Last week, when I arrived in Beijing, I bought a SIM card from China Mobile to put in my cellphone. It is widely considered as the best brand in China. The SIM card (for the number) cost me RMB280, as well as an extra RMB50 for a first voucher (the time money is not included in your original SIM card purchase with China Mobile). The price I paid for my SIM card was vastly above the normal price, which is around 100 RMB (at most 150 RMB), that I was given or that I found on the web. I suspect that I either fooled myself, because I knew the market price (but had a brain cramp in RMB<->CAD conversion), or that the market price is changing because the Olympics are coming. It needs verification. Special numbers do cost more – usually those with lots of 8s. Mine only had 2 eights out of 11 possible numbers.
There are several plans, and I did not explore them all unfortunately. My hosts suggested that I got a M-zone, specially marketed to young people
The first 50 RMB lasted me a week and a half. This is the second 50 RMB refill that I bought from a nearby florist, and which you can safely buy from anywhere that isn’t necessarily a China Mobile shop. It is a voucher that you tear open for a refill code. In order to refill, you just call the number on the voucher and bear with the heavily accented automated service’s English. For some reason, my voucher in fact gave me 60 RMB worth of time-money.