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eSIMs for Malawi: The Best Travel Plans | 2024 Guide

Malawi is one of the more popular travel destinations in (East) Africa.

But international roaming will certainly not be cheap in this country (like in most countries).

So, what are your local or travel eSIM options for Malawi?

You can get an eSIM for Malawi for as little as 9.50 USD and up to 79 USD from Airalo (Shire Mobile), Holafly & SimCorner.

I will also introduce you to a few global eSIMs that be used in Malawi and 80+ other countries, including Malawi's neighbors, for competitive rates.

Buying an eSIM for Malawi Guide (logos of Holafly, Nomad, Hello Africa, Discover+, Shire Mobile, Alosim & Airalo)

Original publication: 26th of November 2022. Last updated: 12th of February 2024.


Table of Contents

In a Hurry? A Quick Introduction

I will write about five eSIM options in Malawi (and explain why they are included).

But if you want to quickly check out what the best eSIMs are for Malawi without my analysis and explanations, here is an overview of the eSIMs covered in this guide:

Note: the promo codes mentioned above can also be used for regional and global eSIMs (they are not restricted to country-specific eSIMs only). In other news, the eSIM providers are in alphabetical order per grouping (Malawi-only, regional & global) – not in order of preference (you would have to read the complete guide to find out which eSIMs I love the most for Malawi 😜).

Let's truly get started, shall we?


Airalo Shire Mobile eSIM for Malawi

Airalo Logo
© Airalo

Airalo is the most popular eSIM platform, covering around 190 countries (more than any other eSIM platform out there).

That is because it is the largest and oldest eSIM platform worldwide.

Airalo has an eSIM that can be used in Malawi: Shire Mobile.

Malawi Shire Mobile eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Travel eSIM providers like Airalo set up roaming agreements with local mobile operators.

But do not get too worried about the term roaming – you will not get a 3000 USD roaming bill.

What Airalo does, and basically all mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected when abroad.

In Malawi, the Airalo Shire Mobile eSIM uses the Airtel Malawi network up to 4G/LTE (no 5G NR yet).

Airtel Logo Small
© Airtel

Be aware: most travel eSIMs, including Airalo's Malawi Shire Mobile eSIM, are data-only eSIMs, so you cannot call or text with them (nor can you receive any calls or SMS).

  1. Malawi/Shire Mobile 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 9 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  2. Malawi/Shire Mobile 2 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 17 USD
  3. Malawi/Shire Mobile 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 24 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  4. Malawi/Shire Mobile 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37.50 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers

Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in December based on data up to the 30th of December (2023 data only). The (promotional) prices were updated on the 31st of January.

Airalo Malawi Shire Mobile eSIM with Prices
See the list above for up-to-date prices and allowances. The figures in this image may be outdated.

I can already tell you that Airalo has the cheapest eSIM options for Malawi in this guide.

What makes things even more pleasant is that you can top up your eSIM when it is expiring or when you are out of data without the need to purchase a new eSIM.

But you may think that a local SIM card or eSIM will (still) be cheaper than Airalo or any other travel eSIM.

And you are right – that is true in most cases.

However, you will have to deal with the Malawian SIM card registration laws.

(Why does this matter? Because hackers can steal your (critical) personal data if the mobile operator does not secure your data properly, like what happened in Australia (10 million Optus customers were affected, where info, like passport numbers, were stolen (including mine – luckily not my passport number but my boyfriend was not as lucky) or Indonesia (1.3 billion SIM card-related data was hacked)).

Most mobile operators in Africa will only sell you (overpriced) tourist SIM cards (when available) or the most expensive plans because of “mandatory new plan requirements” (which are often lies to take more of your money).

  • Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

So yes, you could get cheaper plans, but the question is if you can actually get them.

Oh, you should also be aware of the following, you can get up to 4G/LTE connections with the Airalo Malawi Shire Mobile eSIM, your speeds will most likely not be faster than someone using a local SIM card.

That is because you are roaming on the Airtel Malawi network instead of being a native customers

But that does not mean you will have (extremely) slow speeds – just (slightly) slower than native customers.

Anyway, the Airalo Malawi Shire Mobile eSIM is fantastic and is the eSIM I, and many Phone Travel Wiz readers, recommend the most.

The eSIMs are affordable, the data allowances can be tailored to your needs (1 GB to 5 GB + top-ups are available) & you will have a smooth network experience (in most cases).


Holafly eSIM for Malawi

Holafly Logo
© Holafly

Holafly is one of the many travel eSIM resellers and is one of the popular ones.

In June, they started offering unlimited data plans for some its eSIMs, making Holafly unique.

And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various East– and Southeast Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.

Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in Malawi… yet.

Phone Travel Wiz x Holafly Banner
No unlimited data for Malawi (yet)

I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 150+ countries.

And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast Asia, Europe & North America; they love these eSIMs.

For now, you have only six Holafly Malawi eSIM (which uses the Airtel Malawi network):

  1. Malawi 2.5 GB eSIM for 5 days, costing 27 USD
  2. Malawi 3.5 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 27 USD
  3. Malawi 5 GB eSIM for 10 days, costing 37 USD
  4. Malawi 7.5 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 47 USD
  5. Malawi 10 GB eSIM for 20 days, costing 59 USD
  6. Malawi 15 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 79 USD
Holafly Malawi eSIMs
See the list above for up-to-date prices and allowances. The figures in this image may be outdated.

As expected, you cannot use 5G NR (yet) with the Holafly Malawi eSIM, nor can you call and text (it is a data-only eSIM).

Moreover, you cannot top up or extend the validity with the Holafly Malawi eSIM – so you need to buy another eSIM when you are out of data or the eSIM expires; you have to purchase a new one.

But you can get 5% off each and any Holafly purchase (so it does not have to be the Malawi eSIM) when you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ 😏.

Holafly Travel eSIM Reviews by Phone Travel Wiz

Local Malawian eSIM for Prepaid Customers

If you want the best and full network experience, including being able to call and text, you want to get a local eSIM.

You have two mobile operators in Malawi: Airtel Malawi and TNM.

Currently, no Malawian mobile operator offers eSIMs to prepaid customers.

For more information about the plans offered by the Malawian mobile operators, check out my Malawi SIM card buying guide.

Buying a SIM Card in Malawi Guide (logos of Tnm and Airtel)

International eSIM for Malawi & More Countries

Okay, I went over the Malawi travel eSIM options offered by Airalo, Holafly & SimCorner.

As expected, these eSIMs can only be used in Malawi and not in neighboring Mozambique, Tanzania or Zambia.

So what if you plan on visiting any of those countries, or you are on a world tour and wish to use one eSIM in multiple countries – do you have any other options?

Yes, you do. Airalo & SimCorner have regional, global & international eSIMs covering at least 80 countries; some include Malawi too.

So let's see which multi-country eSIMs can be used in Malawi and other countries, including Malawi's neighbors.


Airalo Hello Africa eSIM

Hello Africa Africa eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Airalo also has the Hello Africa eSIM covering 26 countries with two variants: 1 GB/30 days very popular with PTW readers and 3 GB/30 daysmost popular with PTW readers.

Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in December based on data up to the 30th of December (2023 data only). The (promotional) prices were updated on the 31st of January.

Like Asia, the Caribbean, Europe & Latin America, many readers tend to visit multiple African countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one.

The Hello Africa eSIM can be used in 27 countries in Africa:

  • Algeria
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa)
  • Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)
  • Eswatini (Swaziland) 1
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Guinea 1
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Namibia 1
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • South Africa

1 on 3G only

Airalo Hello Africa eSIM Eligible Countries Map Infographic by Phone Travel Wiz (October 2023 Version)

Do you think the map above is nice, but you want a country list instead (because you do not recognize the countries on a map🗿)? You can find it in my Airalo review!

Below is an overview of how much each Hello Africa eSIM costs:

  1. Africa/Hello Africa 1 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 27 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  2. Africa/Hello Africa 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 59 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers

Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in December based on data up to the 30th of December (2023 data only). The (promotional) prices were updated on the 31st of January.

With the Hello Africa eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit.


Overview of the Best eSIMs for Malawi (Airalo vs. Holafly vs. SimCorner)

I introduced you to various travel eSIMs that can be used in Malawi.

So, which eSIM do I recommend the most? Here is my recommendation order:

Phone Travel Wiz Approved Seal

Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly and SimCorner eSIMs – a code is unnecessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.


Buying a SIM Card in Malawi

Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?

Consider getting a Malawian SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.

Or you can get the SimCorner Malawi card, which will be delivered to your home before going to Malawi – convenient 😏.

Buying a SIM Card in Malawi Guide (logos of Tnm and Airtel)