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A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when travelling to Barbados
Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates.
Barbados not only has some great beaches and spots for surfing, but has some of the best SIM card deals available in the Caribbean, deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from the leading telco provider in Barbados for as little as BBD14 ($8.80). So, whether you’re planning a short trip or an island hop, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com/ca.Prices last updated 29 Aug 2017
There are two main operators in Barbados: Digicel and Flow. Both operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate on the island, and each competes with the other to offer the best deals. Their services have been tried and tested by both locals and travelers, and can be trusted. Services are good from the island providers, but network coverage can suffer along the shoreline and through some inland areas. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Digicel appears to have the better signal out of the two.
Roaming rates are good (compared to what your home phone can offer abroad). Both operators sell prepaid credit, which allows users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. The locals call their SIM cards “chips”, and they can be purchased by showing your passport. Credit can be picked up from official stores, supermarkets and at the airport. Although the local currency is the Barbadian Dollar, the US dollar is also accepted as an unofficial currency. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what’s available during your visit to Barbados.
Digicel is the largest operator in Barbados and offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can also be picked up from the same retail outlets. Your passport must be shown to the retailer before the SIM card is handed over and activated. SIM cards can be picked up for BBD15 and credit bonuses are available depending on the deals on offer at the time of purchase. Credit can be purchased in the form of credit vouchers which can be picked up from most stores across the island, or by using your credit card online. Top-ups can be added in varying amounts between BBD5 and BBD250. Dial *120# to check your balance.
The following “Smart Plans” can also be added. Select the plan you want, dial *246# and enter the relevant plan code from the right hand column below.
Dial *120*131# to check your balance.
Digicel also offers the highly successful “Roam Like You’re Home” package which can be purchased for BBD21, valid for 10 days. This pack will allow you to use your SIM card while traveling to the USA, Canada and other Digicel Caribbean locations. Calls, SMS and data use will be charged at domestic rates. The standard default data rate of BBD0.45 will be charged on this package. Dial *153# to activate the plan.
Digicel’s APN: web.digicelbarbados.com
Flow is the second largest provider on the island and offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers and credit can also be picked up from the same retailers. Your passport must be shown to the retailer before the SIM card is activated. SIM cards can be picked up for BBD25, which comes with BBD10 credit. Credit can be purchased in the form of credit vouchers which can be picked up from most stores across the island, or by using your credit card online. Top-ups can be added in amounts between BBD5 and BBD120. Dial *120# to check your balance.
The standard default data rate is charged at BBD0.61 perMB. The following data packs can also be added by dialing the relevant code to activate.
Flow also offers international roaming packages on other Flow networks:
- 250MB data + 60 international minutes for 3 days: BBD41.99
- 500MB data + 150 international minutes for 7 days: BBD78.99
Some top tips from finder.com staff:
- English is spoken in Barbados.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM”, “Card” or “Chip”.
- Ask the retailers to set up the SIM cards for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early, before the stores get too busy. That way you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
“I purchased a data plan and then I added money for long distance and money for time for calls. That way I had data on the Island and could call home to family or get calls from people on the island. It was just under BBD6 for the long distance and then it’s 10 cents a min to call Canada so I threw on about BBD20 for calls. SIM card was BBD10.”
“Digicel corporate responded to my inquiry to say that a Barbados ID is not required to purchase a prepaid SIM. Purchase a SIM card using your national ID, passport or driver’s license. After purchasing the SIM card then you can activate a data plan freely – simply choose which plan and use the code *153# from your phone.”
Pros and cons of the top telco providers in Barbados
Digicel and Flow require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- Digicel has roaming deals with other territories
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Coverage can suffer on all providers in some parts of the island
- Data speed can sometimes be slow
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