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Should You Always Upgrade Your Mobile Plan If You Consistently Exceed Your Monthly Data Cap?

We do the math, so you don’t have to.

A survey of Singaporeans’ phone usage habits showed that 50% of us exceed our monthly mobile data allotments at least once in the past 6 months, and end up paying hefty data charges.

While data add-ons and SIM-only plans are ways to increase the amount of data we have, for those who are on contract plans and like to benefit from phone subsidies every 21 months, it is worth exploring whether it is worth upgrading to a higher tier when it is time to renew our contract, which would give us a higher data limit.

According to market research company GfK, Singaporeans replace their mobile phones every 12 to 16 months on average, so there clearly are a large contingent of Singaporeans who love the latest and greatest that phone manufacturers offer to the market.

An upgraded plan obviously costs more, but let’s see if the additional data and phone subsidy you get is worth it.

Read Also: Buying A New iPhone Every Year? Here’s How Much More You Will Have If You Invested The Money Instead


Here is Singtel’s Combo Plans, as well as the total cost of the contract over 21 months, since that is the period when phone companies (Singtel, Starhub and M1) allow customers to renew their contracts and enjoy subsidies on a new phone.


(A) Cost Increase Upon Upgrading To A Better Mobile Plan

The table below summarises the increased cost incurred for 21 months when we upgrade to a higher data plan. The increase in quota of monthly data is also shown in brackets.


(B) Increase In Phone Subsidy Upon Upgrading To A Better Mobile Plan

When we sign a new contract or renew our existing one, we are also entitled to a subsidy for a new phone. The table below shows the increase in subsidies we get for a 64GB iPhone X when renewing our contract. iPhone X is used as a basis for comparison, since it is the latest and most in-demand iPhone right now.


(C) Net Cost Incurred Upon Upgrading To A Better Mobile Plan

We compute the net cost incurred after subtracting costs saved from phone subsidies from the additional cost increase, (A) – (B) = (C).

 Singtel charges $10.70/GB for 4G data exceeded and is capped at $188/month.

Case Study: Switching From Combo 3 (3GB) To Combo 6 (6GB)

For this switch, you will incur an additional cost of $326 for 21 months, which will be paid at $27.17/month.

Suppose we use 6GB of data per month, which is typical of Singaporean phone users. Before the switch, we would exceed our data by 3GB, causing us to incur an extra $32.10, or $674.10 for 21 months. We would save $348.10 over 21 months just by switching. In this case, upgrading to a higher-tier plan makes financial sense.


Here are standard contract plans offered by StarHub, as well as the total cost you’ll be incurring over a 21-month period.


Note that subscribers to StarHub contract plans enjoy free unlimited weekend data.

Net Additional Cost Incurred When Upgrading To A Better Plan

Using the same calculation methodology we used in the Singtel example, here is the net cost increase you will be paying over a 21-month period, after factoring in the higher phone subsidies. Note that the price of iPhone X is different from Singtel, since the different telcos charge different prices.

StarHub charges up to $10.70/GB for data exceeded and is capped at $238/month.

Read Also: StarHub Turns Up The Heat In The SIM-Only Space. Here’s How Its New 12-Month SIM-Only Plan Measures Up


Here are the standard contract plans offered by M1, and the total cost you’ll be paying over a 21-month period.


Net Additional Cost Incurred When Upgrading To A Better Plan

Using the same methodology we used previously, this is the net cost increase you will be paying over a 21-month period, after factoring in the higher phone subsidies.  The price of iPhone X is different from Singtel and StarHub as well, since the telcos charge different prices for the phone.


M1 charges up to $10.70/GB for data exceeded and is capped at $188.32/month.

Make Calculations Wisely

In general, if the amount you consistently pay for excess usage charges is higher than the net amount you would pay for the upgrade to a higher-tier plan, then you may be better off with an upgraded plan.

The key word here is consistently, because if you rarely occasionally burst your data limit, then you might want to reconsider. It is also worth considering that as we use more services and apps, chances are, we will need want to enjoy the convenience of data on the go.

With some prior homework, you’ll be able to find the best value plan that you’re willing and able to pay for, and avoid unnecessarily paying more in the long term.

Read Also: 5 Reasons Why Investing Your Money In Your 20s Is Important aims to provide interesting, bite-sized and relevant financial articles.

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