Is Internet essential for your travel? I used the Internet very frequently when I’m overseas – way beyond my usage in Singapore. That’s because I rely a lot on my phone to get me around in an unfamiliar city. Google maps, local train maps, and even taxi booking apps are taking up most of the data usage.
On my second last trip to Johor Bahru, I thought that I can go around without Internet. Turned out I was dreadfully wrong. I needed to get to another destination and I couldn’t use Grab. I took a taxi instead and that’s when my pocket burned a bit bigger than usual.
Ever since I discovered Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM, I always activate one of their data plans before I take a flight/train to another city. It is much cheaper as opposed to most of the other data roaming plans in Singapore.
So what exactly can Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM offers?
- Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM
- How To Buy Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM?
- How To Purchase Data-Plans?
- How Is The Signal Strength and Speed?
- Happy Roam Prepaid SIM or Local Country Data SIM or Postpaid Roaming Plan?
Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM
Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is a local prepaid SIM card that can be used to for data roaming in foreign countries.
List of Countries Supported
Here’s a list of countries supported by the Prepaid SIM:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Japan *NEW*
- New Zealand *NEW*
- Philippines *NEW*
It does not support all countries yet but it includes most of the popular destinations that a Singaporean would visit.
Types of Data Plans
The reason why I like to use Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is that there are a couple of data plans to choose for each trip.
I also find that the data plans are reasonably priced for overseas data roaming. You can also stack the data. For instance, you can purchase 2x 1GB 7-day plans for S$ 14 if you suddenly realized that it is not enough to have only 1GB for that week.
How To Buy Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM?
You can place your order online and collect the cards at UOB currency exchange counter in each airport terminal. UOB currency exchange is 24 hour, hence, you can collect anytime you like. Otherwise, I think it is also possible to purchase a card from the convenience store in Singapore.
Once you have received the card, you must activate your card locally. If you are not a Starhub user, you will need to download the certificate locally in order to activate the card. There are instructions to activate the card and purchase plans when you collect the card.
If you forget to activate your card locally, you will need to make sure you can get WIFI before you can activate the card in overseas.
How To Purchase Data-Plans?
There are a couple of methods you can use to top-up the card.
#1: Purchase Via The App
For first-timers, the card comes with S$ 18 value if you purchase the S$ 15 SIM card. I was given 1GB data free locally when I purchased the card for the 2nd-time.
But I would still suggest downloading Starhub Happy Prepaid App (Android/Apple) at home first just in case you didn’t have free data and couldn’t connect to the WIFI at the airport. Then, insert Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM in your card and sign in with the given number. Starhub will send you an OTP SMS to log in the app.
Once you are in the app, you can purchase the data from this screen:
If you do not have any balance in your prepaid SIM, you will need to top-up some money. This can also be done via the app (left side of the button shown in the image above). You can top-up money via e-nets, credit cards or Starhub Postpaid account.
Do note that it will take a while (less than half a day) for the credits to appear in your account. I suggest to top-up the card earlier just in case the payment did not get through in time.
#2: Purchase Via Lazada
You can also purchase plans (or top-up) directly via Lazada.
In fact, this is my preferred choice to purchase the plans. Firstly, the plan is activated almost instantly after you received a confirmation email. Secondly, you will get 10% discount when you purchase from Lazada. I only paid S$ 4.50 for my 3-day 1GB data in Malaysia.
All you need to do is to enter your phone number and choose your preferred plans (or amount to top-up). It will be delivered within an hour.
How Is The Signal Strength and Speed?
So far, I have been using Happy Roam Prepaid SIM in South Korea, Johor Bahru, Bangkok, and Guangzhou.
There is no problem using Happy Roam Prepaid SIM in Seoul, Busan, Guangzhou, and Bangkok. The signals are usually strong. I don’t feel any drop in the speed.
However, there is a drop in signal strength when I last used the card in Johor Bahru. Instead of connecting to 4G, it can only connect to 3G. The connection became even worse when I was in JBCC. Basically, I couldn’t really surf the net when I was in Johor Bahru. Somehow, it was alright when I needed to book a Grab.
Happy Roam Prepaid SIM or Local Country Data SIM or Postpaid Roaming Plan?
There are two considerations in this comparison analysis – convenience and cost. Let’s do some comparisons with local data SIM and other telco postpaid roaming plans.
Happy Roam Prepaid SIM
Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is no doubt convenient for people who have a dual sim card slot (e.g. Samsung S8, Note 8). You can purchase one SIM card, put it in the secondary slot and top up when you need to use the card for data roaming. For people who do not have the secondary SIM card slot, it doesn’t really matter since you will have to change the card.
However, it is really convenient if you need additional data during your trip. It is generally easier to top-up Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid SIM than a local data SIM. I have overused my data consumption when I was in Korea last year. All I have to do is to use my credit card to purchase another data in the Happy Prepaid app.
Local Country Data SIM
First, you will need to find out where you can purchase a local data SIM card. Thankfully, you can purchase in most of the airports nowadays. Otherwise, you can also find it on Qoo10. You will have two worries here – whether you will be able to get the card in time and whether you will be able to purchase a card at the airport.
In this case, the problem is the lack of a convenient way to top-up data if you need more during the trip.
Singtel Postpaid ReadyRoam
If you are a Singtel user, you can activate ReadyRoam for a price. There is no way a prepaid card can win the postpaid roaming plan in terms of convenience. If you have used up your data, the telco will automatically subscribe you the same plan at the same price.
M1 Data Passport
I really like M1 Data Passport. Basically, you can pay a fee so that you can use your local data bundle for your overseas roaming data plan. Even if you exceed your local data bundles, you will only be charged the minimum price similarly to local price.
If you are a Starhub user, you can also opt for DataTravel. The basic plan includes Japan and South Korea, which are very rare countries to be included in the basic plan.
Verdict: Respective postpaid plans for convenience
Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is not always the cheapest choice at the point of writing.
Price Comparison for Malaysia
|Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1GB for 7-days)||Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1.2GB for 30-days)||Qoo10 Local Data SIM (1.5GB for 6-days, Maxis Telco)||Singtel ReadyRoam (1GB for 30-Days)||Starhub DataTravel (2GB for 30-days)||M1 Data passport (Leftover from Local Data Bundle for 30-days)|
|S$ 5||S$ 10||S$ 11.99||S$ 12||S$ 15||S$ 10|
The most cost-effective plan is to purchase a plan for Happy Roam Prepaid SIM. As I have mentioned previously, it seems like the 4G connection for Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is not very good in Johor Bahru. I have not brought this card to other parts of Malaysia yet.
As Maxis is a Malaysia Telco, the signal strength and speed should be much better than data roaming.
Verdict: Singtel ReadyRoam if I need a good signal. Happy Roam Prepaid SIM if I only need to book a Grabcar
Price Comparison for Bangkok
|Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1GB for 7-days)||Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1.2GB for 30-days)||Qoo10 Local Data SIM (6 GB for 8-days)||Singtel ReadyRoam (1GB for 30-Days)||Starhub DataTravel (2GB for 30-days)||M1 Data passport (Leftover from Local Data Bundle for 30-days)|
|S$ 5||S$ 10||S$ 5.99||S$ 12||S$ 15||S$ 10|
You can purchase 8-days 6 GB (Fast speed data) data card on Qoo10 for S$ 5.99. Honestly, this is a lot more cost-effective than using Happy Roam card for the similar duration/similar amount of data.
I would purchase the card from Qoo10 instead of using the rest of the options.
Verdict: Qoo10 Local Data SIM
Price Comparison for South Korea
|Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1GB for 7-days)||Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1.2GB for 30-days)||Qoo10 Local Data SIM (3GB for 6-days, SK TELECOM)||Singtel ReadyRoam (1GB for 30-Days)||Starhub DataTravel (2GB for 30-days)||M1 Data passport (Leftover from Local Data Bundle for 30-days)|
|S$ 5||S$ 10||S$ 17.90||S$ 20||S$ 15||S$ 25|
Now, I think many travelers in Singapore rented WIFI egg overseas when they go to Korea. Back in 2008 when I first traveled to Korea, it is almost impossible to purchase a SIM card that’s compatible with our mobile phone. Now, you can find a card easily.
WIFI egg is useful when you have a big group of travelers and want to save on data SIM card. It is important to note that WIFI egg tends to lose battery very fast. Hence, I still feel that it will be better to purchase at least a SIM card to ensure you are accessible to the maps.
You can purchase a 6-days 3GB (fast speed data) data card on Qoo10 for S$ 17.90. A longer duration will cost S$ 20.90. In this case, I find that Happy Roam Prepaid card offers better in terms of price package. I can purchase 30-days 3.6GB data-plan for only S$ 20.
As I have personally used this in Seoul and Busan, I can say that the signal strength is great in Korea.
Verdict: Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid Card
Price Comparison for Guangzhou (China)
|Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1GB for 7-days)||Happy Roam Prepaid SIM (1.2GB for 30-days)||Qoo10 Local Data SIM (2GB for 7-days)||Singtel ReadyRoam (1GB for 30-Days)||Starhub DataTravel (2GB for 30-days)||M1 Data passport (Leftover from Local Data Bundle for 30-days)|
|S$ 5||S$ 10||S$ 26.00||S$ 20||S$ 15||S$ 25|
You can purchase a 7-days 2GB (4G speed) data card on Qoo10 for S$ 26.00. Now, this is really expensive as you can purchase 2x 7-days 1GB plan for only S$ 14 with Happy Roam Prepaid SIM.
I have activated Happy Roam Prepaid for my recent trip to Guangzhou and I really like the fact that Happy Roam Prepaid SIM is not affected by the Great Firewall of China. Meaning, you can Facebook, Instagram and use Google without a need to activate VPN.
Verdict: Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid Card
I feel that the telco roaming plans are meant for long-term traveling or frequent traveler. If you travel to Malaysia for at least 10-times per month, it will be more effective (and convenient) to purchase the telco plan.
If you are going for short travel, I’m sure Happy Roam Prepaid SIM can satisfy your data craving. What’s important is to know whether the signal and strength work well in the country.