The 3 big telcos – Singtel, Starhub and M1 – have long been a source of angst for Singaporeans, who complain about slow internet and exorbitant excess data usage charges.
Then Circles.Life and MyRepublic came along, and now it seems like we have a way out of overpriced mobile data plans!
You’d no longer have to commit for 2 years and be obligated to wait for re-contract discounts on your new handset – you can just take the money you save on your SIM-only plan, and get yourself a new phone on Lazada.
New virtual telcos have also joined the fray since, such as TPG Singapore, redONE, ViViFi, Grid Mobile, Zero 1 and Zero Mobile (yes, they’re different). And most recently and significantly, the Big 3 in Singapore have released really, really competitive SIM-only plans.
So how do these different SIM Only Plans compare with each other? Here are the 12 cheapest and how they stack up.
12 cheapest SIM only plans from Singapore telcos under $30 (2020)
|SIM only plan||Monthly fee||Data / outgoing talktime / SMS|
|TPG Singapore||$0||Unlimited data / voice calls & SMS don’t work|
|Circles Life $5 Plan||$5||2GB / 50 min / 25 SMS|
|redONE Amazing 8||$8||3GB / 100 min / 10 SMS|
|Zero1 1GB||$9.90 (for first 6 months, $13.90 thereafter)||Unlimited (actually 1GB) / 200 min / 200 SMS|
|Circles Life Smart Start Plan||$18 (port over)||20GB / 100 min (includes incoming) / 25 SMS|
|redONE Amazing 18||$18||6GB / 200 min / 20 SMS|
|Singtel GOMO||$20||20GB / 200 min / 200 SMS|
|Grid Mobile||$24.90||40GB / 200 min / 200 SMSes (free roaming up to 1GB in Malaysia)|
|StarHub Giga||$25||25GB / 1,000 min / 1,000 SMS|
|M1||$25||30GB / 1,000 min / 1,000 SMS|
|redONE Amazing 28||$28||10GB / 300 min / 30 SMSes|
|ViViFi||$29.90||40GB / 300 min / 100 SMSes|
Bonus: Best credit cards for telco bills
If you really want to stretch your dollar, you can sign up for recurring telco bill payments on your credit card. There are a few credit cards that award you with rebates for it:
Maybank Family & Friends Card — 5% or 8% cash back
OCBC365 Credit Card — 3% cash back
UOB Delight Card — 3% cash back
Circles Life SIM Only Plans ($5 to $18, top-ups available)
Circles Life $5 Plan
Circles Life used to have an amazing Flexi Plan that was $0, but unfortunately, as of 5 September 2019, it has since been discontinued (existing users will not be affected). When it was still available, Flexi Plan offered 1GB of data, 30 minutes of talktime, free caller ID And 10 SMS, for $0. Well, thanks for the memories Circles Life. Such a good deal could not have lasted forever.
For children and seniors who don’t use much data and just want a cheap, low-maintenance card, you can opt for the newer $5 plan instead. For $5, you get 2GB of data, 50 minutes of talktime and 25 SMSes a month.
Apparently, according to the telco, 20% of their users use about 2GB or less data per month, so this plan is to serve those in the in-between.
Do note that you also have to pay a one-time $18 SIM card fee.
We imagine this segment would include senior citizens who are slightly more tech-savvy. You’ll need to manage your plan quite actively using the Circles Life app too, so it’s definitely not for techno-phobes. Perhaps those who only use data for Pokemon GO and forwarding memes?
Base Plan Smart Start ($18 / $28)
Among the younger set, it seems like the more popular Circles plan is the Smart Start Plan, which offers 20GB of data, 100 minutes talktime, and 25 SMSes.
20GB of data is plenty, and for just $18 a month (for new users), it’s really quite a steal. This is even better than the Singtel GOMO plan ($20 for 20GB) that’s got everyone excited lately.
But as with most things Circles Life, the focus is squarely on data while traditional mobile phone plan features like talktime and SMSes take a backseat.
You get 100 minutes of talktime include incoming calls, which you have virtually NO control over. (A bit kelong right, this Circles Life?) But I guess that’s what the free caller ID (and Reject Call button) is for. Also, since you get so much data, it’s kind of a no-brainer to use Whatsapp calls or FaceTime for everything.
Note that the unbeatable rate of $18 is only applicable to people who port in from another telco. They’re actively looking to acquire users. If you’re not porting in, you’ll have to pay the full price of $28 a month. Also, a $38 registration fee may apply, but you can get this waived at roadshows where they’re a bit more desperate to close the deal. If you want unlimited data, there is a $30 add-on as well (total $58 monthly).
Circles Life’s USP is that it is a fully virtual telco, which means that their customer service is 100% online only. Porting your number from any other telco can be done without ever meeting a customer service officer in person. They’re also known for great customer service.
TPG Singapore ($0 unlimited data, but limited phone usage)
For some background, TPG is an Australian telco trying to launch their services in Singapore. Since it’s still in beta, it’s now offering free SIM cards as part of its trial.
If you think that paying nothing for unlimited data is too good to be true, well, you’re right. This isn’t really a phone plan so much as a backup SIM card for extra data or perhaps a spare device.
The data is unlimited, although your usage is capped at 2GB per day – which is still crazy, TBH. The one major drawback is that the TPG signal doesn’t work underground, so your phone is dead whenever you’re on the train (and even in certain parts of buildings).
Right now you also can receive SMS OTPs, but that’s about it. It’s not at all reliable for regular functions like calls and messages, even though TPG claims that you get unlimited talktime and 20 SMSes…
If you have a dual-SIM mobile phone, the TPG SIM card + Circles Life Flexi Plan make the perfect el cheapo SIM-only combo as you’ll never have to top up your Circles Life SIM card for data.
Zero 1 SIM only plan – 1GB to Unlimited ($9.90)
Zero 1 is the third virtual telco following Circles Life and Zero Mobile. They launched “unlimited” plans in March 2018. Apparently, you get 4G speeds on the first GBs that you pay for, and
managed SLOW network speeds thereafter…
How bad are these “managed network speeds” though? Well, if you just need to play Spotify, read Reddit, or watch Youtube at 240p, the “managed network speeds” suffice. But using Facebook or Instagram won’t be a smooth experience.
From $9.90/month (ongoing promotion at $9.90/month), Zero 1’s 1GB plan is seriously dirt cheap. (They also have a 3GB one for $29.99 and 9GB one for $39.90, but those are really bo hua so we won’t cover them.)
We wouldn’t recommend the Zero 1 1GB plan for heavy usage, but it should be OK if you’re not terribly reliant on your phone as life support. if your usage exceeds the Circles Life Flexi Plan but just a bit, or if you want decent talktime and SMSes without having to go through the hassle of monthly top ups, then this is the next best alternative.
Downsides are that there is no app to check your data usage unlike Circles Life and the big 3 telcos, and the customer service is apparently not that great as well.
Singtel GOMO – cheapest Singtel SIM only plan ($20 for 20GB)
For the longest time, Singtel’s SIM only plans used to be quite overpriced – $20 for 5GB and $36.05 for 10GB, for example. What’s more, most of them even required at least 12 months’ commitment. Pfft.
But they must have lost a significant chunk of business to players likes Circles Life, because they’ve recently launched a new sub-brand, Singtel GOMO, to win back the hearts and minds of disloyal Singaporean millennials. Fortunately for Singtel shareholders, it’s pretty awesome.
Now, although the marketing for GOMO is a bit try-hard, that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that the new price of $20 a month is sooo cheap for a phone plan that covers ALL the bases: 20GB data, 200 minutes talktime, 200 SMSes.
There’s even data roaming that covers popular destinations such as Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
You can read more about Singtel GOMO in our in-depth review here.
Starhub giga – cheapest Starhub SIM only plan ($25 for 25GB)
Much like its compatriot Singtel, Starhub used to offer rather pricey SIM only plans, starting from $25 for 3GB. Pretty lame, and they knew it, too, which is why they did a big revamp earlier this year to boost it to 13GB instead, with unlimited weekend data. Hooray!
But guess what? It only gets better. Shortly after Singtel launched GOMO, Starhub has followed suit with its own “giga” plan, which costs $25 a month (so, $5 more than GOMO) but gives you 25GB of data, and an insane 1,000 minutes of talktime and 1,000 SMSes.
That’s a crapload of talktime, and honestly, I can’t think of anyone who’d need that much, except maybe for overenthusiastic sales execs.
Starhub also has this gimmick where you can roll over unused data from that 25GB to the next month, which is cute, although perhaps it might prompt you to realise you’re paying for way too much data.
For the full review of Starhub’s Giga plan, go here.
M1 SIM only plan ($25 for 30GB, unlimited streaming on Spotify)
Shortly after Singtel GOMO and Starhub Giga, M1 joined in the fray with its own super-good value SIM only plan. Of course.
Props to M1, though, for not bothering to create a new microsite peppered with cringey “YAAAS”es and ~IG story~ references. Instead, they’ve gone straight for the jugular by simply decluttering their old, not-very-good mobile plans, and updating their one SIM only offering:
It’s now $25 a month for 30GB of data, 1,000 minutes talktime, and 1,000 SMSes. By these specs alone, M1 already beats Starhub’s Giga, which is the same price for less data.
But M1 has gone one step further and also included a couple of great value-adds to spoil us with: Free data on weekends, and unlimited Spotify music streaming. Now, that’s how you get millennials’ attention.
See how M1’s new SIM only plan stacks up against Singtel’s and Starhub’s here.
redONE SIM Only Plans ($8 to $28, free data roaming in Malaysia)
Price-wise, redONE seems to pale in comparison with the other players.
The redONE Amazing $8 plan only gives you 3GB of data, 100 minutes of talktime and 10 SMSes and the Amazing $18 plan only gives you 6GB, 200 minutes of talktime and 20 SMSes.
Their highest tier, which costs $28, offers 10GB of data, 300 minutes of talktime and 30 SMSes. At this price, most other SIM Only plans would already be offering at least 20GB of data or more.
But regular Singaporeans are not redONE’s key target consumers. Although the local data and talktime aren’t great, redONE plans come with free data roaming in Malaysia, free unlimited calls to redONE users, including in Malaysia, and no additional charges for calling and texting Malaysian numbers.
If you are a Malaysian based in Singapore or you frequently cross the border for cheap shopping or massages in JB every weekend, then redONE plans are worth considering.
ViViFi SIM Only Plan ($29.90, shareable with 9 other users)
In the comparison table, ViViFi seems to be the most expensive at $29.90. But for that price, you actually get 40GB of data, 300 minutes and 100 SMSes, which is double that of most other plans in the market.
That said, Grid Mobile offers something similar for $5 cheaper.
The key differentiating factor is that the ViViFi plan is shareable with up to 9 other users. When shared, individual users have to pay $5.35 and will get an additional 2GB each.
So for example, you, your husband and your child share a ViViFi plan.
You pay the base price of $29.90 and an additional $10.70 to add on 2 users. The total price comes up to $40.60, or $13.53 per person, and 3 of you get to share a total of 44 GB.
This arrangement may be suitable for couples with young children or elderly who don’t need that much more data. Although, you do have the flexibility to boost the data if you want, too.
GridMobile SIM Only plan ($24.90 for 40 GB, free buddy SIM)
GridMobile only has 1 plan, which is $24.90 for 40GB, free incoming calls, 200 minutes of outgoing calls and 200 SMSes. The 40GB offer is only limited to the first 1,000 customers. After that, it will likely revert back to its original offering of 20 GB.
I think GridMobile is somewhat of a cross between redONE and ViViFi, because with this $24.90 plan, you get a free buddy SIM card (1 year only) that has 1GB of data, free incoming calls, 25 minutes of outgoing talktime, free caller ID and 25 SMSes. So, you can extend the plan to one other person, kinda like ViViFi’s concept. And you get 1GB data per month for free roaming in Malaysia, like redONE.
There’s a whole rewards system going on with GridMobile, so if you’re a fan of redeeming rewards at places like Grab, Spotify, Lazada, Zalora, Marché Mövenpick and Cathay Cineplexes, you might find GridMobile a good fit.
So, which is the best SIM only plan in Singapore?
So how do you know which plan to sign up for? Here’s a quick guide:
If you want it totally free: TPG SIM card (free)
If you’re a complete cheapskate and have a dual-SIM mobile phone, this $0 combination is pretty damn powerful considering it’ll cost you next-to-nothing. That said, it’s only if you don’t need the talktime or SMSes, and you won’t have a meltdown if your YouTube video stops playing while your train is underground.
If you don’t need much talktime: Circles Life Base Plan ($18)
Circles Life obviously understands the phone-phobic millennial generation. If that describes you to a T, then the lack of talktime and free incoming calls shouldn’t bother you. There’s free caller ID so you can always know who’s trying to bug you before deliberately missing the call. You should only sign up if you’re currently with another telco, though, to take full advantage of their $18 rate for port overs.
If you want an all-rounded plan without spending much: Singtel GOMO ($20)
Singtel’s new GOMO plan is your best bet for an all-rounded plan that won’t make you feel like you’re sacrificing any part of your life just to save a few bucks. At $20 a month, it’s terrific value.
If you need a helluva lot of talktime or data: GridMobile ($24.90), ViViFi ($29.90), Starhub Giga ($25) or M1 ($25)
Both Starhub giga and M1 plans offer 25GB of data and 1,000 minutes of talktime, which is A LOT. If you’re quite sure you’ll put those extra minutes or GBs to use, then go for it – otherwise, you’ll just be paying an extra $5 (over Singtel’s GOMO) for nothing.
If you have an
unhealthy obsession with your mobile phone, then go for Grid Mobile or ViViFi. Both offer 40GB of data for under $30.
What data plan are you using right now and are you satisfied with it? Tell us in the comments!
Subscribe to MoneySmart’s Telegram channel for news delivered to you!