Feature Articles

Avoiding High Roaming Charges

By: kimberly on 30 Apr 2012

Stay connected in Singapore on the cheap! Just purchase a data roaming prepaid SIM card from S$18 for unlimited data access and sign up for [email protected] to keep you connected all the time.

There are two ways to go about getting a card from either of the main telecommunications providers such as M1 (MobileOne), StarHub or SingTel. You could either get the combination of both mobile data as well as local voice plans available at StarHub and M1, or you could get two different cards to maximise your money’s worth.

M1 has the SuperPac card that rewards you with free incoming calls, competitive mobile data charges, free IDD Calls to 19 destinations and local and global SMSes at fixed rates. You can choose to buy either the S$25 card or the S$38 depending on how much you think you will be using. For the Happy Stars Prepaid Top-Up Card with StarHub, you’ll first have to buy the basic GREEN Prepaid SIM Card and then top it up with the Happy Stars card which is another S$17 or S$25, depending on your preference. It gives you free incoming calls, 100/200 MB of local mobile data to surf the web with, 120 minutes of local outgoing calls and 500 Local SMS.

Mobile Providers M1 StarHub
Data Plans M1 SuperPac Card

- Free Local Incoming Calls
- Free Local Outgoing Calls (12am to 10am)
- Free Local Data Surfing (12am to 10am)
- Free IDD 021 calls to 19 destinations
- Local SMS at 5.4 cents
- Global SMS at 15 cents
- Free for received MMS
Happy Stars Prepaid Top-Up Cards

-Top Up Cards (buy the basic Green card first then top up with this card)
- Free Incoming Calls
- 100/200 MB Local Mobile Data
- 120 minutes of Local Outgoing Calls
- 500 Local SMS
Cost of cards S$25 (with S$30 value) and
S$38 (for S$60 value)
S$17 or S$25  (must purchase S$15 GREEN Prepaid Card first)
Validity Must be topped up after 30 days.

SuperPac Internet Top Up (Reload) or via a M1 postpaid line.

Rollover of unused value when you reload within 30 days.
Must be topped up after 30 days.

For short-term visitors and tourists, it might be a wiser choice to get StarHub's Preferred Tourist Prepaid Card which was launched in August 2011. The card offers visitors an exciting host of tourist privileges which includes free IDD 018 calls to 18 destinations and exclusive merchant privileges. Available as both a regular SIM and microSIM card, it costs S$15 and comes with S$18 stored credit, 20 free SMS, and 30 MB bundled local data valid for 3 days. Additional data costs S$2 for 30 MB valid for 3 days, $4 for 200 MB valid for 3 days, or $7 for 1 GB valid for 7 days. The card expires after 90 days unless topped-up. 
Check out the mobile broadband cards that each telco has to offer. All three cards, namely MaxMobile Prepaid, M1 Prepaid Broadband and SingTel Prepaid Broadband on Mobile with unlimited data access for three days with speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. Both M1 and Singtel offer cards priced at S$18, but for Starhub, there are options for the heavy user and the light user - the heavy user gets 7.2 Mbps for the price of S$20 and the light user 2.0Mbps for the price of S$12.

Mobile Providers M1 SingTel StarHub
Data Plans M1 Prepaid Broadband SingTel Prepaid Broadband on Mobile MaxMobile Prepaid
Cost S$18 S$18 S$12 or S$20
Data Access Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Upload speeds 7.2 Mbps 7.2Mbps 2.0Mbps or 7.2Mbps

For local and overseas calls, buy a prepaid card. Usually the prepaid card will cost something like S$8 (SingTel), S$15 (M1 and StarHub). Be sure to check out the different costs per minute of outgoing calls. SingTel and M1’s charges are 8 cents per minute from 8pm to 7.59 am on weekdays and the same rate on weekends. From 8 am to 7.59 pm, calls are charged at 16 cents per minute. Starhub charges 22 cents for the first minute of the call and 8 cents for subsequent minutes. Free incoming calls can be activated, though they are chargeable at a rate of about 60 cents per day.

Mobile Provider M1 SingTel StarHUb
Prepaid Cards S$15 S$8 or S$15 S$15
Call charges 8 pm - 7.59 am on weekdays and all day on weekends - 8 cents per minute.
8 am to 7.59 pm on weekdays - 16 cents per minute
8 pm - 7.59 am on weekdays and all day on weekends - 8 cents per minute.
8 am to 7.59 pm on weekdays - 16 cents per minute
22 cents per first minute
8 cents for subsequent minutes
Incoming calls 60 cents per day; must have a minimum of 60 cents in the card. 60 cents per day; top up S$10 with the top-up card to get free incoming calls for 10 days or S$20 for 20 days. 59 cents for activation, thereafter 59 cents per day, must have minimum of S$1.
IDD Free to several countries, special rates for Indonesia and Philippines.
Free IDD 021 is applicable for voice calls made to any residential line in Australia, UK, and New Zealand.
Free to several countries, special rates for Indonesia and Philippines.   Free to several countries, excluding Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom
SMS 5 cents per local message
15 cents per global message
5 cents per local message
15 cents per global message, except for Telkcomcel simPATI subscribers which is 5 cents per message
5 cents per local message
15 cents per global message
10 free SMSes for every 5 sent globally or locally
Top Up Cards Super $130 - S$30 for S$130 value Normal Top Up Cards -
Hot $55 easy mobile, Hi!Top Up, Bonu$30, Super Hot $128
- Get additional talktime or free SMSes with these prepaid cards

Kababayan SIM card, SimPATI Kangen SIM card and Sawadee hi! Card - offering special low rates to Philippines, Indonesia and Philippines and Thailand respectively.
Top up your cards with any amount and get more credits and SMSes free.

Top up cards available - Happy Stars - S$17 and Happy $128 - a card with S$128 value that costs S$28.

Save on international calls with free IDD to several countries, including Australia, United Kingdom. SMS rates are 5 cents per local message and 15 cents per global message, except for global messages to Telkomcel simPATI subscribers which are at 5 cents per message. StarHub offers 10 free SMSes for every 5 sent globally or locally.

Get the cards from any convenience store in Changi Airport, including 7-Eleven, Cheers and FairPrice Xpress before you head to the city to quickly get a data plan and a local number. If you’ve forgotten to get the card before leaving the airport, there are plenty more convenience stores around Singapore to pick up your prepaid cards.

Should the card run out of money, you can top up the card with top-up cards by the service providers. There are three cards which offer you about S$130 worth of value for a payment of S$30. Depending on your requirements, you could also buy a top-up card to call your loved ones in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand from SingTel for a value of S$10.

Mobile Provider M1 SingTel StarHub
Price S$20 S$12.60 (top ups start from S$10 for 2 days) S$32
Data Access 1 GB Unlimited for 3 days 2.5GB

The iPhone 4, with its numerous apps, may be a handy device to have with you in your travels to Singapore. However, staying connected locally may be a bit of a hassle since the iPhone 4, with its unique MicroSIM, has no voice plans that would allow you to call Singapore numbers. Instead, get an iPad plan. SingTel’s plans start off the cheapest with S$12.60 for three days of unlimited data access, which can be topped up should your stay be longer than that. StarHub and M1 both have a fixed rate of S$32 and S$20 for 2.5GB and 1GB of data access respectively. If you need to make calls to local landlines, make use of technology and call using Skype or go old-school and use the payphones around Singapore

Another alternative would be to simply turn on your wireless on your smartphone and find the wireless network [email protected] This network, which provides free wireless access at most major locations in Singapore, allows you to register using your personal details and create a username and password. You will need a Singapore number to authorise the sign up so remember to get a prepaid local SIM card beforehand. This will allow you to have virtually unlimited access to the Internet. However, as [email protected] is an unsecured account, do remember to log out of your accounts to prevent session hijacking, whereby anyone sharing the network with you would be able to read the web traffic you’ve accessed.

 If you're using an iPhone, the SingTel branches would be able to help you reshape the size of the card to operate on your phone for free, though some other regular phone shops might provide such similar service at a small fee. There is no limit to how many megabytes one is able to use, though the usage of the data plan will expire after 24 hours upon activation. Top-ups are at a flat rate of US$12 (that's S$15* in Singapore) can be done online or on the installed hotline; 'Topup 1day' in your Bridge AsiaRoamData SIM phonebook.

Stay connected and in touch with friends and family even as you go overseas and avoid astronomical bills by tapping into local resources.

* The Sing Dollar is loosely tied to the US Dollar which has remained fairly constant over the years. Rates shown here were accurately calcualated on 27 January 2011 rates.

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