Getting a SIM card in Israel?! Is it difficult? Actually, yeah, kind of. I didn’t think it would be…
Eight aimless hours of traversing Tel Aviv later, having dealt with a small platoon of customer service workers, I was hooked up with a brand-spanking-new Israeli SIM card. With a pretty sweet amount of data too!
As fun as that adventure was, I imagine you may want to skip it if possible. THEREFORE, I’ve written this guide to phones, SIMs, and phone plans in Israel. All of the muss with none of the fuss!
What is your best choice for a local SIM? Who is the best operator? What regional-exclusive Pokemon are obtained in Pokemon Go in the great state of Zion (slash Palestine)?
It’s all in here. Today, we’re unpacking everything you need to know about buying an Israel SIM card, be it for a short shindig or a longer stint of living.
Gotta catch ‘em all.
Shalom Ladies & Gentlesteins! Most of the Sims featured here are GREAT for visiting Israel but won’t work once you leave the tiny, little country. If you’re going to be crossing into Jordan or Egypt after your trip, then maybe you should get an International Sim that will work all over the world instead?
You can either read our Best International Sim round up, or you can simply click the button below to buy one now.Bag Your Sim
- Let’s Break Down This Whole SIM Card in Israel Bizz
- Quick Jump – The Best Israel SIM Cards
- HolaFly eSim – eSim Package For Israel
- SIM To Israel – The Simplest Prepaid SIM Card in Israel
- Israel SIM Card Providers
- International SIM Cards – An Alternative to Buying an Israel SIM Card
- Some Final Tips before Buying a SIM card in Israel
- FAQs on Buying an Israeli Sim Card
- Final Thoughts on Getting an Israeli Sim
Let’s Break Down This Whole SIM Card in Israel Bizz
If you are backpacking around Israel, then a local SIM card will come in bloody useful. But like I said, buying an Israeli SIM was way more complicated than I thought it would be. There are so many choices and stats flying at your face and sometimes all you’ll be told is “We don’t do tourist SIMs” which is very clearly not true. Take my goddamn money!
You can buy an Israel SIM card at Ben Gurion airport when you land, but don’t. They’re seriously overpriced and pretty damned dumb. All the information I gathered for this post came from either online or in-person (complete with death stares) at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv… so you don’t have to lose all sense time and matter in that void.
Just head there when you get to town. Most providers have a kiosk or shop there, and you’ll be able to get hooked up with a phone and simcard easily.
A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!
An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected. It’s just that easy.
Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.Buy an eSIM!
Quick Jump – The Best Israel SIM Cards
- The Simplest Prepaid SIM Card in Israel – SIM To Israel
- The Best SIM Card for Israel Travel – Pelephone Tourist SIM Card
- Plan B When Buying an Israel SIM Card – Partner (Orange) Tourist SIM Card
- The Cheapest SIM Card in Israel – Hot Mobile Tourist SIM Card
- A Phone Plan for Longterm Travel in Israel – Cellcom Basic Phone Plan
- An Alternative to Buying an Israel SIM Card – International SIM Cards
HolaFly eSim – eSim Package For Israel
In case you are not familiar with the concept, an eSim is a virtual SIM card that you download onto your phone like any other app. That means no more fiddly bits and pieces of plastic and no more messing around visiting the phone shops of the world.
Sounds great like? Well the downsides are that not all phones are eSim ready, many of them don’t offer local phone numbers and they can be more expensive than local sims. However, a BIG advantage is that you can download them before you leave home and activate it as soon as you land.
I have tried several eSim providers for Israel and HolaFly are out top pick on account of their excellent customer service, extensive network coverage and reasonable data package prices.
HolaFly Israel Prepaid SIM Card Prices
HolaFly’s packages are simple. They offer unlimited data for the duration of the package’s lifespan and the duration depends on how much you want to pay.
7 Day Package – $34.00
15 Day Package – $44.00
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SIM To Israel – The Simplest Prepaid SIM Card in Israel
Is it the cheapest and best SIM card for Israel? No… but it does save you a lot of leg work!
The deal here is that you order the SIM card, and it’ll be shipped to you BEFORE you travel to Israel. Once you land, on the date of arrival, it’ll be activated and, as they always say, badda-bing-badda-boom – yalla!
The benefits are kind of obvious. This isn’t the best value SIM card for Israel for long-term backpackers on a budget, but for anybody on a short trip to Israel, it’s perfect to get hooked up with a phone number and data. No thinking is required.
SIM To Israel Prepaid SIM Card Prices
There’s an Israel data SIM card and then there’s the full plan. The full plan comes with unlimited local calls and SMS PLUS unlimited calls to the States and Canada for residents from there.
Now you have zero excuses not to ring your mum!
|Data Only||Price||Full Plan||Price|
|100 GB / 10 days||$30||100 GB / 5 days||$22|
|100 GB / 14 days||$35||100 GB / 7 days||$25|
|100 GB / 30 days||$55||100 GB / 10 days||$29|
|100 GB per month / 60 days||$89||100 GB / 14 days||$35|
|100 GB per month / 90 days||$120||100 GB / 21 days||$39|
|–||–||100 GB / 30 days||$45|
|–||–||100 GB / 45 days||$79|
|–||–||100 GB per month / 60 days||$89|
|–||–||100 GB per month / 90 days||$120|
Israel SIM Card Providers
Before we get to the hummus, we gotta chew through the pita. There’s a whole host of carriers for SIM cards in Israel and they’re all pretty competitive. There are, however, the three largest providers with the biggest coverage of any cellular network across Israel. They are:
- Partner (previously known as Orange)
The remaining guys are still on-point with their data packages for Israel SIM cards, but you may not be streaming Netflix out in the Negev Desert.
Ok, good? Let’s dissect this then.
Pelephone Tourist SIM Card – The Best SIM Card for Israel Travel
Moving right along from the sexy tables full of numbers, next I’m giving you what I reckon is the best option I found for getting hooked up with 4G in Israel. (Remember, you’re skipping buying an Israel SIM Card at the airport).
Instead, after figuring out where to stay in Tel Aviv, head to Dizengoff Center (or anywhere else) and find the Pelephone shop. Pelephone is one of the three biggest providers for Israel’s cellular networks (meaning the largest area of coverage) and their tourist SIM card is a pretty sweet deal.
To get you going, it’ll run you 79 shekels ($23) and that includes the SIM purchasing fee. You get 39 GB a month with unlimited local calls and SMS and I was told this could be topped up monthly too for 20 shekels ($6). I’d say that’s a pretty damn excellent deal!
…If it’s true. Considering most prepaid tourist SIM cards in Israel only last a month I would double-check this if you’re planning on staying longer in the country.
Pelephone Tourist SIM Card – $23 / 1 month / 39 GB + calls and SMS
Partner (Orange) SIM Card – Plan B when Buying an Israel SIM Card
Next up of the big three is Partner (previously known as Orange) and their deal for a prepaid Israel SIM card is decidedly a bit more ehh. It’s not as good a deal as the Pelephone SIM card and there was no mention of the card working past the first month either.
- 1 week / 10 GB / 80 shekels ($23)
- 1 month / 35 GB / 100 shekels ($29)
However, being one of the three biggest carriers means they still have excellent cell phone coverage around Israel. The 1 week SIM is pretty crap and you’d be better off purchasing the SIM To Israel card at that point, but the 1 month card is a nice Plan B to Pelephone.
In case the Pelephone kiosk is closed. Or the clerk is mean to you. Or if you just think Pelephone is a dumb name and sounds like a phone operator run by pelicans.
Partner (Orange) Tourist SIM Card – $28 / 1 month / 100 GB + calls and SMS (and other goodies)
Hot Mobile SIM Card – The Cheapest SIM Card in Israel
We’ll get to the last of the big three providers in a second, but first, let’s talk about the little guys. The smaller providers of Israel SIM cards (in no particular order) include:
- Golan Telecom
- Hot Mobile
Of these, the only real standout is the Hot Mobile Israel SIM card: the others provide pretty comparable or meh deals in relation to Pelephone and Partner without nearly as good a coverage outside of Israel’s urban centre. So, Hot Mobile it is!
You get 20 GB of data and unlimited calls and SMS for 1 month for the low, low price of 50 shekels ($15)! Essentially, less data and less coverage at a cheaper price.
This is almost-definitely the SIM card I would have purchased while travelling Israel IF it wasn’t for that whole ‘working traveller’ thing.
Hot Mobile Tourist SIM Card – $15 / 1 month / 20 GB + calls and SMS
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Cellcom Basic Phone Plan – A Phone Plan for Longterm Travel in Israel
Cellcom is the last of the big three and their tourist SIM card boggles my mind to no end. The internet tells me one thing, the store clerks tell me another, and either way, the deal still isn’t as good as Pelephone so forget ‘em!
So, why am I talking about them? Because they’re the only mobile provider I found that would sell me a local phone plan for Israel – i.e. not a prepaid Israel SIM card for tourists. Incidentally, it’s what I got thinking I’d stay the full 3 months in Israel.
It’s still bloody confusing though.
Here’s the deal: I paid roughly 360 shekels ($105). Now, before you puke at the price, understand that in reality, I paid 60 shekels ($17.50): 20 for the Israeli SIM card and 40 for the phone plan (ok, 39.90, but we’re rounding figures here). The rest is a deposit I get back when I cancel after a minimum of 45 days on the plan.
On Cellcom’s phone plan I get 30 GB a month, unlimited local communications, 500 minutes and 2500 SMS “internationally” (the States, Canada, plus some of Europe… so, not Australia – sorry, Mum). I also probably get some other bonuses too that I don’t care about.
So, this clearly isn’t the best deal for everyone, not to mention that it’s kind of a dickaround, but it’s a good choice of SIM card for anyone longterm travelling in Israel or looking to make Aliyah (settle in Israel).
Cellcom Basic Phone Plan – $11.50 per month (+ $6 SIM fee + approx. $87.50 deposit) / Until the Messianic Age / 30 GB + calls and SMS (including internationally) + other stuff probs
Although buying local SIM cards in your travels ultimately works out cheaper, it also can be a real pain in the ass. Sometimes, it can be a bit sketchy too (depending on where you are).
If you’re someone who takes a lot more frequent and short trips – as opposed to one giant backpack-slinging slog – then an international SIM card might be the better choice for you. How do they work?
Well, the good ones work anywhere! (Mostly.) You’ll get data, calls, SMS, Tinder, from the moment you touch the ground in your new playground. They probably even work on the plane too!
How do you find the best international SIM card though? Well, unpacking that is a whole new journey. There are heaps of good ones and there are a bunch that you’re better off just using to pick your teeth with.
Read this awesome post on the best international SIM cards if it sounds like a better choice for you.
Some Final Tips before Buying a SIM card in Israel
I feel like I’ve broken down the process of getting hooked up with a phone in Israel pretty succinctly, but there are a still couple last points I’d like to touch on:
- Take your passport when you go to buy a SIM card in Israel. Not all the stores I visited insisted on having it, but you’re better off taking it in case.
- If you’re looking for an Israel SIM card with unlimited data, you’ll need to get a plan. The tourist SIMs in Israel don’t offer this.
- If you want to look at a cell phone coverage map of Israel for different carriers, this is an excellent source of information.
- There were some discrepancies between the information I found online and information I received in-person at the phone shops in Israel (which is generally what I defaulted to in this post). Unless you’re avid in Hebrew, secondary sources is all you’ve got to go on – sorry!
It’s possible you may find some discrepancies yourself when you go to buy an Israel SIM card – lemme know if you do down below in the comments, please!
- At one point, the official kiosk for a carrier sent me over to an unmarked kiosk 10 feet away to buy the tourist SIM card. Not sure what this is about, but you’ll find all the official stores/kiosks in Dizengoff (except maybe Hot Mobile). Just look for the company logos.
- Dizengoff Center is an ungodly monstrosity – it’s a labyrinth and I hate it. The official Cellcom shop is outside on the street and the rest are inside the abyss. If you find one phone shop, the others are close by. They’re all in the same building and close to each other, albeit on different floors.
- The exclusive Pokemon you can catch in Israel (and around the Levant) is Tropius. Told you I’d cover it. 😉
FAQs on Buying an Israeli Sim Card
Here’s what we’re usually asked about buying a sim card in Italy.
Final Thoughts on Getting an Israeli Sim
How’d we do? Pretty good I reckon! Somewhere in there, I reckon you’ll find the best SIM card for Israel travel to suit your needs.
Truth be told, there are so many providers that the Israeli tourist SIM cards are all pretty comparable and competitive. The Pelephone SIM card still edges the others out. For everything else, SIM To Israel is super convenient and skips the hassle.
Any last notes? Yup! The mobile internet in Israel is pretty dope! It’s well developed, the coverage is great in the rural areas (with Cellcom anyhow), and it’s fast!
It may get a bit confusing with all the different numbers and fees and deposit hassles, but with this guide, you’ll be hooked up with an Israel SIM card, data package, and number super easy!
You’ll be Hallo-ing left, right, and centre in no time.
Want another kind of sim card? Check out the revolutionary new Nomad e-sim, an app-based sim card covering over 100 countries that can be organised before you leave home! Another option is the Spanish based HolaFly which offers similar packages.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
I’m planning a trip to Israel in March 2022. Your article on Israeli SIM cards was informative. In my search for a prepaid SIM, it appears SMS and MMS texting is not supported (folks use apps for messaging like WhatsApp?) and there is no mention of using my phone as a hotspot (tethering). On the surface, these Israeli SIMs are far more restrictive/limited than the European SIM I used in Spain this past October. Do I understand this correctly?
Heya, most of the SIMs in the article do support SMS locally. If you mean international SMS, I’m not sure, but yes, most people don’t message internationally using traditional SMS anymore. The tech is a bit redundant compared to instant messaging services.
I can’t give you a direct comparison to your European SIM soz. I most definitely DID hotspot off of my Israeli SIM while I was travelling there, but it wasn’t a tourist card. I’d strongly recommend checking the fine print before buying a card/plan if that’s super necessary for you.
My name is Dieter and I m preparing myself to enjoy Shvil Israel. Starting in February 2022 in Eilat and heading towards the north.
Now, I m not that new to the country but did not stay there for more than 3 week. Hiking the Shvil will allow me almost 3 months 🙂
So, I read all your ideas of the SIMs, but which one would you prefer for 3 months? ( including 4 weeks Negev ) ?
Have a good day , be blessed
Shalom Dieter, blessings to you.
If the Pelephone Tourist SIM works past the first month, I’d just get that. You’ll have to ask the representatives at the shop to confirm if they work past the first month though.
You could go on a plan with Cellcom or otherwise, but they ripped me off hard when I cancelled my plan. I’m just gonna stick to a prepaid SIM when I head back to Israel; it’s not worth dealing with the customer service operators.
Oh and one last time DON’T BUY YOUR SIM AT THE AIRPORT. They do rip you off.