Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Rose Morah
Having a good SIM card when traveling saves you money and helps you stay connected with your family.
If you are looking for the best international SIM card, this article has covered some of the best SIM card options when traveling internationally.
- The best SIM card options for international travel
- Option 1. Using your 'home country' SIM card
- OPTION 2: Purchase a local SIM card at your destination
- OPTION 3: Get an international SIM card
The best SIM card options for international travel
- Your “home country” SIM card’s international plan.
- Purchasing a local SIM card at your destination.
- Getting an international SIM card.
Option 1. Using your ‘home country’ SIM card
Using home SIM cards when traveling internationally is normally quite expensive because of the excessive roaming charges.
However, you may opt for your ‘home country’ sim card if your cellular provider offers better rates when traveling abroad.
You only need to call their customer support or visit their website to find out more about their international data packages before traveling.
If you live in the U.S, here are some of the available packages from cellular providers:
|AT&T INTERNATIONAL DAY PASS®
You pay a daily fee of $10 (for one line) and get the following:
Access to your mobile data
Unlimited calls to the US and 200+ destinations
Unlimited texts to the world
Calls to countries not included in this package are billed at International Long Distance rates.
You pay $70/ month per device
You get the following:
2GB ($70/month) or 6GB ($140/month) of data included
$0.35 per minute on calls
24/7 network coverage
Unlimited text to the world
Available in over 200 countries
|Their plans – Magenta, T-Mobile ONE, New Classic, Simple Choice, and Select Choice offer the following:
Unlimited 2G data
Call rates at $0.25 per minute (not data) in over 210 countries
You can go for the International Pass for faster data speeds, which also come with unlimited data options.
If you live in the UK, here are the available options:
Offers 51 Roam-free destinations
You can call, text, or use data at no extra cost
It is only available for monthly paying customers
Other options for those who are traveling abroad include:
Another destination Roaming on Unlimited Roaming on 5G
Find out more about these plans on their website here
View more details here.
Go Roam Europe allows you to use data, call, and text at no extra cost (at a fair usage limit of 20GB data) in 71 travel destinations.
Go Roam Around the World
Free to use data at no charge as long as you do not exceed 12GB
You get unlimited texts to the UK of up to 5000 per month
You are allowed to use up to 3000 or more minutes when calling the UK
Data Passport allows travelers to use mobile internet for £5 a day
Data passport can be used in 89 destinations worldwide
How to minimize data usage on your “home country” SIM card
1. Get rid of unnecessary apps
Check if your phone has unnecessary apps running in the background.
When your phone is roaming, these apps may be consuming data in the background.
You’ll therefore need to disable or turn them off.
2. Use Offline apps
Before traveling, consider downloading offline apps that work without any internet connection.
3. Turn off data roaming
This means that your phone will not be able to send and receive data on networks such as LTE, 3G, or 4G. However, you will still be able to get texts and phone calls when connected to a WIFI network or hotspot.
4. Change your email settings
If you automatically receive emails on your phone, you could save a considerable amount of data by changing your email settings from “push” to “fetch.”
This way, you will only get new emails when you want to.
5. Set data usage alerts
This way you are alerted whenever you come close to your data limit.
The good thing is that there are many apps on the web that can help you know the amount of data used or remaining.
6. Use a messenger app with the least data consumption
Messenging service apps like Whatsapp, iMessage and Clint offer free international texting, especially when using free WIFI.
This will help offset the cost of text messaging and even phone calls.
7. Download free to call on WiFi apps
If you haven’t already, download free to call wifi apps such as:
- iPhone FaceTime – only works with other Apple products. Remember to turn off cellular networks.
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OPTION 2: Purchase a local SIM card at your destination
This will allow you to make voice calls, send texts and consume data at the local rates, which may sometimes be cheap than your ‘home country’ sim card.
The only disadvantages of using local SIM cards are:
- You will not use your original phone number while traveling.
- You will not be connected from the time you land at the airport to the time you purchase the local SIM card.
What to consider before using a local SIM card at your destination
- Ensure that your phone is unlocked
You need to make sure that you use a globally unlocked phone.
So, if your phone is locked, you’ll then need to unlock it.
- Consider the language barriers before purchasing the SIM card
Before purchasing a local SIM card, find out if it supports English or any other language you may be more familiar with.
I learned this the hard way when traveling to Germany. Everything was in German, including the website of the local SIM card. And to make matter worse, Google Translate did very little to help.
- Do some research
Before traveling, do some online research on the local SIM cards that offer the best data plans at your destination.
This can help save you money and know the SIM cards with the best offers and connections.
- Carry your passport
All SIM cards need to be registered.
Therefore, your passport will be required during the SIM card registration.
- SIM card set-up
Before leaving the store, make sure the local SIM card is working perfectly fine.
- Try making a call to see if it goes through.
- Try connecting to the internet.
- Find out how to check your credit balance.
- In case of a language barrier, ask how you can switch to your preferred language.
- Make sure that you save your SIM card pin
And, a quick tip:
Always ensure that your phone’s cellular data and roaming are turned off before you land. This is because you will be surprised to find that you were charged roaming fees as soon as you landed on foreign soil.
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OPTION 3: Get an international SIM card
In case you fall under the following categories, consider switching to an international SIM card (travel SIM card).
- If you are a frequent traveler
- If you have limited time, especially when traveling on a business trip or a fast-paced leisure trip. Why? Because having no data after you arrive in a foreign country may be quite hectic because you’ll no doubt be in need of a faster means of communication and an internet connection
- If you plan to stay for an extended period of time in a foreign country
- If you’re already aware of the possibility of encountering some difficulties such as language barriers, or when entering the country via land border crossing where it might be hard to buy a local SIM card
However, using an international SIM card also does come with its fair share of disadvantages.
For instance, you could quickly end up accruing up a huge amount of bills from your phone usage within a short period and without your knowledge.
How do international SIM cards work?
Unlike local SIM cards, which are programmed to operate on a single network, an international SIM card is designed to work on multiple networks around the globe.
Are international SIM cards worth it?
Below are some of the benefits of using travel SIM cards (international SIM cards):
- Free incoming calls
When traveling with an international SIM card, you will not pay for incoming calls like you do when using your SIM card.
- Use of the local call rates
These SIM cards use the local rates of the country you are operating the card in which helps you save money.
- Device compatibility
Travel SIM cards support all major devices in Android and iPhone, tablets, and laptops.
But your phone may, however, need to be unlocked to use these types of SIM cards.
Phone unlocking removes the phone’s network restrictions to allow it to operate a SIM card from a different network.
- It is prepaid
You only pay for the texts, calls, and data that you have used. This means zero possibility of getting hidden charges.
You don’t need to keep changing your SIM cards or your contacts when traveling. Hence, there is the ease of communication while traveling, as well as peace of mind.
What to do if your international SIM card is lost/stolen while abroad?
Block the service immediately.
This will prevent any possible unauthorized usage which will also prevent you from paying any extra cost resulting from the unauthorized use.
But how do you block your service?
You can either call customer support and ask them to suspend the card or log in to your account on the My SIM card menu, then block the service.
After that, you can then replace your SIM card to ensure that you stay connected.
Best international SIM Cards
- Google Fi
This is the number one recommended SIM card by most frequent travelers.
The available OneSimCard travel SIM cards include Universal, Expedition, and Europe & more. These SIM cards can fit any GSM-compatible phone as they come in 3 sizes – mini, micro, and nano.
Each of these international SIM cards comes with both a U.S. and European number. You also have the option to add additional numbers in many other countries. All the company’s SIM cards also have a free $10 balance for calling, texting, and data.
View the OneSimCard International SIM Card Rates and features highlights here
SimOptions provide travelers with a variety of SIM options that let them save massively on roaming charges. They have eSIMs for over 200+ destinations.
Read more about SimOptions.
All Sprint plans come with a Global Roaming Option which gives you texts and data in over 200 countries for free. Calls are charged at $0.25 per minute.
You can increase the data speeds by opting for Sprint’s High-Speeds Data Roaming Pass, which’s valid for 24 hours or a week.
No matter where you are traveling in the world, with Sprint, you get free texts and all the speed data you need.
4. Google Fi
Google Fi is a great carrier that provides its users with data and texts, plus an affordable voice for calling overseas with its flat-rate data.
Fi is supported in over 200 countries, and you only have to pay $10 per gigabyte regardless of which country you will be visiting.
Its only limitation is that it only runs on selected devices. You can get more details here.