Safaricom FLEX bundles: What you need to know

FLEX is a Safaricom product that has been around for almost a year now. When it launched in April last year, the product was primarily aimed at entrepreneurs, people identified as “hustlers” then. However, aren’t we all “hustlers” by the street understanding of the term? This is because almost everything we as young people do fits within what we call our “hustles”. This is just about anything that touches on our lives. Our business engagements by the day and our relationship dramas thereafter.

Unlike the businessmen of old who preferred (and most likely still do) to handle their business stuff separate from their day to day affairs, it’s quite a hassle being able to have several SIMs or smartphones just for the sake of separating the two. In fact, in this day and age of MDMs (mobile device management) like those from Samsung (Knox), BlackBerry and others, the need to have multiple devices to do essentially the same things is reducing. Don’t get me started on the high costs associated with such moves.

So now, what to do?

The best thing is to find a subscription option or plan that works for you. In my case, I basically live off the internet. That means using more data every day than other things like, say, making calls and SMS. So, essentially, I’ll be more inclined to spend on data bundles. Which is okay since I get so much value for my money from those but what if I could just pay the same fee but also have calls and the occasional text message catered for? Sounds like a plan, right?

In essence, that is what Safaricom’s FLEX does. You get to make calls, send SMS and browse without having to worry about subscribing to different plans. It’s one bundle that does everything for you.

It’s taken me a while to get sold on the whole premise of FLEX since I have been very comfortable with the other options available to me but struggling to find a balance. For instance, while I am not big on sending text messages, I’ve always had to cough between 2 and 3 shillings every time there’s need to do it since, well, I prefer being detailed in my responses and, as such, the 160 character allowance for texts is never enough for me so I have to do threads on SMS. That ends up being costly since I am billed directly. The same is the case for calls. I have to top up via M-Pesa every now and then. At the end of the month, when I do the math, it’s a considerable amount, one that I could’ve saved had I also had “bundles” for texts and calls.

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To be fair, Safaricom does have several options it would gladly front to my types as far as SMS goes.

There’s *188#, for instance. That one has options for daily, weekly and monthly SMS bundles and, for quite some time, when it launched 8 years ago, I was a big user of the service. I have since grown up and good old SMS is not a big part of my life (simple late night texts no longer cut it these days). Furthermore, there’s WhatsApp and Telegram that satisfy all my immediate messaging needs. Everyone I need to talk to be it for work or family stuff, save for my dad, uses either one of those two apps. So giving me 500 SMS for 20 bob daily when I am likely to just send one or two SMSs over a 5-day period, is not really the best use of my money. Nor is 3,500 SMSs for Kshs 200 every month. I’ll probably end up using about 10 of those and then what?

Safaricom also does have one other option: the combo of daily data and SMS. As previously stated, I am a monthly data subscriber because I usually get more value there so, again, that option is not for me or my types. So, as you can see, in order to make sense of all this, as long as I am staying with the Safaricom network, using FLEX makes quite a bit of sense. For now.

How it works

With FLEX, what one gets after subscribing to a bundle are FLEX units. It is these FLEX units that are then deducted as per one’s usage instead of airtime in instances where one does not have a subscription to any plan or data or SMS bundles where one has an active subscription. A key factor to consider here is that in the event one has an active bundle, FLEX only kicks in and becomes active when that other bundle (be it for data or SMS) is exhausted.

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Another thing, FLEX bundles cannot be used for other subscription services that may be associated with one’s Safaricom line like subscriptions to Skiza (the ringback tone service), Songa (the new music streaming service whose subscription is paid directly through one’s airtime) and the various premium rate services (the ones that you subscribe using various short codes e.g. for ringtones, inspirational and love messages, betting tips etc).

FLEX bundles also don’t cover international calls and roaming services.

The advantage it (FLEX) has over existing bundle and other subscription options is that it is not fixed and predetermined which is what is the case with, say, when you buy a 1GB data bundle; you have no otherwise but to spend the whole of it on, well, data. On FLEX, the 1,100 bundle, for instance, gets one either a complete 3GB data, over 360 minutes for making calls or 3,300 SMSs, you get to choose how best you are going to use them.

Here’s how you can join FLEX

  • For postpaid subscribers, dial *200#
  • For prepaid subscribers, dial *100#. Right now, FLEX is the first option, 0.
  • Or, better yet, use the mySafaricom application. From the app, go to Services > FLEX and pick a bundle of your choice. About those bundles, here’s what you get.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com