The island nation of Malta is one of the most appealing tourist destinations in Europe. However, with its small size, the costs for hotels, restaurants and nightlife are elevated. In order to minimise your expenses when visiting, consider investing in a prepaid SIM card to lower your charges for calls, texts and data consumption.
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On 24 May 2017, Malta network operators Vodafone and Melita announced a merger to combine their assets under Vodafone’s name in a deal to be finalised in the second half of 2017. Upon approval of the government, possibly as soon as 2018, Melita’s network will disappear off the market.
For the time being, Melia remains an option, along with Vodafone and GO. Before the merger, Vodafone had 44% of the market as of 2015, with GO at 39% and Melita at 15%. You can purchase a starter pack with a SIM card preloaded with EUR5 of text and/or phone credit plus 1GB of data for EUR20 (AUD$30).
Vodafone is Malta’s leading provider in both the number of subscribers and quality of service. There is one Vodafone store in the Malta airport that sells cards for EUR20, offering EUR5 of text and phone credit along with 1GB of data. All three SIM card sizes are available at Vodafone retail outlets. Top-up vouchers are available in denominations of EUR5, EUR10, EUR20 and EUR50. To check your balance, dial #123#.
Vodafone POP is the current line of prepaid SIM cards, having come into existence in 2015. They are a monthly combination plan of voice, text and data, but are not data-friendly. You will likely have to add on a data bundle to your bill. The Vodafone POP offerings are all on 4G/LTE. To activate them, text the name of the plan (listed in the table below) to 16200. All plans auto-renew, so make sure to cancel yours when your trip is over by texting STOP <plan name> to 16200.
|Plan||Domestic minutes/SMS||Vodafone minutes/SMS||Data||Validity||Price|
|POP Easy||100||None||50MB||28 days||EUR9.60|
|POP Talk||100||1,000 minutes||50MB||28 days||EUR14.40|
|POP Smart||100||1,000 SMS||500MB||28 days||EUR14.40|
|POP Star||100||1,000 minutes & 1,000 SMS||500MB||28 days||EUR20.80|
To access more data, Vodafone offers five data bundles that can last from a day up to a month. They are as follows:
To activate a plan, text the code to 16200. Make sure and note that everything except the 24-hour plan renews automatically, so text STOP <code> to 16200 when you leave town.
APN: Internet or Connect
With Vodafone’s acquisition of Melita, GO Mobile is the only other major player in Malta. It began offering 4G/LTE in 2015 and has 60% of the population covered on this top-of-the-line network. GO has six stores located on Malta and one more on the island of Gozo. To find the store closest to where you’ll be staying, the brand’s store locator on its website is a lifesaver.
The GO starter pack costs EUR15 and is comprised of EUR5 credit for texts and calls, and 1GB of data. GO offers nice bonuses for top-ups of at least EUR10. When you top up for EUR10, you get a bonus of 100MB. For EUR20, it’s 250MB. Both are valid for one month if you text the word TOPSAVER to 16414 before you pay for the top-up. Checking your balance requires sending a blank text message to 1232.
GO has three “Pay as you GO” bundle plans that are valid for 28 days each. They are:
|Go Talk||500MB||None||60 minutes||GOTALK||EUR8|
|GO Data||1GB||Unlimited||60 minutes||GODATA||EUR15|
To activate a plan, text its code to 16410. All plans auto-renew after one month. There are three additional data bundles available to give you an additional boost:
APN: gointernet or gosurfing or rtgsurfing
Melita is about to ride off into the sunset as it joins Vodafone’s network in a merger that was announced in May of 2017. Until the deal is complete, it’s still offering two prepaid starter packs. The starter packs cost around EUR10 and are available in Melita stores. Top-ups are available at retailers at the rate of EUR5 for 30 days and EUR10 for 90 days.
Melita has three monthly plans with the aforementioned top-ups that have additional data bundles available. They are:
|EUR0.50||50MB||1 day||Blank text to 16850|
|EUR2.50||350MB||7 days||Blank text to 16855|
|EUR5.00||1GB||30 days||Blank text to 16860|
TripAdvisor has a community bulletin board that specialises in Malta travel. Here are a few tips on Malta SIM cards from visitors to the country.
“You need some form of identification, passport or driving licence (to buy a SIM card)!”
“You will need to top up with credit. There were bundles that include say an hour talk time for about EUR25. There are other operators. There's a Vodafone store in arrivals at the airport though it closes at 8 or 9PM (depends which day).”
Pros and cons of Malta’s top SIM card providers
- GO Mobile has generous data bonuses when you top up your card.
- Vodafone store is conveniently located at Malta airport.
- Data plans on startup and combo bundles are not very impressive.
- When Vodafone completes its merger with Melita, there will only be two network operators to choose from.