At some point when you settle down into your new home as an expat – you will be looking for a phone service provider for your mobile. If you are like me: I don’t play game, don’t watch Netflix, but I watch a fair bit of YouTube video and stream my home webradio on my mobile while in data mode. You actually don’t need that much, and the most cost-effective solutions are often prepaid offerings.
On my first stay in Malaysia about 8 years ago, I didn’t even possess a smart phone and was using a dirty cheap Tunetalk Simcard. I was very happy with the service then. Now that I am moving back to Malaysia and am equipped with latest technologies – and let’s face it, with the rise of apps to buy from grocery shopping to hail taxis, your data usage can be a little above 5 Go per month without trying that hard.
Personally, and in the last years, I have never been over 8Go of data on my phone.
I have compiled a comparison table of the main pre-paid products available for you to make your choice & made comparison with data plans for about my usage.
|Prepaid brand name||Xpax Mix&Match||Next||Hotlink||Buddies|
|Market share||3||2||1||Uses Celcom network|
|New Simcard purchase||RM 10||Free (with Starter pack, else RM 8)||RM 10 (Pantas Starter Kit)||RM 30|
|Short term Extra bonus||10 Go||5 Go (7 days)|
|Call||30 min (7 days)|
|Start-up free credit||RM 6||None||RM 5||RM 30|
|SMS||13 sen/SMS||10 sen/SMS||15 sen/SMS||10 sen/SMS|
|Call||30 sen/min||20 sen/min||30 sen/min||22 sen/min|
|Monthly internet package||
RM 20 / 8 Go unlimited speed
RM 20 / 15 Go
RM 40 / 14 Go unlimited speed
|RM 10 / 10 Go|
|Monthly internet + unlimited call all network package||
RM 32 / unlimited / Speed cap at 3Mbps
|RM 35 / 15 Go plan (as above) + RM15 add-on||
RM 35 / unlimited / Speed cap at 3 Mbps between 2pm to 2am.
RM 35 / 30 Go
Hotspot possible, using 30Go quota
|Internet Speed & notes||To uncap at 6 Mbps, extra RM10 for same package||No cap - up to 28 Mbps||
To uncap at 6 Mbps, extra RM10 for same package, and extra RM 20 for up to 18Mbps.
|Speed is 6 Mbps|
Interesting bonus and to know
Digi offers free data the longer you stay with them capped at a lower speed, up to 6 Gbs after 2 years with them. They also have a pack for 1 year number portability.
Hotlink as a lot of small and cheap add-on ( such as hotspot for 1h for RM1 or faster internet if you had the 3 Mbps pack for few hours for RM3), making it actually pretty affordable to just buy what you need when you need it.
TuneTalk has an interesting 1 year packaging for RM200 for super light user or regular travelers to Malaysia that gives you 10Go per month and keep your number activated without your need to regularly top up.
Digi, Tunetalk and Celcom have interesting 3 Months packages promotions that have some good value for extra free data.
I believe for very light users like myself, Digi and Tunetalk are more than enough. But if you are playing or watching a lot of video then Celcom and Maxis should be your go to. The unlimited offers with various speed caps should help you get your fix. On a side note, Digi for players has a special gamer packaging called RDY, which also includes popular MMORPG access.
Regional travel and Roaming packages
Tunetalk: from playing around - you can expect for ASEAN a 3 days data pack ( 2Go ) for RM25. For European countries, a 1 day pass for 500Mb for RM33.
Digi: most countries (including Europe/Some Asean countries) fall into the RM25 per 3 days 2Go/30min call package
Celcom: most countries fall into the RM88 per 3 days for 1.5Go/100min call/100 SMS package. But much more packages are available per country making it easier to just buy the duration you need, including longer 7 days pass.
Hotlink: it seems to be some sort of flat rate of RM38 per day for 500Mb excluding any call or SMS.
Overall, for roaming, Hotlink seems to be the most expensive and offering the least amount of flexibility. Celcom is the most expensive for short stays roaming packages, but their price difference shrinks for longer roaming passes. Digi presents the best offer as it includes also the SMS/ Calls and we all know for all OTP and other online 2-steps services, SMS can cost you a pretty penny quickly when abroad.
It’s important to note that you can buy the Simcards in MyNews, even have them delivered to your home via their online shop. Finally, you can also buy them in the numerous kiosks and shops available in the malls. Would you not be happy with your operator, changing it is quite easy and mobile numbers can be ported from one operator to the next. When promotions are available, it can be free and done visiting one of their shop.
Upon arrival in KLIA airport, I did ask the kiosk and they only sell tourists Simcards, not the permanent ones. So if your intention is to settle down, best is to buy it at the closest shop.
Top up of pre-paid cards is so easy and can be done online via most banks website, at the convenient stores, via credit cards, Touch’n go card or at your bank ATM. Some of the operators have automatic recharge systems, so that if you like a monthly pre-paid package, it can be automatically purchased making it almost as good as a postpaid plan and worry free!
Malaysia overall has a great coverage and speed and I have rarely been out of coverage even while visiting Borneo. Most operators are all good to pick.
Photo credit: Unplash - John Fornander