Most of us who own mobile phone(s) use prepaid service, only a handful of us choose postpaid service. If you are at my current age, which is 24 years old, most probably your prepaid plan is one of those plans that cater specially for the students. Familiar names are such as UOX, Hotlink Youth Club and DiGi Campus. No doubt that these plans offers low rates and it suites best when you are a student, on a tight budget, and really a great bargain when calling your soul mate.
Ah ha, good time does not last forever, and there is no such things as free lunch.
Keeping with time, you are now working, and your age is climbing. Regretfully your service provider will never want to give you the low rates forever since the justification is there – you are now earning cash and it is now the time you pay the full rate. Most of the plans expire when you age reach 25, and you will automatically reverted (or upgraded) to the standard prepaid plan. As you know, standard plan rates’ are expensive and somewhat unreasonable (I want to save, I want to get married!). You might consider jumping into postpaid plans, but when you analyzed your usage pattern, it is not a wise move. Postpaid is about commitment (fee), if you use less, you still have to pay the full rate. That is injustice!
You still love prepaid, and get used with the system very well. You do not want bills, queuing at the counter to pay bills, and enjoy the convenient way of buying top up at grocery store and kedai mamak. But the dilemma here is, which plan is the best? Let me share my opinion, and in this post, I will compare two prepaid plans, Celcom Blue and Hotlink Plan. Wait a minute, why not include DiGi? The reason is, most of us have either Celcom or Maxis, or both. DiGi is indeed very cheap, and surely beat both prepaid plans, but if you factor in other factors such as coverage and user base, then you will see that Celcom and Maxis is somehow have the edge.
Celcom Blue vs. Maxis Hotlink Plan
The information and rates presented here are accurate as at 7 January 2011 and taken from their respective websites. For Celcom Blue rates, click here, whereas for Maxis Hotlink Plan rates, click here.
About Celcom Blue
Celcom originally have only one prepaid plan, which is the well known Xpax. From this brand, Celcom segmented it into sub plan called SOX (for 12 years-18 years old) and UOX (18 years-25 years old). SOX and UOX are doing extremely well because the fact that it offers postpaid like rates and promotions that nicely fit the student community, and gives Maxis and DiGi a headache and they too later launched prepaid plan that caters for the students. While SOX and UOX are generally impressive, the standard Xpax is rather irrelevant and out of place. The rates are exorbitant (RM 1.80 per minute for outstation call) and still offer region-based charging. Therefore, most of standard Xpax users either run away (change provider) or migrate to Celcom Blue.
Celcom Blue mechanism is different. Celcom Blue target market is those 25 years and above (the working people) and clearly, it also refers to the UOX users who already reach their age of 25. The original Celcom Blue is not very impressive, but the new Celcom Blue clearly address the issues and have better rates and features. The rates are competitive and one of the best feature is the call rates will be lower if you top up at the higher amount. Refer to the table below
The approach is like postpaid, but done in the prepaid ways. It is better than postpaid in some instance. Why? Because for postpaid, if you use less than the commitment fee, you still have to pay full, whereas for prepaid, the credit is carried forward. In Celcom Blue case, if you commit yourself RM50 per month, you pay 29 sen per minute for call and 6 sen per SMS to all networks. Unused credit are not forfeited, and the accumulated amount is useful for you in the later days!
About Maxis Hotlink Plan
Maxis is the pioneer of student plan (correct me if I am wrong). Still remember the iconic Campus Zone plan? This plan is basically offer low rates to Maxis user within vicinity of your campus (in effect, when you phone is tied up to selected base station). Then this plan evolved into Hotlink Youth Club, and no longer restricted to selected campuses and areas. The rates are more or less similar to UOX, and tend to be lower if you called any person on the same network. In short, it rocks!
Maxis standard prepaid plan is called Hotlink Plan, the history can be traced back from the plans named Talk Plan, SMS Plan, Easy Plan, and Total Plan. If you are not aware, The Basic Plan and Extra Plan are no longer offered directly in the Easy Menu system. The only option that you have if you want to migrate is Hotlink Plan, and most probably Hotlink Youth Club user who already reach their expiry date will be automatically upgraded to Hotlink Plan. This plan offers flat rate to all networks as opposed to former plan that based on what network the person is calling to. The implementation is somehow follows Celcom Blue, and mind you, Maxis Postpaid is still charging based on the destination network.
If you are curious, I am a Celcom Blue and Maxis Youth Club user. Yes, I have two mobile phones. I write this review based on my own research and experience, and neither Celcom nor Maxis pay me for writing this.
The Assumptions, Rates, and Calculation
When it comes to comparison and experiment, it is wise to use assumption that nearly match the real world situation. Who said only Economist can give assumption? To have a fair view, I use this assumption:
- I committed RM30 for prepaid top up every month, and whatever balance I have in my account I will always top up every month.
- My usage is about 40 minutes of calls, 350 SMS, 10 MMS and 1 MB of data per month. This is my real average usage based on data from 2009 and 2010, and not a make-up numbers.
- The rates for Teman 20 and Activ10 are excluded from the calculation, since most of our calls are made to these frequently called number, and if it is included, will give inaccurate result.
Then lets see the rates offered by both Celcom Blue and Maxis Hotlink Plan
These rates are accurate as at 7 January 2011. The rates might changes in the future, and therefore as long as the rates remain the same, this review is valid and error free. We are now know the assumptions and rates, and lets do the calculation to see how both plans performs in real life situation.
The numbers speaks for itself. Note that the difference is merely not so obvious, except when it comes to SMS usage. So if you are heavy SMS user, you know which plan suits you well. Mind you, the calculation above does not includes rates to 20/10 selected numbers (Teman 20/Activ10) and your actual usage most probably will be on these frequently used number. * For Hotlink Plan, the MMS cost shown is based on the fair split (5 MMS to Maxis and 5 MMS to other network) since Maxis employs different rate for MMS sent within and outside its network.
The best? It is hard to speak, but rate-wise, Celcom Blue has the edge over Maxis Hotlink Plan, ceteris paribus. Service wise, is another story, and will try to cover it later.
Extra Tips: I Have Excess Amount of Credit, What To Do?
If you are the one who use your phone rarely, using only to SMS your sweetheart at 1 sen per SMS, and top up your account to keep it active (and accumulating credits in the process), why do not you use the extended validity features? Extend your validity up to 2 years, and both Celcom Blue and Maxis Hotlink Plan have this feature. See the table below for the fee
The catch here is, for the 1st 6 months, you must top-up RM30 (accumulated) or else you extended validity will be forfeited. That is easy actually, just top-up RM10 for first three months, after that you top up when you need. You will save more in the long term.
The best plan? The best come from yourself. Know your usage, yourself, then you will find the best plan. This review serves as a guide, and not necessarily will suit you well. If there is any changes or errors in the facts or figure, do inform me.