credit cards for each of the 3 profiles.
There are 2 credit cards that award cashback for GrabPay wallet top-ups – AMEX True Cashback and UOB Absolute.
Since UOB Absolute offers a higher cashback rate of 1.7% (vs 1.5%), this card shall be used for comparison.
As a result, the total rewards rate for GrabPay payments is 1.7% + 1.2% = 2.9%.
Credit Card Payments – Miles
The best miles cards to use are specialised miles cards.
These are cards that typically earn points at an equivalent rate of 4 mpd.
Examples include HSBC Revolution and Citi Rewards.
As discussed in the assumptions above, the value of 1 mile should be at least 1.7 cents or $0.017.
This means that a card earning 4 mpd nets an equivalent cashback of $0.017*4 = $0.068 = 6.8% > 2.9%.
Note that for most cards, there is no monthly spending requirement, but the specialised earn rate of 4 mpd is capped on the first ~$1k spending on a monthly basis.
Winner: Credit Card
Based on the assumed value of GR points and miles, the rewards rate for using a specialised miles card is significantly higher than using GrabPay.
Credit Card Payments – Cashback
It’s slightly harder to calculate the rewards rate with a cashback card because there are many cashback cards with different cashback rates.
First, we have high cashback cards.
These are cards that have monthly spending requirements of $600 or more and often only award cashback on specific categories or payment methods.
There is also usually a cap on the amount of cashback that can be earned for each category.
Examples of such cards include DBS Live Fresh (5%) and UOB EVOL (8%).
Even at the lower end of the spectrum of 5%, it’s still significantly higher than the alternative of using GrabPay which awards 2.9%.
Winner: Credit Card
But what if your monthly spending doesn’t consistently hit the required amount?
In that case, you’ll have to use an unlimited cashback card.
These are cards that don’t have any spending requirements to earn cashback and are not limited to specific categories.
But, as a result, they only award low rates of cashback of 1.5% – 2%.
Examples of these cards include AMEX True Cashback, Citi Cashback +, and UOB Absolute.
As you can tell, this is a lower rate than using GrabPay (2.9%), and in fact, some of these are cards that award cashback for topping up the GrabPay wallet.
In this case, it’s clear that it makes no sense to use these credit cards to make payments directly on Grab.
Instead, using them to top up the GrabPay wallet and transacting with GrabPay will yield more rewards.
Students can maximise rewards from Grab by using the GrabPay wallet while most adults can do so by using an appropriate credit card.
These conclusions were drawn based on the various assumptions that I made throughout the post.
When you’re trying to evaluate which payment method is better for you, be sure to consider whether these assumptions hold true in your case.
What is your preferred method of payment on Grab and why? Let me know in the comments below!