Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Montserrat Guide

Montserrat is a Britsh Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. The island nation is many known for its coral reefs and its caves.

The Little Bay us a great bay for snorkeling and watching the volcanos in the area (from a distance). Woodlands has cool beaches, and Saint Peter's has more volcanos. If you love volcanos, then you will love Montserrat.

What you will not love is dealing with an expensive roaming bill you will get from roaming with your provider in Montserrat. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, even in Montserrat.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Montserrat. Let's get started.

Telecom Providers in Montserrat 

Montserrat has 2 telecom providers: Flow Montserrat and Digicel Montserrat. Both operators have 2G and 3G networks. Digicel also has a 4G/LTE network.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Montserrat? If you want to buy a SIM card in Montserrat, I would recommend going with Flow. Even they do not offer 4G/LTE like Digicel, Flow has much better coverage throughout Montserrat than Digicel.

Do note that because of various volcanic eruptions in the past decades, the southern part of Montserrat is considered to be an exclusion zone. As a result, one cannot visit there. Moreover, both operators do not provide coverage there because of the exclusion zone.

Like most countries in the Caribbean, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Montserrat.

The East Caribbean Dollar, XCD, is pegged 2.70:1 to the US Dollar, meaning that 2:70 XCD is 1 USD (or 1 XCD is $0.37).

With that being said, let’s see what Montserrat 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!

Flow Montserrat

Flow Logo

Flow Montserrat, just Flow, is the original operator in Montserrat. Before Digicel entered the Montserratian market, Flow held a monopoly on the island nation. Since then, it has lost some of their market share, but Flow is still the most popular operator on the island and has the best coverage as well, which is why I recommend them.

Flow SIM cards are sold for 25 XCD in the Flow store on Sweeneys Road. Top-up vouchers are sold from 5 XCD to 200 XCD in various stores like supermarkets and gas stations, but you can also top-up online with a credit card. To check your Flow balance, dial *120# or use the Flow app.

Flow has several Always On Prepaid Plans, which are their combo plans that come with unlimited social messaging – also referred to as SWIFT apps (Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter):

  • 5 XCD: 1 GB, 25 minutes, and 25 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial *244*0#
  • 16 XCD: 1 GB, 200 minutes, and 200 SMS for 3 days. Activation: dial *244*1# 
  • 35 XCD: 3 GB, 350 minutes, and 350 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *244*2# 
  • 120 XCD: 10 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *244*3# 

These Flow Always On Prepaid Plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. If the auto-renewal is successful, then unused data will roll-over to the new period.

Digicel Montserrat

Digicel Logo

Digicel Montserrat, just Digicel, entered the Montserratian market to compete with Flow. Digicel has entered almost all Caribbean markets where Flow held a monopoly since 2000.

Unlike Flow, Digicel does have a 4G/LTE network. However, Digicel’s overall coverage lacks behind the one of Flow.

You can buy a Digicel SIM card for 20 XCD in their store in Brades (#7 Farara Plaza). Digicel reload cards are sold in many stores across the island, but you can also top-up online with a credit card. To check your Digicel balance, dial *120#.

Digicel has several Quick Pick Bundles, which are their combo plans:

  • 5 XCD: 100 MB, 10 minutes, and unlimited local SMS for 1 day
  • 25 XCD: 1 GB, 70 minutes, and unlimited local SMS for 7 days
  • 90 XCD: 4 GB, 200 minutes, and unlimited on-net SMS for 30 days

You can activate a Digicel Quick Pick Bundle online or on the My Digicel App. All Quick Pick Bundles auto-renew if there is enough credit. Unused data will roll-over to the new period, as long as the auto-renewal is successful.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Montserrat

I have discussed the relevant providers in Montserrat in this article because using a Montserratian 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 Montserrat. 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 Montserrat.

Roaming in Montserrat 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 Digicel Turks and Caicos, then you would be roaming with Digicel Turks and Caicos in Montserrat.

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 Montserrat, 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 Montserrat 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 Montserrat.

Using an International SIM Card in Montserrat

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, and SimCorner.

OneSimCard Banner

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 Montserrat. 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 Montserrat

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, 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. Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI of Travelwifi, starts at $7 per day. All these services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

Travelwifi Banner

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 Montserrat

Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in Montserrat 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 Montserrat, you will find a hotspot here and there.

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 Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Montserrat

Getting a SIM card from One would do you well when considering a Montserratian 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, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French West Indies, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, 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 Montserrat

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

Book Your Accommodation for Montserrat

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

Get Your Travel Insurance for Montserrat

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 Montserrat, 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.

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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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