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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 $50 credit to buy additional data packs to continue roaming.
||Inclusions (Short Term)||Price (S$)
||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$18 for 2GB daily over 5 days
ThatIt provides a solid 2GB of data per day which can be used in Singapore and in Happy Roaming countries.
The main downside is that you can’t top up the 2GB/daily offer at those rates again, making this SIM card best suited as a once-off purchase for travellers heading overseas once or twice a year.
If you do want to keep it and top-up, the following packages are available, but they aren’t as good as the Happy Prepaid SIM packages:
||Inclusions (Short Term)||Price (S$)
||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
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.