Way before online subscriptions became a thing, our forefathers were already proud “subscribers” to NTUC FairPrice’s Plus! and Cold Storage / Giant’s PAssion Card programmes.
Cleverly masked as schemes to “help you save money”, these programmes are quite obviously loyalty programmes, compelling you to go back to NTUC again and again to use up those Link Points.
Meanwhile, Lazada’s LiveUp and Amazon Prime Now are a new generation of loyalty programmes, designed to lock you into their respective e-commerce systems.
So what’s the deal with these memberships? Which ones are worth your time and/or money?
NTUC Plus vs PAssion Card vs LiveUp vs Amazon Prime — which is best?
|Loyalty programme||Key benefits||Membership fee|
|NTUC Plus!||1.3% rebate at NTUC FairPrice, Unity||Free (NTUC Plus! app)|
|PAssion Card||0.66% or 4% rebate at Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian||Free (PAssion POSB card)|
|Lazada LiveUp||4% rebate on RedMart, LazMall||$5.99/month or $59.90/year|
|Amazon Prime||Free 2-hour delivery on Prime Now||$2.99/month|
If you buy any groceries offline at all, then it’s well worth your time to sign up for NTUC Plus! and PAssion Card memberships.
These used to have a nominal fee each ($10 lifetime for NTUC and $12 for 5 years for PAssion), but you can now join them for free if you know how. Being totally free already makes these 2 the “best” in my book!
However, neither programme extends their benefits to buying groceries online. So if you’re a hardcore online shopper, LiveUp and Amazon Prime are your only options.
NTUC Plus! — earn NTUC Link Points at FairPrice, no membership needed
Everyone knows that if you’re an NTUC member, you can earn Link Points on your groceries at NTUC FairPrice, which are basically cash rebates against your subsequent purchases.
However, NTUC membership costs $117/year. While becoming a union member does come with some career / lifestyle benefits, there’s actually no need to join if you’re just looking for NTUC FairPrice rebates.
(BTW, if you don’t want to use the app for whatever reason, the traditional card-based membership is still very cheap. You only need to pay $10 and you’ll be a Plus! card holder for life.)
Then, either scan your NTUC Plus! app or card to start earning Link Points on your very next NTUC haul.
The rebate programme at NTUC / Unity is as follows:
- Earn 2 Link Points for every $1 spent at NTUC FairPrice or Unity stores
- There is a minimum spend of $20 in order to earn the Link Points
- You can redeem Link Points on your next purchase
- For redemption, every 150 Link Points = $1 off your bill
Since you need to spend $75 to redeem $1 off, the rebate works out to be about 1.33%. Not fantastic lah, but this is on top of whatever credit card you’re using for supermarket rebates.
Importantly, note that NTUC Link Points are NOT given for online purchases, which is a shame since FairPrice Online is now pretty good.
NTUC Plus! members can also earn Link Points at a whole slew of online and offline retailers, including the usual malls and eateries, even Agoda bookings. You can see the full list of partners and their earn rates here.
PAssion Card — earn TapForMore Points at Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian
“Girl ah, got PAssion Card?”
Alongside NTUC Plus!, the other OG auntie membership that every adult in Singapore should know about is PAssion Card, which is a loyalty programme set up by the People’s Association (hence the “PA” in “PAssion”).
While NTUC Plus! gives you rebates at FairPrice and Unity, a PAssion Card does the same when you shop at Giant, Cold Storage and Guardian (which fall under the Dairy Farm group).
Even if you’re a die-hard fan of NTUC FairPrice, you might want to get one anyway, you know, just in case you need to buy Gatsby hair wax from Guardian one day.
Heck, you might already have a PAssion Card — check your EZ-Link Card to see if it has the PAssion logo.
Otherwise, you can become a member for free by signing up for the POSB PAssion Card. This is a debit card that comes bundled with free PAssion membership for life. (PAssion membership is ordinarily $12 for 5 years, which is still quite cheap.)
Like how the NTUC Plus! Card lets you earn Link Points, your PAssion Card lets you accrue TapForMore points when you flash it at purchase:
- Earn 1 TapForMore point for every $1 spent at Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian
- There is no minimum spend in order to earn the points
- You can redeem TapForMore Points on your next purchase
- For redemption, every 150 Link Points = $1 off your bill
This works out to a 0.66% rebate, which is, frankly, quite pathetic even if you stack it with a decent cashback credit card.
However, if you spend at least $400 a month on your POSB PAssion card (can be anywhere, not just Giant / Cold Storage) you can get 6 TapForMore points per $1 spent, which works out to a none-too-shabby 4% rebate.
Sadly, just like with NTUC Plus!, you can’t earn points on your online grocery purchases.
On the other hand, PAssion Card has even more partner merchants than NTUC, including travel, attractions / entertainment, dining and online shopping merchants. Instead of earning points at these places, your PAssion Card entitles you to straight-up discounts.
Lazada LiveUp — 4% rebate on RedMart & LazMall
Now, on to the online grocery shopping subscriptions.
As mentioned, neither PAssion Card nor NTUC Plus! allow you to earn rebates on your online purchases, even though all the major supermarkets have online stores. That’s a major buzzkill if you like the convenience and product range that comes with online grocery shopping.
There are only 2 major players for online grocery loyalty programmes: RedMart’s LiveUp and Amazon Prime Singapore.
LiveUp is RedMart / Lazada’s loyalty programme, and it used to be pretty good, but the membership fees went up in July 2019. Fees have more than doubled from $28.80/year to $59.90/year or $5.99/month.
For that price, the key benefits are getting free RedMart delivery for orders of at least $40, plus a 4% rebate on RedMart and LazMall purchases.
The free delivery part isn’t very attractive, considering anyone can get free delivery with a $60 purchase on RedMart. As for the 4% rebate, if you’re paying $5.99/month for LiveUp, you’d have to spend at least $150/month just to break even.
In addition, rebates (capped at $50/month) have to be used up within 30 days, which really forces you to be loyal to RedMart. In contrast, points from NTUC Plus! and PAssion Card never seem to expire…
Plus you can get discounts on RedMart even without LiveUp rebates — just be fast enough to grab the credit card promo codes that they release weekly.
LiveUp also offers a handful of partner benefits such as 3 x $3 Grab codes a month, free delivery on FoodPanda, and 2 months’ free Netflix. For full details on LiveUp, see their website.
Amazon Prime Singapore — free 2-hour delivery on Prime Now
RedMart’s competitor in the online grocery shopping space is Amazon Prime Singapore, which is a paid subscription for Amazon’s super-fast logistics service.
Amazon Prime Singapore costs $2.99/month. Apart from letting you get free shipping on eligible items on Amazon.sg and Amazon US, the other key benefit is that it unlocks Prime Now, which is Amazon’s 2-hour delivery service.
Prime Now is an entirely separate app/service, and you won’t find things that Amazon is known for, like books, gifts or gadgets.
Instead, it’s mostly groceries and household stuff on there. Think milk, diapers, dog food… The grocery selection isn’t huge like RedMart’s; Prime Now is more like a digital convenience store where you just grab whatever brand is available because you need it ASAP.
Actually, the best way to describe it is that it’s like GrabFood or FoodPanda, except for groceries on demand. Delivery can be done as fast as 2 hours later. It’s also unlimited and free as long as you order at least $40 in your cart.
Amazon Prime Singapore has no rebate programme, so you’re really paying $2.99 to cover delivery fees. The subscription fee could be worth it if you’re not very mobile, and/or you live far enough from the nearest supermarket that the drive/bus ride will cost that much anyway.
Otherwise, it’s not exactly competitive, given that you can get free (scheduled, not-instant) delivery with a minimum spend at most online grocers with no membership needed. This can be as low as $39 at NTUC FairPrice online, though $50 or $60 is more common.
Is it ever worth it to pay for a loyalty programme?
Honestly, I don’t think there is any reason to pay for a supermarket loyalty programme, given that you can get both NTUC Plus! and PAssion Card for free. Between these 2 memberships, you’d have covered most of the offline supermarkets anyway.
Assuming you don’t want to hit some minimum monthly spending requirement, the NTUC Plus! app membership is slightly better. But that obviously depends on whether you shop at FairPrice at all — if you barely go to NTUC, then just stick to your PAssion Card lah.
As for online groceries, the fight is between RedMart’s LiveUp ($5.99/month) and Amazon Prime Now ($2.99/month).
LiveUp is not only expensive, it’s also really quite useless unless you spend crazy amounts of money on RedMart. With a more normal $300/month grocery budget, you’d earn only $12 in rebates, and half of that goes to covering the $5.99/month fee.
As for Amazon Prime Now, it seems like the $2.99/month fee is the price of convenience. Prime Now is a great service if you’re, say, a new mum in confinement or living with a disability. Otherwise, it’s quite an unnecessary expenditure, given that Singaporeans are surrounded with supermarkets and convenience stores.
TL;DR: Don’t pay. Just sign up for NTUC Plus! and PAssion Card for free. Paid online grocery shopping memberships are not worth it either; you don’t need a membership to get free delivery.
Which is your favourite grocery loyalty programme? Tell us about it in the comments.
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