What Is a Satellite Phone Top-Up?

Satellite phone top-ups bring your handset to life. Without enough satellite phone airtime, you won’t be able to make calls, send SMS messages, or emails, because all of these operations cost a small amount of money every time you perform them. The cost of airtime top-ups varies depending on which network provider you use, of which there are three main ones available to choose from the GTC website: Inmarsat, Iridium, and Thuraya.

Why Do I Need to Top Up My Satellite Phone?

Topping up your satellite phone is essential to staying reliably connected when operating through or in remote regions of the world. Here at GTC, our experts are always ready with help and advice. So here are our top five reasons for topping up your satellite phone:

  • Service Continuity: Satellite phones rely on communication satellites orbiting the earth. To maintain connectivity, you need to pay for the service. Topping up ensures that your phone can access these satellites and make calls or send messages.
  • Prepaid Service: Many satellite phone plans are prepaid, meaning you pay in advance for a certain amount of talk time or data. Topping up adds more credit to your account, allowing you to continue using the phone.
  • Coverage and Access: Satellite phone service providers have different coverage areas and satellite constellations. Topping up can give you access to more satellites and broader coverage, which is crucial for users in remote or off-grid locations.
  • Talk Time/Data: Topping up provides you with additional talk time or data, depending on your plan. When your current balance runs low, topping up ensures you can continue making calls or using data.
  • Emergency Use: Satellite phones are often used in emergencies. Topping up ensures that your phone is ready to use when you need it most, such as during natural disasters or remote outdoor adventures.

How Do I Top Up My Satellite Phone?

We have made the top-up process as simple as possible so you can stay connected seamlessly and efficiently. You can either call us and our in-house team of experts will guide you through the process, or you can follow these easy steps:

  • Visit our website and head to the relevant Prepaid Airtime page (you will need to choose either Inmarsat Airtime, Iridium Airtime, or Thuraya Airtime).
  • Select from the list of options the top-up option that best suits your device.
  • Choose which top-up voucher you would like and add it to your basket.
    • Before you checkout you will be prompted to tell us when you would like your top-up voucher to be activated and any active SIM card numbers you have.
  • Once you have followed the steps to checkout and pay, our Activations Team will receive your request and will process the activation for you. You will be notified when your top-up voucher is ready for use.

How Much Does It Cost to Top Up My Satellite Phone?

The cost of airtime top-ups varies quite dramatically depending on which network provider you need. Iridium airtime tends to be the more expensive option because Iridium is a truly global satellite network. Their top-ups start from £200 ex. VAT for 100 minutes to be used within a monthly period. While Inmarsat top-ups start from £150 ex. VAT, Thuraya’s airtime top-ups start at just £28 ex. VAT because their network coverage is a lot less widespread than either of the other two providers; Thuraya only covers EMEA & APAC regions.

Tips For Saving Money On Satellite Phone Top-Ups

If you rely on satellite communications in remote or isolated regions, saving money wherever you can is probably quite high on your priority list, especially given the cost of hardware alone before you even factor in the cost of airtime. Below are some tips on how best to budget when it comes to satellite phone top-ups:

  • Choose the Right Plan: Select a satellite phone plan that matches your usage patterns. Look for plans that offer lower rates for voice and data if you use your satellite phone frequently.
  • Prepaid Plans/Top-Ups: Prepaid plans or one-off top-ups often offer better value. You can control your spending by purchasing prepaid vouchers in advance.
  • Opt for Monthly Plans: If you use your satellite phone regularly, a monthly plan may be cost-effective in the long run.
  • Monitor Usage: Keep an eye on your usage and make sure to regularly log into your account to check your usage and billing details. This helps you avoid unexpected overages.
  • Text Messages: Satellite texting is often cheaper than making voice calls. If it's a non-urgent message, opt for text messages instead.

As always, our team of experts is here to help. So, if you need any advice about satellite phone top-ups, contact us via:


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