Grab has announced major revisions to its GrabRewards programme from March 2.
The cost of rewards will go up while certain coveted rewards like S$15, S$20 and S$25 vouchers will disappear under the updated programme.
From March, Grab users will earn fewer GrabRewards points with each transaction. While users currently earn between 2 and 10 points per dollar depending on the Grab service and the rewards tier they belong to, users will only be able to earn 2 to 4 points per dollar across all types of Grab transactions with the rewards update.
Additionally, members who belong to the higher tiers — like the Gold or Platinum tiers — will no longer be able to use fewer points to unlock bigger discounts. From March, Grab ride and food delivery vouchers will cost a standard 550 points for S$1 off, 2,500 points for S$5 off, and 5,000 points for S$10 off no matter which tier members belong to.
For comparison, a S$10 Grab ride or food delivery voucher presently costs 4,200 points for regular members, 4,000 points for Silver members, 3,800 points for Gold members, and just 3,600 points for Platinum members.
The S$15, S$20 and S$25 ride and food delivery vouchers that are available now will no longer be offered when the update goes into effect.
Users who are part of the Platinum tier — the highest rewards tier — now earn 10 points per dollar spent on GrabPay transaction but will only earn a maximum of four points per dollar spent after the update. This means that Platinum members will need to spend about S$1,250 to accumulate enough points to be eligible for the S$10 discount after the update.
Users will also have to spend more to unlock and maintain each membership tier from March.
Users who now need to spend S$60 to unlock the Silver tier will soon need to spend S$150 to achieve that tier, those who need to spend S$240 now to move on to the Gold tier must soon spend S$600 to do so and those who want to move to the Platinum tier must soon spend a hefty S$1,500 to do so, compared to just S$600 now.
Meanwhile, some netizens have pointed out that it is no longer possible to make payments via GrabPay at transaction portals like YouTrip, Revolut and AXS.
Grab said in a press statement that the revisions to its GrabRewards programme will be made to adapt better to “shifts in customer expectations”:
“Our customers today interact with the Grab app more frequently for their transport, food, payments and other needs, and are demanding for better engagement on the platform. With shifts in customer expectations, coupled with the overall growth of our ecosystem, the way we reward and create value for our customers must change too.”
Grab is expected to run more promotional campaigns this year like flash sales and the ongoing “Zodiac Coin Hunt” campaign that was launched to coincide with Chinese New Year.
Assuring users that they will soon have “more places to earn and spend their reward points at millions of merchants” despite the plunge in points per dollar, Grab said: “In addition, customers can also look forward to more ways of earning points and rewards, such as through Challenges, flash sales and moment-based campaigns.”
Commuters have expressed their unhappiness with Grab’s announcement.
Facebook user Allen Eleaneur Chong, writing on The Straits Times FB page, said: “That’s the impact of not restricting the M&A between Grab and Uber last time. Now consumers will feel the pain without a competent competitor.”
Some others commenting on the same platform suggested that the travel app company will lose more business to its competitors because of this unpopular move. Others encouraged commuters to quickly use their rewards before the start of the revised programme.
Facebook user Rishi Katreddi, commenting on Today’s report on the issue, said: “This is what happens when one brand monopolises the market.” Another user, Joice Toh, said: “We need some worthy competitors.”
Facebook user Ng Swee Shoon said: “As with Lazada’s LiveUp membership, once the threshold of perceived rewards fall below an acceptable level, pioneer members will look for alternatives. A great opportunity for Gojek, Comfortdelgro, Deliveroo and Food Panda.”
Another Facebook user, Singh Prem, said: “Does not surprise me one bit! The richer it gets, it loses integrity, and starts to show its true colours — real ugly, from my perspective. I find this to be in bad taste. It is very much like biting the hand that feeds it.”
He added: “Commuters should quickly redeem their Grab points before the revised rewards programme kicks in. It remains to be seen if commuters will migrate to other competitor apps like Gojek and Tada to protest Grab’s devaluation of its rewards programme.”
In July 2018, Grab gutted the earning rates for rides and hiked the cost of vouchers for its customers. In March 2018, when Uber sold out to Grab, many people feared that Grab’s newly-gained monopoly power would lead to higher prices for rides. New entrants to the market have helped to better mitigate the price hikes, but not before critics took the transport travel app company to task.
Aaron Wong, writing in The Milelion, said at that time: “This is not how you run a loyalty program. Unannounced devaluations and sticking it to your most loyal customers? Who’d want to use your service then?”
Send in your scoop to email@example.com