I talk a lot about the benefits of avoiding roaming charges when traveling to a new country, and Jordan is no different.
Whether you’re trying to navigate around the back streets of Amman or send photos of Petra at sunrise to friends back home, using a local SIM or travel eSIM will likely save you a whole bunch of money.
Here’s what you need to know.
There are three network providers in Jordan. The most popular option is Zain, as it has the best coverage, speeds, and prepaid packages. Umniah also has reasonable coverage, while Orange has the smallest network of the three.
Zain has widespread LTE coverage throughout the country, and is rolling out 5G. At the moment you should only expect it in larger centers, but that will change in the coming years.
Travel eSIM for Jordan
If you don’t need a lot of data or just aren’t in Jordan very long, you’ll likely save money (and definitely save time) by just using a travel eSIM instead. Nomad usually has noticeably better pricing than the rest (below), so that’s who I’d recommend using.
I’ve switched to using travel eSIMs in most countries: they’re often a similar price or cheaper for the amount of data I use, and I’m connected before I even get off the plane.
Like most travel eSIMs, it’s data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.
If you’re new to eSIMs, they offer big benefits to travelers in terms of how quickly, easily, and (often) cheaply you can get connected when you arrive in a new country. Most recent phones support them, and you can read all about them here.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Jordan
If you’re flying into Amman, it’s a pretty simple process to take care of your mobile needs right in the airport. On the main floor by the exits is a Zain shop, with a Umniah outlet nearby.
There might not be a lot of English happening, but it’s not too tricky to sort it out (and a bystander will probably come to assist in the typical, friendly Jordanian way).
If you don’t pick your SIM up at the airport, you’re best to go to a dedicated Zain store or a general cellular store. The latter might add a surcharge though, so if you have the choice of both, go with the dedicated store.
Buying in Amman will give you the best chance of having some English support, so take care of it there if you can. You may need to provide your passport, and you will require an unlocked phone.
If your phone isn’t unlocked, you can get it done in many general mobile stores if you don’t mind losing your warranty.
Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs
Zain has several different packages available, which change regularly. You’ll need to buy the SIM separately in most cases, for 5 JOD (~$7.50).
You’ll almost certainly be offered one of the tourist SIMs to start with: there’s a useful weekly bundle with 12GB of data, plus a few texts and calls (both domestic and international), for 7.87 JOD (~$11.50) including tax.
Other month-long packs are available if you’re taking an extended trip through the kingdom, as well as an ever-changing array of standard prepaid offers that aren’t specifically aimed at visitors.
International packs: You can add packages for international calls and texts as well, starting from as little at 1 JOD (~$1.50).
How many minutes you get depends on how much you pay and where you’re calling: the cheapest option gives 10 minutes to neighboring countries, for example, while the dearest 8 JOD version gives 1000 minutes to those countries or 90 minutes to places like the USA and UK.
As I say, of the better travel eSIM companies out there, Nomad typically has the best pricing, at least on moderate data packs.
If you really don’t need a lot of data, you may find Airalo even cheaper at the low end. Whichever one you go for, you’ll pay less for these eSIMs than any of the local tourist SIMs, and with even less effort as well.
They’re not the only game in town, though: I’ve compared many others in the past. Here’s the latest details on how the best ones stack up price-wise in Jordan.
Adding Zain credit can be done just about anywhere. Look for stores showing the Zain sign and add any amount you want either electronically at the till, or via scratch cards.
A confirmation text message will be sent to you letting you know the credit has been added.
Topping up with Nomad (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Jordan eSIM, hit the top-up button, and buy the same package again.
The top-up packs have exactly the same pricing and duration as the original eSIMs: there’s little difference between topping up your current eSIM and buying a new one, other than not having to activate it.
Coverage and Data Speeds
The Zain network in Jordan is modern and high-quality, with LTE widely available and 5G starting to be rolled out. Speeds are decent without being mind-blowing: I typically saw 15-25Mbps downloads in the cities, less in more remote areas.
Still, it was always fast enough to do whatever I was trying to do at the time, including watching YouTube or making video calls. It was rare to lose coverage entirely, other than while doing things like camping and hiking in Wadi Rum.
Nomad uses the reliable Umniah network. It doesn’t have quite the coverage of Zain, but there’s not a lot in it.
Check out our guides to SIM cards and eSIMs in 75+ other countries here.
Main image via LapaiIrKrapai/Shutterstock.com