Tech unicorn Grab just took e-wallets to the next level — last week, 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 is the newest “credit card” in Singapore worth getting? Let’s find out.
How the GrabPay Mastercard works
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 — and both are being rolled out in batches. For the digital card, all users will be able to sign up by the end of the year. The physical card will take a bit longer — some lucky users can already apply, but the rest will have to wait.
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).
5 important things about the GrabPay Mastercard
Here are 5 important things to know about the new GrabPay Mastercard.
1. The GrabPay Mastercard is accepted almost everywhere, on- and offline.
Previously, GrabPay was only available at selected on- and offline merchants. For retail partners, you needed to scan the QR code to send the money over. It had been getting increasingly widespread in the recent year or so, but still, it’s nowhere near Visa and Mastercard’s league.
But by partnering Mastercard, GrabPay is now accepted almost everywhere, even overseas. 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.
2. The physical GrabPay Mastercard is “numberless” for added security.
As you probably would have heard by the now, the new physical GrabPay Mastercard is numberless.
That literally means that there is no number printed on the card itself. It’s a pretty big deal — after all, the only other card to have this feature is the Apple Card.
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 — even as close as across the causeway in Johor Bahru. 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.
3. The GrabPay Mastercard can even be used overseas, with low foreign transaction fees (2%).
Another feature that makes this card good for travellers 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 recently revised their fees to 2.8% to 3.5% in 2019, which is a lot higher.
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 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.
4. The GrabPay Mastercard is compatible with Samsung Pay, but not Apple and Google 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. Bummer.
5. The GrabPay Mastercard comes with mobile phone, e-commerce and flight delay “insurance”.
Lastly — and perhaps most interestingly — the GrabPay Mastercard comes with 3 kinds of umm, “insurance”.
Mobile protection insurance
If you pay you 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?
Generally, I find that the GrabPay Mastercard is most useful for travellers. The numberless feature makes it more secure, and it offers a more competitive foreign transaction fee than most banks.
That said, there are quite a few multi-currency accounts and travel wallets offering attractive rates too. You can read more about these here: Battle of the Multi-Currency Accounts: YouTrip, Revolut, DBS MCA, UOB Mighty FX & Others
As mentioned earlier, the GrabPay Mastercard seems a godsend for those already hooked on the 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.
So yes, this new card is really mostly for those already supporting GrabPay and Grab Rewards. In which case, the new roll out promotion of 10X rewards for every dollar spent is quite attractive too.
What do you think of the GrabPay Mastercard? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.