Grab Singapore recently started calling itself the “Everyday Everything app”, which confirms my suspicions that Grab is legit trying to take over Singapore.
The Singapore-based company may have started off as a simple solution to exorbitant taxi fares, but today, it’s a tech “decacorn” (i.e. a privately held startup worth over US$10 billion) offering seemingly every service conceivable to mankind.
Grab is taking over Singapore, here are all the services they offer
But is the suite of services worth using? Should you “import” your entire life into the super app?
From the OG Grab rides to the newer GrabFood, GrabPay and GrabInsure, here’s my take on the Grab ecosystem.
Grab ride-hailing services (GrabCar, GrabHitch, JustGrab & more)
Let’s start with Grab’s core business — transport. There are quite a few ride options:
|Grab transport option||What it is||Price|
|GrabCar||Private hire rides||$$$|
|JustGrab||Nearest taxi or private hire ride||$$$|
|GrabTaxi||Taxi rides, but booked through Grab||$$$|
|GrabHire||Chauffeur service, booked by the hour||$$$$|
Those are the ones most people use, but there are a few more niche options too. There are the shuttle bus services (GrabCoach, GrabShuttle and GrabShuttle Plus), as well as children- and pet-friendly rides (GrabFamily and GrabPet).
Oh, not forgetting GrabExpress — although not technically a ride option, this courier delivery services makes use of their fleet of drivers all across the island.
I feel that it’s a hit-or-miss with GrabCar/JustGrab rides. When they first launched, their fares were no doubt cheaper than regular taxis. There were promo codes every other day and you could almost always get a discounted ride.
However, now that these incentives are gone and the taxi operators (like Comfort taxis, SMRT, etc) are stepping up their game, their prices are competitive at best.
That said, the genius of using mobile booking apps is that you can check and compare the prices before committing to a decision. When I need a ride, I usually open all the apps — Comfort, Grab and Go-Jek — and pick the cheapest one.
I find that during peak hours, Comfort is usually the cheapest, most reliable option. (But I still check anyway.)
Unless you’re able to get a GrabHitch ride, that is. Those are the absolute cheapest, but because it’s technically a carpool (and not a commercial ride), you’re kind of expected to make small talk and chit-chat like you would with a friend. That could be uncomfortable for some.
GrabFood food delivery
Next, the equally popular GrabFood.
GrabFood is an app-only food delivery booking service. GrabFood practises dynamic pricing, whereby delivery fees are $3 to $5, depending on the demand-supply ratio of available riders and merchants. There is no minimum order.
How it works is that you have to first place an order, and wait to be “matched” with a driver.
There’s quite a bit of competition in the local food delivery scene, and you can tell that GrabFood is quite aggressively racing to the top spot. I’m quite a long-time user of Grab services, and I literally watched them experiment with all sorts of GrabFood promotions and pricing mechanics.
The current food subscription plan is $9.99 monthly for 50X free delivery vouchers.
It’s a yes from me. I find that food delivery prices are quite standard across the board, but GrabFood has the advantage of 1) a value-for-money subscription service, 2) no minimum order requirement and 3) a wide variety of merchants that cover most areas of Singapore.
I know this because I live in the god forsaken land of Punggol, and I can order $3 bubble tea via GrabFood. I dislike the shady (read: not transparent) dynamic pricing system that sometimes makes me pay $5 for delivery, but I suppose that’s easily fixed with the subscription plan.
At $9.99 monthly, you’d only need to order at most 5X to break even. That’s very doable.
My only gripe is that I’ve had my orders cancelled a few times because they couldn’t match a driver to my order.
GrabPay mobile wallet
Another notch on Grab’s belt is the payment solution, GrabPay. Under GrabPay, you can either link your credit/debit cards to pay for stuff, or top up the GrabPay mobile wallet and then pay for stuff.
There’s not much to say about the former, so moving forward, I’ll use “GrabPay” to mean the e-wallet.
This payment system was initially only for their app bookings, but it quickly expanded to include offline merchants too. Retail partners used to be quite limited, and they had to display a gaudy QR code sign at the cashier to process payments via GrabPay.
Thankfully, this is currently in the process of being remedied with the new GrabPay Mastercard. Last year end, Grab released a debit card that allows cardholders to use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted (i.e. everywhere).
You can already get the digital version on your Grab app, but the physical card is still slowly being released in phases.
Read more about the GrabPay Mastercard: GrabPay Card Review — What’s This New “Numberless” Mastercard by Grab?
While I wouldn’t recommend using GrabPay in place of a credit card entirely, I think it’s not a bad e-wallet to have. Especially if you use Grab’s other services, and wouldn’t mind chocking up more rewards points to redeem discounts and vouchers.
Although there are some excellent credit cards for GrabPay out there, note that you may not be able to earn cash rebates and/or air miles in some cases. You can’t game this system by using your credit card to top-up your GrabPay wallet either — the banks caught on quite quickly and most of them have already excluded these transactions.
(Note: We are talking about topping up stored value into your e-wallet, not simply linking your credit card to GrabPay.)
So the only thing you can earn is Grab rewards points.
For that, the accrual is pretty generous at 5X to 10X.
Update: Grab recently announced a revision of the GrabRewards scheme. Starting 2 Mar 2019, only GrabPay transactions will earn points, and accrual will be 2X to 4X instead.
If you’re a hardcore Grab fan, it’s a no-brainer. However, if you, like me, only use Grab for the occasional ride and meal, then you can consider GrabPay a “backup” plan.
For the most part, I use my credit card to make purchases and earn rebates. However, once I hit my minimum spend amount or max out my rebates for the month, I switch to GrabPay so I’m at least earning something.
The newest Grab family member is GrabInsure. Just this month (Jan 2020), Grab added the new “insurance” tile to their menu, allowing users to purchase Travel Cover travel insurance:
|Destination||GrabInsure Travel Cover price per day|
|Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam||$2.50|
|Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, Macau SAR, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Timor-Leste||$3.25|
|Worldwide, excluding USA, Canada and Cuba||$4.40|
|Worldwide, excluding Cuba||$4.90|
If you’re wondering, “Grab can sell insurance meh?” Yup, they can.
The policy is actually underwritten by Chubb; GrabInsure just distributes it. Kind of like how you the policies you buy from banks are underwritten by other insurers too.
I — like most people — have zero loyalty when it comes to travel insurance. I choose the policy and/or insurer depending on my destination and itinerary, so it’s different each time. Usually I’m quite “chin cai”, so I pick the cheapest one.
|Benefit||GrabInsure Travel Cover||FWD Premium travel insurance||NTUC Income Classic travel insurance|
|Loss/damage to personal belongings||$3,000||$3,000||$3,000|
|Medical expenses (overseas)||$150,000 (capped at $750 for TCM)||$200,000||$250,000|
|Price for a week in Thailand||
(launch promo price, U.P. $17.50)
(after 20% off, U.P. $25)
(after 45% off, U.P. $38)
Because of GrabInsure’s launch promo price of $1 per day for ASEAN countries, it’s dirt cheap at only $7. However, even without discount, it’s still one of the cheapest in the market at $17.50.
Coverage-wise, I picked a few common benefits to compare. As expected, GrabInsure’s insured sums are lower, but only slightly. If there’s a promo going on (like now), it’s totally worth it. If you’re not fussy about the sums and just want to be insured something, then it’s perfect for you.
It’s reassuring that Chubb is an established insurer as well.
If there is no discount and you’re comparing the 3 at full price, I’d say the most “worth it” one is FWD, which offers the highest benefits, for only a few bucks more.
What’s next for Grab?
You may think that’s quite enough fingers in that many pies, but Grab is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, in Dec 2019 they announced a partnership with Singtel to apply for a digital full bank licence in Singapore.
You can read more about this news in their official press release here.
If successful, it seems confirmed that Grab will join the banking game. This shouldn’t be that surprising, especially considering how they’re already lending money to corporate partners. (They’re an excluded money lender under the Moneylenders Act, MAS.)
They also recently (Mar 2019) started allowing users to “Pay Later” for rides and other services, which is a credit service (i.e. lending money).
Despite all these hints, however, not much else has been officially announced. I suppose they’re waiting for their digibank application outcome in mid-2020.
If they’re to become a full bank, however, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to hold deposits, offer loan packages and more.
What do you think is next for Grab? Tell us in the comments below.