1st November 2021 - 5 min read
Local e-wallet Boost has revamped its BoostUP rewards programme, renaming its rewards points and membership tiers, but more importantly introducing a stunning 84% devaluation of its rewards points – without providing users a chance to use up their current points balance beforehand.
Let’s get the straightforward parts out of the way. Boost has revamped its BoostUP rewards programme in in two ways: first, it has reduced the membership tiers from five to three, with each tier getting a fancy name – Red Recruit, Silver Sergeant, and Gold General. Secondly, Boost Coins are now known as Boost Stars with a vastly poorer redemption rate (we’ll get to that later).
As before, each membership tier carries its own benefits – the higher the tier, the better the benefits. The big change here is that Boost has removed the random points multiplier for each membership tier, opting for a more straightforward 1x, 2x, and 3x points multiplier for the Red Recruit, Silver Sergeant, and Gold General tiers respectively. This is somewhat positive, because you can now easily determine your effective returns before spending with Boost.
Similarly, Boost has also removed the transaction amount requirement to progress through the membership tiers, instead relying only on the monthly amount spent. Red Recruit is the lowest tier and has no spend amount to maintain its membership, while you need to spend RM1,200 to unlock Silver Sergeant, and RM4,500 to unlock Gold General. Once unlocked, you maintain that membership for one quarter – but you’ll need to spend the same amount to maintain your “rank” for the next quarter. For now, Boost has stated that there will be no level assessments until further notice due to restricted movements.
For each tier, there’s a new Online Banking Bonus that rewards you with extra Boost Stars for every RM1 spent when you top up your wallet via online banking. The bonus increases the higher the tier: 1x for Red Recruit, 2x for Silver Sergeant, and 3x for Gold General – effectively doubling the Boost Stars you earn if you only fund your Boost wallet via online banking. Note that bonus Stars earned this way will only be credited in the following month.
Lastly, Pay With Stars returns, and is only exclusive to the Gold General tier. As before, this feature allows you to offset up to 10% of prepaid top up payments within the Boost app using Boost Stars. The redemption rate for this feature is set at 1000 Boost Stars for RM1.
Oh, and one last thing – to celebrate the revamp, Boost has given every user free Boost Stars to the tune of 4x of their existing Boost Coins.
In some ways, we could see it coming. First came the restriction on credit card top ups. Then in recent months Boost began offering campaigns with huge 30x points multipliers under the Shop Malaysia Online initiative. And today without notice, the mega devaluation happened. By our calculations, the devaluation is as big as 84%.
Let’s break it down. Before the revamp, Boost has a standard redemption rate of 800 Boost Coins = RM5, which values 1 Boost Coin at 0.625 sen. With Boost Stars, the standard redemption rate now appears to be 1000 Boost Stars = RM1, valuing 1 Boost Star at just 0.1 sen – a massive 84% devaluation.
Even the “celebratory” 4x bonus Stars isn’t enough to compensate Boost users for the devaluation to their existing Coins. If a Boost user had 800 Boost Coins yesterday (which would be worth RM5), he will now have 3200 Boost Stars today worth RM3.20 – removing 36% in value literally overnight.
If it’s any consolation, the shift from a random points multiplier to a fixed one can be seen as positive. As any Level 4 or Level 5 Boostie will tell you, the chances of getting 4x or 8x Bonus Coins have always been extremely low, with 1x to 2x being more common.
That said, even at the highest Gold General tier, users can expect effective return rates of just 0.3%.
It must be said that Boost handled this BoostUP revamp extremely poorly.
Boost hinted at a revamp just three days before launch, and labelled it as “a more rewarding” rewards programme. Thus, Boost not only didn’t inform users about an impending devaluation in redemption rates, it also devalued users’ existing rewards points overnight while misinforming them of a “more rewarding rewards programme”. The positive messaging subsequently denied the small window of opportunity (i.e. one weekend) for users to use their Coins balance before the devaluation.
And that “celebratory” 4x bonus Stars? That merely reduced the devaluation of users’ existing points from 84% to “just” 36%. Boost already tried to put a positive spin to what was a negative update previously; this move undermines the intelligence of its users yet again.
E-wallets are not bound to the same practices that banks do with credit cards, where any change must be given 21 days’ notice to cardholders. This needs to change – if not to protect users’ rights, governing bodies should at least hold e-wallet companies to the same standards as banks.
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