3 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in India: Buying Guide


India – derived from the River Indus, is the second-most populated country in the world. By landmass, it is the 7th-largest country in the world.

India does not need an introduction – everyone knows something about this country.

Known for being the largest democracy in the world, having the most tigers in a country worldwide, a big fan of cricket, and home to plenty of official languages.

And let's not forget about the attractions this country has to offer. Of course, the Taj Mahal. The famous Ranthambore, and the Amber Palace.

You could visit the busy cities (sometimes a bit too busy) or the stunning nature in the countryside.

One thing an Indian friend of mine said, which I found funny, is that no matter where you are, even in the middle of the desert, there will always be people around. There is no reason to feel lonely in India 😉

Normally, I made a quick remark about international roaming being expensive in general.

However, India is home to one of the lowest, if not the lowest, mobile data rates in the world. And the Indian operators have another gift for you.

You can get a free Indian SIM card from Jio, Airtel & VI (Vodafone Idea) in their stores. However, you will be required to top-up or buy a plan when obtaining your complimentary SIM card (could be up to 300 INR – 4 USD). 1 GB of data will cost you at least 11 INR (0.15 USD).

x
7 Reasons Why You Should Get Local Prepaid SIM Cards When Traveling video

Cannot see the video above? Watch it hereOpens in a new tab. or on YouTubeOpens in a new tab..

Free SIM cards AND spending less than a quarter on 1 GB of data – quite unheard of!

But before you go out and try to get your free Indian SIM card, there are many things to be aware of when trying to get SIM cards in India – it can be time-consuming, especially for tourists and travelers.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in India. Let's go.

Buying a SIM Card in India Guide (logos of Jio, VI & Airtel)

Original publication: 31st of December 2019. Last updated: 21st of July 2021.

Table of Contents

Can You Buy a SIM Card in India?

Anyone living in or visiting India can buy an Indian SIM card from Jio, Airtel, or VI (Vodafone Idea) in their stores without any restrictions.

You do have to comply with the SIM card registration regulations. Moreover, you need a phone that supports the frequencies used in the country (preferably all of them to have the most optimal experience while in India). Furthermore, you need to have a SIM-lock-free device.

Be aware that SIM cards of foreigners without a residence permit are valid until your Visa ceases or for 90 days, depending on the policy of the branch you visit.

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in India?

You can get your free Indian SIM card in the official stores of Jio, Airtel & VI (Vodafone Idea). BSNL sells them for up to 50 INR, depending on the type of SIM card you need. It is also possible to get SIM cards at select international airports, including Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport & Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.

You can buy a SIM card in the following international airports:

  • Bengaluru – Kempegowda International Airport
  • Chennai – Chennai International Airport
  • Delhi – Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Goa – Goa International Airport
  • Mumbai – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
Should You Buy SIM Cards at Airports? video

Cannot see the video above? Watch it hereOpens in a new tab. or on YouTubeOpens in a new tab..

You can expect to pay the following for Indian SIM cards:

  • Jio: free, but (select) plan purchase/recharge required
  • Airtel India: free, but (select) plan purchase/recharge required
  • VI (Vodafone Idea): free, but (select) plan purchase/recharge required
  • BSNL (+MTNL): 10 INR to 50 INR

Can You Use Your Phone in India?

India uses GSM technology for mobile communications. CDMA is used by a handful of regional operators with poor nationwide coverage. Even then, CDMA phones do not have SIM card slots, so you would be able to use CDMA networks without roaming on them. If your phone has a SIM card slot, then it supports GSMA (99% of the phones do support GSM nowadays).

Traditional European frequencies are used in India, which are mostly used in ITU Regions 1 & 3 (Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe & Oceania).

The Americas (North-, Central– & South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2) use American Frequencies, which differ from the European ones.

ITU Regions Map
By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – Own work, using this fileOpens in a new tab. by Denelson83, CC BY-SA 2.5Opens in a new tab.

If you bought your phone in Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania (ITU regions 1 & 3), you should not experience any issues with using your phone in India.

If you purchased your phone in the Americas (ITU Region 2) and have a low/medium-end device (without Tri-Band or Quad-Band) support, then you should go with Jio. One of its frequencies, 850 MHz (Band 5) is a traditional American Frequency. However, speeds on this low frequency are slow(er than usual) due to the nature of the frequency. Do note that Jio has no 2G nor 3G networks to fall back on when there is no 4G/LTE coverage on 850 MHz.

If you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, you can use your phone in India (to some extent) – also on 4G/LTE.

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in India

India has three mobile network operators:

  • Jio
  • Airtel India
  • VI (Vodafone Idea)
  • BSNL (+MTNL)

The following frequencies are used in India:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz (being reframed for 4G/LTE)
  • 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 850 MHz (Band 5), 900 MHz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1), 2300 MHz (Band 40) & 2500 MHz (Band 41)

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.Opens in a new tab.

Will Your Phone Work Abroad? Mobile Frequencies & ITU Regions Explained video

Cannot see the video above? Watch it hereOpens in a new tab. or on YouTubeOpens in a new tab..

To check whether your phone will work in India, check out this pageOpens in a new tab. by Will My Phone Work (may be outdated or inaccurate at times).

Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).

If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.

A Note About BSNL & MTNL

BSNL Logo

BSNLOpens in a new tab. (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) is a government-owned mobile network operator. It is active in all regions in India, except for Mumbai and Dehli.

MTNL Logo

MTNLOpens in a new tab. (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited – also government-owned), however, is only active in Mumbai and Dehli. Although being the smallest operator in the country, they still have more than 100 million subscribers.

BSNL has been rolling out 4G/LTE for a while. However, it is inferior compared to the private players in the country. MTNL only offers 2G and 3G packages.

Suppose you are not interested in data use, or do not mind even slower mobile internet speeds in India. In that case, both BSNL and MTNL could be interesting, as they are the cheapest operators in the country.

For the majority of travelers, the price difference between the government-owned operators and the privately-owned ones will be minimal. With the lack of proper nationwide 4G/LTE coverage, speeds with BSNL and MTNL will be even slower than the already slow speeds in India. As a result, they will not be covered in this guide.

However, you can learn more about BSNL and MTNL on their websites (BSNLOpens in a new tab./MTNL New DehliOpens in a new tab. & MTNL MumbaiOpens in a new tab.).

5G NR in India

Commercial 5G NR is not available yet in India. However, Jio, Airtel India & VI (Vodafone Idea) have been awarded trial 5G spectrumOpens in a new tab. and held 5G NR trials since 2019. Even MTNL was awarded 5G trial spectrumOpens in a new tab. in 2021.

Initially, 5G license auctions were supposed to happen in 2019. The auctions were postponedOpens in a new tab. upon the telco's request to restructure the existing spectrum debt. COVID-19 ruined all of 2020's plans, so the auction was moved to 2021.

In 2021, it was again reportedOpens in a new tab. that 5G auctions would be postponed. It will now take place in the first half of 2022Opens in a new tab..

Although no official date has been set by the regulator, the telecom minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, has already mentionedOpens in a new tab. that spectrum in frequency waves 700 MHz, 3500 MHz & 26 GHz will be available for 5G NR in the country. However, his department may have to fight convinceOpens in a new tab. the Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organization to vacate some spectrum.

Best SIM Card in India

If you want to buy the best SIM card in India, I recommend going with Jio. It is, overall, the best option. VI may have faster average download speeds, but mobile data speeds are already slow in India, making the difference marginal. Jio also offers the most variety in plans.

SIM Card Registration in India

SIM card registration with your passport information is mandatory in India. It will be done at the point of purchase.

Moreover, you also have to bring a passport-sized photo with you when getting your SIM card. Many stores will have the equipment to take a picture of you, especially at airports. Still, it is good practice to bring a photograph yourself.

Furthermore, proof of stay is also part of the SIM card registration process. If you are staying in a hotel, a visiting card may be enough. However, some branches may ask for a letter from the front desk staff for verification.

If you are staying at a private residence (friend, family, or Airbnb), then you need their contact details. The salesperson may call your contact as part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) process.

Finally, proof of address (in your home country/the country you live in) is mandatory as well. If your passport lists your address, this will suffice. However, not all passports will have addresses listed. In that case, the employee will guide you through what proof will suffice to satisfy this requirement.

In the past, it could take a few days before your new SIM card would be activated after processing all the paperwork. Nowadays, SIM cards are active after few minutes up to an hour. But be prepared not to be able to use your SIM card for 24 hours.

SIM card registration at airports is less tedious and time-consuming. However, SIM cards (+ a plan because SIM cards are free in India) are sold at a hefty premium at airports. Where you can get a SIM card with (select starter) plans for up to 200 INR (2.65 USD), the same offer may cost you 1000 INR at airports (13.25 USD).

Although inflated, it may be more convenient to purchase your SIM card at an airport. The staff at airports always speak English fluently enough to get your SIM card paperwork sorted, while it can be a hit or miss in town. Moreover, SIM cards registered at airports are registered faster than most other branches.

Plus, when comparing the inflated airport prices to SIM cards sold globally, the costs are not too outrageous, especially for SIM cards sold at airports.

Do never, under any circumstance, accept a SIM card without going to a registration process or pay a fee to skip the process. Not only is this illegal, but your SIM card could be shut down at any time, making it a waste of money.

India Mobile Speeds, Mobile Internet Prices & Insights

Flag of India

Asia is the region with one of the lowest mobile data rates around the world. Even when looking at just South Asia, the prices are crazy low – at least, when looking at it from a global perspective.

In 2020, India was the country with the lowest average price for 1 GB of data at 0.09 USD per GB. Is mobile data still cheap in India?

The average price for 1 GB of data in India is 0.68 USD, below the Asian average of 1.79 USD. The world average is 4.07 USD.

India is one of the 53 countries where the average cost of 1 GB of data is below 1 USD. When looking at Asia, it is one of the 13 countries.

Asian Mobile Internet Rates Totals 2021
Source

Normally, the figures produced by Cable.co.uk correspond with what I observe when I analyze what each operator has to offer in a country.

With India's numbers, however, I feel they are too high. It is still (easily) possible to get a data plan with 1 GB of data for only 11 INR (0.15 USD). The higher the data allowance a plan has, the lower the effective cost for 1 GB of data becomes.

Is India still the country with the lowest cost of 1 GB of data? Maybe. Israel is the number 1 in 2021's analysis, where 1 GB of data will cost you 0.05 USD. Followed by Kyrgyzstan (0.15 USD) and Fiji (0.19 USD). But is mobile data still cheap in India? Yes.

What about speeds? Well, in this regard, India is not doing that well. In fact, speeds are embarrassingly slow when looking at it from a global perspective.

India's average mobile download speed is around 18 Mbps.

India's average is nowhere near the global average of 55 Mbps. However, we should remember that some countries already have (nationwide) 5G NR and have download speeds up to 1 Gbps.

But these countries, with the exception of China (where all mobile operators are state-owned people-owned), have nowhere near the active users India has. This results in network congestions, which drags the overall network performance and speeds.

When looking at South Asia, the speeds in this region are already slow.

Many factors contribute to these low numbers, but Indians and those visiting the country can enjoy data at incredibly low rates.

Network coverage is, surprisingly, extensive in such a large country. Speeds may not be blazing-fast, but the cost of data is minimal. The mobile operators hand out SIM cards for free, making the overall experience more pleasant.

As a result, you should have a great network experience in India.

Currency in India

200 Indian Rupee Bank Note
© Reserve Bank of India

India uses the Indian Rupee with the symbol INR (which will be used throughout this guide). However, prices are often listed in . In the past, Rs was also used. For example, 25 INR = 25. For reference, below are some exchange rates between INR and USD (US Dollars):

  • 1 INR = 0.01 USD
  • 10 INR = 0.15 USD
  • 100 INR = 1.35 USD
  • 1000 INR = 13.35 USD
  • 10 000 INR = 133.40 USD

For up-to-date INR:USD exchange rates, search INR to USD on Google, or replace USD with the currency you use.

If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card. Their fees are MUCH lower than banks, and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks). I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Euros, my main currency, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards. Open a Wise account FREE!

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Indian Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through Jio, Airtel India & VI (Vodafone Idea), and go through:

  • Background information
  • Mobile coverage
  • SIM card types, prices, and availability
  • Recharge/top-up information
  • Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs) 

With that being said, let’s see what India has to offer to us.

Jio

Jio Logo
© Jio

Reliance Jio InfocommOpens in a new tab., just Jio, is the largest mobile operator in India. When it entered the market in late 2015 as a 4G/LTE-only mobile operator, its goal was to disrupt the Indian telecom market.

With an aggressive pricing strategy, which led to a price war, significant investments in infrastructure, leading it to be the operator with the most towers, and getting rid of Indian national roaming, it quickly became the most prominent player. So much so that Vodafone India and Idea had to merge into one company to stay competitive.

You could say that Jio's goal to disrupt the Indian telecom market succeeded. It is now the third-largest mobile operator in the world (420+ million subscribers).

Jio uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: N/A
  • 3G: N/A
  • 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 850 MHz (Band 5), 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2300 MHz (Band 40)

This is what you will learn about Jio:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Jio SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Click on the links above to jump to the section you are interested in.

Jump to: Airtel | VI

Coverage – Jio

Jio has the best coverage in India.

Its 4G availability and 4G coverage experience are the highest of all the Indian mobile operators.

India Opensignal 4G Availability
SourceOpens in a new tab.

Below is Jio's coverage map. Do note that this map is more optimistic than Jio's actual coverage:

SIM Card Price – Jio

You can get a Jio SIM card for free in Jio storesOpens in a new tab.. However, you will be required to purchase a plan or recharge to get your free SIM card.

Jio SIM cards get deactivated if there has been no activity for 90 days (no top-up for 90 days or no activity for 90 days).

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Jio

Jio top-up vouchers are sold in Jio storesOpens in a new tab. and other stores, including kiosks, phone stores, and grocery stores.

To top up your Jio SIM card, dial *305*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *305*123456#. The same can be done as *368#.

You can tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge onlineOpens in a new tab. with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *333# to check your Jio balance.

You can also use the MyJio to refill and check your balance (AndroidOpens in a new tab./iOSOpens in a new tab.).

MyJio App
© Jio

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Jio

Jio has 13 data-featured plans:

All Jio plans can be activated on the MyJio app or online.

Moreover, all plans allow you to continue using data after exhausting your data allowance. However, your speeds will be throttled to 64 Kbps.

Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.

Affordable Packs – Jio

The Affordable Packs are combo plans with data, unlimited local minutes, and local SMS at competitive prices.

The following Affordable Packs are available.

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
129 INR2 GBUnlimited300 SMS28 days
329 INR6 GBUnlimited1000 SMS84 days
1299 INR24 GBUnlimited3600 SMS336 days
Jio Freedom Plans – Jio

The Jio Freedom Plans are combo plans with data, unlimited local minutes, and SMS (max. 100 SMS/day).

You can activate one of the following Jio Freedom plans:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
247 INR25 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (3000 SMS)30 days
597 INR75 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (9000 SMS)90 days
1 GB/Day Pack – Jio

The 1 GB/day Pack gives you 1 GB of data per day for 24 days (maximum of 24 GB), unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day.

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
149 INR1 GB/day (24 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2400 SMS)24 days
1.5 GB/Day Packs – Jio

The 1.5 GB/day Packs are combo plans with 1.5 GB a day, unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day.

You have the following options:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
98 INR1.5 GB/day (21 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (1400 SMS)14 days
199 INR1.5 GB/day (42 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
399 INR1.5 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
555 INR1.5 GB/day (126 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
777 INR1.5 GB/day + 5 GB (131 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
2121 INR1.5 GB/day (504 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (33 600 SMS SMS)336 days
2 GB/Day Packs – Jio

The 2 GB/day Packs are combo plans with 2 GB a day, unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day.

These are your options:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
249 INR2 GB/day (56 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
444 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
598 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
599 INR2 GB/day (168 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
2399 INR2 GB/day (730 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
2599 INR2 GB/day + 10 GB (740 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
3 GB/Day Packs – Jio

The 3 GB/day Packs are combo plans with 3 GB a day, unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day.

The following 3 GB/day Packs are available:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
349 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
401 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
999 INR3 GB/day (252 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
3499 INR3 GB/day (1095 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
No Daily Limit – Jio

The No Daily Limit plans are combo plans with data allowances that can be used however you want (without a daily limit), unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day.

You can activate one of the following No Daily Limit plans:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
127 INR12 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (1500 SMS)15 days
247 INR25 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (3000 SMS)30 days
447 INR50 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (6000 SMS)60 days
597 INR75 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (9000 SMS)90 days
2397 INR365 GBUnlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
Disney+ Hotstar VIP – Jio

The Disney+ Hotstar VIP plans are combo plans with data, unlimited local minutes, and 100 SMS/day. Moreover, you also get a 1-year subscription to Disney+ Hotstar VIP with these plans, valued at 399 INR.

Do note that if you are a tourist and get one of these plans, you will also get access to Disney+ Hotstar. However, you will not be able to use your subscription back home (perhaps you can if using a VPN and setting the location to India may work, but that is not something I can confirm yet).

You have the following Disney+ Hotstar VIP plans:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
401 INR3 GB/day + 6 GB (90 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
598 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
777 INR1.5 GB/day + 5 GB (131 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
2599 INR2 GB/day + 10 GB (740 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
JioPhone All-In-One Plans – Jio

The JioPhone All-In-One Plans are combo plans with data, local minutes, and local SMS – exclusive to JioPhone holders (actual phones, sold for up to 3000 INR, depending on which variant you get).

The following JioPhone All-In-One Plans can be purchased:

PriceDataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
39 INR100 MB/day (1400 MB)N/AN/A14 days
69 INR0.5 GB/day (7 GB)UnlimitedN/A14 days
75 INR0.1 GB/day (3 GB)Unlimited50 SMS28 days
125 INR0.5 GB/day (14 GB)Unlimited300 SMS28 days
155 INR1 GB/day (28 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
185 INR2 GB/day (56 GB)Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
749 INR2 GB/day (24 GB)Unlimited50 SMS28 days
Cricket Pack – Jio

The Cricket Pack is a data-only plan with a data allowance of 1.5 GB a day (maximum of 84 GB). Although the name implies it can only be used for Cricket streaming, that is not the case – your data can be used for regular data browsing.

PriceDataValidity
499 INR1.5 GB/day (84 GB)56 days
Disney+ Hotstar Packs – Jio

The Disney+ Hotstar Packs are data-only plans that act as an add-on (612 INR plan) or standalone plans (the other plans). You also get 1-year access to Disney+ Hotstar.

Do note that if you are a tourist and get one of these plans, you will also get access to Disney+ Hotstar. However, you will not be able to use your subscription back home (perhaps you can if using a VPN and setting the location to India may work, but that is not something I can confirm yet).

You have the following options:

PriceDataValidity
612 INR72 GBUntil plan expires
1004 INR50 GB/30 days (200 GB)120 days
1206 INR40 GB/30 days (240 GB)180 days
1208 INR30 GB/30 days (240 GB)240 days
Work From Home Data Packs – Jio

The Work From Home Data Packs are data-only plans with generous data allowances intended for working at home. However, no browsing restrictions are placed when using one of these plans.

These Work From Home Data Packs are available:

PriceDataValidity
151 INR30 GB30 days
201 INR40 GB30 days
251 INR50 GB30 days
4G Data Vouchers – Jio

The 4G Data Vouchers are data add-ons. They cannot be purchased as standalone plans.

You can activate these 4G Data Vouchers:

PriceDataValidity
11 INR1 GBUntil plan expires
21 INR2 GBUntil plan expires
51 INR6 GBUntil plan expires
101 INR12 GBUntil plan expires

APN/Internet Settings – Jio

  • Name: JioNet
  • APN: JioNet

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

Airtel India

Airtel Logo
© Airtel

Bharti AirtelOpens in a new tab., just Airtel, is India's second-largest mobile operator. It has been a player in the Indian telecom market for more than 25 years. Its first international venture was in Sri Lanka (Airtel Lanka). Now, Airtel is active in 19 countries in South Asia, Africa, Jersey & Guernsey in Europe. With all its subsidiaries, Bharti Airtel is the second-largest mobile operator in the world (440+ million subscribers).

Airtel uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: Shut down in 2020 for 4G/LTE refarming
  • 4G/LTE: 900 Mhz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2300 MHz (Band 40)

This is what you will learn about Airtel:

* Coverage
* How to Get an Airtel SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Click on the links above to jump to the section you are interested in.

Jump to: Jio | VI

Coverage – Airtel India

Airtel has extensive coverage throughout India.

Its 4G availability is high, so is its 4G coverage experience. Airtel is the best mobile operator for video calls, voice calls through apps (VoIP), and online gaming.

Below is Airtel's coverage map. Do note that this map is more optimistic than Airtel's actual coverage:

SIM Card Price – Airtel India

You can get an Airtel SIM card for free in Airtel storesOpens in a new tab.. However, you will be required to purchase a plan or recharge to get your free SIM card.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Airtel India

Airtel top-up vouchers are sold in Airtel storesOpens in a new tab. and other stores, including kiosks, phone stores, and grocery stores.

To top up your Airtel SIM card, dial *121*3# or *121# and follow the instructions.

You can tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge onlineOpens in a new tab. with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *121*1# to check your Airtel balance.

You can also use the Airtel Thanks app to refill and check your balance (AndroidOpens in a new tab./iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Airtel India Thanks App
© Airtel India

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Airtel India

Airtel has three data-featured plans:

All Airtel plans can be activated on the Airtel Thanks app or online.

Click on the links above to jump to the plans you are interested in.

Data – Airtel India

The Data Plans is a bundle with 40 GB of data valid for 28 days, priced at 401 INR.

PriceDataValidity
401 INR30 GB28 days
Smart Recharge – Airtel India

The Smart Recharges are combo plans with airtime and data.

You have the following Smart Recharges:

PriceAirtimeDataValidity
49 INR38.52 INR100 MB28 days
79 INR64 INR200 MB28 days
128 INRN/AN/A28 days
Truly Unlimited – Airtel India

The Truly Unlimited Plans are combo plans with data and unlimited local minutes.

The majority of plans also give you access to Amazon Prime Video (30-day trial), Apollo 24|7 Circle (for 3 months), Airtel Xstream Premium, Hellotunes, Wynk Music, Shaw Academy (1 year).

The following Truly Unlimited Plans are available:

PriceDataLocal MinutesValidity
19 INR200 MBUnlimited2 days
119 INR1 GB/day (24 GB)Unlimited24 days
129 INR1 GBUnlimited24 days
149 INR2 GBUnlimited28 days
219 INR1 GB/day (28 GB)Unlimited28 days
249 INR1.5 GB/day (42 GB)Unlimited28 days
289 INR1.5 GB/day 42 GB)Unlimited28 days
298 INR2 GB/day (56 GB)Unlimited28 days
299 INR30 GBUnlimited30 days
349 INR2.5 GB/day (70 GB)Unlimited28 days
379 INR6 GBUnlimited84 days
398 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited28 days
399 INR1.5 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited56 days
448 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Unlimited28 days
449 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Unlimited56 days
456 INR50 GBUnlimited60 days
558 INR3 GB/day (168 GB)Unlimited56 days
598 INR1.5 GB/day (128 GB)Unlimited84 days
599 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Unlimited56 days
698 INR2 GB/day (168 GB)Unlimited84 days
1498 INR24 GBUnlimited365 days
2498 INR2 GB/day (730 GB)Unlimited365 days
2698 INR2 GB/day (730 GB)Unlimited365 days

APN/Internet Settings – Airtel India

  • Name: Airtel Internet
  • APN: airtelgprs.com

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

VI (Vodafone Idea)

VI Vodafone Idea India Logo
© VI

Vodafone IdeaOpens in a new tab., known as VI, is the third-largest mobile operator in India. It formed as a merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. The agreement of the merger was agreed back in 2018. However, it took until Q3 2020 before the two companies became one and offered their services under one brand. VI is the 7th largest mobile operator in the world (280+ million subscribers).

VI has the fastest mobile download and upload speed in the country. According to Opensignal, the average mobile download speed is 11.9 Mbps, and the average mobile upload speed is 4.5 Mbps.

India Opensignal Upload Speed Experience
SourceOpens in a new tab.

Speedtest reports an even higher mobile download speed of 15 Mbps.

VI uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 Mhz
  • 3G: Being shut down for 4G/LTE refarming
  • 4G/LTE: 900 MHz (Band 8) & 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 Mhz (Band 1), 2300 Mhz (Band 40) & 2500 MHz (Band 41)

This is what you will learn about VI:

* Coverage
* How to Get a VI SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Click on the links above to jump to the section you are interested in.

Jump to: Jio | Airtel

Coverage – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

VI has extensive coverage throughout India.

Vi does have the worst 4G availability and 4G coverage experience of the big three players.

Below is VI's coverage map. Do note that this map is more optimistic than VI's actual coverage:

SIM Card Price – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

You can get a VI SIM card for free in VI storesOpens in a new tab.. However, you will be required to purchase a plan or recharge to get your free SIM card.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

VI top-up vouchers are sold in VI storesOpens in a new tab. and other stores, including kiosks, phone stores, and grocery stores.

To top up your VI SIM card, dial *199*5# or *199# and follow the instructions.

You can tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge onlineOpens in a new tab. with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *111# or *199*2# to check your VI balance.

You can also use the VI to refill and check your balance (AndroidOpens in a new tab./iOSOpens in a new tab.).

VI India App
© VI

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

VI has four data-featured plans:

All VI plans can be activated on the VI app or online.

Click on the links above to jump to the plans you are interested in.

Combo/Validity – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

The Combo/Validity plans are combo plans with airtime, data, and local minutes.

You can activate the following Combo/Validity plans:

PriceAirtimeDataLocal MinutesValidity
39 INR30 INR100 MBN/A14 days
49 INR38 INR100 MBN/A28 days
59 INRN/AN/A30 minutes28 days
65 INR52 INR100 MBN/A28 days
79 INR64 INR200 MBN/A28 days
95 INR74 INR100 MBN/A56 days
Unlimited – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

The Unlimited Plans are combo plans with data, sometimes unlimited data between 0:00 and 6:00 in the morning, unlimited local minutes, and local SMS.

The majority of plans also give you access to VI mobies and TV. Many also allow you to roll over unused workday data (Monday-Friday) to the weekend (Saturday & Sunday).

These Unlimited Plans are available:

PriceDataUnlimited DataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
99 INR1 GBN/AUnlimitedN/A18 days
109 INR1 GBN/AUnlimitedN/A20 days
129 INR2 GBN/AUnlimited300 SMS24 days
148 INR1 GB/day (18 GB)N/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (1800 SMS)18 days
149 INR2 GBN/AUnlimited300 SMS28 days
199 INR1 GB/day (24 GB)N/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (2400 SMS)24 days
219 INR1 GB/day (28 GB)N/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
249 INR1.5 GB/day (42 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
267 INR25 GBN/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (3000 SMS)30 days
269 INR4 GBN/AUnlimited600 SMS56 days
301 INR1.5 GB/day (42 GB)N/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
379 INR6 GBN/AUnlimited1000 SMS84 days
398 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
401 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
405 INR90 GBBetween 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
447 INR50 GBN/AUnlimited100 SMS/day (6000 SMS)60 days
499 INR1.5 GB/day (105 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (7000 SMS)70 days
555 INR1.5 GB/day (115.5 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (7700 SMS)77 days
558 INR3 GB/day (168 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
595 INR2 GB/day (112 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
599 INR1.5 GB/day (126 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
601 INR3 GB/day (168 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
795 INR2 GB/day (168 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
801 INR3 GB/day (252 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
1197 INR1.5 GB/day (270 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (18 000 SMS)180 days
1499 INR24 GBN/AUnlimited3600 SMS365 days
2399 INR1.5 GB/day (547.5 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
2595 INR1.5 GB/day (547.5 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
Disney+ Hotstar VIP – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

The Disney+ Hotstar VIP plans are combo plans with data, sometimes unlimited data between 0:00 and 6:00 in the morning, unlimited local minutes, and local SMS. You also get 1-year access to Disney+ Hotstar.

Do note that if you are a tourist and get one of these plans, you will also get access to Disney+ Hotstar. However, you will not be able to use your subscription back home (perhaps you can if using a VPN and setting the location to India may work, but that is not something I can confirm yet).

These Disney+ Hotstar VIP options are available:

PriceDataUnlimited DataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
401 INR3 GB/day (84 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (2800 SMS)28 days
501 INR75 GBN/AN/A100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
601 INR3 GB/day (156 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (5600 SMS)56 days
801 INR3 GB/day (252 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (8400 SMS)84 days
2595 INR1.5 GB/day (547.5 GB)Between 0:00 – 6:00Unlimited100 SMS/day (36 500 SMS)365 days
Data – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

The Data Plans are data-only bundles.

You have these options:

PriceDataValidity
16 INR1 GB24 hours
48 INR3 GB28 days
98 INR12 GB28 days
251 INR50 GB28 days
351 INR 2100 GB56 days
355 INR50 GB28 days
501 INR 175 GB56 days

1 1 year of Disney+ & Hotstar VIP
2 1 year of Zee5 Premium

APN/Internet Settings – VI (Vodafone Idea India)

  • Name: VI
  • APN: www

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in India

Getting an Indian SIM card is the best way to stay connected in the country.

However, for some, getting local SIM cards is not an option. For example, if you have a SIM-locked device.

Luckily, there are other ways to get online when in India.

However, these methods may be more expensive than getting a SIM card from the local operators.

International Roaming

International roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling in other countries because you do not have to buy a new SIM card, have to deal with SIM card registration regulations, nor have multiple phone numbers to deal with.

However, international roaming has proven to be expensive in many cases, especially compared to buying local SIM cards. That is why many travelers are not fond of international roaming.

International roaming has its pros and cons. However, it is important to know how it works. This in-depth guide explains it all.

Find out whether your mobile operator has attractive roaming rates for India here.

Using an International SIM Card or Travel SIM Card

International SIM cards are SIM cards made for the traveler in mind. Using them is often cheaper than international roaming. However, they are almost always more expensive than using a local SIM card.

There are many other advantages and disadvantages of getting international SIM cards, which you can learn about here.

Using a Mobile Hotspot (Pocket WIFI)

Mobile hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are small devices that connect to the local operators of the country you are visiting. Mobile hotspots are ideal for families or those traveling in a large group, as they allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without the need of each traveler having to buy a SIM card.

You can either buy a mobile hotspot or rent one.

Using Free WIFI Networks

Using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to stay connected because they are free. The major downside of trying to use WIFI hotspots is that you will have to locate them, and they are not available on every corner in India.

Make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN so that hackers cannot steal your personal data.

The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in India

Getting a SIM card from Jio would do you well when considering an Indian SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other Asian Countries

Visiting other countries in Asia? Check out my SIM card buying guides for individual Asian countries:

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

Check Out My Resource Page

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money with international SIM cards, on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling

Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling? In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services, and products I have for this site and my YouTube channel. If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cards, international SIM cards, mobile hotspots, or roam internationally. Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks

I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!

Sign Up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter

Sign up for my newsletter: Get an excel sheet of the best SIM cards of over 230+ destinations around the world! Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on how to save money while traveling every now and then.

Let's Be Social

Did you know that I have a YouTube channelOpens in a new tab. covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone? A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!

Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is

Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 7 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region is Asia. In particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently is in the Netherlands.

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