Buying a prepaid sim card in Hong Kong

Filed Under (mobile phones, services, technology, telecommunications, tips and tricks, travel) by rinnah on 05-04-2012

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During my recent trip to Hong Kong, I needed to have access to data on my smartphone while roaming but I didn’t want to pay expensive roaming charges. (This is what living in a connected world does to you. You feel bereft of something important, like checking Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Or having to reply your Draw Something games.) :P

So I did some research on the Internet (doncha just love Google?) and found that it was very easy to get a prepaid sim card in Hong Kong with reasonable data charges. The network provider that I eventually went with was 3 (I think they are located in Australia as well) and it proved to be a good enough choice for the 4 days I was in Hong Kong.

3

Where to buy
You can buy your prepaid sim card from convenience stores (7 Eleven et al) or from mobile shops. I chose to go to the 3 mobile shop located at the airport terminal itself upon arrival. You just have to go up one floor to where the check-in counters are located – both 3 and rival operator CSL have shops there.

3 mobile store
Unit No. 7T038, Level 7, Departure Hall Row G, Hong Kong International Airport

3 shop at HKIA

Which type of sim card to buy
I initially wanted the HSDPA Broadband Access Rechargable starter pack recommended on various travel forums (which is only available at mobile shops), but was rather short on time to explain to the salesperson which starter pack I was looking for – the salespeople will automatically recommend you to take the basic mobile prepaid pack.

The basic mobile prepaid pack costs HKD 98.00 and it’s as easy as pie to pop in the sim card and be instantly connected. Since you’re using a mobile prepaid, naturally you will be able to make local and international calls as well as use data. (Side note : If you are using a tablet device, you may have to point your settings to the correct APN before the device detects the connection.)

Fees and charges
I didn’t really do much research into the call rates so I’m not able to list them on the blog but at the time of my trip (March 2012), the data charges for 3’s network were as follows :

1MB = HKD 2.00
Maximum daily charge = HKD 28.00
Monthly charge = HKD 388.00

Basically, as a tourist you would only need to pay up to HKD 28.00 per day for unlimited usage of data. The usual fair usage throttling only starts after 5GB so you’re basically running around with a free hand on how you use your data. :P

Although I did read some reports online about poor connectivity or coverage by 3’s network, I didn’t experience any problems throughout my trip. In fact, I was highly impressed that even underground in the MTR tunnels, the Hong Kong network gave me far more stability in coverage and faster network speeds compared to Malaysia and Singapore networks.

Top-ups
I did miscalculate the amount of data I had used (dang the fast download speeds that seduce you into using more than you originally planned!) so towards the end of my trip, so I learnt the hard way that 3 will cut off your data once you’re down to HKD 10.00 worth of credit in your prepaid account. You’ll have to top-up to continue enjoying their services.

Nevertheless, top-up is fast and easy – I did mine at a 7 Eleven convenience store. Do take note that the minimum amount to reload is HKD 100.00 so if you foresee that you won’t be using up this amount, you may wish to monitor your data usage accordingly to maximise your credit.

Your prepaid sim card and its corresponding number will be valid for 180 days from the date of your last top-up and if you don’t top-up additional credit within that time frame, whatever balance you have in your account and the number will expire.

All in, I consider buying a prepaid sim card to be a cost effective way of enjoying unrestricted data coverage while you are in Hong Kong (finding free wifi spots are not easy at all!) and would recommend 3’s network to leisure travellers (do note that online forums do not recommend 3 if you are travelling to China or the outskirts of Hong Kong).

Have you checked your mobile rate plan lately?

Filed Under (customer service, mobile phones, services, telecommunications) by rinnah on 22-08-2009

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Note : As a consumer, my goal (and I think everyone else’s goal is too!) is to get the best value out of my hard-earned money. So occasionally I will blog about tips and tricks about being a smart consumer that I myself have personally used. This is one of them.

In this day and age of technology, it seems that almost everyone has a mobile phone. Even school going kids have mobile phones – my 9 year old nephew has one too! Besides the convenience of being able to be in touch with others all the time, there is also the cost involved in owning a mobile phone. However, this money saving tip will only work if you have a postpaid plan like I do.

Maxis logo
Image credit

My family has been using Maxis as our line provider for as long as we have been using mobile phones, and that’s a pretty long time. We used to have different plans under different providers, both postpaid and prepaid, but it made so much more sense to group the family lines under one service provider for convenience and cost-saving.

Recently, I made a discovery that not many people might take the time and trouble to do so. I had been checking out the data rates and plans available through Maxis as I had upgraded my mobile phone to one that had 3G capabilities. Halfway through my surfing though, I noticed that Maxis had recently rolled out a new family line package which was significantly cheaper than the current plan we were on. Now, as existing customers, we hadn’t received any notice that this new rates were available and thus were continuing to pay the older, higher rates. Being the thrifty Chinese that I am, of course I wanted the better rates! =)

So, I made a quick phone call to Maxis to see if there was any way that I could switch my family plan from the old one to the new one. As it turns out, I could do so, and it only took that phone call and 3 working days for the change to be effected. When I next checked the phone bill, there was a savings of MYR40.00 overall (not full savings, considering that the rate change happened in mid-billing cycle). I don’t know about you, but that bit of money adds up to quite a bit over say, 1 year = MYR480.00.

So, it pays off to keep in touch with your mobile provider’s latest rate plans. Have you checked your mobile rate plan lately?

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