Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Eswatini (Swaziland) Guide

Logos of Telecom Operators in Eswatini: MTN Eswatini & Eswatini Mobile

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a landlocked country with Mozambique and South Africa as their neighbors, while Lesotho, is almost in the middle of South Africa.

Even if you visit Eswatini from South Africa, or Mozambique for that matter, you would want to get a Swazi SIM card because roaming with a Mozambican or South African provider in Eswatini is relatively expensive, let alone if your provider is from another country in Africa or elsewhere in the world.

Mobile data rates are a bit more expensive in Eswatini compared to South African standards (not just South Africa as the country, but South Africa as a region). However, they are still low compared to the world average, so you should definitely take advantage of the local rates.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Eswatini. Let’s do this.

Telecom Operators, Networks, and Frequencies in Eswatini

Eswatini has 2 telecom operators:

  • MTN Eswatini
  • Eswatini Mobile

Both operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.

The following frequencies are used by the Swazi operators:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3)

The Best SIM Card in Eswatini

If you want to buy a SIM card in Eswatini, then MTN is the best option. MTN has the best coverage in Eswatini and is, on average, cheaper than Eswatini Mobile (37 SZL vs. 68 SZL) when looking at the average cost per GB of data-only packages.

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SIM Card Registration Regulations in Eswatini

Like most countries in Southern Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register your passport details when buying a SIM card in Eswatini.

The State of the Swazi Telecom Market

Eswatini is a landlocked country, which often means that (mobile) internet rates are higher compared to countries next to seas and oceans. Eswatini relies on neighboring countries for internet bandwidth.

Before Eswatini Mobile entered the Swazi telecom market, many locals were upset by the high rates charged by MTN Eswatini. Since then, with a combination of a drop in internet bandwidth rates, internet prices have dropped in Eswatini.

Surprisingly, MTN Eswatini is the cheaper option in the country at the moment when adding up the total GB offered with their data-only packs (Volume-Based Data Bundles for MTN Eswatini, Data Bundles for Eswatini Mobile) divided by the sum of charges for data.

It is understood that this excludes many of the other types of bundles, like the combo bundles. It may not be an accurate representation of the average price charged by the Swazi operators. Still, it does give a quick snapshot of the price difference of the two operators.

However, it is expected that Eswatini Mobile will lower its prices once they have finished their 5-year investment plan in 2022.

Currency in Eswatini

Eswatini uses the Swazi Lilangeni with the symbol SZL (which will be used throughout this article). Prices in Eswatini are listed in E. For example, 25 SZL is E25. For reference, below are some exchange rates between SZL and USD (US Dollars – Rounded):

  • 1 SZL = 0.05 USD
  • 10 SZL = 0.55 USD
  • 100 SZL = 5.70 USD
  • 1000 SZL = 57.15 USD
  • 10 000 SZL = 571.45 USD

Do note that the Swazi Lilangeni is pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand (ZAR). Moreover, you can use ZAR in Eswatini (although you will get change back in SZL), but SZL is barely accepted in South Africa.

Swazi Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through MTN Eswatini and Eswatini Mobile and go through:

  • Background information
  • SIM card types, prices, and availability
  • Recharge / top-up information
  • Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs)   

With that being said, let’s see what MTN Eswatini and Eswatini Mobile have to offer to us.

MTN Eswatini

MTN Logo

MTN Eswatini, also known as MTN Swazi but will be referred to as only “MTN,” is the largest operator in Eswatini. They also have the best coverage in the country.

MTN SIM cards, called MTN Pay As You Go, are sold for 10 SZL in MTN stores. MTN top-up vouchers are widely available. To top-up, dial *141*VoucherCode*. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *141*123456#. Dial either *556# or *557# to check your MTN balance.

MTN Mobile Internet

MTN has several types of combo bundles and data-only bundles:

  • Saver Combos (combo plans)
  • Pulse (youth-focused data-only plans)
  • Time-Based Data Bundles (short-term data-only plans)
  • Volume Based Data Bundles (standard data-only plans)
  • Tourist Pack (tourist packages)

Let’s go through each of them.

MTN Saver Combos

The Saver Combos are combo plans that come with data, minutes, and SMS. Saver Combos can be activated by dialing *686#. You have the following options:

PriceDataMinutesSMSValidity
55 SZL150 MB30 minutes10 SMS7 days
115 SZL450 MB60 minutes20 SMS7 days
160 SZL1 GB100 minutes30 SMS30 days
180 SZL800 MB100 minutes30 SMS7 days
220 SZL1 GB150 minutes50 SMS30 days
250 SZL1.5 GB100 minutes50 SMS30 days
360 SZL3 GB300 minutes100 SMS30 days
650 SZL5 GB500 minutes200 SMS30 days
MTN Pulse

The Pulse plans are combo plans targeting those to up to 25 years old.

Those who are 16 years old or younger can take advantage of mPulse, which comes with 5 free minutes for a day or week, depending on the type of Pulse package they buy (so you need to buy a bundle before you get free minutes).

Young adults between 17 and 25 years old can take advantage of Pulse, which comes with free Twitter for a day or a week, depending on the type of Pulse package they buy.

There is also something called Pulse Pro, but that is available to postpaid customers only, which will not be discussed in this article.

The following 8 Pulse bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *411#:

PriceDataMinutesValidity
5 SZL10 MB20 minutes1 day
5 SZL25 MB5 minutes1 day
10 SZL20 MB40 minutes1 day
10 SZL50 MB15 minutes1 day
15 SZL50 MB60 minutes7 days
15 SZL100 MB30 minutes7 days
20 SZL80 MB90 minutes7 days
50 SZL500 MB50 minutes30 days
MTN Time-Based Data Bundles

Time-Based Bundles are short-term data-only bundles. They are known as Rush Hour Bundles, which are hourly data bundles, and Loloma Bundles, which are unlimited data bundles for an hour up to 4 hours between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM).

MTN Rush Hour Bundles

There are 4 Rush Hour Bundles available, which can be activated by dialing *686*1*4#:

  • 1 SZL: 2 MB for 1 hour
  • 2.50 SZL: 10 MB for 1 hour
  • 10 SZL: 45 MB for 1 hour
  • 20 SZL: 100 MB for 1 hour
MTN Loloma Bundles

There are 4 Loloma Bundles available, which can be activated by dialing *686*1*4#:

  • 15 SZL: Unlimited data for 1 hour between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM)
  • 25 SZL: Unlimited data for 2 hours between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM)
  • 30 SZL: Unlimited data for 3 hours between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM)
  • 40 SZL: Unlimited data for 4 hours between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM)
MTN Volume Data Bundles

The Volume Data Bundles are standard data-only bundles. They come in daily, weekly, and monthly variants. You get the same data allowance that can be used at night between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM). For example, if you get a 1 GB data plan, you will get an additional 1 GB allowance for at night, making your total data allowance 2 GB. All Volume Data Bundles can be activated by dialing *66*1*1#.

The following Volume Data Bundles are available:

PriceDataNight Data BonusValidity
2 SZL8 MB8 MB1 day
5 SZL23 MB23 MB1 day
10 SZL47 MB47 MB1 day
17 SZL185 MB185 MB7 days
25 SZL500 MB500 MB7 days
40 SZL200 MB200 MB30 days
60 SZL350 MB350 MB30 days
70 SZL1 GB1 GB7 days
80 SZL500 MB500 MB30 days
150 SZL1 GB1 GB30 days
250 SZL2 GB2 GB30 days
350 SZL3 GB3 GB30 days
450 SZL5 GB5 GB30 days
550 SZL7 GB7 GB30 days
750 SZL10 GB10 GB30 days
1000 SZL1.5 GB/day (45 GB in total)None30 days
1100 SZL15 GB15 GB30 days
1250 SZL20 GB20 GB30 days
1500 SZL25 GB25 GB30 days
MTN Social Data Bundles

The Social Data Bundles are data bundles for WhatsApp only, Facebook only, YouTube only, or a bunch of study-related websites. All Social Data Bundles can be activated by dialing *686*1*2#.

MTN WhatsApp Bundles

The WhatsApp bundles are sold in daily, weekly, and monthly variants, and they are exclusively for WhatsApp usage:

  • 5 SZL: 30 MB for WhatsApp for 1 day
  • 20 SZL: 150 MB for WhatsApp for 7 days
  • 40 SZL: 360 MB for WhatsApp for 30 days
MTN Facebook Bundles

The Facebook bundles are sold in daily, weekly, and monthly variants, and they are exclusively for Facebook usage:

  • 5 SZL: 30 MB for WhatsApp for 1 day
  • 20 SZL: 150 MB for WhatsApp for 7 days
  • 40 SZL: 360 MB for WhatsApp for 30 days
MTN YouTube Bundles

The YouTube bundles are sold in daily and weekly variants, and they are exclusively for YouTube usage:

  • 10 SZL: 1.5 GB for YouTube for 1 day
  • 20 SZL: 3 GB for YouTube for 1 day
  • 65 SZL: 5 GB for YouTube for 7 days
MTN Study Bundles

The Study Bundles are sold in monthly variants only, and they only work on the following websites:

The study bundles may not be useful for tourists and travelers. However, they can be helpful for exchange students, which is why I still mention them in this article. You have the following 3 options:

  • 10 SZL: 500 MB for study sites for 30 days
  • 20 SZL: 1 GB for study sites for 30 days
  • 50 SZL: 3 GB for study sites for 30 days
MTN Tourist Pack

The Tourist Pack is, as to be expected, only available to tourists visiting Eswatini. They are sold at MTN stores at border entry points. The Tourist Pack costs 99 SZL and comes with 1 GB, 45 on-net minutes, and 15 international minutes.

The Tourist Pack has 3 weekly bundles available:

PriceDataOn-Net MinutesInternational Minutes
99 SZL1 GB45 minutes15 minutes
150 SZL2 GB50 minutes15 minutes
299 SZL5GB50 minutes30 minutes

It is not entirely clear whether one can buy one of the regular data bundles with a tourist SIM card. MTN claims that “[…] the customer (tourist) must have bought the preloaded starter pack that has the 99 SZL value of tourist bundle” and later states that “The bundles are as below,“ which are the bundles listed above.

MTN Eswatini APN Settings

In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):

  • APN: mymtn.co.sz

RELATED GUIDES:

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Eswatini Mobile

Eswatini Mobile Logo

Eswatini Mobile, which was known as Swazi Mobile before the country changed names, is the newest operator in the country. Eswatini Mobile was awarded a license to break up MTN’s monopoly. Initially, Eswatini Mobile used MTN’s towers before building their own network, but they now cover more than 85 towns.

You can buy Eswatini Mobile SIM cards for 50 SZL in Eswatini Mobile stores. The SIM cards come with 50 SZL in credit. Top-up vouchers are sold everywhere. To top-up, dial *200*VoucherCode*. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *200*123456#. Dial *202# to check your Eswatini Mobile balance.

Eswatini Mobile Internet

Eswatini has several types of combo plans and data-only plans, which are:

  • No Frills Contracts (combo plans)
  • Prepaid Plans (combo plans)
  • Data Bundles (data-only plans)
  • YouTube Bundles (app-specific plans)

Let’s go through each of them.

Eswatini Mobile No Frills Contracts

The No Frills Contracts are combo bundles. Although the name includes contract, it is a prepaid bundle. Unlike the Prepaid Plans mentioned later, No Frills Contracts expire at the end of the month, not the usual 28-31 days. This means that if you buy a No Frills Contract on the 25th of the month, you can use your allowance for only 3-6 days, depending on the length of the month.

The following 4 No Frills Contracts are available, which can be activated by dialing *222#:

PriceDataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesLocal SMSUnlimited Calls
50 SZL500 MB250 on-net minutes50 off-net minutes50 SMSOn Saturdays
100 SZL1 GB300 on-net minutes60 off-net minutes60 SMSOn Saturdays and Sundays
195 SZL2 GB600 on-net minutes120 off-net minutes120 SMSOn Sundays between 6:00-18:00 (6 AM-6PM)
295 SZL8 GBUnlimited on-net minutes150 off-net minutes150 SMSN/A

No Frills Contracts auto-renew. To cancel auto-renewal, dial *241*PackageAmount#. For example, if you purchased the 100 SZL package and want to cancel it, you would dial *241*100#.

Eswatini Mobile Prepaid Plans

Prepaid Plans are combo plans that come with data, on-net minutes, off-net minutes, and SMS. The following 7 Prepaid Plans are available:

PriceDataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesLocal SMSValidity
5 SZL5 MB30 on-net minutes5 off-net minutes5 SMS24 hours
10 SZL10 MB70 on-net minutes10 off-net minutes10 SMS24 hours
50 SZL50 MB250 on-net minutes50 off-net minutes50 SMS7 days
195 SZL1 GB500 on-net minutes100 off-net minutes50 SMS30 days
240 SZL60 MB60 on-net minutesN/A60 SMSAllowance renewed every 30 days, the plan expires after 365 days
295 SZL2 GB750 on-net minutes200 off-net minutes75 SMS30 days
495 SZL4 GB1000 on-net minutes400 off-net minutes100 SMS30 days
Eswatini Mobile Data Bundles

The Data Bundles are data-only bundles. Besides data you can use whenever you want, you get a 50% data bonus to be used at night (unknown timeframe). For example, if you get a 10 MB data plan, you will get an additional 5 MB to be used at night, making your total data allowance 15 MB.

The following 16 Data Bundles are available, which are all valid for 30 days:

PriceDataNight Data
2 SZL7 MB3.5 MB
5 SZL20 MB10 MB
10 SZL30 MB15 MB
20 SZL40 MB20 MB
25 SZL70 MB35 MB
30 SZL100 MB50 MB
35 SZL130 MB65 MB
50 SZL200 MB100 MB
90 SZL400 MB200 MB
100 SZL512 MB256 MB
150 SZL1 GB512 MB
295 SZL2.5 GB1.25 GB
500 SZL5 GB2.5 GB
700 SZL7.5 GB3.75 GB
800 SZL10 GB5 GB
1000 SZLUnlimitedUnlimited
YouTube Bundles

You can also get a YouTube Bundle in addition to your Data Bundle so that you do not exhaust your data bundle allowance. You have the following 3 options:

  • 10 SZL: 1 GB for 1 day for YouTube
  • 20 SZL: 2.5 GB for 1 day for YouTube
  • 35 SZL: 5 GB for 1 day for YouTube

Eswatini Mobile APN Settings

In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):

  • APN: internet

Other Ways to Get Online When Traveling in Eswatini

Although getting a Swazi prepaid SIM card will be the most affordable way to stay connected when in Eswatini, you could also:

International SIM Cards & Travel SIM Cards

International SIM cards and travel SIM cards can be a convenient way to stay connected when traveling around multiple countries. Many countries require those buying local prepaid SIM cards to go through a registration procedure, like in Eswatini. This can be time-consuming and bothersome.

Moreover, you will have to deal with multiple numbers and SIM cards when traveling, which makes it hard for friends and family to stay in touch with you when not using messaging apps.

However, international SIM cards can be expensive because they may charge unfavorable rates. Below are some reputable international SIM card companies and travel SIM card resellers, which are Surfroam, SimOptions, SimCorner, and OneSimCard.

Surfroam

Surfroam has a SIM card that allows you to use data for as little as €0.01/MB (or €10.24/GB) in over 200 destinations. It is my go-to SIM card before buying a local SIM card. Surfroam SIM cards do not expire if you top-up at least once a year. Surfroam SIM cards will be delivered to your home. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

Surfroam Banner

SimOptions

SimOptions sells short-term travel SIM cards that cover multiple countries in a region for reasonable prices for the allowances you get. Travel SIM cards sold by SimOptions will be delivered to your home. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

simoptions banner
SimOptions also sells travel SIM cards for other destinations around the world, not just Europe.

SimCorner

SimCorner sells short-term travel SIM cards and also local SIM cards of the destination you are going to, which are not short-term. They ship SIM cards all over the world to your doorstep. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

SimCorner Banner

OneSimCard

OneSimCard SIM cards are single SIM cards that can be used in many countries around the world and do not have short-term expiry. You can buy multiple phone numbers for a single SIM card, which makes an OneSimCard SIM card a diverse international SIM card. OneSimCard ships their SIM cards all over the world. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

OneSimCard Banner

Mobile Hotspots

Mobile hotspots are 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.

There are many mobile hotspots that you can buy or rent. I do not use mobile hotspots myself often, so when I do, I rent them. I recommend mobile hotspots for those traveling in large groups. There are two mobile hotspot companies I would recommend: Travelwifi & Skyroam

Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day, covering more than 130 destinations around the world.

Travelwifi banner

Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Skyroam covers more than 130 destinations in the world.

Skyroam banner

Roaming

Roaming with your provider is something we are all familiar with because it often results in expensive bills. However, that does not always have to be the case. Your operator may offer attractive roaming packages. That way, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards and can be reached to the phone number your friends and family are familiar with.

I have an article explaining why roaming is so expensive. I also have many articles covering the roaming options of operators around the world, and make a verdict saying roaming can be worth it or not. Finally, I discuss many phone travel tips to keep your phone bills low when traveling.

Free WIFI Hotspots

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. However, free WIFI hotspots can be unsecure and unreliable.

You can find many WIFI hotspots in Eswatini, but they can be 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!

The Preferred Way to Stay Online When Traveling in Eswatini

Getting a SIM card from MTN (best coverage and lower prices) would do you well when considering a Swazi SIM card.

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Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries

Going to other countries in Southern Africa? Check out my Southern Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other Southern African nations, such as:

Be sure to check out this guide covering all African countries, such as these popular African travel destinations:

Otherwise, I have many guides covering countries all over the world. Get my SIM card recommendation sheet by signing up for my newsletter!

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 Eswatini

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 Eswatini.

Book Your Accommodation for Eswatini

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

Get Your Travel Insurance for Eswatini

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 Eswatini, 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 Swazi Lilangeni 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.

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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.

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