I saved money by NOT recontracting my mobile plan

November 7

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Singaporeans typically recontract their mobile phone plans every 1.5-2 years for a new mobile phone. It's the norm because mobile phones either don't last that long, or the user experience gets really bad after a few Android/iOS updates.

Not a great way to save money if you asked me.

The last time I signed a contract with my local telco was at least 6 years ago when they were still offering 12 GB data plans on 3G network. Since then, I have always bought mobile phones at full price (or slightly discounted rates through friends) to replace damaged ones directly from mobile phone dealers.

If you look at the costs of our mobile plans over the years, they are getting more and more expensive for the value they bring. Offering discounts for mobile phones to lock you in a 2-year contract with telcos is a good gimmick that secures telcos with recurring revenue bya one-off discount.

Here's how my mobile phone's consumption is like for the past 6 months.

Month

Local Incoming

Local Outgoing

Local SMS

Local Data

May

93.5 mins

81.2 mins

9 messages

6.44 GB

June

19.4 mins

32.3 mins

0 messages

5.36 GB

July

22.6 mins

13.3 mins

8 messages

9 GB

August

46.3 mins

25 mins

2 messages

9.74 GB

September

42.2 mins

2.2 mins

2 messages

11.14 GB

October

42.2 mins

2.2 mins

6 messages

11.14 GB

You probably guessed it! I'm still using the 3G mobile plan with 12 GB data for costs me less than $29 per month.

Until my telco discontinues the 3G network like what they are doing to the 2G network right now, I doubt I would be changing my plan in the near future because the postpaid mobile plans based on my usage are 7-8 times of what I'm paying right now!

Telco

Local Incoming

Local Outgoing

Local SMS

Local Data

Monthly Subscription

SingTel

Free

Unlimited

Unlimited

12 GB

$239

M1

Free

Unlimited

5000

13 GB

$228

Starhub

Free

Unlimited

Unlimited

12 GB

$220

I think there are more like-minded individuals who are no longer signing contracts for their mobile plans because all the telcos have started offering SIM only mobile plans over the past 2 years. Although SingTel is getting there with its 1-for-1 add-on deal, it's still 60% more expensive than my current mobile plan.

Telco

Local Incoming

Local Outgoing

Local SMS

Local Data

Monthly Subscription

SingTel

Free

150 mins

500

13 GB

$46.75

M1

Free

800 mins

2000

11 GB

$75

Starhub

Free

Unlimited

Unlimited

12 GB

$110

The savings I get by choosing not to sign a new 2-year contract with my telco is more than sufficient to buy a new iPhone every year with enough change to spend on accessories. That said, I don't buy a new mobile phone every year.

So the next time you intend to sign a new contract with your telco to get a new mobile phone on a discount, I hope you reconsider your decision because the new mobile plan may work out to be more expensive than you think!

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About the author 

Mickey J

Mickey is your typical white-collar Singaporean who works regular hours in a job with a strong passion on personal finance. He writes mostly about personal finance, investing, insurance and retirement planning. He also embraces the Financial Independence and Retire Early movement (FIRE), tweaking the FIRE concept to his lifestyle.

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    • Hi James,

      Fair point. However, when I compared at sim-only plans, I was referring to plans that did not require a contract. To qualify for the upsize data add-on for $5.90/mth requires me to sign up for a 12-month contract. However, it’s good to know that if I were to sign a 12-month contract, the M1’s mySIM+45 plan allows me to get 12 GB of data for $50.90 during my contract period and $54.90 per month after the contract expires. SingTel still offers a better deal for SIM only mobile plans.

  • Hi Mickey,

    But not all data is the same. Having experienced 4G, I don’t think I can stand 3G anymore. It’s a climbing UP onto a hedonistic treadmill, really. I’m currently using less than 1Gb and to do that, i have to switch off certain things (like no pics when using mobile data, no youtube, less fb etc), but I get used to it after a while. It’s climbing DOWN the hedonistic treadmill, HAHA

    • I tend to agree with you. I was given a corporate phone with 4G network in my previous role and yes it’s really fast.

      It takes some getting used to when switching back to 3G after that but because of most of my usage (mostly music on Spotify, cycling data on Strava, etc.), I don’t require high speed data most of the time but high data bandwidth for sure.

  • Did you know that the telcos are subsidising $500 for a new iphone 7 for a $42 only plan?

    Your data usage is very high comparatively to my usage of 3GB a month.

    And with the extra data upsize provided by James, I don think your way now is a great way to save.

    • High data usage is really up to individual preferences and in my case, it’s more of the way I use my data for work and fitness.

      The extra data upsize by SingTel is decent, but it requires me to be in a contract. That’s not to mentioned that there will be a subscription fee tagged on to it later on.

      $500 subsidy is nice but the reality is that mobile plans today still costs more than older plans that have been discontinued.

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