Jan 10 2011

How to buy a local SIM card in Singapore

Published by at 5:11 pm under Phone & internet


It’s easy to get online in ultra-modern Singapore, but sometimes you’ve just got to make a phone call. Once you see what your hotel is charging per minute, it might be smart to invest in a local SIM card for your own +65 phone number. All you need to get started is your passport and as little as $8.

The most convenient place to get a SIM card is probably 7-eleven, but they’re also sold at post offices, Cheers convenience stores, FairPrice supermarkets, the Marina Sands hotel and the customer service outlets of each telcom. True to its Big Brotherly nature, the Singapore government requires that all SIM cards are registered at the time of purchase – just present your passport to the clerk and they’ll take care of it.

Prepaid Sim Card

Prepaid Sim Card

Each of Singapore’s three main phone companies offers their own prepaid service: there’s the hi! Card from Singtel, Green Prepaid from Starhub, and the M Card from M1. The hi! Card is initially the best deal at just $8 for the SIM card plus $10 of stored credit, but it has no data service. Singtel’s 3G-enabled hi! Card and the 3G SIM cards from Starhub and M1 cost $15 and come with $18 stored credit.

Once you’ve purchased a SIM card, simply slide it into any unlocked GSM phone and it will automatically be activated – you’ll receive a text message to welcome you to the network. A small pamphlet included with the SIM card will have information about your rates, text messaging, international calling, and other features. Expect to pay $0.08 – $0.16 per minute for local calls, $0.05 for a local text message, and $0.15 for international text messages.

After the SIM card is activated, the stored credit is valid for up to 6 months.  When your credit runs out or the expiration date approaches, just return to 7-eleven or another participating outlet to buy a top-up card in amounts of $18 and up. You do not need your passport to buy a top-up card. Details about other top-up methods, including online top-up with a credit card, can be found on each mobile company’s website.

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12 responses so far

12 Responses to “How to buy a local SIM card in Singapore”

  1. Antonon 14 Jan 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Is there a prepaid SIM card with 3G internet access? All prepaid SIMs in Thailand offer optional internet access (although not 3G). I could not find one in Singapore.

  2. Tanyaon 15 Jan 2011 at 12:38 am

    The prepaid SIM cards here are capable of 3G internet access, it just has to be activated as a “value added service”.

    Ex. for Starhub’s prepaid data rates go to “Value Added Services” here – http://www.starhub.com/mobile/prepaidcards.html

  3. Ptron 16 Jan 2011 at 10:14 am

    3G is not as straight forward to get configured as your little pamphlet will suggest. the SMS short code does not activate. of course, you can get activated at one of yr network’s stores. go super early to avoid agonising waits. not all cust serv peeps not what to do. Internet access on Singapore SIM Cards is super expensive, as in most countries.

    Singtel do a great temporary mobile broadband service, chargeable per day. all you need is a GSM USB Modem. If you dont have they sell good quality and unlocked for a reasonable price. If you need internet, this is far better than trying to rely on others’ poor service. most internet shops i discovered did not have wifi!

  4. Tanyaon 16 Jan 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the additional info, Ptr. The phone companies make it sound really easy, but I haven’t personally tried it.

  5. Antonon 17 Jan 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great, I can now get internet on 3G prepaid SIM from Singtel as well. This must be a new service offered in the last 6 month. Thanks for your reply, Tanya.

  6. [...] My mother just needed a simple card for phonecalls. They differed in price by about $20. When you get your sim card, have the guy in the shop set it up for you to save money you'll otherwise need to spend on blood [...]

  7. Unknownon 14 Sep 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Hi! Can I know that if you want to purchase a SingTel Prepaid Card, can we use Singapore passport?

  8. WHEEEon 25 Jan 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Do we need a Singaporean passport or any passport will do? And is there a minimum age to buy SIM cards?
    I’m still an international student and want to buy a 3G Singtel card, so if it requires Singaporean passport I need to ask my relatives for help…

  9. Tanyaon 25 Jan 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Any passport will do! I used my Canadian passport to get a Singapore SIM card. I don’t think there is a minimum age.

  10. Tanyaon 25 Jan 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Singaporeans can use their ICA card, but foreigners must use a passport to buy a prepaid SIM (I tried using my FIN card and they wouldn’t accept it – it had to be the passport).

  11. Chen moskoon 19 Jan 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Hi,
    two questions..
    1. does it have to be the actuall passport or any copy will do (xerox copy) ?
    2. which one is the best for calls only?

  12. Tanya Procyshynon 20 Jan 2013 at 9:44 pm

    1 – It needs to be the actual passport.
    2 – All of the rates are very similar.

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