The Expat/Tourist’s Guide to Getting a Prepaid SIM Card in Singapore
Whether you’re here in Singapore for business or leisure, prepaid data SIM cards are good to have. It helps you keep in communication with friends, family, co-workers and prospective employers (if you’re here looking for work).
There are 3 main telcos in Singapore: Singtel, M1 and Starhub. Depending on how long you’re staying in Singapore, you can choose a prepaid SIM card with a longer validity (up to 180 days) or a tourist SIM card that’s just valid for a week.
Tourist SIM cards: Ideal for short stays
If you’re staying only for 7 to 12 days, tourist SIM cards offer the most bang for buck. Currently all three telcos offer 100GB tourist SIM cards.
Go for Starhub Travel Prepaid SIM if you only want to buy a prepaid card as it is the cheapest and gives more value. Starhub and M1’s tourist SIM cards are the same price at $12, but Starhub offers more minutes of international calls and additionally, 1 GB of roaming data.
But, if you don’t already have an EZ-link card and will need to take public transport when in Singapore, you should go for the Singtel hi!Tourist EZ-Link SIM Card, because the SIM can also be used as an EZ-link card and has a stored value of $3.
If you buy an EZ-link card separately at the MRT station, it costs $12, with $5 being the card cost and $7 being the stored value. By getting the Singtel hi!Tourist SIM Card, you save on money and time spent in another queue to get an EZ-link card. You also get a free round trip on the cable car to Sentosa and 25% off Sentosa attractions. See all the benefits tied to the Singtel hi!Tourist EZ-Link SIM Card.
7-day tourist SIM cards in Singapore
|Starhub Travel Prepaid SIM||Singtel hi!Tourist EZ-Link SIM Card||M1 Prepaid Tourist SIM|
|Validity||7 days||7 days||7 days|
|Local data||100 GB (unlimited for messaging apps)||100 GB (unlimited for messaging apps)||100 GB|
|Roaming data||1 GB||1 GB in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand||–|
|Local calls||500 mins||500 mins||500 mins|
|International calls||30 mins||30 mins||20 mins|
*Inclusive of $3 train or bus EZ-link stored value.
10 or 12-day tourist sim cards in Singapore
If you will be staying for around 12 days, you should get the Singtel hi!Tourist SIM Card, which comes with 100GB local data and 3GB roaming data. It’s gives slightly more value than the M1 Prepaid Tourist SIM at $30 for 12 days, as it has 90 mins of international calls as compared to M1’s 50 mins.
|Starhub Travel Prepaid SIM||Singtel hi!Tourist SIM Card||M1 Prepaid Tourist SIM|
|Validity||12 days||12 days||12 days|
|Data||100 GB (unlimited for messaging apps)||100 GB (unlimited for messaging apps)||100 GB|
|Roaming Data||3 GB||3 GB||3 GB|
|Local calls||3000 mins||3000 mins||3000 mins|
|International calls||90 mins||90 mins||50 mins|
Prepaid SIM cards in Singapore for voice calls, SMSes and data
If you will be staying for 90 days in Singapore with not much obligation to keep in touch with anyone, you can consider getting the most basic M1 M Card Prepaid SIM for only $5.
If you are here searching for work and need a prepaid card that can last a bit longer, the $15 and $50 prepaid SIM cards have a validity of 180 days.
Aside from Starhub’s prepaid SIM card, which charges 22 cents for the first minute of a local call and 8 cents per minute thereafter, M1’s M Card and Singtel prepaid mobile cards both charge 8 cents per minute for a local call.
All three telcos charge 5 cents for one local SMS and 15 cents for one global SMS.
Another consideration you may have is IDD calls and data roaming. All three prepaid sim cards bundle some roaming data for roaming in nearby countries.
Prepaid SIM cards in Singapore for data
Given that almost everything can be done online nowadays, you might find that data SIM cards are more suitable for you.
Starhub offers a special prepaid card, Happy Prepaid Data Plan that offers anything from 1 GB (3 days) for $15 or 3.6 GB (30 days) for $20. In addition, within the validity period, you can enjoy unlimited data for messaging apps like Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat, LINE and others.
Singtel is offering Value+ Data Plans for as cheap as $10 for 1.5 GB (7 days), with unlimited data for music and social messaging apps.
|Prepaid SIM||Validity||Card value (Calls, SMS)||Local data|
|M1’s M Card $5||90 days||$5||500 MB for 20 days|
|StarHub’s Happy $8||90 days||$10||800 MB for 30 days|
|Singtel’s hi! $8||30 days||$10||1.5 GB for 30 days|
|Singtel hi! $15||120 days||$15||3 GB for 120 days|
|M1’s M Card $15||180 days||$15||2 GB for 120 days|
|StarHub’s Happy $15||180 days||$15||2.2 GB local data |
*free wechat, whatsapp, line
|Singtel hi! $38||180 days||$38||3 GB local data and Malaysia data|
Will a Singapore SIM Card work on your foreign phone?
Phones in Singapore run on a GSM 900 and 1800 frequency bands. So if you’re coming from a European or Asian country, a Singapore SIM card will usually work, but it’s a good idea to check your phone’s specifications to see if it runs on Singapore’s GSM frequency band. You can get that information from your phone service provider or phone’s manual.
But if you’re from the United States, Canada, or other Western Hemisphere nation, things can get a bit… complicated. That’s because many phone companies either use CDMA technology (especially US telcos like Verizon, Sprint, Alltel, etc.) or have different GSM frequency bands altogether (800, 850, 1850, 1900, etc.).
If you own a phone that’s “locked” by your phone service provider or runs on a different GSM frequency, you’re left with three options:
- Jailbreak and unlock your phone (if you’re ok with voiding the warranty and other technical risks).
- Purchase a “world edition” phone with a SIM card slot that can be unlocked (some phones are CDMA/GSM dual use).
- Purchase a local GSM phone.
Where to buy prepaid SIM cards?
Buying a SIM card in Singapore is as easy as walking into a gas station, grocery store, post office, or phone shop. All you have to do is select the SIM card you want, present your passport, and pick a phone number, which is then registered with your passport details.
How to top up your Singapore SIM card
Depending on how long you intend to stay, you’ll probably need to top up your SIM card at some point. There’s three ways to top up:
- Top up online through the dedicated top-up pages or prepaid mobile apps for Singtel, StarHub, and M1.
- Top up electronically by using a NETS Self-Service station, Singapore Post SAM kiosk, ATMs (DBS, POSB, OCBC), or AXS stations.
- Top up by walking into a grocery store, gas station or phone store. You can either have the cashier “top up” your phone for you, or you can just take the card and DIY.
And if you’re staying in Singapore to get a job, once you land one, you can opt for a monthly phone plan. Currently, SIM Only Plans are all the rage. Read our latest comparison piece here: Singtel GOMO vs StarHub giga vs M1 & Other SIM-Only Data Plans in Singapore.
Do you have any questions on how to get a SIM card in Singapore? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.