Note: This guide is primarily aimed at postpaid Zain customers, but similar methods may be apply to other Kuwaiti mobile carriers. If you find any errors or inconsistencies, please let me know!
Before we begin, we need to understand the exact meaning of some keywords. For Zain customers, calls from 8am to 11pm are called daytime calls and any time after that is considered nighttime. The word local in the Zain-ish language often means Zain-to-Zain calls, rather than any Zain-to-other-carier-in-Kuwait because they are local to the Zain network (also known as on-net calls).
The term peak hours refers to the hours that Zain’s network will have a high number of concurrent calls. Since the number of simultaneous calls varies (based on Kuwait’s population) and is undisclosed, Zain can claim that any time during the daytime (8AM to 11 PM) is actually peak, if it wishes.
Ideally, you’d want to call people only on your carrier’s network at really late/early hours to take advantage of the lowest rates, but the reality is that most calls occur during peak hours of the day to different carriers. This is why I’m going to base the rest of this guide on the worst-case scenario so that your bills remain within expected figures rather than skyrocket and leave holes in your wallet.
As much as I hate making and receiving phone calls, they have become a way of life; talking less to save your phone bill isn’t much of an option anymore.
I’ve seen people avoid making calls by using a ring-once technique as means of free notification. For example, the caller would say, “Get ready and when I arrive at your place, I’ll ring you once”; clever, but lacks feedback.
Okay, to start off, you need to observe your calling trends. Log in to your Zain account and look at the totals of your detailed billed amounts for the past 6 months. Make notes of the number of calls you make (whether on- or off-peak), as well as the total duration of your calls. This will help you decide which voice plan is best for you.
Zain’s voice plans are called “Wiyana”. If you’re using the old “Lana” packages, I suggest you upgrade now, because any unused Lana credit gets discarded at the end of each month. If you activate a Wiyana package from the website, your Lana package is automatically cancelled.
Here’s how it works: Subscribing to a Wiyana package means paying a fee in advance and guaranteeing a constant minute rate until the end of that credit.
Zain offers these voice plans (worst-case non-local calls):
- Wiyana 2.5 KD (40 fils/min)
- Wiyana 9 KD (39 fils/min)
- Wiyana 14 KD (37 fils/min)
- Wiyana 19 KD (35 fils/min)
- Wiyana 29 KD (29 fils/min)
- Wiyana 49 KD (29 fils/min)
In other words, Wiyana 9 KD means: Pay 9 KD at the beginning of each month and get a fixed rate of 39 fils/min (worst case) until you deplete that 9 KD (around 230 minutes or more). If you manage not to deplete all of your 9 KD, the remaining is still kept as credit. If you manage to use up all of the 9 KD early, you fall back to the regular 40 fils per minute fee until the end of the month.
Let’s assume you found out that you talk an average of 450 minutes per month (15 minutes a day during peak hours), then at best, you’d be spending around 18 KD a month (40 fils/min is the peak rate). Remember, we’re using the worst-case scenario, which is usually close to reality. Knowing this, you can calculate the appropriate Wiyana package.
We’re already spending 18 KD on voice service alone, so it would be a good idea to look at Wiyana 14: (37 fils/min * 450 min/month) 16.650 KD or a savings of 1.350 KD (or more) per month. You could also consider Wiyana 19 because, even if you don’t use the extra 1 KD, it still remains on your credit at the start of the next month (usually consumed by SMS bill).
Wiyana 19: (35 fils/min * 450 min/month) 15.750 KD a saving of 2.250 KD (or more) from your regular bill, plus 1 KD remaining credit.
If all of this math is giving you headaches, look at how much you’re paying for voice calls alone on average, then select the Wiyana package that is either close to that amount or covers the average number of minutes you use.
Pick & Talk
The Pick and Talk service works in conjunction with the Wiyana packages. It allows you to pick four Zain numbers and fix their minute rates to a value based on your current Wiyana package (check the Zain website). Any changes to the initial four chosen numbers costs an additional 250 fils. When it comes to picking, select the numbers of people you talk to most often or people you have the longest conversations with.
Send “Talk” by SMS to 99099 to activate the service and pick the first four numbers for free.
Text messages also have different costs and most people usually underestimate them:
- Zain-to-Zain costs 20 fils
- Zain-to-Kuwait costs 40 fils (as far as what I’ve seen)
- Zain-to-International costs 50 fils
Remember that in the worst case (40 fils/SMS) most people can convoy more information by talking for 60 seconds than send a message with just 160 characters. Here’s a typical example:
Zain Subscriber: Hey, how’s it going? Do you want to catch a movie tonight? (40 fils)
Viva Subscriber: Sure, what movie?
Zain Subscriber: Ironman 2 at Avenues 8 pm, good? (40 fils)
Viva Subscriber: Sure, I’ll be there!
A Zain subscriber with a 39 fils/min (Wiyana 9KD) package would probably have conveyed all that within 1 minute and saved 51% of his bill.
I wish Zain had some low-cost SMS plans (because I personally prefer SMS) but they don’t. Instead, they have SMSThem, a service that lets you “broadcast” an SMS to a group of people at a half the price of sending them individually. I won’t get into this because people use BBM/twitter for that and it’s free.
Another package is Dewaniya SMS, which is practically the same idea but costs 250 fils/week for the “admin” of the group and 15 fils per SMS per member.
A lot of people pay for things that they don’t use half the time. Make sure you are not using or are subscribed to any of the following packages unless you need them:
- Voice Mail (5 fils per voice mail received)
- MissU (30 fils per missed call or 6 KD a year if you happened to be subscribed to the plan)
- WAP (legacy; it’s not the “real” internet)
- MMS (150 fils for files larger than 50 KB, just send via email instead)
- International/Roaming (deactivate until needed)
- Zain Video Call (It’s not like FaceTime)
- Mobile TV (3 KD/month while TV is free)
One final tip: Try to pay your bills online to get 5% off of your bill. I still don’t understand why some people fear this method, but the truth is, most modern personal computers are secure enough for online transactions given the built-in firewalls, free anti-virus software, and sand-boxed web browsers made available.
That’s it! Double check your bills and make sure you’re getting the most of what you’ve paid for. Spend that extra money on the good stuff :)