Thursday, 3 May 2012

The winner of the “no contract, pre-paid data deal” in South Africa is… CellC!

I was looking for a data deal that doesn’t attract monthly charges since I don’t use my iPad away from home very much – ideally, the per MB rate should also be lower than the R2/MB out of bundle rates that Vodacom and MTN offer.

I had my eye on the much-advertised-to-me offer from FNB.  I was prompted to investigate further when I saw a tweet to FNB asking for clarity on the FNB deal (first 50 MB per month at 30c/MB, thereafter 59c/MB).  The pre-requisites for using this deal was listed as “A Vodacom Service Provider contract (excluding alternative service providers like AutoPage, Nashua Mobile, etc.) Or alternatively, any MTN cellphone contract”.
So, if I wanted to take up this offer, then I would need to take up a cheap contract that would attract monthly charges, and then the per MB rate would be low.

Here are the Twitter conversations:



@TopEditorInt warned against contracts – I tend to agree with that… so, I looked further…

I needed to answer the question: “What was the best per MB rate that I could get without taking out a contract, and where the data wouldn’t expire in a month or two?” 

Note: this posting has been updated and edited since it was first published… VirginMobile was my original choice (until I found out the their packages expired after 30, 90 or 120 days), the modified “winner” is CellC

So, the search was on… perhaps a small monthly fee for a contract from MTN or VSP (Vodacom Service Provider) with a small amount of data could be topped up with data from FNB?  So, I checked all the web sites and compared them.  Bear in mind, I really didn’t want a monthly fee since I hardly used my iPad away from WiFi for more than once or twice per month.

Vodacom data deals list had “MyMeg 10” deal on offer (90c per MB) – but those aren’t contracts so I wouldn’t be able to topup with the FNB deal :(  These were valid until the end of the following month.

MTN data deals list had “MTN-10MB” deal on offer (R1 per MB)– but those aren’t contracts so I wouldn’t be able to topup with the FNB deal :(

CellC data deals list had “25” deal on offer (80c per MB) – but those aren’t contracts so I wouldn’t be able to topup with the FNB deal :( 
These were valid for 30 days.

8ta data deals list had “100” deal on offer (40c per MB) – but those aren’t contracts so I wouldn’t be able to topup with the FNB deal :(
These were valid until the end of the following month.
VirginMobile data deals list had a flat rate of 60c per MB – but those aren’t contracts so I wouldn’t be able to topup with the FNB deal :(
These didn’t expire! Plus: you get R10 for every R30 used.
Plus: DOUBLE YOUR AIRTIME on your first recharge: That takes the rate down to 26c/MB

You get the recharge amount immediately.  The first 50% of FREE airtime will be loaded within 24 hours.  A calendar month later you will receive the next 50% of FREE airtime. e.g. If you recharged with R300, you receive your R300 + R150 (50% of the first recharge free) and a calendar month later, you’ll receive another R150 (balance of the 50%) free.


So, if you bought R300 for your first purchase, that would get you a rate of 26c per MB – that’s even better than the “special” FNB deal, and there’s no need for a contract and no monthly fees, and no expiring/lost data! 

After the first recharge, the per MB rate goes up to 45c – still not too shabby:

imageSo, the clear winner of this competition is: well…. not so sure any more… Waiting for VirginMobile’s response to my Tweet (see explanation below)
With this hurdle, I decided to look further into the other offerings more closely… and I found this winning deal from CellC: 3GB Valid for 365 days (SIM card only – no modem) for R399 once off!

image image
The CellC offer works out to 13c per MB, R133 per GB, or R33 per month, and 250MB per month – perfect!  I don’t think I’d use that much but hey, what a winning deal!

Comparing this with the original “winning” VirginMobile offer even with the ‘Double your airtime on first recharge’ I would only get 1.5GB at 26c/MB for R400!  So, I will get double the bandwidth that won’t expire after 120 days.
Comparing that with the FNB offer of 30c/MB then 59c/MB – it just plainly blows that out of this universe!

Now, where can I go and get one of those CellC microSIMs from?:

Oh, and yes, you can purchase CellC airtime from the FNB Internet Banking web site :)
BUT, the 3GB for R399 deal can ONLY be purchased at any CellC shop.

Call CellC on 084 140 (Available 24 hours a day, including public holidays)
Twitter: @CellC
Find your nearest CellC store here:  Remember to take your ID and some sort of proof of address eg: Edgars account, or municipal account.
I wonder how much their MicroSIMs cost? {From comments: R29 incl VAT)

Thanks to the original Tweeters for prompting me to do this investigation!

Please let me know if you have found a better solution to this by adding your comments to this post.

Update 30 Apr 2012: Just got a response from VirginMobile to an email – the MicroSIM cost 99c (not like Vodacom’s that cost R110) and can be obtained from any VirginMobile store.

Update 01May2012 08h00: So, I went into a VirginMobile store and wanted to confirm my findings.  I wanted to confirm with the salesman that the Virgin Mobile airtime didn’t expire… but, to my surprise he showed me a brochure with a table of how long the airtime lasted for before expiring – so, it seems that VirginMobile airtime does expire:
How frustrating – I had done all of this research on the web site (and awarded a “clear winner” to VirginMobile) only to find out of this obscure “expiry period”! 
BTW: I searched long and hard on their web site and couldn’t find any reference to the expiry period – hopefully @VirginMobileSA will reply to my tweet.
So, I decided to rename the title of this posing – I removed the “non-expiring” phrase, so as not to mislead you my readers… and now I need to decide whether to award my winning provider to one of the other networks?
If I decide to go with another network then they certainly will not be the winner of this “competition” – watch this space for my decision…

Update 01May2012 18h45: I have updated the post with further investigations and I have decided to go with the CellC offer – so, the clear winner of this competition is: the CellC 3GB for 365 days offer


  1. Thanks for this info.

    The CellC microSIM costs R29 incl. VAT

    Also, seems that this offer has been available since last year already... so probably won't end at the end of May.

  2. Hi HTT

    Also check out this "managed" prepaid option on Vodacom prepaid sims.

    No contract, and no out-of-bundle risk. It basically monitors your sim balance and recharges it only when needed. Perfect for iPad, and no risk of running out of data.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. The CellC out of bundle data rates are 99c per MB
    Buy a small bundle to pay 15c/MB: 50MB for R7.50
    See here for more:


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