Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming bills.
Not only does Curaçao have great beaches and some of the best coral reefs for diving and exploring in the world, it also has some amazing SIM card deals too. You can buy 1GB of data from Curaçao’s leading telco provider for as little as ANG3 (AUD$2.25), or Fl.3 as it would be called locally. So, whether you’re planning to stay on the island or take a short trip around Curaçao and its sister islands Bonaire and Aruba (aka, the ABC island tour), check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
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There are two operators in Curaçao: Digicel and Chippie. 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, tested and trusted by both locals and travelers alike. Curaçao has good network coverage around the capital, Willemstad, but it becomes a bit weaker as you venture out to the far reaches of the island. Digicel claims to have the better signal and services of the two.
Part of the Dutch Antilles, Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba make up an island cluster that is very popular with tourists. Roaming rates are good (compared to what your home phone can offer abroad) and both operators sell prepaid credit, allowing users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. Curaçao’s operators provide 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services. Locals call their SIM cards “chips” and they can be purchased after a passport check. Credit can be purchased from official stores, supermarkets and at the airport. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what’s available during your visit to Curaçao.
Digicel is the market leader and has good 2G and 3G networks. It also claims to offer 4G services, but it is in fact a super-speedy 3G network. Coverage can be picked up from most parts of the island, except on some beaches in the northwest where you might have to move around a bit to pick up a signal.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official Digicel retailers, some supermarkets and stores. Just remember that the island is very small so you might have trouble hunting a SIM card down. The price for a prepaid SIM card is ANG25, which includes that amount of credit. Remember to take your passport with you as proof of ID when purchasing. Credit can be purchased from most shops on the island. Just look for a Digicel sticker in the window.
The standard default data rate is ANG1 per MB and the overuse rate is ANG0.45 per MB. The following packs can also be purchased:
Dial *123# to select the relevant plan from the above list. Dial *142*9# to check your balance. Digicel will also allow customers to roam on its network on all three ABC islands.
UTS offers its prepaid SIM card services under the Chippie brand in Curaçao and Bonaire. Aruba unfortunately misses out on this partnership. Chippie has slightly better coverage than Digicel on Curaçao and it offers a real 4G/LTE service. Prices vary and cards are sold in both ANG and USD.
Chippie’s "4G+ Basic" SIM card can be purchased for ANG50 and comes with ANG25 of credit. Top-ups can also be purchased, which sometimes come with 10% bonuses, so check the latest deals to see what’s being offered. Dial #191# to check your balance.
The Surf Pay default data rate is charged at ANG0.69 per MB. Text “SURF ON” to 3434 to activate. Text “SURF STOP” to 3434 to cancel. The following plans can also be purchased:
Text the full SURFD, SURFM or SRUFW code to 3434 to activate. Text “SURF STOP” to 3434 to cancel.
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff
- Dutch and Papiamento are both spoken on Curaçao, so if you don’t know either of those languages it might be useful to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. The good thing about Curaçao is that it is a very cosmopolitan country and English is widely spoken.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM” or a “chip”.
- Ask the retailer to set up your SIM card for you. They will likely know how to do it. If they don’t, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Get to the store early as there are very few retailers on the island.
While TripAdvisor is well known for its reviews and for booking hotels, flights and holidays, it also has a lot of user comments that can guide you through which SIM cards have been tried and tested in Curaçao. Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
- “I got a Digicel SIM card for my iPhone for ANG25, which included prepaid minutes as well. Be
sure that your phone is unlocked.”
- “You can buy a SIM card for $15 and you will receive $11 of credit on it. Just inform Digicel of which phone it’s for so they can give you the correct-sized SIM card.”
- ”Make sure your phone has been unlocked by your carrier. You need to get the phone unlocked before you can stick a local SIM card in it.”
Both providers will require that you have a SIM-unlocked GSM-compatible international phone. To double check this, or to find out whether it’s possible for your device to be unlocked, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Curaçao has good coverage
- Prepaid credit is available when required
- No in-store contract needed
- SIM card may be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- Digicel can be used on the ABC islands
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- SIMs can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Coverage can sometimes be weak in the northwest
Digicel offers roaming in Venezuela, but we wouldn’t recommend using it there as it will work out to be extremely expensive. We suggest only using the two SIM card providers we’ve mentioned on the island and once you hit the mainland you should purchase one of the local SIM cards offered there.