Réunion, often spelled as Reunion, is famous for Piton de la Fornaise, which means Peak of the Furnance if translated. As to be expected, I am referring to a volcano. Lots of travelers hike the volcano to take a look at the majestic views, take photos of it, and share them online (with the local SIM card they bought).
What if you are not into hiking? Saint-Denis, the capital of Réunion, has many mansions, like Maison Carrère, and the famous museum called Musée Léon Dierx. Saint-Gilles has a beautiful beach and a cool botanical garden called Jardin d'Eden. Head to Salazie for some terrific waterfall. Be sure to capture your experiences!
While you could decide to roam with your provider in Réunion, because it is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling, roaming with your provider can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card, like a Réunionese one.
Mobile data rates in Réunion is expensive for (East) African standards. However, most from the EU/EEA should be able to roam for free in Réunion because the island is considered an overseas department of France, and France is in the EU/EEA. In that case, you can roam for free in Réunion. For anyone else, getting a local SIM card will most likely be more affordable.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Réunion. Let's go.
Telecom Providers in Réunion
There are 3 telecom providers in Réunion:
- SFR Réunion
- Orange Réunion
- Only Réunion
There is also 1 Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in Réunion:
- Free Mobile
All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
Which of these Réunionese operators have the best prepaid SIM card and prepaid offering?
If you want to buy a SIM card in Réunion, then Orange is the best because their coverage is almost the same as the one of SFR, the market leader, while offering cheaper rates.
However, if you do not mind sending a termination letter before leaving Réunion, consider Free Mobile, which offers a combo plan for €9.99 that comes with 50 GB of data and unlimited calls and SMS. Do note that this plan is not a prepaid plan but an actual subscription without commitment.
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Like most countries in East Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register yourself when buying a SIM card in Réunion.
Mainland France is part of the European Union (EU). As of June 2017, a new regulation has been enforced, which is known as roam like at home, meaning that those with a European Union (or EEA) SIM card should be allowed to use (some) of their data allowance in other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
As French Overseas Departments are considered to be part of France, the roam at like home rules apply in Réunion, meaning that those from the EU/EEA can use their SIM cards in Réunion without a surcharge, and you can use your Réunionese SIM card in the EU/EEA as well (in most cases).
However, make sure your operator has included Réunion in their roam like home destination page, as they sometimes “forget” to do so, which could result in high roaming charges. If you can roam in Reúnion, do so – it will be more affordable than buying a Réunionese SIM card and data package.
SFR Réunion, just SFR, is the largest operator in Réunion, with a market share of more than 50%. SFR has the best coverage and speeds throughout Réunion.
You can get an SFR SIM card, called La Carte, for €15 in SFR stores. It comes with €5 in credit, and you get another €5 bonus when topping up (within a month). Top-up vouchers are sold from €5 all the way up to €80. You can also top-up online.
SFR has 4 plans that can be without commitment or with a commitment for 24 hours. The following 4 monthly plans, called forfaits mobile, are available:
- €9.99: 100 MB, 2 hours of airtime from Réunion to other local networks and to and from France, French Overseas Departments (DOM), and Europe, and unlimited SMS from Réunion to other local networks and to and from France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €24.99: 1 GB and unlimited calls and SMS from Réunion to other local networks and to and from France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €29.99: 20 GB and unlimited calls and SMS from Réunion to other local networks and to and from France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €39.99 60 GB, and unlimited calls and SMS from Réunion to other local networks and to and from France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
* French Overseas Departments (DOM): French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélémy (Saint Barts, Saint Martin, and Saint Pierre & Miquelon
** Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom
If you are (almost) out of data, then the following 2 data add-ons are available:
- €5: 5 GB
- €9: 10 GB
Orange Réunion, just Orange, is the second-largest operator in Réunion. Their coverage is almost as good as the one of SFR, but they are slightly cheaper than SFR.
You can get an Orange SIM card, called Mobicarte, in Orange stores. It comes in two variants: Fomule Classique and Forlume a la Seconde. It does not matter which variant you choose if you plan on buying a plan, as the difference between the two variants is the standard rates you pay for data, minutes, and SMS.
The Orange Mobicarte SIM card comes with €10 in credit for data, minutes, and SMS at standard rates.
Top-up vouchers are sold from €5 to €100, and you can recharge online as well. You also get a bonus depending on how much you top up. From €2 when topping up €20 to €20 when topping up €100.
There are 2 data-only plans that can be redeemed with a Les recharges Internet mobile voucher:
- €5: 500 MB for 7 days
- €15: 2 GB for 15 days
You also have mobile KomZot plans, which are combo plans with data, minutes, and SMS. There are 6 of them, but only 5 of them come with data. These plans should also be sold as standalone plans (as in, no subscription for 12 months), although this has to be confirmed.
There 5 mobile KomZot plans are available:
- €14.99: 2 GB in Réunion and Europe, 2 hours of airtime to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe, and unlimited SMS to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €19.99: 30 GB in Réunion and Europe, 2 hours of airtime to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe, and unlimited SMS to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €29.99: 30 GB in Réunion and Europe, and unlimited calls and SMS to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €44.99: 70 GB in Réunion and Europe, and unlimited calls and SMS to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
- €59.99: 120 GB in Réunion and Europe, and unlimited calls and SMS to and from Réunion, Mayotte, France, French Overseas Departments, and Europe
1: French Overseas Departments (DOM): French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, and Saint Pierre & Miquelon
2: Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
Only Réunion, just Only, is the smallest operator in Réunion. They have the worst network in Réunion.
You can get an Only SIM card, called CARTE Only, for €15 in Only stores. It comes with €10 in credit and an additional €5 if you top-up within 7 days upon activation.
The same applies to the Only Carte ON card as well. It is also sold for €15. The difference between Carte Only and Carte is the default rates you pay for data, minutes, and SMS.
With Carte On, you will be charged €0.05/MB (or €51.20/GB). With Carte Only, the default data rate is €0.10/MB (or €102.40/GB). There are no prepaid data packages or combo plans available with Only.
Free Mobile is an MVNO using the Only network. They do not offer prepaid services. Instead, they have one plan, which costs €9.99 a month. It comes with 50 GB (25 GB in Europe and French Overseas Departments), and unlimited local calls/SMS and calls/SMS to France, French Overseas Departments.
This is the cheapest option for data in Réunion. However, it is not a prepaid plan. Luckily, the contract has no commitment and can be canceled at any time. You have to send a termination letter, in French, to TELCO OI – FREE, BP 10061, 97491 STE CLOTILDE CEDEX. Make sure to mention your full name and phone number in the letter for your termination request to be processed.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Réunion
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Réunion. However, that is not the only way to be online in Réunion. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in Réunion 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 Martinique, then you would be roaming with Digicel Martinique in Réunion.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Réunion, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Réunion, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in Réunion
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. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in Réunion. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of Réunion, you will find many hotspots.
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 or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Mobile Hotspot in Réunion
Pocket WIFI 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).
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam 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. 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.
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.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Réunion
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Réunion. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in Africa 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.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Réunion
Getting a SIM card from Orange would do you well when considering a Réunionese SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries
Going to other countries in East Africa? Check out my East Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other East African nations, such as:
Be sure to check out this guide covering all African countries, such as these popular African travel destinations:
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 Réunion
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 Réunion.
Book Your Accommodation for Réunion
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 Réunion. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Réunionese hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Réunion
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 Réunion, 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 Euros 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!