Sunday, December 23, 2007

Prepaid Phone Cards

This is a follow-up to my previous posting: Macao Phone Tips

Travelers coming to Macau can expect to find 3 types of phone cards:

1) CTM Best Prepaid: 180 day expiry limit, $0.4 per minute airtime

2) SmarTone Prepaid: 30 day expiry limit, $0.225 per minute airtime
(refer below for airtime charge ambiguity)

3) 3 Easy Travel: 180 day expiry limit, $0.4 per minute airtime, $0.25 per SMS

----- Analysis -----

If you are a heavy phone user staying only in Macau continuously, SmarTone Prepaid offers cheaper rates.

If you are a light phone user who comes to Macau for occasionally, Best Prepaid lets you retain your number with a 180 day expiry limit.

Best Prepaid is run by CTM, which has a deal with Yahoo Messenger to allow subscribers to receive free Yahoo messages via SMS for free. SmarTone is not recognized by Yahoo.

----- SmarTone English Translation -----

優惠套裝:$150 (原價 $170)
Special Offer: $ 150 (original price $ 170)

包括 $70智能咭及兩張 $50 增值券
Including $ 70 SIM cards and two $ 50 coupons

本地通話費:每分鐘 $0.405
Local calling rates: $ 0.405 per minute

[Note that there is some ambiguity here. Chinese SmarTone brochures claim the $0.225 charge, and in June 2007 my calls were charged at $0.225. Please inquire before buying the card.]

Additional features

本地及國際來電顯示:首月免費,其後每月 $10
Local & International Caller Number Display: first month free, then $ 10 per month

所有來電轉駁:每分鐘 $0.44
All call forwarding: $ 0.44 per minute

留言信箱:每月 $28
Voice mailbox: $ 28 per month

發送本地短訊:每個 $0.25
Send local SMS: $ 0.25 each

發送國際短訊:每個 $1
Send international SMS: $ 1 each

發送國際短訊致菲律賓及印尼,每個 $0.65
International SMS sent to the Philippines and Indonesia, $ 0.65 each

Hot download information (via SMS):

即時天氣報告、足球消息及指定項目:每個 $0.50
Real-time weather reports, news and football: $ 0.50 each

Other information: Free

Charges will be accessed as a unit on the 30th

----- VoIP Services -----

You can also use Voice over IP services such as GTALK to VOIP if you have an Internet connection. My Filipino friends and I use Yahoo Messenger and Chikka to stay in touch.

Beware that Skype and Yahoo expire your phone credits after 180 days, an "obvious" condition stated among the voluminous lines of their user agreements.

After finding to my dismay that Skype has confiscated (some would say steal) over US$15 of my credits and would not give me a second chance to claim them back, I will no longer use their paid services anymore.

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