Singapore's StarHub SIM card lets you enjoy free overseas data roaming

By Brandon Loo, September 28 2018
Singapore's StarHub SIM card lets you enjoy free overseas data roaming

If you’re jetting off to Asia, the UK or the USA through Singapore, you can pick up a nifty StarHub SIM card during your transit which offers free data roaming in over a dozen countries – perfect as a data SIM for your tablet, or to keep handy in your dual-SIM phone.

Singaporean telco StarHub offers two prepaid SIM cards which benefit from its ‘Happy Roaming’ package, where you can use the plan's initial data allowance of between 2GB and 5GB for free overseas roaming.

Best of all, you can keep these SIM cards active while you’re in Australia, and top them up before you head overseas again.

Happy Roaming destinations

These are the countries and preferred network providers covered by StarHub's Happy Roaming plan.

Australia (Telstra, Vodafone) New Zealand (2Degrees, TNZ)
China (China Mobile) Philippines (Smart)
Hong Kong (Three) South Korea (SK Telecom, Olleh KT)
Indonesia (XL Axiata, Three, Indosat) Taiwan (FarEasTone, Chunghwa Telecom)
Japan (NTT DoCoMo, KDDI) Thailand (TrueMove, DTAC)
Macau (CTM Macau) UK (Three)
Malaysia (All networks) USA (AT&T, T-Mobile)

The list includes many popular destinations for business travellers, including a number of Asian countries.

You'll be connected at 4G speeds where available, although the overall performance will depend on what radio bands the roaming network uses and what bands your mobile phone has (which can vary depending on which country your phone was sold in).

Following a recent trip to Singapore I ran speed tests using my StarHub card after returning to Australia, and saw no difference between my 'roaming' speed on Telstra and my regular speeds using my own Telstra SIM card – although the latency of 366ms is substantially higher than expected.

StarHub Happy Prepaid SIM: the more flexible choice

The Happy Prepaid SIM is best suited for frequent overseas travellers who'd like to keep a roaming SIM handy at all times.

You've got two choices:

  • S$50 for $50 credit plus 5GB roaming data (30 days) and 15GB local data (10 days)
  • S$15 for $15 credit plus 5GB local data (5 day expiry) but no roaming data is included

The best option is to start with the $50 SIM, which gives you 5GB of Happy Roaming data to use straight away, without even touching your $50 credit.

For example, if you were visiting Singapore for business and then doing a side-trip to Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan or The Philippines for a week, StarHub's Happy Prepaid SIM would give you 15GB of data in Singapore plus 5GB of free data roaming in any of those countries.

Once that 30 days of roaming is up, you can use part of that $50 credit to buy additional data packs to continue roaming.

Price (S$)
Inclusions (Short Term) Price (S$)
Inclusions (Long Term)
$2 30MB data over 3 days $10 1.2GB data over 30 days
$4 200MB data over 3 days $15 2.4 GB data over 30 days
$5 1GB data over 3 days $20 3.6 GB data over 30 days
$1 10MB data over 7 days    
$7 1GB data over 7 days    

One great feature of Starhub is that purchasing multiple data packs will combine the allowance and validity. This can lead to some creative combinations to extend your data balance.

For example, the $1/10MB/7 day top-up might look quite useless on its own. However, if you had 3GB expiring tomorrow and you needed it just for two more weeks, buying the $1/10MB top-up twice will extend your total expiry out by another 14 days. (That alone is definitely worth $2, and you'll even also get the 20MB extra data for your trouble!).

That $50 credit is valid for 180 days initially. You can keep the SIM card active by topping up your credit balance – this can be done online with Australian-issued Visa and Mastercards. Unused credit will roll-over and combine with your new top-up, including amount and expiry date.

  • a $10 minimum top-up extends your credit another 120 days
  • $20/30/$50 top-ups extend your credit another 180 days, plus other small bonuses

Alternatively, StarHub allow you to purchase Validity Extension Packs for a nominal fee to extend your main credit balance, for this type of SIM card only. S$1.40 will extend your main balance by 90 days, and is deducted from your current credit.

With this SIM needing just a few dollars a year to keep active, plus attractive data packages and roaming country inclusions, it’s an excellent piece of tech for any business traveller.

StarHub Internet-only SIM

This simpler SIM package is perfect for the infrequent overseas traveller who uses a lot of data, and is well-suited for tablets as well as those pocket WiFi hotspots which tap into a 4G signal.

Your options here:

  • S$32 for 2GB daily over 15 days
  • S$18 for 2GB daily over 5 days

ThatIt provides a solid 2GB of data per day which can be used in Singapore and in Happy Roaming countries.

The main downside is that you can’t top up the 2GB/daily offer at those rates again, making this SIM card best suited as a once-off purchase for travellers heading overseas once or twice a year.

If you do want to keep it and top-up, the following packages are available, but they aren’t as good as the Happy Prepaid SIM packages:

Price (S$)
Inclusions (Short Term) Price (S$)
Inclusions (Long Term)
$6 2GB data over 1 day $28 2GB data over 30 days
$16 2GB data daily for 3 days $32 3.5GB data over 60 days
$25 2GB data daily for 7 days    

Using StarHub's Happy Prepaid app

The StarHub Happy Prepaid app makes it easy to track your plan, usage and SIM expiry. You can download it from the App Store  or Google Play Store.

You can top-up your main credit balance here, using a credit card.

When you have a credit balance, you can then browse available data plans and instantly activate them through the app as well.

Where to buy a StarHub SIM card in Singapore

StarHub SIM cards are available at UOB Currency Exchange outlets at all terminals of Changi Airport, both before and after immigration. (Look for the signage proclaiming "Get your StarHub Mobile Prepaid Cards here!").

You can also pre-order the SIM online and pick it up at Changi Airport.

StarHub SIM card tips & tricks

  • Roaming in China with StarHub is not subject to censorship via 'The Great Firewall of China' so you can access all your usual websites and apps without restrictions
  • You can register only three SIM cards per person in Singapore, and this law is strictly enforced. Keep your SIM card packaging in case you ever need to deactivate an expired SIM card before activating a new one
  • StarHub data plan top-ups combine both allowance and validity. For example, if you have 1.5GB expiring in 14 days, and you top up with the $20/3.6GB/30 day option, you’ll now have 5.1GB of roaming data to be used over 44 days
  • You can roam in other countries not covered by 'Happy Roaming', but this comes at considerably higher roaming rates which you can check here.
  • StarHub hasn't yet announced eSim compatibility with the latest iPhone XS generation, so for now, you'll have to continue to use a physical SIM slot with this prepaid offering.

Also see: How to use global roaming on the dual SIM iPhone Xs, Xs Max and XR.

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 36

Picked up one of these the other day whilst in Singapore. $32 which included unlimited calls and 100gb of data to use locally as well as a credit for use OS in the applicable countries and 3gb of roaming data. An absolute bargain, and extremely quick and simple to purchase. Hadn’t planned on picking up a sim but it’s a steal, especially when you think about what packages cost locally here!

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 106

I agree the $32 SIM was the best bang for buck!

Unfortunately when I was in Singapore testing out the product, only the $8, $15 and $50 cards were available from UOB.

The website has no mention of the $32 Happy SIM either, so it might have been 'grandfathered' now.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 178

This is a really good prepaid SIM, I have one for my 4G iPad. Singapore is my main Asian 'hub' and then I go from there to other cities for client meetings etc so it's more than enough data roaming for those short trips outside or Singapore.

03 May 2017

Total posts 22

Dont need to top up to extend Validity, just pay a buck or so from existing credit to get up to a maximum of 180 days, using USSD codes
*123*200# and follow through the menu's

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 106

Thanks for the heads up, this tidbit has been added into the article.

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 4

I had a bad experience with the StarHub Happy Roam when in Canada. My main credit kept disappearing as my phone would not stay connected to Rogers (Telus and Bell are not partners). StarHub was not very responsive when I suggested a warning or a block on the non-partner networks would be required. Worked wonderfully in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and the USA, but Canada meant that all the good was undone and I can no longer recommend Happy Roam

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2018

Total posts 11

I am a using Happy Roam since beginning of 2018.

Great deal, especially with a double Sim Card Phone (what I am enjoying), stays in and forget.
Only Canada is missing for me, but for SEA and USA, what a convenient move... and as said by author, you can use it in ANZ when back home so you never feel to lose anything.
The extension capability of any data left by buying the SGD1 is also convenient when you have an extra oversea short trip scheduled.
if you compare with aud10/day Telstra offer (AEST based), it s a straight deal!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 40

I have been using the StartHub Happy SIm since 2015. They say there is a 2 year expiry on the card however I am able to top it up every 3 or 4 months when I travel to singapore to meet family. This is the greatest Sim card for frequenat travels to singapore. Just ask any local la.

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