MTN SIM Cards and eSIM 2024: a Comprehensive Guide for Tourists

How to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa when you first come to this country is still difficult. Meanwhile, MTN is famous as a multinational mobile service provider in Africa and Asia. Gigago’s article below is a summary to help customers better understand where to buy, how to use and some other information about SIM/eSIM cards in South Africa.

I. Quick facts about MTN

MTN (formerly M-Cell) is a multinational telecommunications services company in African and Asian countries. Some quick information about MTN you should know:

  • Full name: MTN Group Limited
  • The company was established in 1994
  • Headquarter location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Operating in more than 20 countries, of which Nigeria accounts for 1/3 of the company’s revenue, with 35% market share
  • Products provided: 3G, 4G, LTE, 5G, VOIP, GSM, UMTS, HSPA+, HSUPA
  • MTN services: Purchase data packages and messaging service time through WhatsApp channel; Check balance and save credit or debit cards; Data plan; Mobile voice.
Telecommunications provider MTN
Telecommunications provider MTN

II. South Africa MTN Coverage and Speed in the South Africa

With the advantage of being a large telecommunications service provider operating multinationally, MTN is chosen by many customers when traveling to South Africa. Coverage and speed are the two factors most considered by customers when choosing.

1. MTN coverage in South Africa

MTN is one of the four major telecommunications companies in South Africa. It provides services nationwide, including metro areas, towns to rural areas. 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE and 5G technologies provide voice, messaging, data and other telecommunications services.

MTN covers all of South Africa
MTN covers all of South Africa

2. MTN speed in South Africa

MTN offers a variety of internet speed options depending on the coverage in your area and the specific package you subscribe to. LTE networks will provide a better experience than 3G with faster access. Under the most optimal conditions, LTE download speeds range from 5 Mbps to more than 100 Mbps. Meanwhile, 3G download speed only ranges from 1Mbps to 10 Mbps.

LTE speeds in South Africa in particular far exceed 3G
LTE speeds in South Africa in particular far exceed 3G

MTN has wide coverage throughout South Africa, from big cities to rural areas, and its access speed is much better than many other telecommunications providers. That shows that it is quite suitable for tourists coming to this country.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of MTN for Travelers to South Africa?

Some connectivity options below help tourists worry less when traveling to South Africa for the first time:

Connectivity optionsProsCons
Data roaming Use the fixed SIM card directly on your phoneHigh roaming costs
Difficult to control data, easy to waste
Data roaming is subject to the contract between MTN and your local provider.
Pocket wifiNo need to remove the mobile SIM.
You can rent to save money instead of buying pocket wifi
The cost is quite high
Carrying it around is difficult
Broadcast range is close
Deposit required when renting
You spend 2 times the money to both rent (or buy) pocket wifi and buy a data package to use
SIM cardsUse directly on your personal phone with fast access speed
Many price options to suit many customer needs
It takes several steps to activate the SIM card
You cannot use 2 SIMs at the same time, you need to remove your fixed SIM on the phone

Choose to buy a SIM card with fast access speed and many price range options. This brings a wonderful experience to visitors to South Africa. You can also consider this option.

IV. Best MTN SIM cards for Tourists & Cost

The MTN South Africa sim card costs 4 SAR ($0.30) for registration and you will have to purchase additional voice and data packages to use it. The plans MTN provides according to customer needs are as follows:

  • 99 SAR ($5.5 USD)= 2 GB data + 60 minutes call (use for a month)
  • 169 SAR ($8.96 USD)= 4.5 GB data + 100 minutes call (use for a month)
  • 299 SAR ($15.84 USD)= 7.5 GB data + 200 minutes call (use for a month)
  • 399 SAR ($21.14 USD)= 15 GB data + 400 minutes call (use for a month)

Note: Prices for SIM cards and data plans for travelers may change over time. Please contact MTN or an authorized representative store to receive the latest information.

Best MTN SIM cards for tourists
Best MTN SIM cards for tourists

V. Does MTN South Africa support eSIM?

Yes, as of now, MTN South Africa supports eSIM for travelers. This is an effective digital and software-based alternative to physical Sim cards – now available to all MTN customers. Visitors can buy directly from the network operator or through an agent.

MTN has supported eSIM service in South Africa
MTN has supported eSIM service in South Africa

With this option, travelers can enjoy a reliable internet connection anywhere within the coverage area. This is the difference of eSIM compared to other options, such as pocket wifi or physical SIM card. However, it is necessary to check your device’s eSIM compatibility.

VI. Where can you buy a MTN SIM card and eSIM?

There are many ways to buy MTN SIM CARD and eSIM, below are some suggestions for tourists:

1. Where to buy MTN SIM for South Africa

1.1. Upon arrival

Buying a physical SIM card directly upon arrival is the most common and familiar way of purchasing for many tourists. Some locations in South Africa sell MTN SIM cards such as airports and convenience stores. However, buyers may need to provide personal and passport information to complete purchase information.

Buy MTN SIM card at the airport
Buy MTN SIM card at the airport

1.2. MTN store

Travelers can buy MTN SIM cards directly from the MTN store. With this form, you should buy online through the website a day before your flight to avoid unnecessary risks. Additionally, you can buy directly at the store when you arrive in South Africa. However, this method requires you to have time and a bit of foreign language.

Buy MTN SIM card at MTN store
Buy MTN SIM card at MTN store

1.3. Other authorized retail stores

Travelers can also purchase MTN SIM cards from mobile phone retailers authorized by MTN. To be sure, you need to check the store’s reputation or ask a local person. Also, pay attention to your phone’s compatibility with the MTN carrier and coverage area.

MTN authorized store
MTN authorized store

2. Where to buy South Africa MTN eSIM

Travelers can choose to purchase a South Africa MTN eSIM online from an international source or an authorized SIM supplier in South Africa very simply. One of the leading service providers is Gigago with affordable prices. 

Furthermore, when buying online through this supplier, there is no need to register with identification documents or passport, while when buying eSIM directly from operators, registration is required.

Buy and install eSIM online simply
Buy and install eSIM online simply

VII. How to Use and Activate MTN South Africa SIM/eSIM in South Africa?

If this is your first time using an MTN SIM card/eSIM in South Africa, you can follow the instructions below.

1. How to Use and Activate MTN SIM Card in South Africa?

Follow these simple steps for you to use and activate MTN SIM card:

  • Insert the SIM card into your phone: Insert the correct SIM card after locating the SIM card slot on your device
  • Power on the SIM device: Power on the device to initialize the SIM card
  • Activate the SIM card on the phone device
How to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa for first time users
How to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa for first time users

2. How to Use and Activate MTN eSIM?

Getting started with MTN eSIM for visitors to South Africa is quite easy as follows:

  • Visit the supplier’s website
  • Choose to buy eSIM according to your needs
  • Obtain and install eSIM on compatible device
  • Set up eSIM settings
  • Start using eSIM: Traveler can start using eSIM services as soon as eSIM is activated and set up

VIII. How to top up MTN South Africa SIM/eSIM

In addition to how to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa, many tourists still have difficulty adding money to their SIM/eSIM. Below are instructions for recharging SIM/eSIM according to Gigago’s instructions:

  • Download the MTN app on your phone
  • Open the MTN app
  • Select deposit
  • Choose to top up according to your needs
  • Confirm SIM/eSIM data and airtime
  • Choose the appropriate payment method: linked bank card, credit card,…
  • Confirm and complete the transaction
  • Wait for the successful confirmation message and use
Top up MTN SIM/eSIM card
Top up MTN SIM/eSIM card

IX. Alternatives to South Africa MTN

In addition to MTN, South Africa also has many other mobile operators providing many telecommunications services. Each network has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Vodacom is also one of the largest telecommunications providers in South Africa and has coverage throughout the country. However, Vodacom is quite expensive and the download speed is not as good as MTN.
  • Rain is a new operator entering the South African telecommunications market, focusing on innovative data exploitation. However, this provider only focuses on fixed LTE services.

Overall, there are many alternative suppliers to MTN South Africa. However, the cost is quite high and buying a physical SIM card directly can take a long time. If you have a compatible device, you can check out the South African eSIM at Gigago at an affordable price.

There are quite a few alternatives to South Africa MTN
There are quite a few alternatives to South Africa MTN

X. FAQs about MTN in South Africa

Some questions tourists often ask about how to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa when traveling to South Africa for the first time:

How can I get an MTN SIM card?

You can buy an MTN SIM card at the airport, MTN stores or authorized MTN retailers across South Africa. This method may require presentation of a valid passport and proof of residence for purchase.

How can I activate my MTN SIM card?

When purchasing a SIM card, you will complete the prescribed registration process after providing identification documents. Then insert the SIM card into the unlocked device and boot according to the instructions provided by MTN.

Can I buy MTN eSIM South Africa?

You can purchase MTN eSIM from local MTN stores or authorized dealers. Make sure your device is compatible with eSIM technology. With this way you can buy online and do not need to provide personal information. Tourists can refer to Gigago’s eSIM with many incentives.

XI. Conclusion

The above article has provided detailed information on how to get and activate a MTN SIM & eSIM South Africa. In addition, there are a number of other alternative suppliers in South Africa, giving visitors many options.

If you have a compatible device, you can buy an eSIM for convenience, without wasting time searching to buy it directly or presenting personal documents. Contact Gigago immediately to receive incentives to own an eSIM for your upcoming trip to South Africa to have the best experience.