Iridium Prepaid vs. Iridium Monthly Airtime Service Plan Options

In order to make contact from anywhere in the world with an Iridium satellite device, it needs to be loaded up with the relevant airtime package. We offer airtime bundles which can be paid for either on a monthly basis or as and when you need it in the form of Iridium sat phone top-ups or Iridium GO! top-ups, for example. This article highlights the pros and cons of both airtime types, and answers some popular questions about it.

Best Suited For…

  • Pre-Paid

For anyone travelling on a short-term basis, we would recommend pre-paid airtime minutes purely because you can top them up anytime you like. You won’t be tied in to a contract so you have more flexibility, and it means you only use what you pay for so there are no nasty shocks at the end of the month when your airtime invoice comes through.

  • Monthly

Longer-term excursions or projects would likely require the need for contracted, pay-monthly airtime bundles so that you can guarantee additional airtime at the start of every month.


  • Pre-Paid
    • Control over your spending: With prepaid airtime, you only pay for what you use. This can help you avoid overspending on your phone bill and give you more control over your budget.
    • No contract commitments: Prepaid airtime plans do not typically require a contract commitment. This gives you the flexibility to change plans or carriers without penalty.
    • No unexpected charges: With prepaid airtime, there are no surprise charges at the end of the month. You pay upfront for the minutes or data you plan to use.
  • Monthly
    • Predictable monthly bills: With a monthly contract, you'll know exactly how much your bill will be each month. This can make budgeting easier and help you avoid unexpected charges.
    • More value for money: Monthly contracts often offer more minutes, texts, and data for your money compared to prepaid options. This can be particularly beneficial if you use your phone frequently.

Coverage Area

Iridium delivers global coverage, including over the oceans and the poles. The Iridium network consists of a constellation of 66 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites that provide seamless voice and data connectivity anywhere on Earth.

Because the Iridium satellites are in a low-earth orbit, they provide low-latency, near-instantaneous communications that are well-suited for many applications, including voice, messaging, and data transfer. The Iridium network covers the entire planet, including the polar regions, where other satellite communication systems may not provide coverage.

However, it's important to note that Iridium coverage is subject to line-of-sight restrictions, which means that communication may be temporarily disrupted in areas with obstructions such as mountains, tall buildings, or heavy foliage. Additionally, some types of Iridium devices may have different levels of coverage or limitations depending on their specific capabilities and features.

Calling Features

Whether you choose an Iridium sat phone prepaid SIM or an Iridium GO! prepaid SIM for your phone or hotspot device, you have the choice of making voice calls, sending SMS messages, data file sharing, or SOS alerts because Iridium devices are designed with communication and safety in mind. All of these call features are available at the touch of a button, however, using them will obviously contribute towards your airtime package so it best to plan which feature you will most likely use most, and how often, before embarking on any trip.

Helpful Questions Answered

  • Does my satellite service expire?

On our pre-paid plans, and depending on your SIM card, the expiry date may not be until after 24 months, at which point you will be unable to make calls. However, we offer 30-day extensions on our SIM cards, meaning you can keep your SIM alive if it’s running closing to its expiry date.

Our monthly payment plans do not have expiry dates as standard. You, the user, has to cancel the service manually.

  • Does my satellite phone number expire?

With pre-paid plans, when your SIM card expires, you risk losing your phone number too, however, on pay-monthly plans, your phone number will stay active for as long as you keep your contract alive.

  • Do I have to refill my airtime?

If you are using pre-paid airtime for your Iridium device, yes, you will need to top it up as and when it runs out or runs low.

As always, our team of experts is here to help. So, if you need any advice about monthly or pre-paid Iridium airtime, contact us via:

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