$0/mth Phone Plan w/ 1GB Data - Circles.Life
Free Mobile Plan? Singapore has it!
Last Updated: 28 July 2018 - specified in the summary that the 30 mins included calls includes incoming calls (boo!) and specified that calls are charged in 30 second blocks.
Deal Rating: 9.5/10
Disclaimer: This deal includes a referral code. This referral code (potentially) gives me an additional 200MB of data per month if you sign up for a $28/mth plan using my code. Referral Code: EEYHV. I will only get this additional 200MB data if I upgrade my $0/mth plan to the $28/mth plan at some point in time in the future.
In my years looking out for phone plan bargains, I can count on one hand the number of times I've encountered a genuinely free plan.
This one takes it to another level. Why? Because you get:
- 1GB data allowance
- 30 mins of calls (incoming charged, charged in 30 sec blocks)
- 10 SMSes
The other "free plans" I can recall (from Australia), such as Amaysim's PAYG, despite being "$0/mth" come with nothing in the way of inclusions. That is to say, any phone calls you make, texts you send, data you use, will be charged in addition to "$0/mth".
Is this a great deal? I'd say so.
Circles.Life is known as a "MVNO" which stands for Mobile Network Virtual Operator. I'm not going to try and explain what it really means, because I don't know, but my interpretation of it is that it refers to a telecommunications (telcos) company that offers mobile phone services through a bigger brother, such as Singtel, Starhub, Optus, Telstra. They typically do not have physical store locations and rely on a network of resellers, and by extension, offer "stripped down" customer service (think reduced customer service hours).
In Singapore, here are the telcos that I have encountered:
The ones in bold are your traditional big brick & mortar telcos. The unbolded ones are the MNVOs.
What's good about Circles.Life's $0/mth?
- It's free, yet it could realistically be used as someone's primary service if they were a low-data user who doesn't make many calls.
- No contract - to me, this is a huge selling point of any service. Having the ability to jump ship when you find a better deal is key.
- Ability to earn bonus data through loyalty (500MB after every 6 months), referrals and even public transport usage - note that bonus data from public transport and loyalty is only applied to the $28/mth plan and won't be added to the $0/mth plan
- User-friendly app
- No one-off registration and SIM fee of ~$48 that many other telcos charge
- 2GB/mth bonus if you port your number in from another telco if you ever upgrade to their $28/mth plan in the future.
- Leaving Singapore for a while, but want to keep your number? Put it on this plan. It's (almost) free, but be aware that you are expected to "keep it active". The cheapest way to do this is to use the app and purchase a $5 top up of calls and SMSes. Alternatively, receive a SMS once every 3 months, but as there's no roaming, this may be difficult as you cannot receive SMS while overseas.
What's not good about Circles.Life's $0/mth plan?
- A low volume of call minutes included on their plans (in general - not just the $0/mth one)
- Incoming calls are charged and deducted from your 30 minutes. There is also no option to "pay" to not have incoming calls charged.
- Calls charged in 30 second blocks - better than 1 minute blocks, but not as good as per second billing
- This means a 1 second call (whether incoming or outgoing) will deduct 30 seconds from your call allowance, leaving you with 29 minutes and 30 seconds.
- No roaming ability - even if you are willing to pay
- Reasonably expensive data top-ups and calling minute add-ons
- Limited to one per ID - although I'd argue the fact that they even have this plan is quite generous
- No ability to pick up the SIM card for free - you must pay a $6 delivery fee
Want to order the $28/mth plan? Hold your horses..
I'm not saying don't do it.
First - check if the company you work for has a CIS agreement with Circles.Life here. If the answer is yes, then.. maybe go ahead. CIS is basically the term used in Singapore to describe a "corporate discounted plan" - was new to me too!
Here are the inclusions, which for some silly reason, are not stated anywhere on their website.
Circles.Life CIS (Corporate Individual Scheme) Plan
- Free Incoming Calls
- 1GB permanent bonus (I presume on a monthly basis)
- $20 Registration Fee Discount (i.e. $18 instead of $38)
Source: Email from Circles.Life, 20 June 2018.
- Do you get access to the same data bonuses?
- Do these get applied to the $0/mth plan?
I didn't manage to find the answer to these questions, but they are some additional questions which I think may be relevant.
If your company does not have a CIS agreement with Circles.Life and you wish to order the $28/mth plan directly, don't do it. You'll be charged a $38 "registration fee".
To avoid it, order the $0/mth plan (cop the $6 delivery fee), and then upgrade to the $28/mth plan in the future!
- Check if your company has a CIS agreement with Circles.Life before ordering. You cannot purchase a "standard" service and then convert to a service with CIS discounts applied on an existing service. I don't understand why - maybe system limitations? But that's what their FAQ states.
- You may only port postpaid numbers. A prepaid service cannot be ported.
- Personally, I would recommend anyone who is eligible to get this SIM get it. You're only eligible for one per ID, and it could really come in handy if you ever have friends visit you. Alternatively, those with a dual SIM phone can put this in their second SIM slot to literally get 1GB/mth extra data.
- Although the 2GB/mth bonus data for porting is only applicable on a $28/mth plan, if you have a spare postpaid service with another telco that you're willing to port, I would recommend you port it. Even though you won't get the bonus data on the $0/mth plan, you will get it if you ever upgrade to the $28/mth plan. Source: Circles.Life Customer Service
- Use my referral code to sign up if you feel I've helped you! Referral Code: EEYHV. This can be entered on the SIM ordering page under "PROMO CODE"
- Circles.Life sometimes run promotions/random data bonus activities. For example, they offered [discounted data top ups] towards the end of June, they had a promo code giving users 1GB/mth for 12 months, and are holding a World Cup "guess the winner" competition giving you 100MB data if you guess the winner correctly.
As usual, I went on a lot longer than I had expected to. I hope my experiences with Circles.Life assist your curious mind too. I've asked a lot of the questions that I think a typical frugal person would want to know and includes this detail here, so I'm hopeful it will be of assistance to some of you!
Questions? Comments? Don't be shy!