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2 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in the Philippines: Buying Guide

The Philippines is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia. As it consists of many islands, more than 7600, you can find the coast easily and enjoy your time at the beach. Moreover, Filipinos are friendly, and the cost of living is relatively cheap when compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

Although prices are low in the Philippines, roaming with your provider can be expensive if you do not watch out. That is why many travelers want to buy a Filipino SIM card when exploring the Philippines. That way, they can pay local rates instead of coming back home with an expensive roaming bill. In this article, I will explore the phone options you have in this lovely country. Let’s go.

Telecom Providers in the Philippines  

The Philippines has two telecom providers: Globe and SMART. Globe has the most subscribers with more than 74 million subscribers, while SMART has more than 60 million subscribers. Normally, the largest provider has the best coverage or speeds. In the case of the Philippines, however, that is not the case. Let me explain.

Coverage and speed with both Globe and SMART are bad. Like really bad. Various speed tests even claim that the Philippines has one of the slowest mobile internet speeds in the world. When I was in the Philippines in 2015, I went with Globe because my employer bought a Globe SIM card for me. My connection and speeds were awful, almost embarrassing. Apparently, SMART is not much better.

It is so bad that many locals have a SIM card from both Globe and SMART so that they can pick the “best” one depending on the area they are in. I cannot tell you what SIM works the best in a specific area, but you could ask a local what provider they use before buying a card. Of course, you should not ask a Globe or SMART salesperson, as they will say their provider is the best.

So what SIM card should you buy when visiting the Philippines? If you want to buy a SIM card in the Philippines, I would recommend going with both Smart and Globe is you are traveling throughout the country. If you are staying in one area, ask a few locals what SIM card they use in that area and take their advice. That way, you will get the “best” experience.

2G coverage is good for both providers. However, it is useless for actual data usege. Mainly because 2G is slow and because of network congestion. 3G coverage is alright, but speeds may be subpar. 4G/LTE is not nationwide yet (I am not sure if 4G was even a thing in the Philippines back in 2015. I do know that if it was, I did not experience it).

In 2015, one did not need to show their ID to buy a SIM card. That changed from 2018, meaning that you need to bring your passport when buying a Filipino SIM card.

With that out of the way, let’s see what both providers have to offer to us.

Globe

Globe Logo

Globe is the largest telecom provider in the Philippines. It offers some unique deals and specials to their customers. The Traveler SIM card is free (at select international airports and on Philippine Airlines flights) for travelers. It comes with 300 MB and unlimited calls to Globe numbers, all valid for a day. The following 2 packages can be added:

  • 350 PHP: 4GB, unlimited on-net calls, and unlimited all-net SMS for 7 days
  • 700 PHP: 8 GB, unlimited on-net calls, and unlimited all-net SMS for 15 days

Not interest in a tourist SIM card and want to live like a local? You can buy a standard Globe SIM card for 40 PHP everywhere around the Philippines (make sure the SIM card is 4G-enabled, as some stores may sell older cards).

All freshly bought SIM cards come with 70 MB to be used within 7 days.

The data packages are called GoSURF with a number. The number represents the price in PHP.

  • GoSURF15: 100 MB for 2 days
  • GoSURF50: 1 GB for 3 days
  • GoSURF299: 2 GB for 30 days
  • GoSURF599: 5 GB for 30 days
  • GoSURF999: 10 GB for 30 days

All GoSURF packages come with unlimited SMS.

Want minutes as well? Consider the GoSAKTO packages that include unlimited minutes to Globe numbers in select plans. You also get unlimited SMS to all Filipino networks. Just like GoSURF, the numbers represent the price.

  • GoSAKTO70: 1 GB
  • GoSAKTO90: 2 GB
  • GoSAKTO120: 1 GB with unlimited on-net minutes
  • GoSAKTO140: 2 GB with unlimited on-net minutes

SMART

Smart Logo

SMART is the other Filipino provider. Just like Globe, they hand out tourist SIM cards for free at international airports and on select Cebu Pacific flights. If you buy a SIM card in town, you will pay 40 PHP, which will get you 300 MB instantly.

The following data packages are available. Just like with Globe, the numbers represent the price for the package:

  • BigBytes 5: 15 MB for 1 day
  • BigBytes 10: 40 MB for 1 day
  • BigBytes 15: 40 MB for 2 days
  • BigBytes 30: 100 MB for 1 day
  • GigaSurf 50: 1 GB for 3 days
  • GigaSurf 99 1.5 GB for 7 days
  • GigaSurf 299: 2 GB for 30 days
  • GigaSurf 599: 5 GB for 30 days
  • GigaSurf 899: 8 GB for 30 days

SMART also offers packages that come with bonus data, 1 GB, for select social media apps or games, like Instagram, Facebook, Clash Royale, and Clash of Clans. These GIGA plans start from 50 PHP with at least 1 GB to 399 PHP with max. 8 GB, valid for 3 days to 30 days. The most expensive plan for the games packages costs 499 PHP with 8 GB and 1 GB of game data, also valid for 30 days.

SMART has combo packages, which include data, voice, and SMS. As there are so many, I will mention the most expensive ones for each category. You can find the prices on the SMART website.

  • UCT 350 – 50 PHP: 1 GB, free WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, unlimited on-net calls, and unlimited SMS to all Filipino networks, all valid for 30 days
  • All Out Surf 99 – 99 PHP: 1 GB, 100 MB for Facebook, 100 on-net minutes, and unlimited SMS to all Filipino networks, all valid for 7 days
  • Giga+ – 649 PHP: 8 GB, 1 GB a day for YouTube and a few other video-streaming sites, unlimited on-net minutes, and unlimited SMS to all Filipino networks, all valid for 30 days
  • Giga All-IN 849 – 849 PHP: 8 GB, 1 GB a day for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and a few other video-streaming sites, unlimited minutes and SMS to all Filipino networks, all valid for 30 days

The SMART Bro packages are perhaps the most interesting out there. You get 800 MB per day extending to the validity of the package. For example, SurfMax 200 (PHP) is valid for 5 days. As you get 800 MB per day, you can use max. 4000 MB with this plan.

  • SurfMax 50: 1 day (max. 800 MB)
  • SurfMax 85: 2 days (max. 1600 MB)
  • SurfMax 200: 5 days (max. 4000 MB)
  • SurfMax 250: 7 days (max. 5600 MB)
  • SurfMax 500: 15 days (max. 12000 MB)
  • SurfMax 995: 30 days (max. 24000 MB)

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Philipines

Being redone.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Philippines

Getting a SIM card from both Globe and Smart would do you well when considering Filipino SIM cards.

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.

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