A SIM-ple choice for me

PHOTO: Reuters

I am eagerly waiting for the day when my existing mobile phone contract ends. And when that day comes, I'm switching over to a SIM-only plan.

The reason: I get to slash my existing mobile phone bill by more than half and I won't be locked into a contract, allowing me to switch plans and telcos whenever I want.

SIM-only plans are basically mobile plans that do not bind you to the two-year contract.

They are post-paid plans, which means you have to pay a monthly subscription at the end of every month, as opposed to pre-paid plans where you buy credits upfront.

You can also retain your existing mobile phone number every time you switch telcos.

Although you stand to halve your phone bills by opting for these SIM-only plans, the downside is that unlike regular two-year contract plans, SIM-only plans do not come with a handset subsidy that lets you buy a phone at a huge discount.

But this doesn't mean that new smartphone you've been eyeing is now out of reach.

There are plenty of amazingly affordable Android phones from brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei and Lenovo going for $250 to $500, so you don't really need to pay $1,000 for a phone when you can get a good-enough counterpart for less than half that price.

Even if you must have the next iPhone, going SIM-only still makes financial sense.

If your current monthly bill is about $80, you will save $40 every month or $960 over two years if you switch to a SIM-only plan. These savings are almost enough to buy your next newfangled handset of choice.

Some might argue that they cannot afford the upfront $900 or $1,000 for premium handsets.

The good news is that instalment payments are readily available. If you are buying an Apple product at its online store worth more than $500, there is a no-interest 12-month instalment plan if you pay with your Citibank credit card.

For non-Apple phones, some telcos have existing arrangements with banks such as Citibank, UOB and DBS to offer a similar 12-month instalment payment programme with zero interest.

So which telco should you go with?


Singtel's SIM-only plans are highly customisable and are my personal favourite.

Prices start at $20 per month for a basic 3GB mobile data package. You then have the option to add SMS, talktime and additional data to suit your needs. The best thing about Singtel's SIM only-plans is that you are not forced to take up any SMS bundles.

Incoming SMS messages are free and you can still send them by paying 5 cents for every SMS. Let's set aside an extra dollar for the 20 SMS messages that I might send out a month.

That means that for $47.75 per month, I get unlimited minutes, 5GB of mobile data and 20 SMS messages. That's already savings of more than half, even more if you consider that I exceed my voice minutes during most months.

And if I were to compare this SIM-only plan against the standard $239.90-per-month Combo 12 deal (unlimited minutes and SMSes, 12GB data) it is quite clear to me that taking up a SIM-only plan is a no-brainer for me.

Note that Singtel also offers the best "additional data" rates for SIM-only plans at just $5.35 per month for each extra GB of data.


M1 deserves kudos for being the first telco to launch competitive SIM-only plans last July.

Today, M1 offers you the option of a regular SIM-only plan or a one-year version, which comes with extra 2GB of data on average, depending on which plan you are on.

All M1 plans also enjoy free outgoing calls to three pre-selected M1 numbers - so if your entire family is on M1 or if you have three really good buddies, M1 can offer great savings.

M1 is also the only telco that lets you use your local data bundle when roaming overseas in 17 countries for just $10 per month. Its Data Passport also applies to SIM-only plans.


I like StarHub's simplicity in simply halving the price of SIM-only plans.

Where the telco will really make an impact, however, is in its Share Plus service, where you can add supplementary lines that share the free minutes, data and SMS of the main line.

Each supplementary line has its own phone number. Only StarHub extends the benefits of these supplementary lines to its SIM-only plans.

StarHub lets you add two Share Plus lines at $8.03 per line per month and throws in an extra 1GB and 1,000 SMSes for each Share Plus line.

But there is a limit to the number of minutes that can be shared - your supplementary lines can only share a maximum of 2,000 minutes from the main line's pool, though data and SMS sharing is unlimited.

Find the right plan for you

Source: The New Paper

This article was first published on April 15, 2016.
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