This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on using Maxis Hotlink prepaid data. Rather, I will just be sharing what I learned from experience. Maxis Hotlink is probably the easiest SIM card to get hold of in Malaysia, and it does have the widest coverage, so it is recommended for travellers.
I have been using Hotlink prepaid for about 2 years, topping up the same SIM card whenever I enter Malaysia (every 3 months or so), and it was working fine that way. Unfortunately, the SIM card expired after an interval of more than 3 months without doing any top up. I never actually tracked the expiry date of the SIM card and I was presumptuous that I could keep using it. Anyway, I got a replacement SIM card. Guess what? It expired again. When that happens you’re forfeited of all the credit you had in the account. Darn, I need to understand how it works!
If you’re visiting Malaysia for just one time and won’t be back in the near future, then you need not be bothered about the expiry of the SIM card. In a gist, you pay RM10 for the #Hotlink starter pack, out of which you’re left with RM5 worth of credit. To be able to use the SIM card for anything at all, you will need to top up a minimum of RM10 to make the SIM activated, which to me is like a scam. Anyway, when you have done the top up, you get 10 active days with free basic Internet. Yes, you will have Internet access the moment you pop the SIM card into the phone.
You will now have RM15 of credit, which affords you a one week Internet pass (RM10). If you’re not staying in Malaysia for more than a week, you might as well utilize your credit to get an Internet pass, so you will have 4G speed (actual speed depends on location). You can also make use of the free 1GB of data given when you install and use the Maxis Red app.
Every RM1 worth of top up extends the validity of the SIM card by one day (you start with 0 day of validity when you purchase the starter pack), starting from a minimum top up of RM10 (i.e. 10 active days – see the #hotlink terms and condition). After the active period, you have 50 days of deactivated period within which to top up and extend the validity of the card. If you intend to keep the SIM card for future use, you have to top up at least every 60 days (RM10 minimum top up which gives 10 active days, plus 50 deactivated days).
In the past, a Malaysian Internet Banking account was required to do a top up, but now, Maxis Pay allows topping up by credit card, so that makes things a lot easier, being able to top up while overseas. Do note that topping up by Maxis Pay does not entitle you to the free basic Internet. If you’re overseas then it wouldn’t matter anyway.
Remember that there is always the danger of card expiry, in which case you will be forfeited of all your remaining credit. It may be wiser to just let the card expire, even if you have remaining credit, if you don’t enter Malaysia often. It is actually a pain having to top up, instead of being able to utilize the credit that is already available to do activation (apparently this is possible, see below).
For your reference: dial *100# to activate the Internet pass, dial *122# to check credit balance. Or use the Red App.
I discovered that a subscribed internet pass will continue working into the deactivated period. I received an SMS notice that gave me the option to do an SOS top up by deducting RM 1 from my available credit to activate my account for one day. Upon doing the SOS top up, I quickly subscribed the 7 days internet pass. When the one day active period was over, the internet pass continued working!
I also discovered that an SOS top up option is always available in the *100# menu. Instead of deducting RM1 from your remaining credit, RM1 plus RM0.20 in service charge is deducted from your future top up. That’s right, future top up, which you may not perform at all. I suppose they probably don’t allow you to do this SOS top up more than once, but some people might just need it only once.