For the longest time, I’ve been wishing that we had something like Google Fi in Singapore- a mobile plan that lets you roam in multiple countries without having to buy individual SIM cards or subscribe to different add-on packages.
And now we do.
Back in early 2020, there were rumours that local MVNO Circles.Life (yes, the one with the creepy ads about Eunice Olsen) was looking to launch some sort of subscription travel product, possibly a miles card with up to 3 mpd and no FCY fees.
As it turns out, they’ve gone for something much closer to their core competency: Jetpac, a global data roaming plan that might be just what I’ve been looking for.
Jetpac is an eSIM subscription plan that offers data roaming, monthly hotel credits, lounge access during flight delays and travel insurance for one flat fee ranging from S$10 to S$30 per month.
|Insure Pac||Pro Pac||Lite Pac|
|Roaming Data||7GB||20GB (mo. 1)|
|Max. Rollover Data||12GB||10GB||6GB|
|Flight Delay Lounge Access||✓||✓||✓|
|S$20 Monthly Expedia Credit||✓||✓|
|*A month is defined as 30 consecutive calendar days|
Now, I’m not about to start using Circles.Life as my primary mobile plan in Singapore. They use M1’s network, which can’t beat Singtel for coverage. But that’s the beauty of Jetpac- you don’t need to be a Circles.Life subscriber to use it. Anyone can sign up for a plan, and it’s purely pay-as-you-go.
Data roaming is currently available in 50 countries worldwide, mostly in Asia Pacific and Europe.
|Click to enlarge map|
|🌐 Jetpac Supported Countries|
|Do note that Tiktok cannot be used via Jetpac in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vatican City and Vietnam. I see this as an absolute win!|
While this covers most destinations popular with Singaporeans, there are a few notable omissions:
- All of Central and South America
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
Jetpac’s pricing is certainly competitive, with the Pro Pac plan costing just S$1 per GB in the first month. And since there’s no minimum commitment, you could sign up and cancel as you please, thereby getting 20GB each time you join (as long as Circles.Life decides to offer this promotion).
Isn’t this a loophole? Yes and no. Vulcan Post put this scenario across in an interview with the Circles team.
While some users might try to exploit the Pro Pac plan by cancelling the subscription after the first month to continually get 20GB of data (since it reverts to 5GB for subsequent months), Ajay pointed out that they will “lose the stackable perks if they exit after just one month”.
“The principle of building this product is that it’s made for travelers and give value to them. But we also understand that even the most frequent travelers may travel once or twice every quarter [instead of on a monthly basis].
What this product allows you to do is that it [offers] convenience, and the value is just the sweetener. We give you value back so that you won’t feel like you’re cheated when you’re not traveling — all the value that you have paid for remains with you.”
Circles.Life cites the “stackable perks” as reasons for customers to stay subscribed, even in months where they don’t travel. But here’s the thing: I’m far from convinced these are worth maintaining your membership.
I’m a big fan of the rollover data that Jetpac promises, but it’s capped at 10GB for the Pro Pac plan. Therefore, you have nothing to lose in terms of data by cancelling and returning in a future month with a fresh 20GB.
Monthly S$20 Expedia credit
Insure Pac and Pro Pac members receive a S$20 travel credit each month, which can either be accumulated or converted into an Expedia voucher redeemable at over 500,000 hotels in 140 countries.
Circles.Life’s Head of Marketing says that this makes the Pro Pac plan “literally free”.
It’s literally free because we’re giving you back S$20, which you can spend on hotel bookings
That strikes me as disingenuous, because Expedia may not always be the lowest-priced option, and if it isn’t, your savings are purely illusionary.
What’s more, Expedia vouchers typically cannot be used for hotels on the exclusion list, which features pretty much every hotel chain you can think of. I don’t know if the Expedia vouchers obtained through Circles.Life will follow the same exclusions, but if so, then I’d consider this benefit as close to worthless.
Lounge access during flight delays
Just like the Expedia credits, Circles.Life’s Head of Marketing is again guilty of overplaying the extent of the lounge benefit.
And when you are traveling with your family or friends, you can get lounge access at all the key airports by simply showing your Jetpac.
This is untrue. JetPac is not offering a lounge membership ala Priority Pass, where you can use a lounge every time you fly. Instead, they’re offering lounge access during flight delays, powered by SmartDelay (a product of Collinson Group, the owners of Priority Pass and LoungeKey).
Customers are required to register their flight on the Circles.Life app prior to departure. If their flight is delayed by more than 60 minutes, they will receive an email with a QR code entitling them to lounge access.
In the event of a flight delay, lounge access is extended to:
- Lite Pac: 2 travellers (member + 1 companion)
- Pro Pac: 6 travellers (member + 5 companions)
Each traveller must be registered on the Circles.Life app in order to receive the benefit.
I’d consider this perk to be close to useless too, since it only activates during delays, and most people should be able to get a lounge membership with an entry-level credit card anyway. Even if yours doesn’t, Mastercard offers a similar benefit with their Flight Delay Pass.
It’s certainly not a good reason to hold on to your subscription during non-travel months!
Who would find Jetpac useful?
Despite the near useless Expedia and lounge delay perks, I personally plan to sign up for Jetpac because it’s a good match for my travel patterns.
Over the past few months, I’ve visited the following countries and spent the following on mobile data:
- Japan: US$14 for 3GB (airalo)
- Malaysia: S$6 for 1GB (gomo)
- New Zealand: S$25.90 for 12GB (ICC)
- Thailand: S$14 for 100GB (gomo)
- Taiwan: US$14 for 3GB (airalo)
- USA: US$11 for 3GB (airalo)
- Vietnam: US$4.50 for 1GB (airalo)
Because my travels are closely-spaced, I’d probably do much better by getting a flat-fee S$20 for 20GB plan, instead of buying individual SIMs and eSIMs. That’s especially the case if you plan to country hop (airalo does offer regional plans, but when you do the math Jetpac still comes out on top).
I can think of only a few catches:
- Jetpac is an eSIM only product; if your phone does not support eSIMs, then this whole thing is an academic exercise
- Jetpac is a data-only product; SMS and voice calls are currently not supported. If you require a local number, then you’ll need to get a local SIM
- S$20 for 20GB is a launch promotion that runs for an unspecified period of time. The regular rate of S$20 for 5GB is still a good deal, though it could be more marginal when compared to other plans
I don’t think Jetpac will necessarily be the cheapest option if you really dig into the full range of options available for a given country, but the convenience it offers is very attractive to me.
Circles.Life’s new Jetpac plan offers data roaming in 50 countries for a flat fee, with rollover data and no minimum commitments.
I’m certainly keen to try it out on my next cluster of trips, although I wouldn’t bother keeping my subscription during non-travel periods.