The Caribbean is one of the most challenging destinations for cellular service (apart from very remote areas such as Antartica). In the Caribbean, roaming is expensive, slow (and usually both) plus buying a local SIM card is impractical for travelers since many travelers go to multiple countries. In addition, smaller carriers such as Boost Mobile and others, do not offer a solution for the Caribbean at any price. if your phone is unlocked (read this guide to check), you can order Cellular Abroad’s Caribbean SIM card that works in most countries in the Caribbean.
Here are the current offers for the Caribbean for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Verizon offers the Travel Pass for the Caribbean. For $10 per day, plus tax, you will get unlimited calling, texts and data (although the data slows down significantly after 500mb per day). if you plan on using the phone a lot
AT&T has several plans. The first is similar to that of Verizon’s. For $10 per day, plus tax, you get unlimited unlimited calls, texts and data. This plan is not bad if your trip is short and/or you use the phone a lot. If you are making just one or two calls or sending just a couple of texts, that 5 minute phone call just cost you $10. Option two is, for $70 plus tax (so closer to $85) you get 2GB of data plus call rates at $0.35 per minute. The third option, more than an option, are the default rates if someone forgets to select a travel plan. Rates are ridiculously high – more than $2,000 per GB and significantly more if you are on a cruise. There is no reason anyone would purposefully opt for this plan.
T-Mobile offers free data in the Caribbean at up to128kbps speeds. To get an understanding of how fast that is, typical dialup speeds, the kind you may have had 15 years ago where 56kbps so just double that to get an idea of how fast (how slow, actually) T-Mobile’s data speeds are in the Caribbean. Just what can you do with 128kbps speeds? Anything above and beyond checking emails is tedious and frustrating. Google Maps works but there will be quite a bit of latency. Websites will load but it will be slow and video streaming nearly impossible.
Sprint’s service works in most destinations in the Caribbean and, like T-Mobile, Sprint offers “free” data. The free data is only 2G speeds which is ok for checking emails, less good for web browsing and virtually unusable for video streaming or maps. Sprint offers bundles of at higher speeds which many users, after being frustrated with 2GB speeds, will end up paying for. Texting is free and calls are $0.25 cents each.
If you are with Verizon or AT&T and don’t mind paying the high rates, then make sure you contact your carrier and get your plan set up. Or, if you are with Sprint or T-Mobile and are ok with using your phone just for the occasional call and only to check emails, then you can safely roam without doing anything. However, if you need fast data speeds at a low price and either do not need to make calls or can use an app for calls, or your usual provider does not offer service in the Caribbean, consider Cellular Abroad’s Caribbean SIM card.
The SIM card is data only and currently offers 1GB of data. Being a data only SIM card does not at all mean that you cannot make and receive phone calls, it just means that you will have to use an app for making your calls. Popular apps include FaceTime, WhatsApp, Google Voice and Skype.