9 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in South Africa: Buying Guide


South Africa is home to the best fixed broadband and wireless broadband network in Africa. Not only that, but SIM cards are cheap, and mobile data rates are affordable. Moreover, data allowances are generous too for African standards.

I say this because international roaming can be expensive, even in South Africa. You could get a phone bill in the hundreds, thousands, or even millions, depending on the currency you use, when going back home after roaming in South Africa (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter).

Okay, how much do SIM cards cost, where to get them, and how much is data?

South African SIM cards are sold between 0.99 ZAR (0.06 USD) to 5 ZAR (0.34 USD) in the official stores of the operators or authorized resellers (such as grocery stores). Hello Mobile gives out SIM cards for free. 1 GB of data valid for 7 days is available for as low as 65 ZAR (4.40 USD).

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How to Buy a SIM Card in South Africa video

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

Now, those are some inciting numbers, especially compared to other African nations. And as I said earlier, the network quality in South Africa is close to excellent and extensive. So there should be no reason not to get a South African SIM card.

But there is a lot to learn about getting a South African SIM card. Although they are widely available (you can get starter kits almost everywhere, whereas most African countries force you to visit the operator's store), getting a SIM card registered and activated can be tricky.

You need to know about RICA and getting RICA'd, data bundles that are valid for a full year or have no expiry at all, and each operator's coverage.

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

Buying a SIM Card in South Africa Guide (logos of MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Air Mobile, Lycamobile, Trace Mobile & Virgin Mobile)

Original publication: 30th of April 2020. Last updated: 12th of May 2021.

Table of Contents

In This Guide Show

Can You Buy a SIM Card in South Africa?

Anyone visiting or living in South Africa, including tourists, can buy a South African SIM card (from the Main Operators or MVNOs) without any particular restrictions.

You do need to have a SIM-lock free (unlocked) phone to use a South African SIM card (or any other SIM card not provided by your home operator, for that matter). Moreover, your phone needs to supports the frequencies used in the country. Finally, your SIM card has to be registered with your personal information through the RICA process.

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in South Africa?

South African SIM cards can be purchased in the official stores of the Main Operators, but they can also be bought from other retailers, which include supermarkets, convenience stores, and electronic stores. Authorized resellers can often RICA (register) your SIM card on the spot.

Here is a list of what to expect to pay for a SIM card in South Africa:

* To use Air Mobile, you first have to get an MTN SIM card (from 3.50 ZAR) before you can “switch” to Air Mobile. That is why the price listed for Air Mobile is “MTN SIM card price – from 3.50 ZAR (retailer decides).

Can You Use Your Phone in South Africa?

To use your phone in South Africa, you need a device that supports GSM. CDMA phones will not work in South Africa. Luckily, there is a 99% chance that your phone supports GSM anyway.

Mostly European frequencies are used in South Africa. Those frequencies are used in countries in ITU regions 1 & 3, including Africa, Asia (with the Middle East), Europe, and Oceania. Phones sold in ITU Regions 1 and 3 will have no connectivity issues when in South Africa.

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.

In the Americas (North-, Central- & South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2), they use American frequencies. Those are different from European frequencies. Phones sold in ITU Region 2 may experience connectivity issues when in South Africa.

If you have a low/medium-end device without Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, then you should go with Telkom South Africa. It uses a 3G frequency (850 MHz), which is one of the primary 3G frequencies used in ITU Region 2.

Suppose you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support. In that case, the likelihood of using your phone in South Africa without any or some limitations is large.

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in South Africa

South Africa has four Main Operators and five Mobile Virtual Network Operators with prepaid offers acessible to travelers:

The following frequencies are used in South Africa:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 850 MHz, 900 MHz & 2100 MHZ
  • 4G/LTE: 900 MHz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2300 MHz (Band 40)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.

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 South Africa, check out this pageOpens in a new tab. by Will My Phone Work.

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.

5G in South Africa

5G is being rolled out in South Africa. After Lesotho, South Africa was one of the first African nations to launch 5G in 2019.

However, the rollout of 5G has been limited so far. Currently, only Vodacom South Africa and MTN South Africa have 5G networks available to wireless customers in select places in South Africa (mostly Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Port Elizabeth). Even then, 5G coverage in those cities is scarce.

I recognize that RainOpens in a new tab. also has a 5G network. However, it is limited to home-based wireless broadband at the time of writing.

5G is currently only available to Vodacom South Africa and MTN South Africa postpaid customers or subscribers – prepaid customers cannot use 5G in South Africa yet. This will change in the near future when 5G rollout is accelerated.

Best SIM Card in South Africa

If you want to buy a SIM card in South Africa, I recommend going with Vodacom or MTN. Vodacom has the best coverage and the fastest speeds in the country. MTN has been catching up over the years and is slightly worse than Vodacom but cheaper.

SIM Card Registration in South Africa (RICA)

SIM card registration with your personal information, like your passport details, is mandatory in South Africa. This will often be done at the point of sale or done later by visiting a RICA agent.

Because South African SIM cards do not have to be purchased at the operators' official stores, they can be registered and activated at a later date.

RICA, standing for Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication Related Information Act 70 of 2002Opens in a new tab., requires that personal information be captured for anyone wanting to buy a South African SIM card – prepaid and postpaid – no exceptions.

For non-South African (permanent) residents, this includes:

  • Starter pack reference number & ICCID (SIM Number)
  • Full name (as shown on your passport)
  • Passport number
  • Issuing country
  • Address (if listed on your passport) – will not be verified. Otherwise, proof of temporary residence in South Africa will be used (bring affidavit)

For South Africans or permanent residents, more information is needed. Vodacom South Africa has an excellent overview on their help pageOpens in a new tab..

Although SIM card registration is standard in Africa and many other regions in the world, usually with just your passport information, RICA requires proof of permanent residence in South Africa (like a utility bill or rental agreement).

Tourists and travelers will not have such proof of residence that is necessary for RICA.

Some RICA agents, who can be employees of the operators (like an MTN employee), salespersons at major retailers (like grocery stores or pharmacies), or independent RICA officers, may accept your temporary residence in South Africa (ho(s)tel, Airbnb, friend's/family's place, etc.) Sometimes, any type of proof is required (like a booking confirmation or a letter from someone living at the residence).

Other RICA agents may not want to process your request because of the permanent residency requirement. Fret not. There are ten thousands of RICA agents across South Africa. If one does not want to help you, someone else will.

South Africa Speeds, Internet Prices & Insights

Flag of South Africa

I will say it here – mobile networks in South Africa are superior for African standards. The majority of the country is covered with 3G and 4G/LTE, but the network quality is of high quality.

Like many countries in Africa, South Africans rely more on mobile data for internet access than fixed broadband because mobile antennas are easier and cheaper to set up than installing a cable network (and mobile internet speeds often are faster than fixed broadband speeds in Africa).

I have to say, South Africa's broadband network is one of the best in Africa, which is why the spread in mobile and fixed download speeds is not so significant compared to other African nations.

Before I keep praising South Africa more for its network, you need to know how expensive data is. You have learned that SIM cards themselves are cheap.

The average price for 1 GB of data in South Africa is 4.30 USD, which is below the Sub-Saharan average of 5.91 USD (6.91 USD including Saint Helena). The world average is 5.03 USD.

Based on the table below, you will see many African countries with excessive data rates (with much worse network quality than South Africa). Although South Africa is on the expensive side for data costs, they are still manageable and below the Sub-Saharan average (28 African countries have a lower average price for 1 GB of data).

So what about speeds? How fast is mobile data in South Africa?

The average mobile download speed in South Africa is 39 Mbps, making South Africa the African country with the fastest mobile data speeds in the continent.

Only Morocco is closely competing with South Africa for the top spot with an average download speed of 37 Mbps.

Sure, South African's average download speed is slightly below the global average of 47 Mbps. Still, many African nations do not even come close to the global average, let alone South African's average.

Besides, only 37 countries of the 139 countries indexed have a higher average than the global average.

Does this mean you will always have a fast browsing experience in South Africa? No. Especially in the rural parts of the country. However, unlike many other African nations, you will at least have mobile reception, albeit it being 2G or 3G reception – probably 4G/LTE too (SpeedtestOpens in a new tab. reported that South Africa has a 4G availability rate of 86.5%, which is high for African standards).

With all of this said, you can expect a fast, smooth, and more importantly, reliable browsing experience when in South Africa.

Currency in South Africa

South Africa uses the South African Rand with the symbol ZAR (which will be used throughout this article). Prices in Sierra Leone are listed in R. For example, 25 ZAR = R 25. For reference, below are some exchange rates between ZAR and USD (US Dollars – Rounded):

  • 1 ZAR = 0.05 USD
  • 10 ZAR = 0.70 USD
  • 100 ZAR = 6.80 USD
  • 1000 ZAR = 68 USD
  • 10 000 ZAR = 679.80 USD

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

Transferwise Banner

South Africa Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through the South African operators, Vodacom South Africa, MTN South Africa, Cell C, Telkom South Africa, Air Mobile by Afrihost, Hello Mobile South Africa, Lycamobile South Africa, Trace Mobile & Virgin Mobile South Africa, 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 said, let's see what South Africa has to offer to us.

Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom Logo

Vodacom South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just Vodacom, is the largest operator in South Africa. The company is mostly owned by Vodafone, which is why you probably recognized the logo.

Vodacom uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 900 MHz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2100 MHz (Band 1)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)

This is what you will learn about Vodacom:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Vodacom SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom has, together with MTN, the best and most extensive coverage in South Africa.

Not many countries in (Southern) Africa have such a good mobile network as South Africa does, which you will notice when in the country when especially when having a Vodacom SIM card.

Unfortunately, Vodacom has no official coverage map. So I will show you one produced by Speedtest instead. It looks a bit off because I had to zoom out a lot to get a nationwide overview.

SIM Card Price – Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom SIM cards are available for 5 ZAR in Vodacom storesOpens in a new tab. and other retailers (convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations). The Data-only SIM card can be purchased for 149 ZAR and will include 100 MB a month allocated over 12 months (1200 MB in total).

Vodacom SIM Card
© Vodacom

You will be able to purchase a Vodacom SIM card at airports (like Johannesburg – O.R. Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport). However, SIM card prices have reportedly been listed at 100 ZAR at airports – 20x more than for what you can get them anywhere else.

RICA – Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom SIM cards can often be RICA'd at the point of purchase. This can be a Vodacom store or most grocery stores. You can also RICA your SIM card with RICA agents.

The following details will be captured for RICA with Vodacom for non-residents:

  • Starter pack reference number & ICCID (SIM Number)
  • Full name
  • Passport number
  • Issuing country
  • Address (if listed on your passport. Otherwise, proof of temporary residence in South Africa will be used (bring affidavit))

Be aware some RICA agents may insist that you need a permanent South African address to get RICA'd. Proof of temporary residence in South Africa (ho(s)tel, Airbnb, friend's/family's place) should suffice. If the RICA agent refuses, try a different one – there are plenty of them.

Topping Up & Recharging – Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom top-up cards are sold in values of 5 ZAR to 500 ZAR in Vodacom storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retailers, such as grocery stores, newsstands, and corner shops.

To redeem your voucher code, dial *136*01*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your top-up code is 123456, you would dial 136*01*123456#.

Dial *136# to check your balance.

You can also use the My Vodacom app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom has four data-featured bundles, which are:

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

Power Hour – Vodacom South Africa

The Power Hour Bundle is a combo plan featuring data for WhatsApp and local minutes valid for 60 minutes.

There are three Power Hour bundles, but the other two do not feature any sort of data. Hence, they have been omitted from the table below.

Below is an overview of the Power Hour perks:

PricePlanWhatsApp DataLocal MinutesValidityActivation CodeBalance Check
11 ZARPower Hour + WhatsApp1 GB60 minutes1 day*135*9#*135*789#
Prepaid Data Bundles – Vodacom South Africa

The Prepaid Data Bundles are data-only plans. They include the Hourly Data Bundles, Internet Daily, Night Owl Daily Bundles, Weekly and Fortnight, Night Owl Weekly Bundles & Once-Off Data Bundles.

The following Prepaid Data Bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *135#:

PriceDataValidity
4 ZAR50 MB1 night (0:00 – 5:00)
5 ZAR20 MB1 day 
5 ZAR50 MB1 hour
7 ZAR100 MB1 night (0:00 – 5:00)
9 ZAR60 MB1 day 
12 ZAR50 MB30 days 
12 ZAR1 GB 1 hour
14 ZAR250 MB1 night (0:00 – 5:00)
15 ZAR100 MB1 day 
17 ZAR100 MB7 days 
27 ZAR250 MB1 day 
27 ZAR1 GB 1 day 
29 ZAR100 MB7 nights (0:00 – 5:00)
29 ZAR150 MB30 days 
35 ZAR250 MB7 days 
49 ZAR1 GB 7 nights (0:00 – 5:00)
55 ZAR350 MB30 days 
60 ZAR500 MB7 days 
79 ZAR500 MB30 days 
80 ZAR1 GB 7 days 
99 ZAR1 GB 30 days 
100 ZAR1 GB 14 days 
120 ZAR2 GB7 days 
229 ZAR3 GB30 days 
349 ZAR5 GB30 days 
469 ZAR10 GB30 days 
699 ZAR20 GB30 days 
Monthly Recurring Data Bundles – Vodacom South Africa

The Monthly Recurring Data Bundles are data-only plans that auto-renew every 30 days, as long as you have enough credit on your account.

The following Monthly Recurring Data Bundles are available, which can be purchased by dialing *135#:

PriceDataValidity
12 ZAR50 MB30 days 
29 ZAR150 MB30 days 
55 ZAR350 MB30 days 
79 ZAR500 MB30 days 
99 ZAR1 GB 30 days 
229 ZAR3 GB 30 days 
Pay-Once Upfront – Vodacom South Africa

The Pay-Once Upfront plans are long-term data-only bundles. A set amount of data will be allocated monthly – from three months to a year.

The following Pay-Once Upfront plans are available, which you can buy by dialing *135#:

PriceMonthly DataValidity
29 ZAR50 MB/month (150 MB)3 months 
119 ZAR100 MB/month (600 MB)6 months
219 ZAR250 MB/month (1500 MB)6 months
219 ZAR500 MB/month (3000 MB)6 months
899 ZAR1 GB/month (12 GB)12 months
1399 ZAR2 GB/month (24 GB)12 months
3499 ZAR5 GB/month (50 GB)12 months
5999 ZAR10 GB/month (120GB)12 months

APN/Internet Settings – Vodacom South Africa

  • Name: Vodacom
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

MTN South Africa

MTN Logo

MTN South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just MTN, is the second-largest operator in South Africa. MTN as a company is also active in other African countries and in the Middle East. In South Africa, they are putting the heat on Vodacom in terms of speeds and coverage.

MTN uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 900 MHz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 13 & 2100 MHz (Band 1)
  • 5G NR: 700 MHz (n28 – limited use), 3500 MHz (n78) & 28 GHz (n257 – trial)

This is what you will learn about MTN:

* Coverage
* How to Get an MTN SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Phone Number Check
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – MTN South Africa

MTN has, together with Vodacom, the best and most extensive coverage in South Africa.

Almost all of the populated areas of South Africa are covered by MTN with its network. 4G/LTE is available in nearly all places where there is 2G or 3G coverage.

On the left map below, you will see MTN's nationwide coverage with all generations (2G, 3G, 4G/LTE & 5G). The right map shows MTN's 4G/LTE reception.

MTN South Africa Coverage Map
Nationwide Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.
MTN South Africa LTE Coverage Map
4G/LTE Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.

5G is still being rolled out in South Africa. Only a handful of neighborhoods, at the time of writing, have 5G. Coverage was so limited that you cannot see the dots on the map unless you zoom on. However, you can play with MTN's coverage map on its site.

Jump back to Air Mobile.

SIM Card Price – MTN South Africa

MTN SIM cards are sold starting from 3.50 ZAR in MTN storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retailers (electronic shops, grocery stores, and newsstands). Individual retailers can set the SIM card price themselves, but you can often get a SIM card for a maximum of 5 ZAR.

MTN SIM cards sold at airports, Johannesburg – O.R. Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport, may sell them for 60 ZAR or 100 ZAR.

MTN has four types of price plans, which are:

  • MTN Bundle Bonanza (default plan)
  • MTN Pay Per Second
  • MTN Talk Free
  • MTN Zone Per Second

There is no need to switch to another price plan if you plan on buying a data bundle. However, each price plan has different standard rates for data, minutes, and SMS. You can learn about them on the price plan pageOpens in a new tab..

Phone Nunber Check – MTN South Africa

You can retrieve your MTN phone number by dialing *123*888#.

RICA – MTN South Africa

You can RICA your MTN SIM card in MTN storesOpens in a new tab. and most stores that sell MTN SIM cards (like grocery stores).

If the RICA agent does not accept your proof of stay in South Africa, you can also use the address of a nearby school or church.

Topping Up & Recharging – MTN South Africa

MTN recharge codes are available for purchase in MTN stores and many other shops, like grocery stores or small shops with an MTN sticker on their storefront. Top-up cards are available in values between 5 ZAR to 180 ZAR. You can also recharge onlineOpens in a new tab..

The validity of your airtime is between 20 days and no expiry (as long as your SIM card is active), depending on how much you top-up.

Below is an overview:

Top UpValidity
<=15 ZAR20 days 
15 ZAR – 25 ZAR30 days 
=> 26 ZARNo expiry 

To recharge, dial *136*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *136*123456#.

You can check your balance by dialing *136# for a summarized or *136*1# for a detailed check.

You can convert airtime into data by dialing *136*2#.

You can also use the MTN app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

MTN South Africa App
© MTN South Africa

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – MTN South Africa

MTN has the Data Bundles, include Rush Hour, MTN One Day, Daily MTN Night Express, MTN Weekly, MTN Fortnightly, MTN Monthly, MTN Monthly Night Express Bundles, MTN OneTime & Data4Keeps.

The following Data Bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *136*2#:

PriceDataValidity
1.50 ZAR10 MB60 minutes
4 ZAR5 MB30 days
4 ZAR5 MB365 days
4 ZAR20 MB1 day
5 ZAR50 MB60 minutes
5 ZAR250 MB1 night (0:01 – 5:59)
6 ZAR35 MB1 day
8.50 ZAR50 MB1 day
10 ZAR50 MB7 days 
10 ZAR100 MB60 minutes
10 ZAR100 MB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
10 ZAR1 GB1 night (0:01 – 5:59)
12 ZAR20 MB30 days
12 ZAR20 MB365 days
12 ZAR75 MB 1 day
15 ZAR100 MB1 day
15 ZAR100 MB7 days 
25 ZAR50 MB30 days
25 ZAR50 MB365 days
25 ZAR200 MB1 day
25 ZAR300 MB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
35 ZAR100 MB30 days
35 ZAR100 MB365 days
35 ZAR300 MB7 days 
35 ZAR500 MB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
40 ZAR“Uncapped” (150 MB)1 day
45 ZAR500 MB7 days 
59 ZAR1 GB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
65 ZAR1 GB 7 days 
75 ZAR300 MB365 days
85 ZAR300 MB30 days
89 ZAR1 GB14 days 
99 ZAR100 MB180 days
105 ZAR500 MB30 days
105 ZAR500 MB365 days
109 ZAR2 GB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
139 ZAR5 GB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
159 ZAR100 MB365 days
160 ZAR1 GB30 days
160 ZAR1 GB365 days
209 ZAR10 GB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
259 ZAR300 MB180 days
260 ZAR2 GB30 days
260 ZAR2 GB365 days
330 ZAR3 GB30 days
330 ZAR3 GB365 days
339 ZAR500 MB180 days
359 ZAR20 GB30 nights (0:01 – 5:59)
399 ZAR300 MB365 days
430 ZAR5 GB30 days
529 ZAR500 MB365 days
579 ZAR1 GB180 days
650 ZAR10 GB30 days
899 ZAR1 GB365 days
929 ZAR2 GB180 days
1250 ZAR20 GB30 days
1399 ZAR2 GB365 days

APN/Internet Settings – MTN South Africa

  • Name: MTN
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Cell C

Cell C Logo

Cell COpens in a new tab. is the third-largest operator in South Africa. It entered the market by undercutting its competitors with low prices. However, all the Main Operators have lowered their prices since and improved their networks and speeds – Cell C is still lagging behind.

Cell C hosts almost all of the MVNOs in South Africa.

Cell C has made a national roaming agreement with MTN South Africa, allowing Cell C customers to use the MTN South Africa network where Cell C has no coverage. This deal started to be implemented in early 2020. Once completed, Cell C will see 4G coverage extended to 95% of the population, as reported by CommsUpdateOpens in a new tab..

According to Tech CentralOpens in a new tab., Cell C made a similar agreement with Vodacom South Africa, but for its postpaid customers only – starting early 2021.

Cell C uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2100 MHz (Band 1)
  • 5G NR: N/A

This is what you will learn about Cell C:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Cell C SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Cell C

Cell C has great coverage in South Africa.

Mobile reception and speeds are great in the populated areas of South Africa. Even in the less inhabited places. However, Cell C's own LTE coverage lacks behind Vodacom South Africa's and MTN South Africa's. Fortunately, the national roaming deals will improve things for Cell C customers.

Below on the left, you will see Cell C's nationwide coverage with all generations (2G, 3G & 4G/LTE). On the right, it is Cell C's 4G/LTE coverage.

Cell C Coverage Map
Nationwide Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.
Cell C 4G Coverage Map
4G/LTE Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.

You can check Cell C's coverage yourself with its coverage checkerOpens in a new tab..

Jump back to Hello Mobile, Lycamobile, Trace Mobile, or Virgin Mobile.

SIM Card Price – Cell C

You can buy a Cell C SIM card for 1 ZAR in Cell C storesOpens in a new tab. and from authorized dealers (electronic shops, mobile shops, and grocery stores).

RICA – Cell C

Cell C SIM cards can be RICA'd in Cell C storesOpens in a new tab. or with any RICA agent.

Topping Up & Recharging – Cell C

Cell C top-up cards are sold in values of 5 ZAR to 500 ZAR in Cell C storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retail outlets (grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations).

To activate your voucher, dial *102*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial 102*123456#.

You can check your balance by dialing *101# or *147# and selecting option 2.

You can also use the Cell C app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Cell C App
© Cell C

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Cell C

Cell C has five data-featured bundles, which are:

All Cell C combo or data plans can be activated by dialing *147#.

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

All-In-One Bundles – Cell C

The All-In-One Bundles are combo bundles with data, Facebook Data, and minutes.

The following All-In-One Bundles can be purchased:

PricePlanDataFacebook DataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesValidity
5 ZARAll-In-One 30 MB30 MB30 MB30 minutes5 minutes1 day 
15 ZARAll-In-One 120 MB120 MB120 MB300 minutes10 minutes14 days 
35 ZARAll-In-One 300 MB300 MB300 MB600 minutes20 minutes30 days 
95 ZARAll-In-One 1 GB1 GB1 GB900 minutes45 minutes30 days 
195 ZARAll-In-One 2.5 GB2.5 GB2.5 GB900 minutes60 minutes30 days 
SmartData Daily Night Bundles – Cell C

The SmartData Daily Night Bundles are data-only bundles that can be used at night (1:00 (AM) to 7:00 (AM)).

The following SmartData Daily Night Bundles are available:

PriceDataValidity
6 ZAR250 MB1:00 – 7:00
15 ZAR1 GB1:00 – 7:00
Data Bundles – Cell C

The Data Bundles are data-only bundles. Some of these bundles feature Nite Data, which can be used between 1:00 (AM) and 7:00 (AM).

The following Data Bundles are available:

PriceDataNite Data (1:00 – 7:00)Validity
2 ZAR5 MBN/A1 day 
4 ZAR25 MBN/A1 day 
9 ZAR65 MBN/A1 day 
10 ZAR60 MBN/A7 days
10 ZAR150 MBN/A7 days
10 ZAR40 MBN/A30 days 
14 ZAR120 MBN/A1 day 
15 ZAR80 MBN/A30 days 
17 ZAR500 MBN/A1 day 
20 ZAR1 GBN/A1 day 
25 ZAR250 MBN/A7 days
29 ZAR300 MBN/A30 days 
35 ZAR500 MBN/A30 days 
40 ZAR500 MBN/A7 days
49 ZAR650 MBN/A30 days 
65 ZAR1 GBN/A7 days
80 ZAR1600 MBN/A30 days 
95 ZAR2 GBN/A7 days
95 ZAR2 GB1 GB30 days 
149 ZAR3 GB3 GB30 days 
199 ZAR4 GB4 GB30 days 
249 ZAR6 GB5 GB30 days 
299 ZAR12 GB7 GB30 days 
399 ZAR7 GB10 GB30 days 
499 ZAR10 GB15 GB90 days
500 ZAR50 GB50 GB180 days 
599 ZAR10 GBN/A365 days 
799 ZAR20 GBN/A90 days
799 ZAR20 GBN/A365 days 
899 ZAR30 GBN/A90 days
899 ZAR30 GBN/A365 days 
1099 ZAR50 GBN/A365 days 
1199 ZAR40 GBN/A90 days
1599 ZAR100 GBN/A365 days 
1999 ZAR200 GBN/A365 days 
2999 ZAR100 GBN/A90 days
WhatsApp Bundles – Cell C

The WhatsApp bundles are data-only bundles exclusively for WhatsApp.

You can get one of the following WhatsApp Bundles:

PriceWhatsApp DataValidity
10 ZAR300 MB7 days
20 ZAR600 MB15 days
29 ZAR1 GB30 days 
Socializa Bundles – Cell C

The Socialize Bundles are data-only bundles for select social media apps (WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube) individually. A Socializa Bundle cannot be used for multiple eligible apps unless you purchase multiple Socialize Bundles.

The following Socializa Bundles are available:

PriceAppsDataValidity
10 ZARWhatsApp300 MB7 days 
15 ZARInstagram/TikTok/Twitter/YouTube350 MB7 days 
20 ZARWhatsApp600 MB15 days 
25 ZARInstagram/TikTok/Twitter/YouTube500 MB30 days 
29 ZARWhatsApp1 GB30 days 
30 ZARInstagram/TikTok/Twitter/YouTube750 MB7 days 
45 ZARInstagram/TikTok/Twitter/YouTube1 GB30 days 
80 ZARYouTube2 GB30 days 
120 ZARYouTube3 GB30 days 

APN/Internet Settings – Cell C

In most cases, your phone will automatically retrieve the correct Cell C APN settings. If not, you can get them by dialing *147#. If that does not work either, then you have to alter the APN details yourself with the details listed below:

  • Name: Cell C Internet
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Telkom South Africa

Telkom Logo

Telkom South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just Telkom, is the smallest Main Operator in South Africa. They are known for being affordable, but they have the “worst coverage” of the four Main Operators. However, Telkom has a national roaming agreementOpens in a new tab. with Vodacom South Africa since 2018, allowing Telkom customers to use Vodacom South Africa's 2G and 3G networks where necessary.

Telkom uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz (on Vodacom South Africa network)
  • 3G: 850 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2300 MHz (Band 40)
  • 5G NR: N/A

This is what you will learn about Telkom:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Telkom SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Telkom South Africa

Telkom has decent coverage in South Africa.

Compared to the other operators, Telkom's coverage can be labeled as bad. However, because Telkom customers can roam on Vodacom South Africa's network at no additional cost, you can expect Vodacom-like network coverage, (which is the best in the country).

However, some Telkom plans are exclusive to the Telkom network only.

Below is Telkom's own nationwide coverage on the left. The right map shows its LTE/LTE-A coverage.

Telkom South Africa Coverage Map
Nationwide Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.
Telkom LTE/LTE-A Coverage Map
LTE/LTE-A Coverage – SourceOpens in a new tab.

You can use the Telkom network checker yourself on this pageOpens in a new tab..

SIM Card Price – Telkom South Africa

Telkom SIM cards, called Telkom More and SIM-Sonke, can be bought for 0.99 ZAR in Telkom storesOpens in a new tab. and other stores, such as grocery stores, mobile shops, and electronic shops.

The Telkom More SIM card is the default SIM card. It doubles your airtime whenever you recharge 5 ZAR or more. SIM-Sonke offers lower standard rates compared to Telkom More.

Telkom More SIM Card
© Telkom
Telkom SIM-Sonke SIM Card
© Telkom

There is no point in switching to the SIM-Sonke plan if you plan to buy a bundle because both SIM cards and rate plans can purchase any of the bundles offered by Telkom.

You can switch rate plans by dialing *180#.

RICA – Telkom South Africa

Telkom allows you to RICA your SIM card onlineOpens in a new tab..

However, I do not know whether travelers can use this service because of the proof of residency requirement. You will be better off getting RICA'd in a Telkom storeOpens in a new tab. or by any RICA officer.

Topping Up & Recharging – Telkom South Africa

Telkom recharge cards, starting from 2 ZAR to 900 ZAR, are sold in Telkom storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retailers (gas stations, grocery stores, and corner shops).

To redeem your top-up voucher, dial *188*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *188*123456#.

You can check your balance by dialing *188#

You can also use the Telkom app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Telkom South Africa App
© Telkom

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Telkom South Africa

Telkom has five data-featured plans, which are:

All Telkom combo and data bundles can be activated by dialing *180#.

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

FreeMe Prepaid Bundles – Telkom South Africa

The FreeMe Prepaid Bundles are combo bundles with data, WhatsApp data, streaming data (for YouTube, DStv Now, Showmax, Netflix (SA), Google Play Movies & TV, Simfy Africa, Cliff Central & Apple Music), minutes, and SMS.

The following FreeMe Prepaid Bundles are available:

PricePlanDataWhatsApp DataStreaming DataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesLocal SMSValidity
29 ZARFreeMe 300 MB150 MB75 MB75 MB50 minutesN/A50 SMS14 days 
39 ZARFreeMe 500 MB250 MB125 MB125 MB100 minutesN/A50 SMS14 days 
99 ZARFreeMe 800 MB500 MB150 MB150 MB150 minutes15 minutes50 SMS61 days 
139 ZARFreeMe 1.5 GB1 GB250 MB250 MB250 minutes25 minutes100 SMS61 days 
189 ZARFreeMe 3 GB 2 GB500 MB500 MB500 minutes50 minutes100 SMS61 days 
289 ZARFreeMe 6 GB4 GB1 GB1 GB500 minutes100 minutes100 SMS61 days 
389 ZARFreeMe 11.5 GB 7.5 GB2 GB2 GB500 minutes200 minutes100 SMS61 days 
589 ZARFreeMe 18 GB12 GB3 GB3 GB1500 minutes300 minutes100 SMS61 days 
689 ZARFreeMe 28 GB20 GB4 GB4 GB1500 minutes500 minutes300 SMS61 days 
Monate Bundles – Telkom South Africa

The Monate Bundles are combo bundles with data, social data (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat & TikTok), and minutes.

You can get any of the following Monate Bundles:

PricePlanDataSocial DataLocal MinutesValidity
5 ZARAll-Network Voice BundleN/AN/A10 minutes7 days 
5 ZARDaily Social Data BundleN/A100 MBN/A24 hours 
9 ZARAll-Network Voice BundleN/AN/A20 minutes7 days 
10 ZARWeekly Data Bundle200 MBN/AN/A7 days 
10 ZARWeekend Data Bundle 512 MBN/AN/A1 weekend (Friday midnight – Sunday midnight) 
10.50 ZARDaily Data Bundle300 MBN/AN/A24 hours 
Time-Based Data Bundles – Telkom South Africa

The Time-Based Data Bundles are short-term data bundles.

The following Time-Based Data Bundles are available:

PricePlanDataValidity
5 ZARHourly Data Bundle75 MB1 hour 
10 ZAEDaily Data Bundle150 MB24 hours 
39 ZARWeekend Data Bundle500 MB1 weekend (Friday midnight – Sunday midnight) 
59 ZARWeekend Data Bundle 1 GB1 weekend (Friday midnight – Sunday midnight) 
Prepaid LTE – Telkom South Africa

The Prepaid LTE plans are data plans that can only be used on Telkom's LTE network (not on the Vodacom network). It features a data allowance valid for 61 days and a Night Surfer Data allowance (0:00 – 7:00/12 AM – 7 AM) for 31 days.

Telkom, and I do too, highly recommend you to check whether LTE is available in the areas you plan to stay and visit before purchasing a Prepaid LTE plan.

The following Prepaid LTE plans are available:

PricePlanData (61 days)Night Surfer Data (31 days)
99 ZARPrepaid LTE 10 GB5 GB5 GB
149 ZARPrepaid LTE 20 GB10 GB10 GB
359 ZARPrepaid LTE 80 GB40 GB40 GB
459 ZARPrepaid LTE 120 GB60 GB60 GB
559 ZARPrepaid LTE 160 GB80 GB80 GB
759 ZARPrepaid LTE 240 GB120 GB120 GB
1059 ZARPrepaid LTE 440 GB220 GB 220 GB 
Social Bundles – Telkom South Africa

The Social Bundles are data bundles for select social media apps (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat & TikTok).

You can get one of the following Social Bundles:

PriceSocial DataValidity
2 ZAR25 MB24 hours
3 ZAR50 MB24 hours
4 ZAR75 MB24 hours
5 ZAR75 MB7 days 
5 ZAR100 MB24 hours
8 ZAR100 MB7 days 
10 ZAR100 MB31 days 
10 ZAR250 MB24 hours
12 ZAR250 MB7 days 
15 ZAR250 MB31 days 
15 ZAR500 MB24 hours
18 ZAR500 MB7 day 
25 ZAR500 MB31 days 
35 ZAR1 GB7 days 
40 ZAR1 GB31 days 
60 ZAR2 GB7 days 
70 ZAR2 GB31 days 
100 ZAR3 GB31 days 

APN/Internet Settings – Telkom South Africa

  • Name: Telkom
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Air Mobile by Afrihost

Air Mobile by Afrihost Logo

Air MobileOpens in a new tab. is the mobile brand by the South African ISP AfrihostOpens in a new tab., acting as an MVNO. Air Mobile is an MTN South Africa MVNO.

This is what you will learn about Air Mobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get an Air Mobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

Air Mobile is an MTN MVNO, meaning Air Mobile uses the MTN network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure. Air Mobile users can use MTN's 4G/LTE network. To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Air Mobile, jump to the MTN Coverage section.

Worry not; there will be a link to jump straight back to where you were after seeing MTN's coverage.

SIM Card Price – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

You have to purchase an MTN SIM card (starting from 3.50 ZAR) first before you can switch to Air Mobile. MTN SIM cards are sold in MTN storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retailers (electronic shops, grocery stores, and newsstands).

Once you have obtained an MTN SIM card, you can signup for Air Mobile on the Air Mobile app (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

You will get 1 GB per month for three months when you sign up for Air Mobile. However, you have to manually claim this benefit on the Air Mobile app yourself.

Air Mobile Afrihost App
© Afrihost

RICA – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

MTN's RICA process applies to Air Mobile because you need to have an MTN SIM card before moving to Air Mobile.

Topping Up & Recharging – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

Air Mobile top-ups can be purchased on the Air Mobile app with a debit or credit card.

The following recharge values are available:

AirtimeMinutes
25 ZAR25 minutes
50 ZAR50 minutes
100 ZAR100 minutes
200 ZAR200 minutes
300 ZAR300 minutes
400 ZAR400 minutes
500 ZAR500 minutes
1000 ZAR1000 minutes

Note that these are top-ups for airtime. Data plans can be purchased directly through the Air Mobile app without using airtime to buy a plan.

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

Air Mobile has two types of data-featured plans: Prepaid Mobile Data and Data Only Packages.

Both plans have to be activated on the Air Mobile app.

Prepaid Mobile Data – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

The Prepaid Mobile Data Plans are data plans valid for 60 days.

The following Prepaid Mobile Data plans are available:

PriceDataValidity
10 ZAR100 MB60 days 
25 ZAR250 MB60 days 
45 ZAR500 MB60 days 
69 ZAR1 GB60 days 
137 ZAR2 GB60 days 
197 ZAR3 GB60 days 
297 ZAR5 GB60 days 
Data Only Packages – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

The Data Only Packages are data bundles valid for 30 days.

The following Data Only Packages are available:

PriceDataValidity
39 ZAR500 MB30 days 
68 ZAR1 GB30 days 
109 ZAR2 GB30 days 
155 ZAR3 GB30 days 
207 ZAR4 GB30 days 
267 ZAR5 GB30 days 
317 ZAR6 GB30 days 
417 ZAR8 GB30 days 
517 ZAR10 GB30 days 
767 ZAR15 GB30 days 
997 ZAR20 GB30 days 

APN/Internet Settings – Air Mobile (Afrihost)

  • Name: afrihost
  • APN: afrihost
  • APN Type: default,supl

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Hello Mobile South Africa

Hellomobile Logo

Hello Mobile South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just Hello Mobile, is one of the MVNOs in South Africa. They are popular with the expat community for offering low international calling rates. Hello Mobile is a Cell C MVNO.

This is what you will learn about Hello Mobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Hello Mobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Hello Mobile South Africa

Hello Mobile is a Cell C MVNO, meaning Hello Mobile uses the Cell C network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure. It is unknown whether Hello Mobile users can use Cell C's 4G/LTE network. To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Hello Mobile, jump to the Cell C Coverage section.

Worry not; there will be a link to jump straight back to where you were after seeing Cell C's coverage.

SIM Card Price – Hello Mobile South Africa

You can get a Hello Mobile SIM card for free from Hello Mobile merchants and select Cell C storesOpens in a new tab.. You can also order your free SIM card onlineOpens in a new tab. without paying delivery fees.

Hello Mobile South Africa SIM Cards
© Hello Mobile

Unlike many operators around the world that hand out SIM cards for free but require you to top-up or buy a plan on the spot, that does not apply to Hello Mobile.

RICA – Hello Mobile South Africa

You can RICA your Hello Mobile SIM card in Cell C stores. Cell C's RICA policy applies.

Topping Up & Recharging – Hello Mobile South Africa

Hello Mobile SIM cards can be topped up with regular Cell C top-up vouchers sold in values of 5 ZAR to 500 ZAR in Cell C storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retail outlets (mobile shops, gas stations, and grocery stores).

To activate your voucher, dial *102*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial 102*123456#.

An alternative way to top-up is by calling 141, selecting option 1, and entering the Voucher Code.

Dial *101# to check your balance.

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Hello Mobile South Africa

Hello Mobile has six data-featured bundles, which are:

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

All-in-One Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The All-In-One Bundles are combo bundles with data, Facebook data, YouTube data, and minutes.

The following All-In-One Bundles are available by dialing *109#:

PriceDataFacebook DataYouTube DataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesValidity
5 ZAR30 MB30 MBN/A30 minutes 5 minutes1 day 
15 ZAR120 MB120 MBN/A300 minutes10 minutes14 days
35 ZAR300 MBN/A300 MB600 minutes20 minutes30 days 
95 ZAR1 GBN/A1 GB900 minutes45 minutes30 days 
195 ZAR2.5 GBN/A2.5 GB 900 minutes60 minutes 30 days 
Daily Data Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The Daily Data Bundles are data-only bundles valid until midnight (23:59/11:59 PM).

You can activate a Daily Data Bundle by dialing *109#:

PriceDataValidity
9 ZAR65 MBUntil midnight 
12 ZAR120 MBUntil midnight 
17 ZAR500 MBUntil midnight 
20 ZAR1 GBUntil midnight 
Night Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The Night Bundles are data bundles to be used only at night (1:00 (AM) – 7:00 (AM)).

The following Night Bundles are available, which you can activate by dialing *109#:

PriceDataValidity
6 ZAR250 MB1 night (1:00 – 7:00)
15 ZAR1 GB1 night (1:00 – 7:00)
7-Day Data Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The 7-Day Data Bundles are data bundles valid for a week.

You can purchase a 7-Day Data Bundle by dialing *147#:

PriceDataValidity
10 ZAR60 MB7 days 
15 ZAR150 MB7 days 
25 ZAR250 MB7 days 
45 ZAR500 MB7 days 
65 ZAR1 GB7 days 
95 ZAR2 GB7 days 
Data Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The Data Bundles are data plans with dedicated Nite Data (it is spelled that way – from 1:00 (AM) to 7:00 (AM)) for 30 days.

The following Data Bundles are available by dialing *147#:

PriceDataNite Data (1:00-7:00)Validity
80 ZAR800 MBN/A30 days 
95 ZAR1 GB1 GB30 days 
149 ZAR1.5 GB3 GB30 days 
199 ZAR2 GB4 GB30 days 
249 ZAR3 GB5 GB30 days 
299 ZAR6 GB7 GB30 days 
WhatsApp Bundles – Hello Mobile South Africa

The WhatsApp bundles are data bundles exclusively for WhatsApp.

You can get a WhatsApp Bundle by dialing *109#:

PriceDataValidity
10 ZAR300 MB7 days 
20 ZAR600 MB15 days 
29 ZAR1 GB30 days 

APN/Internet Settings – Hello Mobile South Africa

In most cases, your phone will automatically retrieve the correct Hello Mobile South Africa APN settings. If not, you can get them by dialing *147#, selecting option 9, and selecting option 1. If that does not work either, then you have to alter the APN details yourself with the details listed below:

  • Name: Hello Mobile
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile Logo

Lycamobile South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just Lycamobile, is another MVNO in South Africa. Lycamobile itself is active in 23 countries, such as nations in Europe, Africa, and Australia. They are popular with the expat community because they offer competitive rates for international calls. Lycamobile is a Cell C MVNO.

This is what you will learn about Lycamobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Lycamobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Phone Number Check
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Trace Mobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile is a Cell C MVNO, meaning Lycamobile uses the Cell C network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure. Lycamobile users can use Cell C's 4G/LTE network. To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Lycamobile, jump to the Cell C Coverage section.

Worry not; there will be a link to jump straight back to where you were after seeing Cell C's coverage.

SIM Card Price – Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile SIM cards are available at various retailersOpens in a new tab. in South Africa at variable prices. Each retailer gets to decide how much to charge for a Lycamobile SIM card, which is between 1 ZAR and 5 ZAR.

Phone Number Check – Lycamobile South Africa

You can retrieve your Lycamobile phone number by dialing *102#.

RICA – Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile SIM cards can be RICA'd by Rica any officer. Stores that sell Lycamobile SIM cards can often RICA on the spot.

Topping Up & Recharging – Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile reload vouchers, in denominations between 10 ZAR and 200 ZAR, are sold in many stores, such as Shoprite, Checkers, and any retailer with the Lycamobile sticker on its storefront. You can also top-up onlineOpens in a new tab..

Top-ups starting from 10 ZAR include free Lyca to Lyca calls, including Lycamobile numbers abroad. However, Fair-Use Policy (FUP) limits apply.

Below is an overview of the Lyca to Lyca FUP limits:

Top-Up AmountLyca to Lyca MinutesValidity
10 ZAR500 FUP7 days 
25 ZAR500 FUP14 days 
50 ZAR – 200 ZAR1000 FUP30 days 

You can activate a top-up voucher by dialing *135#.

Dial *136# to check your balance.

You can also use the Lycamobile app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Lycamobile South Africa

Lycamobile has two data-featured plans: the National & International Plans and the Data Plans.

National & International Plans – Lycamobile South Africa

The National & International Plans are combo plans with data and minutes.

The following National & International Plans are available:

PricePlanDataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesOn-Net SMSOff-Net SMSValidityActivation Code
29 ZARNational 29100 MB30 minutes30 minutes300 SMS300 SMS30 days *139*1029#
99 ZARNational 991 GB100 minutes100 minutes300 SMS300 SMS30 days *139*1099#
199 ZARAll In One S3 GB100 minutes100 (international) minutesN/A100 SMS30 days *139*2710#
329 ZARAll In One M 7 GB500 minutes500 (international) minutesN/A500 SMS30 days *139*2715#
499 ZARAll in One L10 GB700 minutes700 (international) minutesN/A700 SMS30 days *139*2720#

You can use your off-net call allowance to call 27 countries abroad, which are:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Denmark
  • France (fixed)
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Mexico
  • Morocco (fixed)
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Pakistan (fixed)
  • Poland (fixed)
  • Portugal (fixed)
  • Romania (fixed)
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey (fixed)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Data Plans – Lycamobile South Africa

The Data Plans are data-only bundles.

The following Data Plans are available:

PricePlanDataValidityActivation Code
10 ZARMini Data S75 MB30 days *139*2701#
19 ZARMini Data M200 MB30 days *139*2702#
79 ZARMini Data L1 GB30 days *139*2703#
149 ZARBig Data XS3 GB30 days *139*2704#
225 ZARMedium Data5 GB30 days *139*2730#
245 ZARBig Data S7 GB30 days *139*2705#
299 ZARBig Data M8 GB30 days *139*2706#
399 ZARBig Data L12 GB30 days *139*2707#
599 ZARBig Data XL25 GB30 days *139*2708#

APN/Internet Settings – Lycamobile South Africa

  • Name: lycamobile
  • APN: data.lycamobile.co.ca
  • Username: lmza
  • Password: plus

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Jump back to the Table of Contents

Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile Logo

Trace MobileOpens in a new tab. is a Cell C MVNO target for the youth (those between 18 and 35). However, it is known that the elderly can get Trace Mobile SIM cards too.

Trace Mobile positions itself as a lifestyle brand. You get exclusive benefitsOpens in a new tab. and rewardsOpens in a new tab. for being a Trace Mobile customer.

For short-term visitors, these benefits may not be useful (which is why I will not cover them in this section). However, the main appeal of Trace Mobile is that the majority of their plans have no expiry (as long as your SIM card is active).

This is what you will learn about Trace Mobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Trace Mobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Phone Number Check
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Virgin Mobile

Coverage – Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile is a Cell C MVNO, meaning Trace Mobile uses the Cell C network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure. It is unknown whether Trace Mobile users can use Cell C's 4G/LTE network. To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Hello Mobile, jump to the Cell C Coverage section.

Worry not; there will be a link to jump straight back to where you were after seeing Cell C's coverage.

SIM Card Price – Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile SIM cards can be ordered online for free onlineOpens in a new tab. and picked up at the head office in Johannesburg or Pargo Pick-up-PointsOpens in a new tab.. You will get 100 MB or 500 MB when you pick up your SIM card within 48 hours.

Phone Number Check – Trace Mobile

You can retrieve your Trace Mobile phone number by dialing *117177#.

RICA – Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile SIM cards can be RICA'd with the Trace Mobile app.

You have to upload the required documents to the app (proof of residence, ID, and selfie). Afterward, the app will conduct its facial recognition check. Finally, you can select a Pargo (Clicks) store to pick up your SIM card.

Topping Up & Recharging – Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile SIM cards can be topped up with regular Cell C top-up vouchers sold in values of 5 ZAR to 500 ZAR in Cell C storesOpens in a new tab. and many other retail outlets (grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations).

To activate your voucher, dial *102*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial 102*123456#.

Dial *101# or *140# to check your balance.

You can also use the Trace Mobile app to top-up, check your balance, and purchase plans (AndroidOpens in a new tab. & iOSOpens in a new tab.).

Trace Plays
© Trace Mobile

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Trace Mobile

Trace Mobile has the Mobile Price Plan, which are various plans featuring data, WhatsApp data, minutes, and SMS. Most of these plans have no expiry, meaning that you can use your allowance for as long as you want.

The following bundles are available, which can be activated on the Trace Mobile app:

PricePlanDataWhatsApp DataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
1 ZAR30 MB WhatsApp BundleN/A30 MBN/AN/ANo expiry 
5 ZARData10 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
8 ZARData20 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
15 ZARSelflove #NEVEREXPIRE1 GB250 MB10 minutes20 SMSNo expiry 
15 ZARData50 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
20 ZARData75 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
25 ZARData100 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
40 ZARData200 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
55 ZARData300 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
75 ZARData400 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
79 ZARIt's Complicated #BOOSTERPACK250 MB1 GB30 minutes50 SMS5 days
85 ZARData500 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
99 ZARSelflove #BOOSTERPACK1.5 GB500 MB20 minutes20 SMS5 days 
99 ZARData750 MBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
110 ZARData1 GBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
119 ZARIt's Complicated #NEVEREXPIRE500 MB500 MB10 minutes20 SMSNo expiry 
149 ZARPlus One #BOOSTERPACK3 GB500 MB30 minutes20 SMS5 days 
150 ZARData1.5 GBN/AN/AN/ANo expiry 
199 ZARPlus One #NEVEREXPIRE1 GB500 MB15 minutes20 SMSNo expiry 

APN/Internet Settings – Trace Mobile

  • Name: Trace Mobile
  • APN: internet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

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Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile Logo New

Virgin Mobile South AfricaOpens in a new tab., just Virgin Mobile (but also known as VMSA), is South Africa's first MVNO. Virgin Mobile is a Cell C MVNO.

This is what you will learn about Virgin Mobile:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Virgin Mobile SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Phone Number Check
* RICA
* Top-Up Methods & Options
* Packages & Plans
* APN Settings

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

Jump to: Vodacom | MTN | Cell C | Telkom | Air Mobile | Hello Mobile | Lycamobile | Trace Mobile

Coverage – Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile is a Cell C MVNO, meaning Virgin Mobile uses the Cell C network and does not have its own mobile infrastructure. Virgin Mobile users can use Cell C's 4G/LTE network. To find out what to expect in terms of coverage with Virgin Mobile, jump to the Cell C Coverage section.

Worry not; there will be a link to jump straight back to where you were after seeing Cell C's coverage.

SIM Card Price – Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile SIM cards are sold for 0.99 ZAR in Virgin Mobile storesOpens in a new tab., ShopriteOpens in a new tab., and CheckersOpens in a new tab..

Phone Number Check – Virgin Mobile South Africa

You can retrieve your Virgin Mobile phone number by dialing *103*2#.

RICA – Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile SIM cards can be RICA'd by RICA officers in ShopriteOpens in a new tab. and CheckersOpens in a new tab. stores.

As a non-South African resident, you officially need to present a letter from your employer and a letter confirming your residence.

Well, that is kind of impossible as a traveler. Proof of where you are staying in South Africa, in addition to the standard RICA-required documentation and information, should be enough with most RICA officers.

Topping Up & Recharging – Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile recharge cards are sold in Virgin Mobile storesOpens in a new tab., grocery stores, gas stations, and any other store with Flash or BluApproved devices. You can also recharge onlineOpens in a new tab..

With each recharge, in denominations between 10 ZAR and 250 ZAR, you get free data or minutes (you have to choose) and free on-net minutes.

Below is an overview of your top-up benefits:

RechargeFree Data or MinutesFree On-Net MinutesFree Benefits ValidityRecharge Validity
10 ZAR20 MB OR 10 Minutes5 minutes3 days 60 days 
20 ZAR40 MB OR 20 minutes10 minutes5 days 60 days 
30 ZAR60 MB OR 30 minutes15 minutes5 days 60 days 
50 ZAR200 MB OR  50 minutes25 minutes7 days 60 days 
100 ZAR300 MB OR 100 minutes50 minutes7 days 60 days 
250 ZAR500 MB or 150 minutes75 minutes14 days 60 days 
500 ZAR1 GB or 250 minutes 125 minutes14 days 60 days 

To activate a top-up voucher, dial *102*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is *102*123456#.

Dial *101# to check your balance.

Plans, Packages, Bundles & Offers – Virgin Mobile South Africa

Virgin Mobile has three types of data-featured bundles, which are:

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

Virgin Mobile South Africa Bundle Purchase
© Virgin Mobile South Africa
Bag It Deals – Virgin Mobile South Africa

The Bag It Deals are combo bundles with data, WhatsApp data, minutes, and SMS.

The following Bag It Deals are available, which can be activated by dialing *110#:

PriceDataWhatsApp DataLocal MinutesLocal SMSValidity
19 ZAR100 MBN/A10 minutes10 SMS7 days
39 ZAR200 MBN/A15 minutes15 SMS14 days 
49 ZAR300 MB100 MB20 minutes20 SMS30 days 
89 ZAR600 MB200 MB20 minutes20 SMS30 days 
149 ZAR1 GB200 MB40 minutes40 SMS30 days 
199 ZAR1.5 GB500 MB50 minutes50 SMS30 days 
Data Bundles – Virgin Mobile South Africa

The Data Bundles are data-only plans.

You can purchase a Data Bundle by dialing *110#:

PriceDataValidity
10 ZAR50 MB30 days 
20 ZAR100 MB30 days 
40 ZAR200 MB30 days 
50 ZAR250 MB30 days 
75 ZAR400 MB30 days 
100 ZAR600 MB30 days 
150 ZAR1 GB30 days 
200 ZAR1.5 GB30 days 
250 ZAR2 GB30 days 
600 ZAR5 GB 30 days 
WhatsApp Bundles – Virgin Mobile South Africa

The WhatsApp Bundles are data-bundles for WhatsApp only.

You can buy a WhatsApp bundle by dialing *110#:

PriceWhatsApp DataValidity
5 ZAR100 MB1 day 
25 ZAR500 MB7 days 
35 ZAR1 GB30 days 

APN/Internet Settings – Virgin Mobile South Africa

  • Name: Virgin Internet
  • APN: vdata

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

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Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in South Africa

Getting a South African 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 South Africa.

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 South Africa 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 South Africa.

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 South Africa

Getting a SIM card from Vodacom or MTN would do you well when considering a South African SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries

Visiting other countries in Africa? Check out my Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other African countries, such as

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, updated monthly! 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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