International SIM Cards: Ultimate Guide for Travelers

When traveling, SIM cards can be really annoying. You must carry out the identical task each time you land in a different location. Landing at the airport, purchasing a SIM card there, and being duped, or finding your way to town without any access. Navigating an unfamiliar city while comparing different plans and local SIM carriers, and possibly getting lost along the way. After all that, you can just wind up being defrauded. An international SIM card can help with that. There isn’t a bother when using a SIM card designed for international travel. Let’s find out more about international SIM cards by GIGAGO

Overview of International SIM Cards

International SIM card
International SIM card

An international SIM card is a class of SIM cards with mobile networks that work anywhere in the world. One phone number, one card, one bill, and one data plan are involved. Many people who frequently travel overseas choose to use international SIM cards, especially when their excursions aren’t constrained to a single region or continent.

International SIM cards for use abroad and international SIM cards for travel are two categories of this sort of SIM card.

Be aware that you will typically save money by using an overseas eSIM rather than a conventional SIM card. It’s not yet a universal solution, as you’ll need a new iPhone or other smartphones that support this technology.

GIGAGO offers an eSIM with calls, texts, and data, but if you only need data.

Benefits of International SIM Cards – Are they useful?

Comparing international SIM cards to alternative options for mobile data when traveling, they provide many benefits. Aside from packing international cell service into a single SIM card, it also:

  • Has better coverage: The best SIM cards for travel are international ones. Compared to local SIM cards or international roaming, they will often offer superior coverage.
  • Has significantly lower costs than international roaming: An international SIM card bill is frequently comparable to your domestic account.
  • Keeps in a single language: There is no squinting at interfaces in other languages to figure out what a package includes in detail.
  • Manage online: The majority of providers offer a single platform for everything.

Who Should Buy International Sim Cards?

Travelers should buy an international SIM card for their trip
Travelers should buy an international SIM card for their trip

It’s not recommended to use international SIM cards for extended travel, but what if you’re not always on the move? Do international SIMs have a place in travel or is it always worthwhile to acquire a fresh SIM card and mobile plan every time you step off a plane?

Travelers on business: International SIM cards are a good option for those who frequently take quick travels in and out of different countries. They are often more convenient than local SIMs and less expensive than roaming with your regular cellular provider. On business travel, that matters when time is money.

Travelers who have a home base: Those who frequently take short vacations and have a home base abroad may think about getting an international SIM card. Choose a card that can be put on hold whenever not needed, with any credit left over being saved for the next international travel.

Travelers who skip through several countries in a hurry: If you have to buy local SIMs frequently, the cost savings are lost, and there are more fun places to go on vacation than the interior of a half-dozen mobile stores.

How do International SIM Cards Work?

International SIM carriers do not have their own cell networks like national carriers do. In order to give their clients the best signal possible, they instead rely on regional carriers.

International SIM providers frequently collaborate with the largest networks in each nation to provide the broadest coverage. To guarantee the finest possible level of service, they occasionally collaborate with two or three carriers in each nation.

Make sure the SIM you are considering is compatible with the countries you will be visiting because, as is often the case, there will be some, particularly in the poor world, where the signal simply isn’t up to par.

Types of International SIM Cards

International SIM cards can be divided into various types
International SIM cards can be divided into various types

Like any kind of travel SIM, international SIM cards are divided into some types below:

International calling SIM cards: This type of SIM card offers plans with numbers and free calling minutes or international calling fees with low rates. It’s a suitable option for travelers who need calling when traveling to visit abroad relatives, or friends,… 

International data SIM cards: With the need for data used when traveling, it seems to be the most popular type of international SIM card. These international SIM cards offer various plans with free mobile data.  

International prepaid SIM cards: This type of SIM card can offer both calls, messages, and data. You can buy international prepaid SIM cards online or at local stores at your destination. 

Comparing International SIM Cards

Travelers have a variety of other options besides overseas SIM cards for internet connection. Let’s explore some of the distinctions between them.

International SIM Cards vs. Local SIM Cards

International SIM cards vs. local SIM cards
International SIM cards vs. local SIM cards

Local and international SIM cards are very different from one another. An international SIM card is a wonderful alternative for tourists or persons who won’t be in a country for an extended period of time, while the former is perfect for traveling within a single nation.

What is Cheaper?

An international SIM card costs 99/100 times more than a local SIM card. As a result, you must choose whether to purchase an international SIM card in advance of your trip or a local SIM card after you arrive.

Local prepaid sim cards are frequently rather affordable and include substantial data packages. Most nations and service providers have distinctive tourist SIM cards.

International SIM cards, however, continue to roam where local prepaid sim cards stop operating! If you use a sim card that was created with international travel in mind, you’ll always be prepared. With international sim cards, you may travel across countries while still being able to use the internet, make and receive calls, and send texts.

Take away: If you plan to travel to 1 country, you should buy a local prepaid SIM card at your destination. If you’re traveling across various countries in 1 trip, international SIM cards are the proper option. For the most convenience, you should choose travel eSIM.

International SIM Card vs. Pocket WiFi

International SIM card vs. pocket WiFi
International SIM card vs. pocket WiFi

Another way to access the internet while traveling is through Pocket Wifi. The most crucial feature is that it is unlimited and enables data sharing between numerous devices. A basic comparison between international SIM cards and pocket wifi is provided below.

Shipping costNoYes
Data sharingSometimesYes
Unlimited dataYesYes
Requires returnNoYes
Penalty for loss or theftNoYes
External batteryNoYes
International SIM card vs. pocket WiFi

Looking at the table, we can see that SIM card technologies have taken the role of portable WiFi.

International SIM Card vs. eSIM

International SIM card vs. eSIM
International SIM card vs. eSIM

Both eSIM and an international SIM card are practical choices for tourists. Both are available for purchase online by travelers. The new technology called eSIM is seen as a superior replacement for international SIM cards. Compared to overseas SIM cards, using an eSIM is simpler, better, and more convenient.

If you are looking for easier alternatives for internet connections besides international SIM cards, eSIM will be your best option.

How Much do International SIM Cards Cost?

International SIM cards have a variety of prices based on the destination country and the data plan. To check out the detailed prices on each international SIM card, you can go ahead to the SIM card providers and choose your SIM plans. 

International SIM Cards with Calls, Texts, Data

These providers below offer international SIM cards with calls, texts, and data plans. If you need all these mobile services, the options below are suitable for you.  

ProvidersCoveragePriceOutstanding features
OneSIMCall and text in 200+ countries. Data in 150+ countries.$29.95 for Universal $34.95 for ExpeditionProvide eSIM
GoSIMCall and text in 210+ countries.Data in 110+ countries.From AUD $19None
KnowRoamingCall, text, data in 200+ countries. “Unlimited” data in 125+ countries$3.99 – $99.99Mobile hotspots
TravelsimWorks in over 135+ countries$10 – $100Free shipping worldwide on orders over $55
International SIM cards with calls, texts, data


OneSIM offered by the US provider Belmont Telecom
OneSIM offered by the US provider Belmont Telecom

The US provider Belmont Telecom offers OneSim, an international SIM card, in two different packages:

  • Universal (for discounted calls, SMS, and data service in around 50 countries)
  • Expedition (for calls, SMS, and the widest data coverage)

Customers receive 2 numbers with each plan, one from the USA, Canada, UK, or Australia, and one from Europe (located in Estonia). There is a store where you can buy numbers for various nations.

All of the prepaid plans come with discounted prices for outgoing calls and free incoming calls to many different destinations.

Calls and Texts

Incoming calls: Free in 162 countries if received on the EU number, and 20c/minute otherwise. 

Outgoing calls: On the Universal bundle, start at 25 cents per minute. Similar to data, if you expect to make a lot of calls, you can find cheaper calling packages. The Universal bundle offers the option of having unlimited calls to the US and EU.

Text messages: Free to receive anywhere on the European number, and outgoing texts cost 20-25c each.

Data Plans

Depending on where you’re going and whether you purchase data bundles in advance, data prices change.

If you choose a 3GB Zone Asiana package, which includes 15 countries in Asia and Oceania, you’ll spend about 1.3c/MB in 40+ countries or under 1c/MB elsewhere. Additional package choices are also available.

If you expect anything other than very minimal data use, you’re nearly always better off adding a data bundle instead of paying casual data rates, which normally start at 20c/MB.

OneSIM Extras

There are Voice-over-IP (VoIP) apps for Android and iOS that enable cheaper Wi-Fi calling and texting, and collaboration with Skype and Viber enables free calls from those apps’ users to you.

Additionally, you receive a voicemail service and extra miles for a number of frequent flyer clubs. For more modern iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel smartphones, OneSIM also offers eSIM functionality.

Where does OneSIM Plan Work?

More than 200 countries offer voice and SMS services. With the Universal bundle, data is available in over 150 countries, while the Expedition plan offers data in over 170 countries.

Take away

  • OneSIM is our top choice overall if you’re seeking calls, messages, and data practically in anyplace you’re likely to go.
  • In much of the world, OneSIM provides free incoming calls and free incoming texts.
  • Casual data rates are exorbitant, as with the majority of international SIMs.


GoSIM also provides call, message, and data subscriptions
GoSIM also provides call, message, and data subscriptions

For overseas use, GoSIM also provides call, message, and data subscriptions. However, it takes a somewhat different strategy, offering 3 regional plans, a single international plan, and a number of data-only options.

Calls and Texts

Incoming calls: Free in 135+ countries. Incoming texts are free everywhere you have service.

Outgoing calls: Start at 29 cents per minute, but depending on where you are calling from and to, can be much more expensive than that.

Text messages: Sending an SMS starts at 25c, but again, can cost much more.

Data Plans

The cost of casual data starts at 25 cents per MB and rises from there. Multiple data packs can be active at once, allowing you to save money by combining a smaller “global” pack that you can use everywhere with bigger regional packs.

GoSIM Extras


Where does GoSIM Work?

GoSIM offers broadband service in more than 110 countries and phone and SMS services in more than 210 countries.

Take Away

  • For calls and messages, GoSIM offers worldwide coverage, although its data service is less comprehensive.
  • Call and text rates, as well as occasional data usage, are all too pricey.
  • For locations like the EU and Vietnam, affordable data packages are available, but they only last for 14 or 30 days.
  • For clients who intend to talk or text frequently or for longer or multiple travels, GoSIM is difficult to suggest.


KnowRoaming offers physical SIM cards, eSIMs, and SIM stickers
KnowRoaming offers physical SIM cards, eSIMs, and SIM stickers

KnowRoaming offers physical SIM cards, eSIMs, or a unique sticker that is placed on top of your standard SIM card inside your smartphone. The cost of a casual call, text, and data varies by nation. There are numerous data packages available for regional or worldwide use. Each one has a specific amount of time or data for which it is valid.

KnowRoaming is only providing eSIM for now. You can buy KnowRoaming international SIM cards on the subdomain website of KnowRoaming or online shopping platforms like Amazon, eBay,…

Calls and Texts

Prices can change depending on where you are and the country you’re calling: 

Incoming calls: Start at 8c/minute but can cost significantly more depending on the country you’re in.

Outgoing calls: Start at $0.11 per minute for both mobile and landline. 

Text messages: Receiving an SMS is free. Sending a text will cost a minimum of 14c.

Data Plans

There are currently no “unlimited” data plans available. The data packages have a price range of $3.99 to $99.99. Casual data charges begin at 10 cents per MB, however, prices vary by nation. You will receive at least 250MB of data each day at full speed, and at some time after that, the speed may be decreased to 2G speeds.

KnowRoaming Extras

Every time you add more credit to your account, mobile hotspots are also available and offer 30 days of free WhatsApp use. There is also a call-forwarding service offered.

Where does KnowRoaming Work?

Voice, text, and data services are available through KnowRoaming in more than 200 nations. In more than 125 nations, “unlimited” data packages are offered; the others are pay-as-you-go.

Take Away

  • There are no packages that lower the cost of calls and texts; instead, you should always check the pricing online or in the app before traveling to a new location.
  • The “unlimited” data plans have a better-sounding name than they actually are. One of the 1GB or 5GB data packs, which are far less expensive than casual rates, will probably serve you better.


TravelSim has developed into the most popular alternative roaming service in the world
TravelSim has developed into the most popular alternative roaming service in the world

Over the past ten years, TravelSim has developed into the most popular alternative roaming service and a well-known global brand. They sell international SIM cards with a range of call and data possibilities.

Calls and Texts

Incoming calls: Free incoming calls in over 70 countries, coverage in 135+ countries. Normal rate is 0.20$ or 0.15€/min. 

Outgoing calls: Low-cost calls, data & SMS worldwide – reduce roaming fees by up to 85%.

Text messages:  Incoming SMS is free. From $1.1 for sending text messages. 

Data Plans

In nations where 4G is available, Travelsim offers 4G speed internet. The cost of the data package ranges from $13 to $87 and ranges from 500MB to 10GB. To select the finest overseas SIM card plans based on your needs, go to the Travelsim website.

Travelsim Extras

They offer free shipping worldwide on orders over $55 and their calling credit is valid for 18 months.

Where does Travelsim Work?

An international Travelsim SIM card is functional in 135+ countries, has coverage in 170+ countries, and claims to be functional in 200+ countries.

Take Away

Travelsim’s worldwide SIM card rates are simple to grasp when ordering, however, they are more expensive than those of other global sim cards, making them my least favorite option for travelers.

International Data-Only SIM Cards

International data-only SIMs, as the name implies, only offer cellular data; regular calling and SMS services are not offered.

However, any VoIP service, including Google Voice, Skype, FaceTime, and Viber, allows you to make calls to real phones, and several of those services also let you send and receive text messages.

KeepGo100MB-25GBUnlimited$49 for buyingRefill from $3
GigSky3GB-5GB30 days$50 – $60
SurfroamPay per usagePay per usageFrom 0.01€/MB
International data-only SIM cards


KeepGo is one of many international SIM card providers offering data plans
KeepGo is one of many international SIM card providers offering data plans

KeepGo is one of many international SIM card providers that just offers mobile data if having internet access is your primary concern when traveling. With $49, you may get an international KeepGo SIM card.

Data Plans

A year’s worth of data is included with the Lifetime World LTE SIM. KeepGo offers additional packages that cost between $14 for 500MB and $165 for 10GB. As long as you top up at least once each year, data remains active.

KeepGo Extras

Additionally, KeepGo offers mobile hotspots with the same global and US/European data services.

Where does KeepGo Work?

The Lifetime World LTE SIM from KeepGo provides data coverage in more than 100 nations. Only 33 countries in Europe and the United States are covered with the curiously called GoFi Europe USA SIM, but your data costs less.

Take Away

  • Even with its so-called World SIM, coverage isn’t as extensive as with some of its rivals.
  • While calling and messaging to/from regular phone numbers is possible with data-only services, it requires some work.


GigSky international SIM card data plans
GigSky international SIM card data plans

Being quite honest, attempting to understand the GigSky international SIM card data plans made our heads spin, which isn’t good for its advice. It does, however, appear to be less expensive than KeepGo in a lot of situations.

Data Plans

You will need to spend $9.99 on an international SIM card in order to use GigSky’s service. You must download the GigSky app to configure the SIM after it has been put into your phone.

You can customize your foreign SIM card plan to fit your trips by choosing from a variety of countries-, regions-, and global plans (e.g., North America, Europe, Asia Pacific).

Prices vary by location, but in most cases, they are far less expensive than KeepGo. In particular, many regional data plans offer 5 GB of data for 30 days for around $50, compared to 3 GB of data for 30 days with global plans for $60.

GigSky Extras


Where does GigSky Work?

GigSky offers outstanding international network connectivity through Tier 1 operators at affordable roaming costs, covering 190+ countries globally.

Take Away

  • This SIM card for data is reasonably priced. The limits might not be effective for everyone and all device types because the coverage of countries is nowhere near complete.
  • Anyone looking for a less expensive choice for an international data roaming SIM should check it out.


Surfroam offers solely data connections
Surfroam offers solely data connections

Surfroam offers solely data connections, like KeepGo. Users of any mobile device or hotspot, including those that support eSIM, are eligible for service.

Data Plans

Each nation has a single per-megabyte tariff that starts at 0.01 euros per megabyte (10 euros per gigabyte). You will pay €15-20 for the SIM card, plus shipping, and get the same amount back as a credit on your account.


The cost per megabyte for Surfroam’s services is the same for both physical SIM cards and eSIM service.

Where does Surfroam Work?

There are 200+ nations where Surfroam’s data coverage is available.

You’ll need a Pro account to access every network provider that might be available in those nations. When you top up with 100 euros in credit, this is automatically enabled.

Take Away

  • Surfroam’s price structure is adaptable and simple to grasp, and it offers remarkable global coverage.
  • Providing you travel to one of the several nations where data costs 10 euros per GB.

Where to Buy International SIM Cards?

In the majority of locations, SIM cards are available for purchase at airports, neighborhood shops, 7-11s, newsstands, and occasionally vending machines. In order to avoid scams and defective SIMs, it is advisable to purchase from an official network store rather than a reseller.

The majority of major international airports have a phone company kiosk there. After landing, go right there if you need a local SIM.

Additionally, you may purchase pre-loaded, international SIM cards on Amazon or directly from the retailer’s web store, allowing you to use your phone as soon as you arrive at your location.

Why should You Buy an International SIM Card Online?

Before you go out on your trip, it is advised that you purchase your SIM card from an internet retailer. Why it’s the greatest choice is as follows:

  • Internet access as soon as you land: If you need to call a cab or send a message to a friend or relative, you may activate your SIM card as soon as you arrive.
  • Multi-country options: This implies that you can connect across continents using just one card.
  • Don’t get ripped off: Internet retailers may provide better prices than those found in airport shops, which are aware that they can overcharge visitors.
  • Save time: By purchasing a SIM card in advance, you may begin exploring the neighborhood right away without having to seek them at your destinations.
  • No communication issues: It could be challenging to get a SIM card from a local store in your destination if you don’t speak the language well.

How to Set up an International SIM Card?

The steps listed below should be followed in order to set up an international SIM card:

Unlock Your Phone

Unlock phones can only use international SIM card
Unlock phones can only use international SIM card

Make certain that your phone is unlocked before configuring your prepaid international SIM card. In this context, unlocking does not entail entering your password to unlock your phone; rather, it implies that your phone must be unlocked at the carrier level and be able to recognize the prepaid international SIM.

Your cellular network operator can complete a few simple actions that are necessary for unlocking your phone. Your phone won’t recognize an international SIM card if it isn’t unlocked. The only SIM that it would be able to recognize is the one you are currently using at home.

Register International SIM Card 

Before configuring your prepaid international SIM card, the next thing you should do is make sure it is registered. The vast majority of prepaid overseas SIMs are registered, so you don’t need to be concerned. However, be sure to get in touch with your mobile service provider or check their website if it isn’t or you’re unclear.

Switch off Your Phone

Make sure your phone is off before continuing with the process of setting up your prepaid international SIM card. You shouldn’t even think about skipping it because it is one of the most important steps. Your phone can become unable to recognize your prepaid overseas SIM without a reboot.

Insert Your International SIM Card into Your Phone

Insert your international SIM card
Insert your international SIM card

Simply put the international SIM card into your phone after turning it off. Two methods can be used to insert it. One calls for taking off the phone’s back cover and placing the SIM. This technique is for people whose phones have SIM card ports close to the battery on the back.

The SIM tray must simply be pulled out using the second technique, which involves squeezing it with a little needle. Keep in mind that the structure and location where the SIM should be inserted vary from phone to phone.

Select one of the aforementioned procedures and insert your prepaid international SIM card based on the model of your phone.

The following step is effortless once the aforementioned steps have been finished. Your phone will be able to recognize the inserted prepaid international SIM card as soon as you turn it back on.

It can only occur if all the procedures outlined above are strictly adhered to. The SIM won’t operate if one of the stages is skipped since your phone won’t recognize it.

Set up the Mobile Data

You must create a data plan in order to utilize the internet on your mobile device after installing the international SIM card. To do this, go to your phone’s settings, click wireless & networks, and then click mobile networks. From there, you must select an APN.

Select APN (Access Point Names) after clicking on mobile networks, and then enter the name of your cellular service provider. Contact your cellular network operator or go to their website if you are unsure about the name.

Top-up / Recharge the International SIM Card

Make sure to top up your SIM after installing your prepaid overseas SIM card. You must constantly reload the SIM because it is prepaid if you want to call or text friends and relatives.

The international SIM may be easily recharged. However, be sure to get in touch with your international SIM provider or visit their website if you have any questions about the topping-up procedure.

Additionally, some cellular service providers offer the possibility to recharge your international SIM card online and are highly user-friendly.

Many cellular network carriers also offer the option to automatically replenish your SIM when it runs out. You only need to select an automatic top-up plan to accomplish this. As a new user, you can learn more about the offerings made by your provider.

Helpful Tips for Using International SIM Cards

Regardless of how you decide to use your phone abroad, follow these recommendations to make sure you’re genuinely connected:

  • Verify SIM card functions: Before you leave the store, make sure the local SIM you purchased functions.
  • Take note of your local number: Write down your local number when using a local or an overseas SIM in a secure location for future use.
  • Modify your language: It’s annoying to navigate your phone’s information menu in different languages. Check your phone’s language settings, especially after inserting a local SIM.
  • Keep your outdated SIM card: If you changed your SIM card, secure the previous one with adhesive to a card and keep it in your wallet.
  • Enlist helpful contacts: 911 is not always used in emergencies. Just in case, add the local emergency numbers to your contact list. 
  • Install WhatsApp: Make sure WhatsApp is installed on your phone, especially if it appears to locals that your phone number is foreign. Sending texts to international numbers via WhatsApp is frequently more dependable and simpler than using SMS.

Frequently Asked Questions about International SIM Cards

Which are the cheapest international SIM cards?

There are many options for those who looking for a cheap one. If you can not estimate your data usage, Surfoam will be your best option due to the pay-per-usage payment method.  

Can you buy international SIM cards at the airport?

The airport is often where you may purchase a SIM card. In order to avoid scams and defective SIMs, it is advisable to purchase from an official network store rather than a reseller. The majority of major international airports have a phone company kiosk there. After landing, go right there if you need a local SIM.

What kind of phone can use for international SIM cards?

Not like eSIM, the international SIM card is a type of physical SIM so, you can use it as long as your device supports a SIM card/ dual SIM. With iPhone 14 series for the US market, there is no SIM card support. In this case, eSIM will be your only option for international traveling. 

Should I get a SIM card or an international roaming plan

It depends on where you’re going and how urgently you need to stay connected. SIM cards will have a better price, but there will be risks of bad network connection. Meanwhile, an international roaming plan will bring a better and more stable network connection, but it will cost you much more than an international SIM card. 

Can International SIM Cards be Recharged?

Yes, you may reload a reliable international SIM card. You don’t want to constantly replace or acquire fresh international SIM cards. Therefore, topping up these cards is simple through the provider’s website, an app, and vouchers. Both business travelers and holidaymakers will find this to be quite useful.

Are International SIM Cards Secure?

Absolutely, they are! International SIM cards are safe and include all the necessary security features, including a security PIN, location area identity, phone number, contacts, text messages, and cell plans, just like local SIM cards.