BigPay – The Best Travel Credit Card for Malaysians?
I was recently talking to a friend who was talking about finding this travel credit card that could be the best travel credit card for Malaysians called BigPay. She was saying that BigPay offered an exchange rate that was better than the market rate and that there was also no transaction fees.
The moment I heard that, I started thinking how they could do something like that. If they were offering exchange rate better than the market rate, it would mean that they lose money every time someone used them. If they were taking no transaction fees, it would mean they would not be making money. That doesn’t sound like a way to stay alive for long.
And so I decided to dig in to see what was really happening. Even if it offered the real exchange rate (what you would see when you google say myr to eur), it would be better than the current best option of moneymatch.
After digging through BigPay’s website, a few different news articles, and a few friends who had already tested it out, this is what I found.
What is BigPay
Back in January 2018, AirAsia launched BigPay, an ewallet that comes with a prepaid credit card. This is slightly different from other ewallets which requires you to scan a QR code to pay. By having a prepaid card attached to the ewallet, you would now be able to use it like a normal credit card. So in that sense, it would be easier to call it a debit card – you can only spend however much you have on that card.
Unlike what my friend had believed, they do not offer a better exchange rate than market rate, but instead, you can make foreign purchases at market rate (ie what you see on google). What makes this different from other options is that most other places would charge some sort of premium on top of the real exchange rate. That means that BigPay is a better option for payments out of Malaysia. In other words, BigPay can potentially be the best card for for Malaysians.
Another thing that BigPay offers is a rewards program. By topping up and spending, you will earn points which can be used for AirAsia flights which is definitely a nice bonus if you are currently paying for things in cash or debit. However, I have not done a comparison to determine the cash value of the points to be able to say if this is a better option compared to other credit cards.
Using BigPay When Travelling
Given everything that I’ve found, I would use BigPay for any foreign purchases. Because it offers no foreign exchange fees or transaction fees, and most importantly, comes with a prepaid credit card, you would be able to pay for anything that accepts credit card and pay at the real cost in Malaysian Ringgit.
As an example, I will be going to Toronto in December. What I would have to do right now is use MoneyMatch to transfer Malaysian ringgit to Canadian dollars. During that process, I would lose about 1 – 1.5% because they would take that much as a transaction fee / foreign exchange fee. I would then pay for everything in cash.
However, with BigPay, I would just have to top up my account and then when I’m in Toronto and at a shop, I would be able to simply pay with the prepaid card and not have to lose any money along the way.
The downside is that if the store you are at does not accept credit card, you would not be able to use BigPay. In that case, you could go to the ATM and withdraw money from your BigPay account. BigPay will either charge RM6 (if you are withdrawing in Malaysia) or RM10 (if you are withdrawing out of Malaysia) as their fees. But also keep in mind that the ATM will most likely charge their own fees.
So the option to withdraw from an ATM is there, but I would suggest to only do it if you really need to as the fees are kind of high.
How Does BigPay Survive
BigPay is in the technology business. They want as many people using their ewallets and s with most tech companies, they are willing to throw a lot of money into growing user base (Uber and Grab through BILLIONS into getting customers to use their platform). Which is fine for us in the short run, but what could the future look like?
BigPay is currently not making any money but what are some of their options to make money in the future?
These are a few ways I can see BigPay making their ends meet. Keep in mind, these are all my guesses and may not actually be what BigPay is planning to do.
The first way they are probably making some money is by having an agreement with Mastercard. When you use your card to make a purchase somewhere, the store actually has to pay Mastercard a small amount. So BigPay probably gets a portion of that money (and is the reason why you see all these different companies offering either mastercard of visa). This way doesn’t cost us the users any money.
Another way that BigPay can be making money through this ewallet and card is through their points program. If all the points are meant only for AirAsia, it might make people choose AirAsia over other airlines which means that AirAsia actually starts making more money. Still not a bad deal, especially if you are already an AirAsia traveller. But if you don’t like AirAsia at all, then those points would be worthless.
Another thing BigPay could do in the future to make money is to start charging a premium on top of their foreign exchange fees, or to increase their other fees. This is quite common in the banking world, but because by that time people are so used to using BigPay, they end up paying those extra fees.
The final idea is that they want to become just like any other bank. They want people to leave all their money with them because that way they can then loan out that money (which is what banks do) and make money that way. This technically does not cost us anything as we would need to leave our money somewhere anyway.
Hopefully their longer term plan doesn’t include charging us fees, but if they do eventually go down the banking path, they probably will…
Should You Use BigPay
I am personally very interested in BigPay for the foreign exchange perks. I plan on doing a lot of travelling and each time I get hit by atm fees, foreisng exchange fees, transfer fees. Fees, fees, fees. But with BigPay, the option to avoid mot fees is there and equally as important, the ease of use is there.
In fact, just as I wrapped up this article, I signed up for my own BigPay. I’ll continue to provide updates as I get more experience with it!
BigPay Referral Code
If you are looking for a BigPay referral code, you can use mine: B7D3YNZPGO. This will give us both RM10 as a bonus when you first top up RM20. A better deal than getting 0 when topping up is required to activate your account!