Maltese village
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Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Malta

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Beautiful beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and breathtaking views vie for attention with near-constant traffic gridlock, high levels of noise pollution, and huge concrete monstrosities. Welcome to Malta.

The islands are situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, 90 minutes by boat from Sicily. In centuries past, their location gave them strategic military importance, leading to a slew of conquests by other civilizations.

The Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, Knights of St John, French, and, most recently, Britain all ruled Malta at various times, and independence arrived barely 50 years ago.

Maltese culture is heavily influenced by past rulers, but it’s also rich and distinctive. The Maltese people even have their own language: a cross between Arabic grammar, a Latin alphabet, and vocabulary of French, Italian, and English origin.

The unique Maltese identity even extends to the mobile phone market, where two out of the three main carriers are home-grown. Buying a SIM card in Malta is a breeze for travelers, but you might be surprised at the pricing.

Mobile phone costs aren’t as high as they used to be, but they’re still fairly expensive compared to other countries. For that reason, you’ll likely be better off with a travel eSIM if you only need data while you’re there.

Whichever option you go for, read on for the lowdown on staying connected in Malta.

Companies

  • I recommend Epic for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from SIMOptions or Nomad is the best option if you only need data

There are three mobile phone operators in Malta. Epic (formerly Vodafone) and Go are the two largest, and have the lion’s share of the mobile phone market between them.

Melita offers the cheapest rates on the islands but should be avoided like the plague. Their customer service and hard-selling tactics are infamous, and have turned them into a company every Malteser loves to hate.

Epic is Malta’s market leader, but not by much. It has 99% coverage, fast internet, and unbeatable customer service. It also has a slick, easy-to-use website you can use to top up or find the nearest store.

Travel eSIM for Malta

Given the relatively high prices for local SIM cards, most visitors are better off with a travel eSIM instead. Not only are they typically cheaper, especially for small amounts of data, but you’re ready to go as soon as you arrive in the country.

I’ve generally found SIMOptions to have the best prices for smaller data packs, while Nomad is better for larger ones. Prices can and do vary, though: check the comparison table down below for the latest prices.

Like most travel eSIMs, they’re 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.

One thing worth noting: if you’re planning to travel to several European countries within a few weeks, it might be worth looking at some of the regional eSIM packages on offer.

There are too many to list each one separately (and they change all the time), but as a starting point, these are the Europe eSIM options from companies I’d actually consider using:

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 Malta

To get an Epic SIM, you’ll may need to shell out as much as €10, which doesn’t include any credit. Alternatively, some vendors sell prepaid SIM packs preloaded with one of the bundles mentioned below so you can get started immediately.

There’s an Epic kiosk right outside the arrivals area at Malta’s only international airport, so you can snag one as soon as you land.

Alternatively, you can get one from one of the many Epic outlets all over the country, or from an authorised reseller like most stationery stores. English is one of Malta’s two official languages, so finding someone who can understand you isn’t a problem.

Fun fact: Epic Malta’s head office is right outside the airport, in what is aptly called SkyParks Business Centre.

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

Epic

Epic’s pre-paid offering is pretty simple: you only have three options to choose from.

  • The VALUE pack gives 8GB of data, plus 200 domestic texts and calls, for €9.99.
  • If you don’t need calls and texts, the DATA pack has 4GB of data for €5.99
  • For the few people who don’t really use data, there’s a TALK pack with 100MB, 100 calls, and 100 texts, for €5.99

eSIMs

The best travel eSIM option really depends on how much data you think you’ll need. For about 3GB or less, SIMOptions tends to have the best pricing. If you need more than that, go for Nomad instead.

Usefully, some (not all) of the SIMOptions packs also include roaming in other EU countries. Check the details for the specific one you’re after if that’s something you need.

I’ve compared many of the eSIM companies in the past: here’s how the best ones stack up price-wise in Malta.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 14 days

  • 14 days

  • 15 days

  • 15 days

  • 28 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 12 GB

  • 30 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 15 GB

  • 50 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 30 GB

  • 30 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.90

  • $29.90

  • $49.90

  • $9.90

  • $21.90

  • $59.90

  • $17.90

  • $24.90

  • $44.90

  • $49.90

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $5

  • $7

  • $10

  • $15

  • $22.50

  • $32

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 15 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $6

  • $12

  • $14

  • $19

  • $27

  • $33

Topping Up

Epic

You can top up at one of the various branches around the islands, from an authorised reseller (like most stationery stores), or online.

If you want to top up online, you’ll need to register for an account on the Epic website and pay using a credit or debit card. It’s also possible to top up via SMS or through an ATM, but you’ll need a Maltese bank account to do it.

SIMOptions

Topping up with SIMOptions (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Malta 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.

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Coverage and Data Speeds

Unless you’re somewhere remote (which is virtually impossible in Malta), coverage black spots are a rarity. Cell signal almost never disappears, and call quality is consistently good.

Epic’s network covers essentially all of Malta with 4G/LTE available anywhere you’re likely to be. 5G is starting to roll out now, but is limited at this stage.

Nomad can use all of the different networks on the island, so if you somehow do find yourself without service with one network, you can just switch to another.

EU Roaming

Malta is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.

Epic’s prepaid packs all include EU (and UK) roaming at no extra charge. Some of the SIMOptions packs do as well: if the one you’re looking at doesn’t, or you’re using a different eSIM company, just check out the regional Europe packs I mentioned earlier.


Check out our guides to SIM cards and eSIMs in 75+ other countries here.

Main image via Magdalena Smolnicka

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks! – Why did you not talk about “Go”? Not a good option?

    Btw: You’ve included a paragraph twice in the article: RedTouch Fone is more of a cute quirk……

    1. Thanks for pointing out the duplicated paragraph — fat fingers! All fixed now.

  2. Does the Vodafone card provide coverage for Sicily as well?

    1. Yes, at EU roaming rates. It’s 3 euros/day at the moment, but EU roaming fees are being abolished for residents across the board next month. How that applies to tourists remains to be seen.

  3. Avatar Justin Corey says:

    We are coming out to Malta for 16 nights from 20/08/2017 – I will be bringing my portable router as I have 5 children and the missus too – do Vodafone sell sims exclusive for portable router only?

  4. Avatar Angelique Chatelier says:

    Nicely done. Thank you. I am new to travel overseas. I cannot buy a SIM (Canada) before my arrival in Malta? My phone is too old for E-Sim 🙂

    1. You can buy international SIMs ahead of time (we mention one in the article), but I’m not sure about local SIMs. Vodafone Malta doesn’t offer it, so you’d need to buy from some random third-party seller on Ebay or Amazon or somewhere. That’s not something I recommend–there’s essentially no support or certainty about what you’re actually buying–but I know a few people do it.

  5. @Angelique Chatelier and @Dave Dean: In Europe, I use a pay-go Vodafone UK SIM card that I got from Amazon, pre-activated by the vendor. Although post-Brexit it no longer includes free EU roaming, Vodafone offers 8-day EU add-ons for data, messages, or calls, either individually or all-in-one. Cost currently ranges from 3 to 10 pounds for the 8 days. Without the add-on, you still have incoming calls and texts at no cost. So the price is reasonable, if not phenomenal, and two other advantages are: (1) the SIM (and loaded credit) can be kept active with a either a single usage charge or a top-up at least every 180 days, and (2) customer service and messages from Vodafone are all in English. There are usually SIMs from other UK carriers on Amazon, as well, e.g. Orange, Three UK.

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