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The Expat/Tourist’s Guide to Getting a Prepaid SIM Card in Singapore

prepaid sim card expat tourist sim card

Jeff Cuellar

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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.

Starhub and M1’s tourist SIM cards are the same price at $12, but Starhub offers more minutes of international calls. It also includes 1 GB of roaming data, which M1 does not..

7-day tourist SIM cards in Singapore

Starhub Travel Prepaid SIM Singtel hi!Tourist SIM Card M1 Prepaid Tourist SIM
Validity 7 days 7 days 7 days
Price $12 $15 $12
Local data 100 GB 100 GB (unlimited for messaging apps) 100 GB
Roaming data 1 GB 1 GB
Local calls 500 mins 500 mins 500 mins
International calls 30 mins 30 mins 20 mins
Local SMS 100 100 100

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 the cheapest at $30 for 12 days. In addition, you can also use Singtel Wi-Fi at designated hotspots, which make it the most bang-for-buck option.

Starhub Travel Prepaid SIM Singtel hi!Tourist SIM Card M1 Prepaid Tourist SIM
Validity 12 days 12 days 10 days
Price $32 $30 $30
Data 100 GB 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
Local SMS 500 5000 5000
Wi-Fi Free Singtel Wi-Fi

 

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.

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! $50 180 days $50 5 GB local data
Starhub Happy $50 180 days $50 100 GB for 10 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.

 

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.

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If your phone isn’t made to function on Singapore’s GSM frequency band, you might as well make a fashion statement with those SIM cards you bought.

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?

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With only three phone companies here, you won’t be swamped with 1000 different kinds of 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.

 CC1 - mobile

CC1 - desktop

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. Read our Expat’s Guide to Phone Plans in Singapore to find out more!

Do you have any questions on how to get a SIM card in Singapore? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

 

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.