Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Jersey & Guernsey Guide (Channel Islands)

Jersey and Guernsey are known as the 2 main islands for the Channel Islands. You also have Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou, and Sark.

What can you do in Jersey? You can visit the Elizabeth Castle, Mont Orgueil Castle, and the Jersey War Tunnels. What about Guernsey? You have the Castle Cornet, the Little Chapel, and Victor Hugo House. Both islands are full of history.

What should also be history is dealing with expensive roaming bills you get from roaming with your provider in the Channel Islands. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is wht many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the Channel Islands. Let's go.

Telecom Providers in the Channel Islands

The Channel Islands have 3 telecom providers:

  • Sure Jersey and Sure Guernsey
  • JT Jersey and JT Guernsey
  • Airtel-Vodafone

All these providers have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting the Channel Islands? If you want to buy a SIM card in the Channel, I would recommend going with either Sure, JT, or Airtel-Vodafone. All operators have good coverage and have similar pricing and perks. Sure is, however, the fastest operator in the Channel Islands.

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Like many countries in Western Europe, and Europe in general, you do not have to register yourself when buying a SIM card in the Channel Islands.

The Channel Islands are self-governing British Crown dependencies. This means that they are not countries, nor are they part of the United Kingdom. However, the islands are ruled by the British monarchy.

The Channel Islands consists of, besides Jersey and Guernsey, of the following 5 permanently inhabited islands:

  • Alderney
  • Brecqhou
  • Herm
  • Jethou
  • Sark

Only the Guernsey counterpart considers the smaller islands as on-net usage. In contrast, the Jersey counterpart treats those islands as off-net networks.

Some think the Isle of Man is part of the Channel Islands. That is not the case. Whereas the Channel Islands is in the English Channel, the Isle of Man is in the Irish Sea. Check the Isle of Man SIM card buying guide if you are interested in the Isle of Man.  

Do note that Sure/JT Jersey/Guernsey are separate operators, even though they are from the same company. Prices are almost always the same on both islands. However, one may include both islands in their allowances. At the same time, the other only allows you to use your perks for local use (either Jersey or Guernsey). In all cases, the combo plans cost the same on both islands and come with the same allowance (in terms of size).

A special reminder for those from the EU/EEA: The Channel Islands are not part of the EU or EEA, which means that the Roam like Home rule does not apply in the Channel Islands. Therefore, it is recommended that European citizens with EU SIM cards buy a local SIM card instead of roaming with their providers. Some providers, however, offer free roaming in the Channel Islands (usually either Jersey, Guernsey, or both), but this is not the case for all. Be sure to check your provider’s site to learn whether you can roam for free or not.

Do note that using your Channel Islands SIM card when in the United Kingdom is treated as roaming by all operators. It is, therefore, recommended to turn off data roaming when in the United Kingdom, and even turn off regular data if not planning on roaming.

The country code in the United Kingdom is +44, which is also used in the Channel Islands. Some phones may consider British networks as a local network while using a Channel Islands card, which could result in roaming charges. That is why it is also recommended to turn off normal mobile data when not planning on roaming with a Channel Islands SIM card.

With that being said, let’s see what the Channel Islands have to offer to us.

Sure Jersey & Sure Guernsey

Sure Telecom Logo

Sure Jersey & Sure Guernsey, just Sure (Channel Islands), each cover Jersey and Guernsey separately. They are the largest operators on both islands and offer the fastest speeds.

You can get a Sure Pay-As-You-Go SIM card for free at Sure stores (High Street in Guernsey and King Street in Jersey) and from other retailers. Although the SIM card is given away for free, you have to top up at least 5 GBP before it gets activated.

Sure top-up cards are widely available in denominations of 5 GBP, 10 GBP, and 20 GBP. To top up, dial *#101*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *101*123456#. Dial *#100# to check your Sure Balance.

Sure has 2 Pay-As-You-Go (prepaid) SIM cards, which are

  • Classic
  • Rewards

The Classic SIM card does not have any (data) bundles and will charge you 0.05 GBP per minute, SMS, or MB (or 51.20 GBP/GB) with Sure Guernsey. Sure Jersey will charge you 0.06 GBP per minute, SMS, or MB (or 61.44 GBP/GB). The Rewards SIM card does come with data packs, which is why I recommend them over the Classic SIM card.

Sure has 3 bundles with their Rewards plan:

  • 5 GBP: 5 GB, 500 minutes, and 500 SMS for 7 days
  • 10 GBP: 10 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000
  • 20 GBP: 20 GB, 10 000 minutes, and 10 000 SMS

JT Jersey & JT Guernsey

JT Logo

JT Jersey and JT Guernsey, just JT (Channel Islands), was the second operator to enter the market. Their coverage is as good as Sure and Airtel-Vodafone, although they are a bit slower than Sure.

JT SIM cards are sold for 3 GBP and come with 3 GBP in credit. Jersey has 2 JT shops: Queen Street and High Street. Guernsey has 1 shop at High Street. Top-up vouchers are sold in many establishments. Dial *#133# to check your JT balance.

JT has 3 combo plans. The credit amount you top-up will be valid for a year, whereas the perks have a short validity:

  • 5 GBP: 5 GB, 500 minutes, and 500 SMS for 7 days  
  • 10 GBP: 12 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 14 days
  • 25 GBP: 20 GB, 10 000 minutes, and 10 000 SMS for 30 days  

Note: In Jersey, the minutes can be used for JT to JT calls. In Guernsey, the minutes can be used for off-net calls as well. With JT Jersey, you can make off-net calls for 0.04 GBP/min for 4 GBP per month instead of the usual 0.39 GBP/min. Dial #145*50# to activate this feature and #146*50# to deactivate it.

Be aware that the data allowances mentioned above are applicable when activated with the JT app. If enabled online (website) or in a JT shop, you will get 500 MB, 3 GB, and 10 GB, respectively.

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Airtel-Vodafone

Airtel-Vodafone Logo

Airtel-Vodafone is the youngest operator in Jersey and Guernsey, which entered as a partnership between Bharti Airtel (India) and Vodafone UK in 2007. Their coverage is on par with Sure and JT.

You can get an Airtel-Vodafone Pay-As-You-Go SIM card for free in Airtel-Vodafone stores (Castle Street in Jersey and High Street in Guernsey). They have 2 types of SIM cards:

  • Island Plan
  • Switch SIM

Island Plan

The Island plan is sold for 15 GBP and comes with 15 GB and unlimited local calls and calls to the United Kingdom for 30 days.

Switch SIM

The Switch SIM comes with 2.50 GBP in credit. The following 4 combo plans are available:

  • 2.50 GBP: 2 GB, unlimited Snapchat, Facebook, and Facebook messenger, and 25 local minutes and SMS for 15 days
  • 5 GBP: 5 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 50 minutes and SMS to Bangladesh, the Channel Islands, India Poland, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom, all for 10 days
  • 10 GBP: 10 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 100 minutes and SMS to Bangladesh, the Channel Islands, India Poland, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom, all for 20 days
  • 20 GBP: 20 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 250 minutes and SMS to Bangladesh, the Channel Islands, India Poland, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom, all for 30 days

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Channel Islands

Now you know everything about buying a SIM card in the Channel Islands, but what are your other options? Although buying a local SIM card is almost always the cheapest option, the cheapest option would be using free WIFI connections in the Channel Islands, but you can also roam with your provider in the Channel Islands, use an international SIM card in the Channel Islands, or use a mobile hotspot in the Channel Islands. Let’s see what our options are.

Using Free WIFI hotspots in the Channel Islands

Using something free is always better than paying for something. However, sometimes, free stuff may be of bad quality. Sure, you do not have to pay anything for using a free hotspot (unless you are required to purchase a beverage or meal at an establishment), but it may be a challenge to find a free hotspot. Moreover, the connection may be so slow that it is practically useless.

In the case of the Channel Islands, there will be many hotspots around.

Do note that public hotspots are unsecure. Hackers love to steal sensitive information on unprotected connections because it is apparently easy to do so. That is why I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using a public hotspot, and I would encourage you to do so too.

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 NordVPN subscription now!

Roaming with Your Provider in the Channel Islands

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 Manx Telecom from the Isle of Man, then you would be roaming with Manx Telecom in the Channel Islands.

Roaming may be the most convenient way of using your phone abroad. You do not have to buy a new SIM card, which, in turn, means you do not have to swap SIM cards. As a result, your friends and family from home can easily reach you on your cell. With many providers, the only thing you need to do is to turn on the data roaming setting on your phone, and you are good to go.

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

Although roaming with your provider may be the most convenient way of staying connected in the Channel Islands, it can also be the most expensive option. There have been many horror stories where people have racked up roaming bills up in the thousands and even more than ten thousand.

Luckily, many providers have affordable roaming plans, allow you to roam for free in some destinations like the Channel Islands, or allow you to use your plan’s allowance in the Channel Islands. For example, with Virgin Mobile Canada, you can use your plan’s allowance for 12 Canadian dollars per day. This may be affordable in some destinations for a small number of days, but it will be expensive for prolonged periods.

If you are unsure about the roaming options of your provider, I have written many articles about roaming with various operators around the world. I analyze them in-depth and give you my advice on whether you should roam with your provider or not. If yes, I also state for how long you should roam to take the most advantage of the offer.

One thing that should be avoided at all costs is to Pay As You Go roaming where you pay per minute, SMS, or MB. This is how many people get expensive roaming bills because the roaming prices for data are usually extremely high.

If you want to roam, make sure to get a roaming plan. Unless your provider offers extremely low Pay As You Go roaming rates, which is only a handful of providers, then you can consider doing so. Furthermore, if your provider lets you roam for free in the Channel Islands, then you should go for it. Just note that your speeds will be lower as a roamer than if you were to buy a Channel Islands SIM card.

Using an International SIM Card in the Channel Islands

International SIM cards are SIM cards that work internationally. Most SIM cards do work abroad, but then you have to roam with your provider. International SIM cards, however, let’s you use one SIM card in many destinations around the world for, often, the same price. This way, your friends and families can still reach out to you while traveling.

International SIM cards are, however, much more expensive than buying a local SIM card in many cases, but they are often cheaper than to roam with your provider. There are many international SIM card providers out there, but a few providers I can recommend are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.

simoptions banner
Surfroam Banner

International SIM cards are useful for those who frequently travel for leisure or for business. That way, everyone can reach you on one number instead of a handful of local numbers scattered around the world.

Moreover, many destinations in the world require you to register yourself before you can buy a local SIM card. In some countries, the process is quick, while others require much more of your time. Furthermore, the registration process may be cumbersome in countries.

Finally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some. It can be a challenge dealing with a salesperson who does not understand you. They may try and sell you the most expensive option out there. Luckily, you know the prices of SIM cards and packs in the Channel Islands, so you cannot be taken advantage of.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple destinations in one trip, 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 a Mobile Hotspot in the Channel Islands

A mobile hotspot 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.

Travelwifi 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.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Channel Islands

Getting a SIM card from either Sure, TJ, or Airtel-Vodafone would do you well when considering a Channel Islands SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

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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.

Going to other countries in Western Europe (or Southwestern Europe)? Check out my Western Europe SIM card buying guide, covering other West European nations, such as (Andorra), Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, (Portugal), (Spain), and the United Kingdom

What about other places in Europe? My Europe SIM card buying guide covers all European destinations, such as Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.

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 the Channel Islands

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

Travel by Train within Europe with InterRail or EURail

Although low-cost carriers are a big thing in Europe, they are not the best way to experience Europe. Everyone knows that the European railway system is awesome. InterRail/EURail makes it much easier to explore Europe by train by having one ticket for participating countries instead of having to buy multiple tickets per country. InterRail is for European citizens and EURail is for non-European citizens.

Book Your Accommodation for the Channel Islands

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

Get Your Travel Insurance for the Channel Islands

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 the Channel Islands, 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 British Pounds 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 due to the current pandemic and does not have any travel plans for after his stay in Taiwan.

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