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How to set up a local SIM card in The Bahamas

Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates.

The Bahamas is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Using your phone there can be expensive, so to keep costs down why not switch to a local SIM card and take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs. There are prepaid SIM cards available for visitors to The Bahamas, with offers for as little as BSD10 ($11). So, whether you’re planning a quick break, an extended trip or an island hop, check out the best SIM card offers available on finder.com.au.

Prices last updated 29 Aug 2017
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Telco providers in The Bahamas

The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean. There are two phone operators there: BTC and aliv. Both operators have been tried and tested by both locals and international visitors, and can be trusted. Coverage can suffer in some parts, but this will happen on any phone and network you use there. The Bahamas is well connected, prices are competitive (they will work out cheaper than what you current provider can offer you on the islands), and the speeds are pretty good.

About telecommunications in The Bahamas

Both operators offer prepaid SIM cards and you can buy them from supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official company stores as well as at the airport. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on both networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card kiosks situated around the islands, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in The Bahamas.

BTC

BTC is the largest provider across the islands and offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for BSD15 in official stores and approved resellers across most of the 700 islands. Passports must be shown to the retailers so they will allocate the SIM card to you and register it with the government provider. Top-ups can also be purchased from the same stores or online by selecting the E-top-up service. Credit amounts of between BSD5 and BSD100 can be added. Dial *202# to add credit.

The following data bundles can also be added:

Daily
  • 500MB – BSD2.49
  • 1GB – BSD7
Monthly
  • 2GB – BSD10
  • 3GB – BSD20
  • 4GB – BSD30 (Valid for 35 days)
  • 7GB – BSD60 (Valid for 40 days)

Dial *205# and select the relevant plan.

BTC’s APN: internet.btcbahamas.com, and website: http://www.btcbahamas.com

Aliv

The only other provider on the islands is aliv, and it offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Passports must be shown to purchase the SIM card. Top-ups can also be purchased from the same stores or online by using a credit card. Credit can be added in any amount between BSD5 and BSD100, so shop around for the latest deals as they change from time to time. Dial *202# to add credit. Dial *201# to check your balance.

Data can only be added to plans when purchased within a pack. The following options are available:

Freedom 5Valid for 7 days500MB50 minsBSD5
Freedom 101GB100 minsBSD10
Freedom 202GB200 minsBSD20
Liberty 50Valid for 30 days5GB500 minsBSD50
Liberty 909GB900 minsBSD90
Liberty 120UnlimitedBSD120

Dial 611 to add the relevant pack or visit the nearest store for assistance.

The aliv APN: pda.newcomobile.com, website: http://www.bealiv.com/

Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:

  • Locals call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIM”.
  • English is widely spoken, as it’s the official language in The Bahamas.
  • Ask the retailers to help set up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will be very happy to help.
  • There are limited stores on the islands, so get there early to receive the best help.

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

TripAdvisor reviews can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in The Bahamas.

Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

“You don't even need to buy top-up cards if you go to any one of the BTC stores (local telephone company) just tell the cashier the amount you want to put on the phone and you're good to go. Keep in mind that not all "unlocked" phones work in The Bahamas, so make sure you check before you leave the store.”

“I went to a BTC store but they didn’t have SIM cards available, so I found a store near the Gucci store in downtown, it’s a Chinese store (gift store). The SIM cost BSD15, and you can add a data plan with a card (BSD10 for 400MB, BSD20 for 1GB, etc). My phone is unlocked, and is 3G (band 1900MHz), and It works really well!”

“Make sure you bring the phone you want to use with you and make sure it works before you leave the store, as the BTC SIMs will not work with all phones.”

Pros and cons of telco providers in The Bahamas

You will need a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this option, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current phone

Cons:

  • No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
  • Some islands can suffer with poor network coverage
  • There are limited stores in The Bahamas

Another question about finding the best SIM

Q: What if my own provider has better options?

A: The Bahamas has limited options available for other providers to roam on their networks, and the charges can be very expensive. It’s highly advisable to purchase a local SIM card while you’re there. However, if the prices don’t work out to be any cheaper than your own provider then you may want to stick with your home plan. Check prices before making any decisions.

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