The Best Mobile Plans for English-Speaking Olim in Israel
Signing up for a mobile plan is often the first item on a newly arrived Olim’s to-do list. And while Israel isn’t short of mobile phone carriers, it would be an overstatement to say they’re all suitable for English speakers. You need to do your research if you want a mobile plan fully catered to your needs as a non-Hebrew speaker.
Introduction: Understanding Mobile Plans in Israel for English-Speaking Olim
Olim can sign up for all types of mobile plans available for local residents in Israel. The difference, however, is that some Olim still haven’t mastered the Hebrew language. Even today, you may find it challenging to find a mobile phone carrier with an English website. As a result, it’s common to hear about Olim who receive hefty monthly bills or who aren’t aware of what their plan offers.
Here’s an overview of all major phone carriers in Israel:
- HOT Mobile
- Golan Telecom
A number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are also available:
- TCS Israel (Multiple partners)
- Cellact (Pelephone)
- Rami Levy (Pelephone)
- Home Cellular (Cellcom)
- 019 Telzar (Partner)
- 012 Mobile (Partner)
- 365 Telecom (Pelephone)
- Youphone (Partner)
- X2One (Pelephone)
The MVNOs don’t own the network infrastructure they provide. They have agreements with mobile network operators and purchase access to the network from them, then redistribute it to users.
Cellcom has the highest number of users in Israel, with almost 3 million users. Pelephone, Partner, Hot Mobile, and Golan follow up on the list with 1 million or more subscribers.
Top Mobile Plans for Heavy Data Users: Which Providers Offer the Most Data for the Best Price?
The limit for most major phone carriers is 1,000 GB per month. Cellcom offers a 1,000 GB plan with 5,000 SMS messages and minutes inside the country and 500 minutes of international calls starting from 59.90 shekels per month. Their more affordable plan for heavy data users starts at 49.90 shekels and includes 500 GB, 5,000 SMS and minutes locally, and 500 minutes of international calls.
Pelephone has a similar plan of 1,000 GB for 39.90 shekels for the first two months, then at 59.90 per month. Their 500 GB plan costs 39.90 shekels for the first two months, then it’s 49.90 per month.
Partner’s 1,000 GB plan is more expensive at 65.90 shekels per month with 5,000 SMS and minutes. Their subscriptions, however, also include an eSIM service for smartwatches and MyBox CyberGuard security software. Partner also offers a 700 GB plan and a 400 GB plan for heavy data users at 59.90 shekels and 39.90 shekels per month, respectively.
Best Mobile Plans for Families: Which Providers Offer Family Plans and Discounts?
The major phone carriers offer affordable plans for families. All Partner plans are available for multiple users. For example, the 1,000 GB plan on the 5G network is available at 65.90 shekels per month when used by two to seven family members.
Cellcom, Pelephone, and HOT Mobile all have family plans, many of which offer discounts or all-around plans including TV service and fast internet.
The Best Pay-As-You-Go Plans: Which Providers Offer Flexible Options for Low-Volume Users?
If you’re a low-volume user, you can select from a few flexible pay-as-you-go plans:
- Recharge Golan Telecom Prepaid SIM – 30 days, 40 GB, 55 shekels
- Recharge Rami Levy SIM – 30 days, 80 GB, 50 shekels
- Recharge Hot Mobile SIM – 30 days, 50 GB, 59 shekels
- Recharge Cellcom SIM – 30 days, 70 GB, 59 shekels
Note that each of these carriers also has other options for additional or less internet. Most pay-as-you-go plans work for 30 days, although some are available for seven or 90 days. Most other mobile phone carriers will have pay-as-you-go plans for tourists in a similar price range. Overall, Israel isn’t limited on short-term deals.
The Best International Plans: Which Providers Offer the Best Rates for Calls and Data Abroad?
Not all Israeli data plans include international calls and texting. Many providers only include calls to specific countries (most support the U.S., U.K., and Canada). That’s why you should always ask for details or read the small print to avoid getting overcharged or denied service.
Partner has excellent international plans with 20 GB for five days and unlimited Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Whatsapp use. The price is 199 shekels. Their Relax plan with up to 3 GB of internet, 1,000 minutes, and 1,000 SMS messages cost 299 shekels.
Cellcom has a great 30-day package with 20 GB, 100 minutes of conversations and 100 SMS messages for 249 shekels. They also have a 500 GB plan with 250 minutes and SMS and a 10 GB plan with no calls and SMS at 299 and 199 shekels, respectively.
Pelephone has three international plans. The Perfect L plan is valid for 21 days, includes 400 SMS and minutes, and 20 GB of the web starting at 299 shekels. Their other plans include 300 SMS and minutes and 15 GB at 249 shekels, and 100 SMS and minutes along with 5 GB for surfing at 199 shekels. The two lower-end plans are valid for 14 days.
Comparing Coverage: Which Providers Have the Best Coverage in Areas With English-Speaking Communities?
All major carriers have coverage across Israel. Most Olim residents concentrate in the three central cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Many settle in kibbutzim or residential ulpans. Ra’anana is also one of the most popular Anglo communities in Israel, with plenty of South African residents.
As for the major cities, all carriers have 4G or 5G (5G is more limited) coverage. According to the nperf.com coverage map, Cellcom offers 5G coverage in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Haifa, and across the coast.
Hot Mobile’s 5G coverage is more limited and mostly present in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.
Partner has a more robust 5G presence nationwide, especially in urban areas. Pelephone offers similar coverage as Partner, with a higher presence in Ashdod, Bet Shemesh, Ashkelon, and Netanya.
The abovementioned carriers all offer 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage and are some of the most reliable solutions. If you choose an MVNO, make sure they use Partner, Cellcom, or Pelephone’s infrastructure to ensure coverage across the Anglo communities in Israel.
Special Features for English-Speaking Olim: Which Providers Offer Services in English or Cater to English-Speaking Users?
The principal reason why mainstream mobile phone carriers don’t work well for Olim is the lack of English customer service. Don’t get us wrong. You’ll surely find Pelephone or Partner representatives that speak English. But service in English isn’t guaranteed.
Also, as you’re probably aware, living in Israel requires plenty of patience or savlanut – one of the first words many foreigners learn! You can’t expect your typical American or Western European service that’s both timely and polite.
It’s crucial to find a company that will be at your disposal and answer your questions in English. TCS Telecom and Hot Mobile are two examples of network providers that have special programs for Olim. TCS is the only one that’s English-first.
English-Speaking Olim: Special Features and Services Offered by Telecom Providers
Telecom providers in Israel offer tons of special features on top of SMS, minutes, and internet. Many packages include, but are not limited to:
- Free web traffic for popular social media apps (Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat)
- Subscription to streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and similar
- International plans at a discount for regular users
- Discounts for new smartphone purchases
- TV plans or exclusive access to some TV channels
- Xbox deals
How to Choose the Best Mobile Plan for You: Tips and Strategies for Finding the Right Fit
- Check your internet usage over the last six months. Calculate the average per month and look for a plan that offers at least that much data.
- Test cell phone carriers before signing up for their service. Give them a call and be sure they can answer your questions in clear English or respond to written queries promptly.
- Buy securely. You can find third-party mobile plan resellers in street shops across Israel. Although they sell legit phone numbers, you’ll be safer doing business with a reputable company.
- Double-check the coverage options. Look for online coverage maps or ask your provider about the coverage in your specific area.
- Compare the cost. You’ll likely find multiple reputable carriers that offer a similar plan. In that case, compare the total cost and go for the one with the best price.
- Make sure your current phone can support your new data plan. Not all phones have 5G compatibility. If you’re after the latest connectivity tech, consider a phone upgrade beforehand.
- Choose between postpaid vs. prepaid. Do you want to be billed before or after using your phone’s services? Prepaid plans are usually more affordable but often have less high-speed data.
- Get all the plan details. Once you decide on a mobile plan, research all the perks it offers. Unlimited data, mobile hotspot access, no-contract options, international coverage, and extra features like Netflix and similar subscriptions are some details to consider.
Navigating the Mess with TCS
As previously mentioned, finding a mobile plan in Israel that caters to all the needs of an Olim can be a long and painful process. However, there’ll be no need for "savlanut" when you use TCS Telecom services. We have fast mobile plans for all categories, including heavy users, families, and those who rarely use their devices. Learn more by visiting our homepage.