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.
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.