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WiFi Router vs Data Roaming vs Prepaid SIM Card – Which is the Best Option for Travellers?


One of the foremost necessities of travel today is to stay connected while on the go. While there are myriad options for getting online while overseas, each tend to have their own pros and cons.   

We investigate 3 of the most readily available options – prepaid SIM, Data Roaming and WiFi Router rental – to find out which is best for travellers. As there are multiple players in the WiFi router space, we will be basing our recommendation on Singapore’s market leader, ChangiWiFi.

Reliability, Convenience and Value for Money

When it comes to posting your Facebook updates and IG stories, the last thing you want is an unreliable connection. You want to spend your time enjoying your holiday and carefully composing your posts, not getting annoyed over your photos not being posted to your account.

And it’s not just social media. How about not being able to contact your family and friends over Whatsapp, WeChat or Line for important updates, or to make arrangements for meetups? What if you’re unable to use Uber or Grab to get a safe and reasonably priced ride back to your hotel on New Year’s Eve? Imagine if you couldn’t use Google Maps or Baidu to find that tucked-away cafe you’ve come all the way to visit.

Clearly, reliability is the most important factor when getting an online connection overseas.

Following closely on the heels of reliability is convenience. i.e., how easy is it to get online and stay online. Certain transactions (such as one-time passwords) may require you to switch between your local and overseas carrier. How quickly can you do that on your own? Do you need any special tools to do so?

Finally, value for money is the third major consideration for overseas travellers. Yes, it’s important to be able to stay connected, but because it is rarely a matter of life and death, paying too much for mobile internet access overseas makes no sense.
Prepaid SIM vs Data Roaming vs WiFi Routers

Between Prepaid SIM, Data Roaming and WiFi Routers, which presents the best choice for travellers? We rated each of these options according to reliability, convenience and price, assigning points ( = Poor, ✔✔ = Fair and ✔✔✔ = Good) to each category.

Here’s what we found out:

Comparison of WiFi Routers, Data Roaming and Prepaid SIM Cards for Overseas Travellers
WiFi Routers Data Roaming Prepaid SIM
Reliability ✔✔ ✔✔
Convenience ✔✔✔ ✔✔
Value for Money ✔✔✔
Points: 8 5 3

WiFi Routers and Data Roaming Offer the Best Reliability

Of the 3 options we surveyed, we found that WiFi Routers and Data Roaming offer the best reliability.

To be sure, the reliability of your mobile internet connectivity ultimately depends on the network provider that you are connected to. All things being equal, reliability is comparable between all 3 connection modes.

In reality, leading telcos tend to provide more reliable service, offering wider coverage and faster data speeds. Hence, this is one reason why popular vendors like ChangiWiFi work with leading telcos to ensure a truly reliable connection.  getting a truly reliable connection depends on whether you pick the right telco.

Here’s where it gets tricky. As an overseas visitor, you are likely not familiar with the many different telcos operating in your host city. This means that you could end up picking the ‘wrong’ telco, getting stuck with poor or even no coverage during parts of your trip.

Travellers who try to buy their own Prepaid SIM cards are most likely to encounter this problem.

Another reason why ChangiWiFi offers superior reliability is that they operate on unlimited usage basis, in accordance with Fair Use policies that prevent abuse and ensure a more even service for all.

WiFi Routers Offer the Best Convenience

When it comes to convenience, the clear winner is WiFi Routers.  

Why? Simply because WiFi Routers are the most simple and straightforward to use. Simply turn it on, switch on WiFi on your mobile phone and enjoy the connectivity you need. Sure you’ll need to make sure your device is within range, and your router has sufficient battery charge (or is hooked up to power), but that’s about all you have to take care of.

In comparison, data roaming often requires you to subscribe for a plan before your trip. But that’s not all, as you’ll also have to remember to unsubscribe your data roaming plan after your trip, lest you be slapped with extra charges in your next bill. If you run out of data halfway through your trip, you have to hunt down a top-up card, or remember archaic number codes to subscribe for more data.

When is comes to Prepaid SIM cards, the sheer number of steps you have to take just to get connected is daunting. First, you’ll have to locate a proper vendor for the telco you want. Often, this means jostling for space in long queues with grumpy passengers and their oversized luggage at the airport. Sure, you could go for that suspiciously empty counter belonging to a different telco, but are you sure you want to risk it?

Also, did you know that some countries require two identification documents for registering a Prepaid SIM card outside of the airport? If you only have your passport with you, you have no choice but to go back to the airport to get your SIM card.

Then, after successfully getting your Prepaid SIM card installed, you’ll have to securely keep your Singapore SIM card for the rest of your trip – a harrowing feat considering the tiny size of SIM cards nowadays.

Another inconvenience of Prepaid SIM cards is the change in your mobile number. This  means if you ever need to retrieve One Time Passwords, you’ll have to switch back to your postpaid SIM card. Better have the necessary tools ready!

WiFi Routers Offer the Best Value

At first glance, WiFi Routers may not seem to be the cheapest option, with most vendors offering a daily rental rate, which varies according to the country you’re travelling to. However, WiFi Routers can be shared among many parties.

For example, ChangiWiFi allow as many as 5 connections to one router, providing significant savings for travellers sharing a WiFi plan. device, giving a significant boost to value when sharing with your travelling buddies.

The bottom line is: WiFi router vendors like ChangiWiFi offers the best value for money, considering their ease of use, reliability and the ability to host multiple connections. Make sure you get the most bang for your buck by choosing the most reputable vendor in the market with solid partner networks.

Pick the Right WiFi Router Vendor  

Just remember: When you’re having a holiday, the last thing you want to be worried about is how much data you have left on your data roaming plan, or whether your Prepaid SIM is going to cover you on your morning hike.

Instead, we think you’d appreciate the convenience of picking up your WiFi Router at the airport before you fly. That’s why we recommend checking out ChangiWiFi, which operates conveniently located 24/7 service counters at Changi Airport.

ChangiWiFi also offers a slew of benefits to customers, such as , and the flexibility to extend your holiday (and your device’s rental period). Something cropped up and need to cancel or change your trip? No problem. Not only will there be no cancellation fees, you’ll only pay for your router upon collection.

Finally, with a minimum rental period of just 2 days, ChangiWiFi makes a great fit for holidays from a weekend getaway to once-a-lifetime epic escapades.  – which is possible anytime, thanks to full-fledged 24/7 service.

If the above sounds good to you, you should know about the fantastic promotion available right now. Use the code 2FREEDAYSOFF* to start renting a WiFi Router from as low as $2.50 per day – the lowest rate in the market for Singapore collection and return!

*Terms and conditions apply

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