How to Open a Post-Paid Phone Bill/Account in Singapore for Foreigners
Last Updated: 11 December 2019 – The free circles.life SIM is no longer available, so I have made some amendments to the recommendations based on this.
Previously, I posted about How to Open a Bank Account in Singapore, for Foreigners. This time it’s How to Open a Phone Bill/Account. I’m not plugging Circles.Life because I’m sponsored, but because I feel like giving them a plug because they still offer a free plan!
I’m not going to focus too much on how to get the best deal, but rather, on the actual process itself.
But in true Bulging Wallet-fashion, what good would it be if I didn’t talk about the financial aspect of it at all?
Pre-requisites (pretty similar to Bank Account requirements):
- A valid long-term visa/pass
- You may need a utility bill with your name/residential address, or a statement from your employer confirming your employment and/or residential status
It’s actually not too dissimilar to the requirements for a bank account, but more lenient.
Still Waiting for your Physical Pass? Some Alternatives
If you’re going to be registering with one of the online-only telcos (Zero1, Zero Mobile, Circles.Life, MyRepublic), I don’t think there’s any way around it. From my observations, you’re likely to get better value out of the MVNOs, so it’s probably worth waiting.
I can think of 5 options:
- 7-day tourist SIMs. They’re actually really good value, especially for heavy data users. At the time of writing, they all include 100GB of local data for 7 days. StarHub’s is probably the pick of the bunch by a small margin, by virtue of being $3 cheaper than Singtel’s ($15) option, and by including an additional 10 minutes of International Calls compared to M1’s option. These just require a passport to register – but be aware you can only have 3 active prepaid services in Singapore at once, and you cannot top up a prepaid service. Cancelling a service requires a visit to a branch, or just waiting for your service(s) to expire.
- Regular Pre-paid options from Singtel/StarHub/M1 – I haven’t looked into this area extensively, but StarHub Happy Prepaid and M1 M Card both have reasonably priced data plans with the added bonus of the same data plans being available for use at the same price at several overseas destinations – which is probably worthy of its own post separately
- Keep using your mobile service from your home country – but this will, of course, probably be the most expensive.
- Use a SIM from another country with decent Singapore roaming rates – for example, look at some Malaysian SIM options:
- U Mobile gives “Unlimited” data for RM10/day (~SGD$3.33). “Unlimited” is subject to a “fair use policy” of 500MB, after which it is shaped. This price is available until 31 December 2018.
- Digi has a 72-hour pass for RM25 (~SGD$8.33) for 2GB data, 30 mins of calls
- Hotlink gives 1GB data for RM10/day (~SGD$3.33). This may be better than the U Mobile option despite that being “unlimited”, because this has a higher “high speed” limit of 1GB compared to the 500MB “fair use” limit of U Mobile.
- Yoodo charges RM10/day (~SGD$3.33) and gives you access to your existing data plan. They currently have a promotion charging RM20 (~SGD$6.66) for 20GB “until following renewal”.
- The least practical of the lot – have a close friend/family member already in Singapore? If for whatever reason they have a spare SIM, use theirs temporarily.
The Malaysian options are ones you could consider for roaming in other countries too, because they aren’t limited to roaming in Singapore. I also apologise for the Malaysian slant above – it’s what I shared as it’s what I’m familiar with as I travel there quite often and tend to keep in touch with the prepaid options up in Malaysia too. It could very well be possible that there are reasonable Indonesian/Thai SIM alternatives that I am not familiar with. Of course this requires some logistical planning and I certainly wouldn’t make the trip up to Johor Bahru just to pick one of these SIMs up!
Wait.. what about signing up for a Singtel/M1/StarHub Contract?
I hate contracts. I don’t just hate them because I’ve had bad experiences with them. If anything, I hate them because I did the maths and realised I did not want to experience being in a contract.
Are contracts worth it? Usually not. Do the maths – and you’ll probably realise it’s not worth it. There are some exceptions to this, but they’re very much the exception rather than the norm.
I’ll elaborate on this in a separate post as it will probably get long, but if you want a contract – sure, you could definitely do it.
There are also SIM-only options that are offered, but if you’re after SIM-only, you should probably look at the MVNOs because they basically all offer better value. The only reason why you’d go with one of the bigger players is if you really can’t wait for delivery of the SIMs from the online players. Delivery tends to be quick in Singapore though – you can usually schedule delivery for the next day, even for weekends!
If you still decide you want to go with one of the big boys, see if your employer has a “CIS” (Corporate Individal Scheme – basically a staff discount) with one of them – you might get a waiver of some start-up/registration fees or some additional services thrown in for free. From my experience doing this, the discount was only applicable to contracts, so I quickly lost interest.
As a side note – don’t lose your SIM in Singapore. They seem to charge something ridiculous like $30+ for SIM replacements!
Do you have any questions on opening a Phone Plan in Singapore? Hit me up if you have any questions – I’ve followed the plans quite closely and can probably tell you what to get!