Tech unicorn Grab has taken e-wallets to the next level — last year, the homegrown company announced their newest launch, the GrabPay Mastercard. This includes a digital card, as well as an actual, physical card that you can sign and swipe almost everywhere in Singapore (Mastercard, mah).
So how is Grab’s “credit card” in Singapore holding up to the many e-wallet providers? Let’s find out.
1. How does the GrabPay Mastercard work?
Key features of the GrabPay Mastercard:
- Debits funds from your GrabPay wallet
- Can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercards (including overseas)
- Can be used on- and offline
- Has 2 versions: a digital one, and a physical card
It would seem that the GrabPay Card is more to enhance the GrabPay system, intended to widen the scope of merchants GrabPay is accepted at.
It’s not exactly meant to compete with banks in the credit card space (not for now, at least). In fact, it’s actually more of a debit card. Just that instead of debiting from your bank account, the money is deducted from your GrabPay e-wallet.
There are 2 versions: a digital and physical one. For existing GrabPay users, the GrabPay Mastercard does seem quite a big and worthy upgrade. However, if you don’t use GrabPay, there’s probably not much incentive for you to start now (more on that below).
2. Where is the GrabPay Mastercard accepted?
With the GrabPay Mastercard, you can now use your GrabPay balance almost everywhere, on- and offline.
Previously, GrabPay was only available at selected merchants. You had to look for the GrabPay logo on their SGQR sticker, then scan the QR code with your app to send the money over.
While GrabPay (along with other QR code payment systems like PayNow, Paylah! and FavePay) had been getting increasingly widespread in the recent year or so, it’s nowhere near Visa and Mastercard’s league.
By partnering Mastercard, GrabPay is now accepted almost everywhere, even online. As long as the store accepts Mastercard, they will accept the GrabPay Mastercard. It works like a regular Mastercard — you can swipe and sign it as you would any other card.
3. What GrabRewards can you earn with the GrabPay Mastercard?
Depending on which Grab membership tier you’re on, each GrabPay Card transaction allows you to earn 3 to 6 GrabRewards points per $1 spent. Here’s an infographic from Grab’s website to illustrate.
At an “exchange rate” of 10 GrabRewards points to 1 KrisFlyer mile, that’s… not a lot. You’ll basically earn 0.3 to 0.5 miles per $1 spent.
But that’s still better than nothing, especially for transactions like insurance premium payments, which most credit cards exclude from earning any points or cashback at all.
4. What security features does the GrabPay Mastercard have?
Interestingly, the physical GrabPay Mastercard is numberless. That literally means that there is no number printed on the card itself.
This is mainly a security feature, because it makes credit card theft and fraud much more difficult. Although Singapore is quite safe, such crimes are quite prevalent in other countries — as such, this feature is particularly useful for travellers.
Of course, the card isn’t actually “numberless”. You can still access your card number via your Grab app, so you can make online purchases and retrieve your card details whenever you need.
If you lose your card, you can immediately block it via the app too.
5. How much does it charge for foreign currency transactions?
Another feature that makes this card good for travellers — when travel opens up again — is the competitive foreign transaction fee of 2%.
If you’ve been scrutinising your card’s T&Cs, you may have noticed that many banks now charge 3.5% or more for forex transactions. Yikes.
Of course, when you transact overseas, the final amount you pay = the price in foreign currency x exchange rate x foreign transaction fee.
Grab only controls the last one. For the exchange rate, it is decided by Mastercard.
Grab is, however, quite transparent about these charges — users can check the amount charged directly on the Grab app. You won’t be able to check the rate before swiping your card, but that’s pretty standard across all credit cards anyway.
A caveat: While using GrabPay Card on forex transactions might be cheaper than the average credit card, it’s still not as cheap as a dedicated multi-currency prepaid card like Wise, YouTrip or Revolut.
6. Does the GrabPay Mastercard work with Apple Pay?
Since most bank cards are compatible with Apple, Google and Samsung Pay, many of us have gotten used to tapping our phones to make payment.
But this isn’t something we should take for granted. For instance, the GrabPay Mastercard is currently only compatible with Samsung Pay. If you have a Samsung phone, you don’t really need the physical card. You can just add the digital card to Samsung Pay, and use it offline.
However, it is not yet available for use with Apple and Google Pay, which most people use. This is frankly unacceptable in 2021.
7. What other perks does the GrabPay Mastercard come with?
Lastly — and perhaps most interestingly — the GrabPay Mastercard comes with 3 kinds of umm, “insurance”.
Mobile protection insurance
If you pay your monthly mobile bill with your GrabPay card, your phone will be protected against accidental damage or theft. The insurance is provided by AIG, issued by Grab.
Do note that the coverage will stop if you fail to pay your bill in any month, only resuming 15 days later.
That’s not all. If you make an online purchase using your GrabPay Mastercard, you will be protected against “incomplete delivery or if wrong/defective products are delivered”.
This sounds good in theory (and it might be), but there are quite a few exclusions to the products covered. Some notable ones include: cash, bullion, tickets of any kind, food and other consumables.
You can find the more details here: full details of GrabPay’s e-commerce protection.
Flight delay passes
Finally, if you purchase your flights using your GrabPay Mastercard and it gets delayed for over 2 hours, you can get complimentary passes into airport lounges.
You can claim them for up to 2 registered flights per calendar year. You can find out more here: MasterCard flight delay passes
Conclusion — who should get the GrabPay Mastercard?
Back when travel was actually possible, the GrabPay Mastercard was a pretty useful product. The numberless feature makes it more secure, and it offers a more competitive foreign transaction fee than most banks.
But what about now?
Well, the GrabPay Mastercard is probably more for those already hooked on the Grab platform and its rewards scheme. However, if you’re not already using GrabPay, there’s not much of a difference — there aren’t any direct discounts or incentives.
It doesn’t fight in the credit card arena, so you don’t earn things like miles and cashback. If that’s what you’re after, the GrabPay Mastercard won’t be suitable for you as the only incentives are the Grab Rewards points.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth switching over to the GrabPay Mastercard because many banks have started to exclude Grab top-ups in their benefits, especially for cash back.
That means that although a $100 top-up to your GrabPay wallet will count towards your month’s total spend (for those who need to hit a minimum spend), it may not be eligible for bonus cash back, air miles or rewards.
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