Convenience combined with never-ending promotions make it easy to form a habit around using Grab and Uber in Singapore. Do you know how much you spend on on-demand private car services?
A few days back, we at the SingSaver.com.sg office were talking about how smartphones make you spend more money. With the ease of mobile payments and all sorts of conveniences at our fingertips, could smartphones consume more of our budget than we realise?
Take for example on-demand private car services like Grab and Uber. Not only are they often cheaper than cabs; they get us to our destinations faster than public transport can. It is also ridiculously easy to form a Grab/Uber habit once you get used to it. These apps, combined with never-ending promotions, are a constant temptation.
I spent the last year convincing myself that I only use Grab or Uber sometimes, therefore I’m probably not spending much. But when I actually added the numbers, I was shocked by how much I pay for these services each month.
This had me wonder about how my colleagues use ride-hailing services, and if my spending is anywhere near normal (spoiler: it’s not). Here’s what I found out about how the SingSaver.com.sg team uses Grab or Uber, plus the money-saving tricks we use to keep our bills down.
How much did you spend on Grab and Uber last month? Is this about the average amount you spend?
Rohith, Managing Director: S$100
Kelvin, Managing Director: No – as in I don’t actively track how much I spend in total
Alevin, Content Editor: Last month I spent around S$60 on Uber and Grab. I don’t usually spend on ride-hailing services, so last month was an anomaly for me.
Ryan, Writer: Approximately S$900 to S$1,200 a month
Wei Shuang, Business Analyst: Total spent last month was S$31, I’ve been making a conscious effort to not use Uber or Grab. So I would say this is around the average every month recently, but the highest I’ve ever hit per month was ~S$170.
Kar Wai, Marketing: About S$20
Lauren, Content Manager: S$209.85. I have not calculated how much I spent in previous months, but I have a sneaking suspicion this is about average.
Why do you use Grab or Uber instead of public transport?
Rohith: I use Uber mostly to travel for business meetings to save on time and also when there is no MRT near a client office.
Kelvin: a) Promotion which makes private transport (Uber/Grab) as affordable as public transport; b) time-saving
Alevin: I usually use Grab or Uber when a) I’m in a hurry or b) carrying bulky items. Convenience is the main factor here; when I’m running late, I am focussed on getting to my destination as easily as possible. If I take public transport, I still may have to walk the final stretch to get there. For when I’m carrying heavy or bulky items, it’s the thought of being dropped off just at the foot of my block that motivates me.
Ryan: The main reason is that my grandma is not mobile and needs to go for dialysis, so it’s not practical to use public transport. For myself, I often use Uber because it lets me get to meetings fresh and well-rested.
Wei Shuang: Laziness…. because my house is far
Kar Wai: When I’m in a rush or going to a place difficult to access by public transport
Lauren: I tend to use Grab or Uber when I visit friends in the East (I live in the West). It saves me a lot of time, but definitely not money. I also use it when I’m going on a date and I wear tall heels, or when I need to go to the airport when the MRT is closed. Finally, there’s just sheer laziness. I live right next to an MRT station on the green line, so there’s really no excuse for me to not take public transport.
What makes you choose one ride-hailing service over the other?
Rohith: I use Uber because I get 20% rebates on all rides with Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card.
Kelvin: Whatever is cheaper
Alevin: I have no preference actually – it depends on which service gives me the better price at the moment. However, with Grab’s recently launched rewards points system, I find myself more inclined to use it instead.
Ryan: I use Uber
Wei Shuang: Whatever is cheaper. Also user interface – I’m more inclined to use Grab recently after Uber changed their interface.
Kar Wai: App interface (Grab is better), promo codes
Lauren: I use Uber mostly. For a while, I uninstalled Grab after a taxi uncle yelled at me for not having the right amount. Then I realised that Grab can be sometimes cheaper, so I started using it more often (but I never hail cabs with it anymore).
What money-saving hacks do you use when you book Grab and Uber rides?
Rohith: Use the right credit card that gives cash rebates. Look out for promo codes online. Avoid as much as possible during peak hours where there is likely a surcharge. If you know a faster route, mention to the driver up front.
Kelvin: a) always check for promo codes; b) always compare before you choose; c) ADVANCED HACK – if there is fixed discount per ride and you are taking long trip, split your journey in multiple legs to maximize benefits 😀
Alevin: I’ll look out for coupon codes or discounts I can use, and may even sign up for a new credit card just to take advantage of the great promotions. I also intend to start using the rewards points I’m accumulating on my Grab rides.
Wei Shuang: Try a different pickup point in the vicinity
Kar Wai: Use Taxibot on Facebook messenger to check on promo codes, plus credit cards that give free rides like UOB YOLO. Also enter a slightly nearer address, such as the address of the opposite block or different MRT exit. It sometimes can be cheaper by S$1.
Ryan: I don’t, I simply work it into the budget for the month and sacrifice something else. I seldom shop for clothes, go clubbing, etc. so there’s room in the budget for it.
Lauren: I compare prices between the two apps to see which is cheaper. Sometimes I use promo codes when I see them on the app itself, but I don’t go out of my way to find them.
Do you plan to reduce how much you spend on ride-hailing services?
Rohith: Yes, by trying to schedule multiple meetings in the same vicinity (e.g. CBD) so that I can only make one trip outbound
Alevin: No, as I do not use these services by default anyway. But I will certainly pay more attention to the total I’m spending each month. I didn’t realise I had dropped S$60 on ride-hailing last month, until you asked!
Wei Shuang: Nope, am okay with the amount so far
Kar Wai: No, I think my current spending is quite reasonable
Ryan: Yes, by reducing the amount I use for myself. I am trying to get it down to S$800 a month. Rides for getting my grandma to and from hospital account for about S$540 to S$570 per month.
Lauren: Yes. I knew that I was spending a lot on rides, but not over S$200 a month! I’m getting depressed thinking about all the things or experiences I could have bought with that money. I just uninstalled both apps and I’m going to use nothing but public transport in June.
Now it’s my turn to ask you. Do you know how much you spend on Grab or Uber each month? Are you happy with it, or do you plan to spend less? Tell us in the comments, we’d love to know!
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By Lauren Dado
Lauren has been a content strategist and digital marketer since 2007. As SingSaver.com.sg’s Content Manager, Lauren edits and publishes personal finance stories to help Singaporeans save money. Her work has appeared in publications like Her World, Asia One, and Women’s Weekly.