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2 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in the Bahamas: Buying Guide

The Bahamas – known for having pigs swimming around, such as at the Pig Beach or Rose Island (it is true, and they are friendly).

The country is also known for its stunning beaches with pristine white sand and clear waters.

If you do not feel like being cooked on the beach swimming all the time, you can also enjoy the thrilling nightlife many resorts and bars have to offer.

And if it is a kid-friendly holiday, you may want to visit the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre if you do not feel like clubbing all night with your kids.

Overall, with more than 700 islands to explore, you are bound to share your incredible (beach-life) experiences with your friends and family online.

The thing is, international roaming can be super expensive. This is especially true when in the Bahamas.

Luckily, there is a way to cut down on excessive international roaming fees – getting a Bahamian SIM card.

How expensive are SIM cards in the Bahamas?

You can get a Bahamian SIM card for as low as 15 BSD (15 USD) with BTC in its stores or 30 BSD (30 USD) with Aliv in its stores. A data plan with 1 GB of data is sold for 7 BSD (7 USD).

This may sound expensive, but this is much cheaper than the standard international roaming rates most operators would charge you for 1 GB of data.

Even then, there are some things to be aware of before getting yourself a Bahamian SIM card.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the Bahamas. Let's do this.

Buying a SIM Card in the Bahamas Guide (logos of BTC Bahamas & Aliv)

Original publication: 6th of March 2020. Last updated: 25th of October 2021.

Table of Contents

Can You Buy a SIM Card in the Bahamas?

Anyone residing or visiting the Bahamas is allowed to purchase a Bahamian SIM card. You have to ensure your SIM card is registered upon purchase.

Moreover, your phone needs to support the frequencies used in the Bahamas, and it needs to be SIM-lock-free (unlocked).

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in the Bahamas?

You can purchase a Bahamian SIM card in BTC and Aliv stores. It is also possible to get SIM cards at Lynden Pindling International Airport (Nassau International Airport).

You can expect to pay the following for Bahamian SIM cards:

  • BTC Bahamas: 15 BSD
  • Aliv: 30 BSD

Can You Use Your Phone in the Bahamas?

The Bahamas use GSM technology for mobile communications primarily. CDMA phones will not work in the Bahamas. However, almost all phones use GSM anyway.

You also need to be aware of the ITU regions to determine whether your phone will work in other parts of the world.

Although there are three ITU regions, you only need to know these two terms: American Frequencies and European Frequencies.

The Bahamas use American Frequencies, which are used in the Americas (North-, Central, and South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2). Phones sold in the Americas typically have no issues when using their phone in other ITU Region 2 countries.

In Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe, and Oceania (ITU Regions 1 & 3), they typically use European Frequencies, meaning phones bought in those regions can be used in countries using European Frequencies without issues.

ITU Regions Map
By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – Own work, using this file by Denelson83, CC BY-SA 2.5

If you purchased your phone in the Americas (ITU Region 2), you should not experience any issues with using your phone in The Bahamas.

If you bought your phone in Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania (ITU regions 1 & 3) and have a low/medium-end device without Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, then there is a possibility you cannot use your phone when in The Bahamas or can only use slower networks (3G or 2G).

If you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, you can use your phone in The Bahamas (to some extent) – also on 4G/LTE.

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in the Bahamas

The Bahamas have two mobile operators:

  • BTC
  • Aliv

The following frequencies are used in the Bahamas:

  • 2G: 850 MHz & 1900 MHz
  • 3G: 850 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 13 & 17) & 1700 MHz (Band 4)

Note: Aliv does not have a 2G network.

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.

To check whether your phone will work in the Bahamas, check out this page by Will My Phone Work (may be outdated or inaccurate at times).

Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).

If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.

5G NR in the Bahamas

5G NR is not available in the Bahamas as of 2021, and the Bahamian government has not made any indications of when they will auction 5G licenses.

However, the CEO of BTC Bahamas, Andre Foster, claimed that there “is currently no real demand for 5G connectivity in the Bamahas.” He further speculated that 5G NR would not be rolled out until 2022 or 2023.

Best SIM Card in the Bahamas

If you want to buy the best SIM card in the Bahamas, I recommend going with either BTC and Aliv. The coverage with both operators is on par, so are their speeds. Aliv is more generous with their allowances and slightly cheaper than BTC.

SIM Card Registration in the Bahamas

SIM card registration with two forms of identification is mandatory in the Bahamas. This includes your passport and another government-issued ID (like a national ID or driver's license). Registration will be done at the point of purchase.

The Bahamas Mobile Speeds, Internet Prices & Insights

Flag of the Bahamas

Mobile data plans used to be insanely expensive in the Caribbean. To some extent, it made sense because internet on island nations is almost always more expensive than on land (and much slower).

However, the cost of mobile data has gone down significantly over the years in the Caribbean.

Does that mean mobile internet is cheap in the Bahamas?

The average price for 1 GB of data in the Bahamas is 5.98 USD, slightly more than the Caribbean average of 4.44 USD. The world average is 4.07 USD.

Bahamas Mobile Data Rates 2021
Source

That is actually not too bad. It could be as worse as the Cayman Islands back in 2020 – 23 USD/GB!

So, what about speeds? Will you get fast internet speeds in the Bahamas?

The Bahamas' average mobile download speed is around 33 Mbps.

For regional standards, this is quite fast. Only Trinidad and Tobago & Jamaica have faster download speeds than the Bahamas.

The national regulator, Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA), mentioned in its Draft Annual Plan of 2021 that it will make a feasibility and market analysis for a third mobile operator in the country. This may lead to even lower prices and faster speeds in the Bahamas if a third player enters the market.

With somewhat pricey SIM cards, more than average expensive data-featured plans, but extensive coverage on each island, you should have a smooth network experience in the Bahamas.

Currency in the Bahamas

5 Bahamian Dollar Bank Note
© The Central Bank of the Bahamas

The Bahamas use the Bahamian Dollar with the symbol BSD (which will be used throughout this guide). However, prices are often listed as B$ or $. For example, 25 BSD is B$/$ 25.

BSD is pegged 1:1 to the US Dollar (USD), meaning that 1 BSD is 1 USD. 10 BSD is 10 USD. 100 BSD is 100 USD. You know the drill.

USD is widely accepted in the Bahamas, so you can use it to pay for SIM cards and plans. However, you will get your change back in BSD.

10 US Dollar Note
© U.S. Currency Education Program

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Bahamian Prepaid SIM Cards (Videos)

Below, I will guide you through the Bahamian operators, BTC & Aliv, and go through:

  • Background information
  • Mobile coverage
  • 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 the Bahamas have to offer to us.

BTC Bahamas

BTC Bahamas Logo
© BTC

BTC, standing for the Bahamas Telecommunications Company and should not be confused with Bitcoin (with the symbol/ticket BTC), is the largest operator in the Bahamas. It used to have a monopoly until 2016 when Aliv entered the market.

BTC uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 850 MHz & 1900 MHz
  • 3G: 850 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 17) & 1700 MHz (Band 4)

This is what you will learn about BTC:

* Coverage
* How to Get a BTC SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – BTC Bahamas

BTC has extensive coverage in the Bahamas. It claims to cover 99% of the population with its 4G/LTE network.

Coverage is excellent on the largest/main islands (Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama & New Providence). Coverage can be expected on some smaller islands, but the network reception may not be as strong, speeds will be slower, and you may deal with older networks (3G or 2G).

BTC covers the following islands:

  • Abaco
  • Acklins
  • Alice Island
  • Andros
  • Berry Islands
  • Bimini
  • Bullocks Harbour Berry Island
  • Cat Island
  • Eleuthera
  • Exuma
  • Grand Bahama
  • Inagua
  • Long Cay
  • Long Island
  • Mayaguana
  • Nassau
  • Rum Cay
  • San Salvador
  • Treasure Cay

BTC has a coverage checker on its website. However, it shows you BTC's coverage per individual island, not its nationwide coverage.

Here is the coverage map of Nassau:

BTC Bahamas Nassau Coverage Map
Source

Here is the map of Grand Bahamas:

BTC Bahamas Grand Bahama Coverage Map
Source

Then we have a map of Abaco:

BTC Bahamas Abaco Coverage Map
Source

Here is a nationwide BTC coverage map:

SIM Card Price – BTC Bahamas

You can buy a BTC SIM card for 15 BSD in BTC stores. It is also possible to purchase SIM cards at Lynden Pindling International Airport (Nassau International Airport).

Dial *200# to access the BTC menu.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – BTC Bahamas

BTC top-up vouchers, in denominations of 5 BSD to 100 BSD, are sold in BTC stores and also at many other establishments in the Bahamas, including grocery stores, electronic shops, and corner shops

To top up your BTC SIM card, dial *202#, select option 1, and enter your Voucher Code. The same can be done by dialing *200#.

It is also possible to tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge online with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *201# to check your BTC balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the myBTC app (Android/iOS).

MyBTC Bahamas App
© BTC

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – BTC Bahamas

BTC has two data-featured plans: Prepaid Combo Bundles (combo) & Prepaid Data Bundles (data-only).

All BTC plans can be activated by dialing *203#.

Prepaid Combo Bundles – BTC Bahamas
BTC Bahamas Prepaid Plans
© BTC

The Prepaid Combo Bundles are combo plans with data, minutes, and SMS.

The following Prepaid Combo Bundles are available:

PricePlanDataYouTube DataSocial Media Data 1On-Net MinutesLocal MinutesInternational Minutes 2On-Net SMSValidity
4 BSD1 Day $41 GB 31 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB1000 minutesN/A100 minutesN/A1 day 
7 BSD7 Day $7650 MB1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB60 minutesN/A60 minutesN/A7 days 
12 BSD7 Day $122 GB1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB“Unlimited”, 3000 minutesN/A500 minutes“Unlimited”, 3000 SMS7 days 
15 BSD7 Day $153 GB1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 7 GB (30 days)“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited” 4“Unlimited”, 3000 SMS7 days 
20 BSD10 Day $206 GB1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited” 4“Unlimited”, 3000 SMS10 days 
39 BSD30 Day $394 GB1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited” 4“Unlimited”, 3000 SMS30 days 
60 BSD30 Day $6010 GB 1 hour (500 MB)“Unlimited”, 1 GB“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited”, 3000 minutes“Unlimited” 4“Unlimited”, 3000 SMS30 days 

1 Facebook Messenger & WhatsApp
2 to Canada & United States
3 no data rollover
4 unknown fair use policy

Prepaid Combo Bundles auto-renew. When your bundle renews, unused data will roll over to the new period.

Prepaid Data Plans – BTC Bahamas

The Prepaid Data Plans are data-only bundles.

The following Prepaid Data Plans are available:

PriceDataValidityActivation Code
3.60 BSD 1550 MB1 day*203*35#
8.50 BSD1.1 GB10 days *203*8#
15.70 BSD2.2 GB30 days *203*13#
30.20 BSD6.6 GB30 days *203*28#
39.20 BSD15 GB 30 days *203*40#

1 no data rollover and does not auto-renew

Prepaid Data Bundles auto-renew. When your bundle renews, unused data will roll over to the new period.

APN/Internet Settings – BTC Bahamas

Most phones will automatically retrieve the correct APN settings when inserting a SIM card – the same counts for BTC SIM cards. If that does not automatically happen, you can text APN to 5100 to download the APN settings.

If that does not work, you will have to add the settings manually by filling in these fields

  • Name: BTC
  • APN: internet.btcbahamas.com

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

Aliv

Aliv Logo
© Aliv

Aliv, pronounced Aliv, is the other operator in the Bahamas. It started in 2016 and has grown rapidly since. Aliv has managed to take many subscribers from BTC and may become the largest operator in the Bahamas at one point. Right now, Aliv has a market share of around 40%.

Aliv uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: N/A
  • 3G: 850 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 13) & 1700 MHz (Band 4)

This is what you will learn about Aliv:

* Coverage
* How to Get an Aliv SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Aliv

Aliv has extensive coverage throughout the Bahamas.

As part of Aliv's license agreement, it had to cover 99% of the population of the Bahamian Islands, which are Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama & New Providence, within two years of obtaining the license.

Since then, Aliv has been focusing on expanding its network on the smaller islands.

Below is Aliv's coverage map:

Aliv Coverage Map
Source

SIM Card Price – Aliv

You can buy an Aliv SIM card for 30 BSD in Aliv stores and kiosksLynden Pindling International Airport (Nassau International Airport). The starter pack includes the Liberty 30 plan with 3 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, 300 off-net minutes, unlimited on-net SMS, and 300 off-net SMS – all for 30 days.

Aliv offers eSIMs, for the same price as physical SIM cards, to those who have an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR with iOS 12.1 or later. However, I have yet to confirm whether eSIM is available to prepaid customers.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Aliv

Aliv top-up vouchers, in denominations of 5 BSD to 100 BSD, are sold in Aliv stores and kiosks, but also at many other establishments in the Bahamas, including grocery stores, electronic shops, and corner shops

To top up your Aliv SIM card, dial *202# and enter the Voucher Code. The same can be done by dialing *200#. Finally, you could also dial *44, press option 1, and enter the Voucher Code to activate the recharge card.

It is also possible to tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge online with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *201# to check your Aliv balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the myALIV app (Android/iOS).

MyAliv App
© Aliv

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Aliv

Aliv has only one data-featured plan: the Prepaid Plan. The Prepaid Plan is split into two: Freedom Plans and Liberty Plans. These plans are combo bundles with data, minutes, and SMS.

The following Prepaid Plans are available, which can be activated by dialing *206#:

PricePlanDataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesOn-Net SMSOff-Net SMSValidity
4 BSDFreedom41 GB“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes30 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 30 SMS1 day
6 BSDFreedom60.6 GB“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes50 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 50 SMS7 days
12 BSDFreedom122.5 GB“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes100 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 100 SMS 7 days
30 BSDLiberty303 GB “Unlimited”, 7500 minutes300 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 300 SMS 30 days
35 BSDFreedom35“Unlimited”, 30 GB “Unlimited”, 7500 minutes“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS “Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 7 days
45 BSDLiberty456 GB“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes400 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 400 SMS30 days
60 BSDLiberty6012 GB “Unlimited”, 7500 minutes500 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 500 SMS30 days
90 BSDLiberty9015 GB “Unlimited”, 7500 minutes900 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 900 SMS30 days
140 BSD Liberty140“Unlimited”, 100 GB “Unlimited”, 7500 minutes“Unlimited”, 7500 minutes“Unlimited”, 4500 SMS “Unlimited”, 4500 SMS 30 days

APN/Internet Settings – Aliv

  • Name: ALIV
  • APN: pda.newcomobile.com

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Bahamas

Besides getting a local SIM card in the Bahamas, there are other ways to get online while traveling on the islands.

However, these methods may be more expensive than getting a SIM card from the two local operators.

International Roaming

International roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling in other countries because you do not have to buy a new SIM card, have to deal with SIM card registration regulations, nor have multiple phone numbers to deal with.

However, international roaming has proven to be expensive in many cases, especially compared to buying local SIM cards. That is why many travelers are not fond of international roaming.

International roaming has its pros and cons. However, it is important to know how it works. This in-depth guide explains it all.

Find out whether your mobile operator has attractive roaming rates for the Bahamas here.

Using an International SIM Card or Travel SIM Card

International SIM cards are SIM cards made for the traveler in mind. Using them is often cheaper than international roaming. However, they are almost always more expensive than using a local SIM card.

There are many other advantages and disadvantages of getting international SIM cards, which you can learn about here.

Using a Mobile Hotspot (Pocket WIFI)

Mobile hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are small devices that connect to the local operators of the country you are visiting. Mobile hotspots are ideal for families or those traveling in a large group, as they allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without the need of each traveler having to buy a SIM card.

You can either buy a mobile hotspot or rent one.

Using Free WIFI Networks

Using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to stay connected because they are free. The major downside of trying to use WIFI hotspots is that you will have to locate them, and they are not available on every corner in the Bahamas.

Make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN so that hackers cannot steal your personal data.

The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Bahamas

Getting a SIM card from Aliv would do you well when considering a Bahamian SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other Caribbean Countries

Visiting other countries in the Caribbean? Check out my Caribbean SIM card buying guide, covering other Caribbean nations, such as:

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

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If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cardsinternational SIM cardsmobile hotspots, or roam internationally.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

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