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Data Roaming Plans: Which Singapore telco provides the best roaming plans?

Travel smart. Save money on roaming.

· 6 min read

In recent years, inflation - or shrinkflation - is a concept we have heard so much about, and we have witnessed a widespread increase in prices across almost everything. In the midst of all these increase in prices, there's one thing which is actually getting cheaper - the cost of data.

Traditionally, data roaming when traveling would have incurred extremely high costs and would have been unfathomable. The alternative that we had was to get a travel SIM card, a local SIM card at the destination, rent a WiFi egg, or something similar.

But, as data cost continues to go down, telcos are also starting to offer attractive data roaming packages. Let's take a look at the different offerings, and whether the price difference for roaming is now so negligible that you no longer have to go through the effort of getting a travel or local SIM.

Roaming costs

Singtel ReadyRoam

Singtel's roaming offerings are straightforward - you simply get a fixed amount of GB of data at a fixed fee. Roaming offerings are also multi-country, each plan covering a certain set of countries.

Singtel has 5 different ReadyRoam plans:

  • ReadyRoam Neighbours: 1GB for $5. Suitable if you are traveling regionally (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand)
  • ReadyRoam Asia: 4GB for $18. Covers 18 destinations in Asia, including the popular destinations South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
  • ReadyRoam Worldwide: 6GB for $40. Covers 81 global destinations, including the US and many countries in Europe.
  • ReadyRoam Others: 1GB for $60. Covers 157 global destinations.
  • DataRoam Unlimited Daily: Unlimited daily data at $19 per day. Includes 157 destinations worldwide.

If you will be traveling across the borders to Malaysia frequently, you can consider getting the DataRoam Monthly plan instead at 2GB for $10/month or 6GB for $16/month.

Starhub DataTravel

Starhub's roaming offerings are structured in a similar manner as Singtel - you simply get a fixed amount of GB of data at a fixed fee. Roaming offerings are also multi-country, each plan covering a certain set of countries. Starhub has three main roaming tiers:

  • DataTravel Asia Pacific: 1GB for $6 (valid for 3 days), 2GB for $16 (30 days validity), or 3GB for $20 (30 days validity). Covers major travel destinations in the APAC region, including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and Hong Kong amongst others.
  • DataTravel Global: 2GB for $40, or 3GB for $50. Covers most major travel destinations worldwide, including the USA, Canada, and major European countries.
  • DataTravel Everywhere: 1GB for $80. Covers most destinations worldwide.

Starhub also offers unlimited data plan at $30 per day in most destinations worldwide. There is also the traditional option of paying per 100MB block, charged at $10 per 100MB — an option that we really do not recommend.

M1 Data Passport

M1's roaming follows a different model than the other two major telcos, and is possibly a better option if you are a heavy data user.

Data Passport

With M1's data passport, you do not purchase a fixed amount of GB. Instead, it will simply tap on your local data bundle at an additional fee. Note that if you are a SIM-only, you are still limited to a 10GB per month cap that you can use for roaming.

There are two tiers for a single country - $15 (includes Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand) and $35 (includes Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mauritius, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UAE, UK, USA).

If you will be traveling across multiple destinations, M1 also offers the ASEAN data passport at $35, the Asia data passport at $65, and the Europe data passport at $65.

Other options

  • Daily passport: M1 also has a daily passport option, where you get 3GB of data that resets every 24 hours. There are three tiers - $2.95, $3.95, or $7.95 - each covering a different set of countries.
  • Unlimited data roaming: If you need unlimited data, M1 also offers unlimited data at $15 per day or $25 per day, depending on your destination. However, unlimited data roaming is only available in a very limited set of countries. (If you are traveling to Europe or the US, this wouldn't be applicable.)

Note that an activation fee of $5 is required for the data passport and daily passport.

Circles.Life

Circles operate on an add-on model. You can purchase a recurring monthly add-on for roaming data allowances at:

  • 20GB for $20/month for Asia
  • 2GB for $12/month or 5GB for $20/month for the same countries in the Asia plan + USA, Japan, Philippines, Australia, and Vietnam
  • 2GB for $35/month for 21 countries in Europe

If you don't want to do a recurring add-on, they also offer a one-time boost for APAC at $8/GB and Europe at $7.50/100MB. Pay-as-you-go options are also available, though they are definitely more expensive.

Alternatively, if your primary plan with Circles is the borderless plan, you will be able to roam across 8 Asian destinations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Macau, and Sri Lanka) at $30/month for 100GB of data.

Circles Jetpac

You might also have heard of Circles' Jetpac product - an eSIM solution for travelers. Jetpac is offered by Cricles.Life as part of their offerings, but it is available to all users, even if you are not an existing Circles.Life customer!

Jetpac is available for popular Asian destinations (Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China) with prices ranging from $7 for 2GB in Malaysia to $18 for 2GB in Japan and Korea. Alternatively, there are also regional plans where you can get 5GB for $25 over 15 countries in the APAC or 20GB for $20 in 5 Southeast Asian countries.

VIVIFI Go

VIVIFI has been rising in popularity as a MVNO in Singapore. Their roaming pack models are similar to that of Singtel and Starhub, but they also provide single-country roaming packs at $5/GB in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Otherwise, they have 4 roaming tiers:

  • Asia: $17 for 2GB
  • Worldwide: $33 for 3GB
  • Others: $63 for 1GB
  • China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan: $22 for 3GB

So, which is the best roaming plan? And how do they compare with a Nomad Travel eSIM?

A quick glance at the different roaming options offered by the various carriers, and we can see that roaming cost is unfortunately still not as cheap as we hoped it would be.

Let's compare the plans for various popular destination and trip lengths to find out how the different prices compare, assuming you are not a frequent traveler:

Day trip to Malaysia

  • Singtel: 1GB for $5
  • Starhub: 1GB for $6
  • M1: 3GB for $2.95 per day (+$5 activation fee)
  • Circles: 1GB for $8
  • VIVIFI: 1GB for $5
  • Nomad eSIM: 1GB for 4USD (~$5.35)

1GB of data is typically sufficient for a day-trip, and Singtel and VIVIFI appear to be the most cost-effective for a day-trip to Malaysia. Even if you were to stay the weekend and think you might need more than 1GB, getting 2 1GB packs from Singtel still adds up to be the cheapest.

3-day trip to Indonesia or Thailand

  • Singtel: 1GB for $5
  • Starhub: 1GB for $6
  • M1: 3GB for $2.95 per day (+$5 activation fee)
  • Circles: 1GB for $8
  • VIVIFI: 1GB for $5
  • Nomad eSIM: 1GB for 4USD ($5.35) or 3GB for 9USD ($12)

1GB of data for a 3-day trip is possible, though it might be a bit tight. For the sake of comparison, we assume we might need 2GB of data for a 3-day trip to Indonesia or Thailand. In that case, Singtel and VIVIFI are still the most cost-effective.

However, if you need more than 2GB of data (and less than 3GB) for a 3-day trip, then getting a Nomad eSIM instead would be a better option.

7-day trip to Japan

  • Singtel: 4GB for $18
  • Starhub: 3GB for $20
  • M1: 3GB for $3.95 per day (+$5 activation fee)
  • Circles: 5GB for $40
  • VIVIFI: 2GB for $17
  • Nomad eSIM: 5GB for 13USD (~$17.40)

You probably need somewhere between 3GB-5GB of data on a 7-day trip. A quick comparison of prices across the various options will show that getting a Nomad eSIM for Japan is definitely cheaper than if you were to activate roaming. Otherwise, if we were to look only at local telcos, Singtel still remains the most price-competitive.

2-week trip to USA

  • Singtel: 6GB for $40
  • Starhub: 3GB for $50
  • M1: $35 data passport (+$5 activation fee)
  • Circles: 16GB for $35 (Jetpac)
  • VIVIFI: 3GB for $33
  • Nomad eSIM: 10GB for 20USD (~$26.80)

Again, how much data you need largely depends on your data usage patterns. For the sake of comparison, we will assume that you will need somewhere between 3GB to 10GB of data for 2-weeks — and we can see that Nomad's eSIMs for the USA is again the most cost-effective.

The second most cost-effective option would be Circles Jetpac, and if you don't have an eSIM-enabled phone, then M1 would probably be the best option.

2-week trip to Europe and UK

  • Singtel: 6GB for $40
  • Starhub: 3GB for $50
  • M1: $65 multi-country data passport (+$5 activation fee)
  • Circles: 16GB for $35 (Jetpac)
  • VIVIFI: 3GB for $33
  • Nomad eSIM: 10GB for 18USD (~$25)

When we move into longer trips to the Europe and UK, the cost-savings from getting a Nomad eSIM is evidently much more than if you were to activate roaming. Among the telcos, Circles Jetpac would be the most cost-effective, though you should check that the countries you are visiting is included in the list. Singtel is also an option that you could consider.

How do I use a Nomad eSIM?

You can use a Nomad eSIM as long as you have an eSIM-compatible device. Simply go onto the web store or use the Nomad mobile app, find the plan that you want, and make your purchase.

You will receive the installation kit via email within 5 minutes of your purchase. Install your eSIM, and follow the activation instructions, and you are ready to go as soon as you land at your destination!

Happy travels! ✈️