Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Bahrain Guide

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a country in the Middle East and is the smallest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council. It has various man-made beaches because it does not have many natural beaches. Moreover, you can enjoy a tropical desert climate when visiting Bahrain.

Although Bahrain is a relatively expensive country to visit, roaming with your provider could make the costs even higher. Roaming can be expensive at times, which is why travelers want to buy a Bahrani SIM card when exploring the country. Today, I will go over everything you need to know about SIM card options in Bahrain. Let's go.

Telecom Providers in Bahrain

There are 3 telecom providers in Bahrain, Batelco, Zain, and STC (formerly VIVA). A few years ago, Batelco and Zain had almost the same market share in terms of subscribers. The subscriber numbers of STC are not available. However, all providers cover 99% of the country already (4G/LTE), meaning that the only difference between them is the rates and perks.  

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Bahrain? If you want to buy a SIM card in Bahrain, I would recommend going with STC (VIVA) because they have the lowest rate in Bahrain while providing the same excellent coverage as Batelco and Zain.

RECOMMENDED: Want to get an excel sheet of the best SIM cards of over 230+ destinations around the world, updated monthly? Sign up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter and get the excel sheet for FREE!

Since 2010, travelers visiting Bahrain have to register their personal details by showing their passport to the service provider. If you fail to do so, then the SIM card will be deactivated. A few years later, sales were restricted to service providers only – you cannot buy authorized SIM cards in kiosks or on the streets anymore. Moreover, fingerprints will be taken when buying a SIM card.

Like some other countries in the Middle East, internet censorship is prevalent in Bahrain, meaning that you need to use a VPN if you want to access all of your favorite sites.

With that short intro, let’s see what Bahrain has 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!

Video Guide for Buying a SIM Card in Bahrain

Want to watch the video version of this Bahrain local SIM card guide? You bet! Check the video down below, and make sure to subscribe!

STC Bahrain (VIVA)

STC Logo

STC Bahrain (formerly VIVA) is a telecom provider from Saudi Arabi that entered Bahrain in 2010. You can buy an STC SIM card, or SimSim as they call it, for 1 BHD ($2.65) in STC stores, from authorized dealers, and at Bahrain International Airport.

Once you have bought your STC SIM card, you will need to top it up, as it comes without credit. You can buy recharge cards starting from 1 BHD to 30 BHD. You get bonuses if you recharge for 10 BHD or more.

You can buy a weekly or monthly starter plan for 3 BHD and BHD 6, respectively. The weekly plan comes with 100 domestic minutes and 1 GB of data for 7 days. Although the initial price of this plan starts at BHD 3, you can renew it for BHD 1.5.

The monthly plan offers 500 domestic minutes and 6 GB of data for 30 days. Unlike the weekly plan, you have to pay another BHD 6 if you wish to renew the monthly plan.

The following data packs are available:

  • 1.05 BHD: 1 GB
  • 3.15 BHD: 3 GB
  • 5.25 BHD: 8 GB
  • 10.50 BHD: 20 GB

If you are not interested in calling or texting, you can buy STC’s data-only SIM cards called STC Prepaid Broadband. These SIM cards offer 4G/LTE data speeds and will not allow you to SMS or call.

STC has two starter packs for its data-only SIM cards:

  • 3 GB for BHD 4, which is valid for 7 days
  • 10 GB for BHD 7, which is valid for 30 days

If 10 GB is not enough, you can top up your data-only SIM card with up to BHD 30, which will give you 60 GB of data for 30 days. If you go over the allowance, the speed will be reduced, meaning you will still be able to browse the web, although slowly.  

Below are a few more data packages:

  • 1 BHD: 1 GB for 3 days
  • 2 BHD: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 3 BHD: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 5 BHD: 8 GB for 14 days
  • 6 BHD: 10 GB for 30 days
  • 7 BHD: 13 GB for 30 days
  • 10 BHD: 20 GB for 30 days
  • 15 BHD: 30 GB for 30 days
  • 20 BHD: 40 GB for 30 days
  • 25 BHD: 50 GB for 30 days
  • 30 BHD: 60 GB for 30 days

Batelco

Batelco Logo

Batelco, or Bahrain Telecom, is the most expensive provider in Bahrain. It had the best 2G network, but it was phased out at the end of 2019. Batelco SIM cards are sold for 3 BHD (weekly) or 6 BHD (monthly). The weekly starter pack comes with 100 minutes and 1 GB for 7 days. The monthly started pack comes with 500 minutes and 6 GB for 30 days.

Recharge vouchers are sold from 1 BHD to 30 BHD.

The following data packs are available, which last as long as the validity of your SIM card:

  • 1 BHD: 1 GB
  • 3 BHD: 3 GB
  • 5 BHD: 8 GB
  • 10 BHD: 20 GB

Do you not feel like calling in Bahrain? You can buy their data-only SIM cards called Prepaid Mobile Broadband, which are sold in these variations:

  • 4 BHD: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 7 BHD: 10 GB for 30 days

If that is not enough data for you, you can add more data. If you go over your quota, your speed will be throttled:

  • 1 BHD: 1 GB for 3 days
  • 2 BHD: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 3 BHD: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 4 BHD: 4 GB for 7 days
  • 5 BHD: 8 GB for 14 days
  • 6 BHD: 10 GB for 30 days
  • 10 BHD: 20 GB for 30 days
  • 12 BHD: 24 GB for 30 days
  • 20 BHD: 40 GB for 30 days
  • 30 BHD: 60 GB for 30 days

Those with Batelco can use its Bahrain WIFI network throughout the country. Everyone with an active plan can use up to 2 GB for free every month by texting “BWIFI” to 88188.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Get Us In Your Inbox

Get regular phone-travel-related news, tips, and articles. I will also send you a FREE Excel sheet with the best operator(s) of 230+ destinations around the world, including why they are the best, SIM card prices, and more! 

We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use

Zain

Zain Logo

Zain is a telecom provider from Kuwait and was the second operator in Bahrain. It offers similar prices as Batelco. SIM cards can be bought for 1 BHD at official stores and at the international airport.

Top-up vouchers are sold from 0.5 BHD up to 30 BHD, and you get a 10% to 25% bonus if you recharge 10 BHD or more.

The Zain cards, also known as eeZee, come in two variants:

  • Weekly: 1 BHD with 100 minutes and 1.25 GB for 7 days
  • Monthly: 6 BHD with 500 minutes and 7 GB for 30 days

Of course, you can extra data as well, which will be valid until your starter pack expires:

  • 1 BHD for 1 GB
  • 2 BHD for 2 GB
  • 5 BHD for 8 GB
  • 10 BHD for 20 GB

Will calling and texting be useless for you when visiting Bahrain? You can buy one of their 3 data-only SIM cards called e-GO:

  • 4 BHD: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 7 BHD: 10 GB for 30 days
  • 10 BHD: 20 GB for 30 days

Do you consume data as much as you consume oxygen? More data can be added. If you go over your limited, your speed will be throttled to 256 kbps:

  • 1 BHD: 1 GB for 3 days
  • 2 BHD: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 4 BHD: 4 GB for 7 days
  • 5 BHD: 8 GB for 14 days
  • 6 BHD: 10 GB for 30 days
  • 10 BHD: 20 GB for 30 days
  • 20 BHD: 40 GB for 30 days
  • 25 BHD: 50 GB for 30 days
  • 30 BHD: 60 GB for 30 days

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Bahrain

Besides getting a Bahrani SIM card, there are different ways of staying connected when exploring Bahrain, such as using an international SIM card, roaming with your provider, using pocket WIFI, or WIFI networks.

International SIM Cards

You can consider purchasing an international SIM card. International SIM cards are SIM cards that can be used internationally without the roaming charges.

There are many international SIM cards out there, such as OneSimCard and SIM cards from SimOptions. These SIM cards with the same as roaming with your provider, but the charges are often way less than actually roaming because they have been set up for international travel.

International SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. As in, not having to get numerous SIM cards, you will not use again, and being reachable on one number instead of multiple. In most cases, you can use your international SIM when back home, but their rates will be high compared to using your carrier.

Do note that using an international SIM card is often more expensive than using a local SIM card but cheaper than roaming with your provider. International SIM cards are appealing for those who travel frequently and cannot be bothered with the hassle of purchasing a SIM card each time they arrive at a new destination. Additionally, constantly having to switch SIM cards and using different phone numbers may discourage seasoned travelers from buying local SIM cards.

If you are visiting only one destination for a short period, get a local SIM card (or roam with your provider if they have attractive roaming rates or plans). If you travel often and want to be able to be contacted on one phone number when visiting multiple destinations, international SIM cards could be attractive. Check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyzed the top 10 leading international SIM cards out there.

Roaming 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. If you use your phone in Bahrain without changing SIM cards, you would be roaming in Bahrain.

You have probably read numerous horror stories of travelers who went abroad for a while and came back home to a phone bill in the thousands because they were roaming. An example of such a story is this individual who received a bill of £8,348.41 for data roaming for 40 minutes. I also found the reason why roaming is so expensive.

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

Roaming can be convenient because you do not have to wait in line to get a local SIM card, go through the whole SIM card registration process, and can easily be reached when friends and family who are in your home country want to call or text you.

However, this convenience comes at a cost – a high cost if you do not watch out. But this does not always have to be the case.

Some carriers allow you to roam for free in select countries, such as Sprint (American provider). They have a program called Sprint Global Roam, which allows its customers to roam in 205 destinations, including Bahrain, for free at reduced speeds.

Other carriers allow you to use your plan's allowance if you pay a fixed daily fee. For example, Koodo, a Canadian provider, allows you to use your plan's allowance with their program called Koodo Easy Roam International for $12 a day, which can be used in Bahrain as well. This means that if you get 10 GB a month, you can use those 10 GB in Bahrain as well.

However, you should take caution with such plans. They are convenient and inexpensive when done for a few days, but not when going abroad for a week or more. I often argue that one can use these plans if you are staying abroad for a maximum of three days. If longer, than you are better off with a local SIM card, which will give you more bang for your buck. Check out my articles to see if your provider offers roaming bundles.

Finally, you can roam on Pay As You Go roaming rates. With standard roaming rates, you get charged per action on the go. In other words, you get charged per minute, SMS, or KB/MB. Often, Pay As You Go roaming rates are insanely high (which leads to those stories where people got charged into the thousands), and should be avoided in most cases. However, some providers do have reasonable standard roaming rates, especially to neighboring countries.

In general, I would discourage you from roaming on Pay As You Go roaming rates when visiting Bahrain, but it is still an option to explore. If you want to see what your carrier would charge you, check out my roaming with your provider articles with my analysis and verdicts.

Pocket WIFI

If you do not want to get a local SIM card or an international SIM card and do not feel like roaming either, then you can get pocket WIFI. A portable hotspot is a device that acts as your personal router that you can take with you. This hotspot connects to the cellular networks of your destination – just like your phone would do but without the roaming costs.

There are many portable hotspots out there. Two reputable pocket WIFI companies I know are Skyroam (use coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ) and Vision Global Wireless. WIFI access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

A pocket WIFI device is ideal for those who are traveling with families or multiple individuals. This way, everyone can connect to the device and enjoy the WIFI network on the go. Some companies will charge you per GB while others will give you unlimited data. Be aware of the data restrictions of your device so that you will not receive a high bill after your travels.

Using Free WIFI Connections

If you do not want to pay anything extra for staying connected while in Bahrani, then you can choose to connect to WIFI networks instead of cellular networks.

Although using WIFI hotspots may save you money, it may not be convenient as using a SIM card. First, you would have to find WIFI hotspots. WIFI networks can be found in the cities, especially malls.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. I would recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (especially in Bahrain) if you connect to an unfamiliar network. The VPN will encrypt your data and will keep your data private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get yours today or find out more about NordVPN.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Bahrain

Getting a SIM card from STC would do you well when considering a Bahrani SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Get Us In Your Inbox

Get regular phone-travel-related news, tips, and articles. I will also send you a FREE Excel sheet with the best operator(s) of 230+ destinations around the world, including why they are the best, SIM card prices, and more! 

We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots 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 Middle East? Check out my Middle Eastern SIM card buying guide, covering other Middle Eastern countries, such as Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. 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 Bahrain

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 Bahrain. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Bahrain drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Bahrain

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 Bahrain. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Bahrain

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 Bahrain, 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.

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, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

Recent Content