Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Antigua & Barbuda Guide

Antigua and Barbuda is one of the few twin-nations in the world, just like Trinidad and Tobago. The two islands should not be seen as two separate nations because they are not. Moreover, the nation has a few smaller islands you can visit and explore.

Antigua and Barbuda is a popular travel destination in the Caribbean. With crystal clear water, beautiful beaches, and rainforests, I can understand why it is so popular.

St. John's, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, is a hub for yachts and has many historic sites. Dickenson Bay is a cool seaside spot with many local bars around it. Fort James has fort ruined with cannons and a fantastic view. In short, the country is awesome.

What may not be awesome is dealing with an expensive roaming bill you will receive from your operator because you decided to roam with your provider in Antigua and Barbuda. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why you would want to buy an Antiguan and Barbudan SIM card when visiting the country.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Antigua and Barbuda. Let's get started, shall we?

Telecom Providers in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda have 3 telecom providers: Flow Antigua and Barbuda, Digicel Antigua and Barbuda, and iMobile. iMobile only has a 2G network and does not offer data services, which is why they will not be discussed any further in this article.

Both Flow Antigua and Barbuda and Digicel Antigua and Barbuda have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. They cover both islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and none of the smaller islands in the nation.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Antigua and Barbuda? If you want to buy a SIM card in Antigua and Barbuda, I would recommend going with either Flow or Digicel. Both operators have identical coverage. Flow offers 2 more combo packs than Digicel, but the selection is limited to 5 bundles with Flow.

Do note that the market share and coverage of both providers are almost identical. Many locals have a SIM card from both operators so that they do not have to pay any off-net fees (a fee for texting a Flow Antigua and Barbuda number while being a Digicel Antigua and Barbuda customer and vice versa).

Like most countries in the Caribbean, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Antigua and Barbuda.

The East Caribbean Dollar, XCD, is pegged 2.70:1 to the US Dollar, meaning that 2:70 XCD is 1 USD (or 1 XCD is $0.37).

With that being said, let’s see what Antigua and Barbuda have to offer to us.

Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!

Flow Antigua and Barbuda

Flow Logo

Flow Antigua and Barbuda, just Flow, was the first operator on the twin-island nation until Digicel decided to join the market.

Flow SIM cards are sold for 10 XCD in Flow stores and various other places. Be sure to ask for a 4G/LTE SIM card if you want to take advantage of Flow’s 4G/LTE network. Flow claims to cover 100% of the 2 islands, so it is worth trying the high-speed network.

You can buy Flow recharge vouchers from 5 XCD to 200 XCD in supermarkets, gas stations, and from top-up kiosks throughout the nation. You can also top-up online with a credit card. To check your Flow balance, dial *3733.

Flow has several Always On Prepaid plans, which are Flow’s combo plans:

  • 8.50 XCD: 1 GB, 25 minutes, and 25 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial *244*0#
  • 20 XCD: 1 GB, 200 minutes, and 200 SMS for 3 days. Activation: dial *244*1#
  • 40 XCD: 3 GB, 350 minutes, and 250 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *244*2#
  • 100 XCD: 7 GB, 700 minutes, and 700 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *244*3#
  • 120 XCD: 10 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *244*4#

You can also buy your Flow Always On Prepaid plans online. Additionally, all these plans come with unlimited social messaging, which includes Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.

Digicel Antigua and Barbuda

Digicel Logo

Digicel Antigua and Barbuda, just Digicel, is the other GSM operator in Antigua and Barbuda. They entered a lot of Caribbean countries where Flow used to be the sole operator. Now, residents can enjoy “healthy competition.”

Digicel SIM cards can be bought for 25 XCD in Digicel stores. Just like with Flow, ask for their 4G/LTE SIM card if you plan on using Digicel’s 4G/LTE network.

You can buy Digicel top-up cards in many shops throughout the country, but you can also recharge online with a credit card.

Digicel has a few Quick Pick Bundles to choose from, which are their combo packs:

  • 7 XCD: 200 MB, unlimited on-net minutes and SMS, and 10 anywhere minutes
  • 35 XCD: 700 MB, unlimited on-net minutes and SMS, and 70 anywhere minutes
  • 105 XCD: 3 GB, unlimited on-net minutes and SMS, and 300 anywhere minutes

You can activate a Digicel Quick Pick Bundle online or on the My Digicel App. To check your current allowance, dial *141#. All Quick Pick Bundles auto-renew if there is enough credit. Unused data will roll-over to the new month, as long as the auto-renewal is successful. You can also downgrade your plan and still use your unused allowance.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Antigua and Barbuda

So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Antigua and Barbuda. However, that is not the only way to be online in Antigua and Barbuda. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.

Roaming in Antigua and Barbuda with Your Provider

Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Digicel Anguilla, then you would be roaming with Digicel Anguilla in Antigua and Barbuda.

You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.

Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Antigua and Barbuda, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Antigua and Barbuda, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).

No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!

Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.

Using Free WIFI connections in Antigua and Barbuda

This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.

First, you need to find hotspots in Antigua and Barbuda. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.

In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, you can mainly find hotspots in the tourist areas, but many of them are slow.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.

Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Antigua and Barbuda

Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.

Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day. All these services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

Vision Global Wireless Banner

I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.

I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.

Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Antigua and Barbuda

International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.

All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Antigua and Barbuda. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.

OneSimCard Banner

International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in the Caribbean require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Antigua and Barbuda

Getting a SIM card from either Flow of Digicel would do you well when considering an Antiguan SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards like OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots like Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Visiting other countries in the Caribbean? Check out my Caribbean SIM card buying guide covering the other Caribbean destinations, such as Anguilla, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French West Indies, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French) & Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Anguilla and Barbuda

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Anguilla and Barbuda. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Anguilla and Barbuda drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Anguilla and Barbuda

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Anguilla and Barbuda. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Barbudan hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Anguilla and Barbuda

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Anguilla and Barbuda, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Transferwise Banner

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan due to the current pandemic and does not have any travel plans for after his stay in Taiwan.

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