What you should not forget about, however, is that roaming with your provider can be expensive if you are not aware of your options. That is why many travelers tend to buy local SIM cards of the destination they are visiting so that they can avoid high roaming charges and enjoy local rates. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Kuwait. Shall we?
Telecom Providers in Kuwait
Kuwait has 3 telecom providers: Zain Kuwait, Ooredoo Kuwait, and STC Kuwait (which used to be known as VIVA). Kuwait is connected to 7 international submarine cables. I do not know how many cables other countries are connected too, but in the case of Kuwait, it means extremely fast and good speeds with all Kuwaiti providers.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Kuwait? If you want to buy a SIM card in Kuwait, I would recommend going with Zain or Ooredoo because both have amazing coverage and speeds. STC is unreliable at times, but you can get good speeds with them too. Regarding data packages, Zain offers way more than Ooredoo in terms of choice.
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All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. SIM cards are sold for 5 KWD ($16.50), which is a bit on the expensive end for Middle Eastern countries. On the other hand, you will be getting great and amazing speeds and data packages so generous that you probably will not consume all of them. SIM Cards are sold all over the country and at the International Airport.
With that out of the way, let’s see what the 3 providers can offer 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 Kuwait
Zain Kuwait, just Zain, is Kuwait’s first telecom provider. Zain is no stranger in the Middle Eastern market because they operate in many countries in this region. The best part: the company is from Kuwait. Zain is the largest provider in Kuwait, but Ooredoo is closely following Zain.
Zain’s prepaid SIM cards are called eeZee and are sold for 5 KWD. Recharge cards are sold from 1.5 KWD to 25 KWD. The following eeZee monthly data packs can be added:
- 5 KWD: 10 GB
- 8 KWD: 50 GB
- 9 KWD: 50 GB and unlimited on-net calls
- 9.5 KWD: 10 GB, unlimited on-net calls, and 25 international minutes
- 11.5 KWD: 50 GB, unlimited on-net calls, and 25 international minutes
- 12 KWD: 100 GB
- 14 KWD: 100 GB, unlimited on-net calls, and 500 local minutes (to numbers of other providers)
- 16 KWD: 200 GB and unlimited on-net calls
- 18 KWD: 400 GB and unlimited calls (all domestic networks)
- 19 KWD: 400 GB, unlimited on-net calls, and 25 international minutes
You can also buy the data-only sim, which can get you 60 GB valid for 30 days for 7 KWD. If that is not enough, you can top it up with 15 GB for 3 KWD.
Ooredoo Kuwait, just Ooredoo, is the second operator in Kuwait. The company is from Qatar and is, just like Zain, a known player in the Middle Eastern market. Their coverage and speeds are on par with Zain, although they have not as many customers.
Ooredoo SIM cards are called Xpress and are sold for 5 KWD. You will get 5 KWD in credit to be used within 30 days. Recharge vouchers are sold from 1.5 KWD to 25 KWD. The following monthly packs can be added:
- 5 KWD: 10 GB and 100 minutes
- 8 KWD: 25 GB and 150 minutes
- 12 KWD: 50 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 300 minutes to other providers
- 18 KWD: 200 GB and unlimited minutes (all providers)
Used up all of your data before the 30 days are over? You can add 15 GB for 3 KWD.
Not interested in calling in Kuwait? You can buy Ooredoo’s data-only SIM card called Xpress Internet, which comes with 30 GB to be used in 30 days for 7 KWD. It can be topped up with 15 GB for 3 KWD.
When I initially wrote my guide about Middle Eastern telecom provider, STC Kuwait was still called VIVA. Late 2019, Saudi Telecom (STC) bought a majority stake in VIVA, which made it become a Saudi company.
STC Kuwait, just STC, is the smallest player in Kuwait. It, however, did get many customers because of their aggressive pricing strategy. However, their coverage is not on par with Zain and Ooredoo.
STC SIM cards are called allo and are sold for 5 KWD. You get 5 KWD in credit upon activation. Top-up vouchers are sold from 1.5 KWD to 20 KWD. The following monthly data packs can be added:
- 5 KWD: 5 GB and 100 minutes
- 8 KWD: 25 GB and 150 minutes
- 12 KWD: 50 GB and 300 minutes
- 18 KWD: 200 GB and unlimited minutes
Just want data? The STC data-only plan, called Prepaid Internet, offers 30 GB for 7 KWD and is valid for 30 days. It can be topped up with 3 KWD to get 15 GB more.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Kuwait
I have discussed the relevant providers in Kuwait in this article because using a Kuwaiti 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 Kuwait. 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 Kuwait.
Roaming in Kuwait 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 Turkcell from Turkey, then you would be roaming with Turkcell in Kuwait.
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 Kuwait, 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 Kuwait 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 Kuwait.
Using an International SIM Card in Kuwait
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 and SimOptions.
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 Kuwait. 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 Middle East 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 Kuwait
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 Kuwait
Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in Kuwait, 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 Kuwait, you can find a hotspot here and there, but not many.
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 Kuwait
Getting a SIM card from Ooredoo would do you well when considering a Kuwaiti 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 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, 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 Kuwait
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 Kuwait. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Kuwait drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Kuwait
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 Kuwait. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Kuwaiti hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Kuwait
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 Kuwait, 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 currency of your destination 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!