Barbados is an island nation known for the flying fish. In fact, they are literally known as the land of the flying fish. Quite a remarkable thing to be known for, I would say!
What can you actually do in this nation in the Caribbean? Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, has a lot of British colonial architecture, and is a great city for scuba diving, especially in Carlisle Bay.
If you prefer to be outside of the city, Holetown has beautiful beaches, a few famous resorts, and has plenty of stores for the shopaholics.
Oistins is a great place for those who love nightlife and reggae music (like I do). Finally, Speightstown and Sait Lawrence Gap are popular places for those on a honeymoon – aka couples who are madly in love with each other.
You probably will not be in love with the expensive roaming bill you may get from roaming with your provider in Barbados. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, including Barbados.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Barbados. Let's get started.
Telecom Providers in Barbados
Barbados has 2 telecom providers: Digicel Barbados and Flow Barbados. Both providers have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Barbados? If you want to buy a SIM card in Barbados, I would recommend going with either Digicel or Flow. Both providers have good coverage throughout Barbados. I would favor Flow more if you are planning on visiting other Caribbean nations. If you prefer choice in terms of packages for local use, then Digicel would be a better option.
Like most countries in the Caribbean, you have to show your passport when buying a Barbadian SIM card.
Do note that the Barbadian Dollar (BBD) is pegged 2:1 to the US Dollar, meaning that 1 BBD is 0.5 USD.
There is not much more to say about Barbados, so let’s see what Digicel Barbados and Flow Barbados 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!
Digicel Barbados, just Digicel, is ”the new kid on the block,” although they have been in the Barbadian market for almost 2 decades.
Before Digicel enter the Barbadian market, Flow, which used to be called Lime, had a monopoly in the telecommunications market and was considered to be expensive. Since then, Flow Barbados lost its monopoly position, but they have dropped their rates since then.
Digicel SIM cards can be bought in Digicel stores across the country. They are sold for 30 BBD. Top-up vouchers are sold from 5 BBD to 250 BBD across the nation, but you can also top-up online with a credit card.
You can check your Digicel balance by dialing *120#.
The Digicel Get More Bundles are Digicel’s combo plans. They come in these variants:
- 7 BBD: 250 MB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, and 10 anywhere minutes for 1 day
- 25 BBD: 1.2 GB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, and 70 anywhere minutes for 7 day
- 50 BBD: 2.5 GB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, and 250 anywhere minutes for 14 day
- 90 BBD: 5 GB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, and 1300 anywhere minutes for 30 day
You can activate Digicel Get More plan by dialing *246#. You can also enable these, and any other plans mentioned later, online, or on the Digicel app.
These plans do not auto-renew, but they do allow you to roll over unused allowances if you buy a new plan within 24 hours of the old plan expiring (grace period). The rollover cap for remaining data is 25 GB, and for unused Anywhere Minutes is 3000 minutes.
The Anywhere Minutes can be used to call local Flow numbers and numbers in the following destinations
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United Kingdom (landline only)
- United States
Digicel has several LTE Data Only plans you can choose from:
- 5 BBD: 500 MB for 1 day
- 12 BBD: 2 GB for 3 days
- 25 BBD: 5 GB for 7 days
To activate a Digicel LTE Data Only plan, you have to dial *246# and select option 1. All these plans auto-renew, but you can disable the auto-renewal by dialing *246#, select option Balances, and select Opt Out. It is not clear whether these plans work on Digicel’s 2G and 3G networks.
Additionally, you can combine and activate multiple LTE Data Only plans if you feel like it.
Looking for longer validity or want more data? Then these Digicel Prepaid Get More Data plans may be interesting:
- 6 BBD: 200 MB for 1 day (no rollover)
- 20 BBD: 1.5 GB for 7 days
- 40 BBD: 3 GB for 14 days
- 55 BBD: 5 GB for 30 days
- 70 BBD: 12 GB for 30 days
You can activate a Digicel Prepaid Get More Data plan by dialing *246#, online, or on the Digicel app.
All plans, except the 6 BBD plan, roll over unused data if the plan auto-renews. The rollover data cap is set at 25 GB.
Flow Barbados, just Flow, is the incumbent provider in Barbados, but it is not the most popular provider anymore. However, they do offer good coverage throughout Barbados, and their prices are slightly lower than Digicel.
Flow SIM cards are sold for 20 BBD in Flow stores, which come with 10 BBD in credit. Recharge vouchers are sold from 5 BBD to 120 BBS in supermarkets, gas stations, and top-up kiosks across the country. You can also top-up online with a credit card.
To check your Flow credit balance, you have to dial *120#.
Flow has several combo packs, which come with data, (international) minutes, and (international) SMS. All plans, except the 1-day plan, roll over unused data when the plan gets automatically renewed. You can choose from the following Flow combo plans:
- 6 BBD: 250 MB, 250 MB for WhatsApp, unlimited on-net minutes, 100 local and international minutes, and 250 on-net SMS for 1 day (no auto-renew nor rollover). Activation: dial *244*2501#
- 24 BBD: 1 GB, 250 MB for WhatsApp, unlimited on-net minutes, 150 local and international minutes, and 500 local SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *244*1007#
- 35 BBD: 1.5 GB, 100 local minutes, and 100 local SMS for 14 days. Activation: dial *244*1014#
- 40 BBD: 2 GB, 500 MB for WhatsApp, unlimited on-net calls, 250 local and international minutes, and 5000 local SMS for 14 days. Activation: dial *244*1514#
- 90 BBD: 4 GB, 300 local minutes, and 5000 local SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *244*4030#
Just want data? Flow offers the following data packs:
- 5 BBD: 50 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *146*50#
- 7 BBD: 200 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *146*200#
- 10 BBD: 500 MB for 3 days. Activation: dial *146*500#
- 12 BBD: 700 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *146*700#
- 14 BBD: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *146*1007#
- 30 BBD: 1.5 GB for 14 days. Activation: dial *146*1500#
- 36 BBD: 2 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*2000#
- 48 BBD: 4 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*4000#
- 60 BBD: 10 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*10000#
Normally, I do not write about the roaming options of operators, as I discuss them separately in my roaming with your provider articles. However, Flow offers free roaming, with the Travel Pass Flow Data, within the Caribbean where Flow is active in. That means that you can use your flow combo plans or data plans in other Caribbean nations without a surcharge.
This pass should not be confused with the Flow TravelPass Data, which is a roaming package that costs 30 BBD and allows you to roam in 45 countries, including a handful outside of the Caribbean.
The Travel Pass Flow Data can be used in the following nations:
- The British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
- Turks and Caicos
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Barbados
I have discussed the relevant providers in Barbados in this article because using a Barbadian SIM card would be much cheaper than roaming with your provider… in most cases. However, buying a local SIM card is not the only way to stay connected in Barbados. You can buy an international SIM card, use a mobile hotspot, or use free WIFI connections. Below, I will discuss the alternative options to use your phone in Barbados.
Roaming in Barbados 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 BTC from the Bahamas, then you would be roaming with BTC in Barbados.
The issue with roaming is that it can be expensive. There have been many horror stories where people had to pay thousands in roaming fees when coming back from their holidays, which is just a shame, in my opinion. However, roaming does not always have to be expensive, especially when visiting a neighboring country.
Many providers offer roaming plans. Some allow you to roam for free in Barbados, while others would offer you a roaming bundle with a set number of minutes, SMS, and data. Finally, several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee.
As you can see, there are many options out there, so be sure to explore the roaming options your provider has. Conveniently for you, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers (and many more to come) and discussed everything you need to know about roaming with your provider. If you are lucky, you may not even have to buy a SIM card in Barbados and can roam for free there.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
One thing I would not recommend doing is to Roam As You Go. Just like prepaid cards where you can buy bundles or Pay As You Go (as in, charged per minute, SMS, or MB), Roaming As You Go can be insanely expensive (that is how people get expensive roaming bills). So far, there are a handful of providers I have reviewed that offer affordable Roam As You Go rates. But generally, avoid it. Get a roaming plan if you can or buy a SIM in Barbados.
Using an International SIM Card in Barbados
International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.
The number of international SIM card providers is too many to count, but international SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. A few providers I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
They allow people to call you at one number instead of five in case you are exploring multiple countries in one trip. Moreover, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards you will never use again. In short, international SIM cards have been made for the international traveler in mind.
Although this sounds fabulous, international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Barbados. Some international SIM card providers charge ridiculous fees (sometimes, even more than roaming with your provider), while others offer awful service. It is, therefore, important to go with a reputable company so that you do not have to deal with surprised when traveling around the world.
On the other hand, 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.
Using Portable Hotspots (Pocket WIFI) in Barbados
Portable hotspots, also referred to mobile hotspots or pocket WIFI, are routers small enough to bring with you everywhere you go. They are portable, battery-powered wireless routers that allow 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.
Just like with the number of international SIM card providers, there are so many mobile hotspots out there that it is challenging to keep track of them all. Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers. 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. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
The first time I used a portable hotspot was when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my dad. He uses the Dutch telecom provider called KPN, which does not let you roam for free in Thailand. I was with 3 Denmark (3 Danmark), which also did not allow me to roam for free. The router was offered for free by our Airbnb host. Let me tell you how convenient that thing was!
I do not remember the exact brand router we used, but we could connect our phones to it, explore Bangkok, and upload highlights of our trip on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp without the need of connecting to unsecure and slow connections in Thailand.
That is why I often recommend those who are traveling in groups or with families to consider getting a pocket WIFI device so that each individual does not need to buy a local SIM card and data packages. In some countries, the cost of getting a local SIM card or packages is so low that it is not even worth getting a mobile hotspot. In others, it could save you money.
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.
Connecting to Free WIFI Networks in Barbados
Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in Barbados which is using free WIFI networks.
Using WIFI networks should not cost you any money (unless you are connecting to premium hotspots), which is why it is a popular option for travelers. Go to a local café, buy a coffee, connect to their WIFI, and post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram. Straightforward, right? Well, let’s see if that is indeed the case.
First, you need to find hotspots. In some regions, they are readily available. In others, you cannot find any, require you to give your personal details (for commercial purposes), are restricted for those who are a subscriber of an operator’s, or are so slow that you wished you never connected to them.
In the case of Barbados, you can find quite some hotspots throughout the country.
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.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Barbados
Getting a SIM card from Digicel would do you well when a Barbadian 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, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, 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 Barbados
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 Barbados. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Barbados drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Barbados
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 Barbados. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Barbadian hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Barbados
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 Barbados, 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!