The 10 Best International SIM Cards for Frequent Travelers

Regardless of the nature of your travel, a practical and feasible means of communication needs to be established in most cases. So the moment you step out of the airport in a completely new country you have one less thing to worry about. While there are many choices; international SIM cards pan out to be the cream of the crop.

Which International SIM Card Is The Best? There is a full spectrum of international SIM cards to choose from for your traveling needs. This article weighs in all the relative factors such as data speed, calls, credit validity, price, coverage, etc., to discern which the best is amongst numerous. Some of the best international SIM cards that we will be discussing in this article are listed below.

Long gone are those times when international roaming service used to be the only method of communication when you traveled abroad. The charges can be exorbitant, which may leave in a ‘bill shock’ as many would say.

What are the best international SIM cards?

Naturally, there is a broad spectrum of international SIM cards available in the market to choose from. In that situation how to decide which one is the best? The criteria revolve around which SIM has the best to offer with regards to coverage, the number of MBs for browsing the internet, SMS packages, and, most importantly, pricing (all prices listed in this article will be in US Dollars).

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OneSIM

Price: Around $40.00

OneSim is the product of US telecommunication carrier Belmont Telecom. It comes in three different travel plans – Universal, Expedition, and Europe & More.

Universal

The Universal SIM card is usually priced at $39.95, with coverage across more than 200 countries. Due to high 4G speeds in over 50 countries worldwide and free incoming calls from 130 countries, this sets out to be the best choice if you are traveling from one country to another.

Europe & More

If you are confined to only one continent, that is Europe, Europe & More will be a better choice for you. The difference from Universal is that it does not have top 4G speeds and only works in 70 countries. In that case, it would not be a surprise to know that the price is slightly lower at just $19.95. Nevertheless, it does come with an advantage of low calling rates to North America and direct dial calls from 45 countries.

Expedition

Lastly, the Expedition SIM card costs $34.95 and is similar to Europe & More. It does not give you high 4G speeds but gets you covered in over 200 countries. While the universal remains better for mobile devices, this card is well adjusted for tablets, laptops, or other non-smartphone devices.

Calls, texts, and data

Generally, 4G service is available in more than 50 countries. Data packages vary according to the choice of package and the place you are traveling to.

You can enjoy free incoming calls from over 160 countries. The outgoing calls start from $0.10 per minute. The WI-FI calling option, which starts at $0.01 per minute, is another option to save more calling minutes.

Plans, add-ons and extra benefits

All plans come with two numbers for the customers; a primary Estonian/European (+372) number, and the other from the USA, Canada, UK, or Australia. You can also purchase numbers for other 60 plus countries called PEN (personal extra numbers).

This is a 3-in-1 SIM card that has perforated outlines enabling you to choose the size which fits your device best. It also comes with a perk of $10 credit inclusive of voice, texts, and data. It is functional in all unlocked GSM devices. One of the packages on this SIM card includes discount Talk, Text, and Data Packages, which is precisely what the name implies – for you to save more on SMS, calls, and data.

Some of the add-ons with this SIM card include the VolP app (Voice over Internet Protocol), around the clock technical support, voicemail service, accumulation of miles with several frequent flier programs, and lastly, collaboration with Viber and Skype to make free calls via Wi-Fi, that is whenever it is available.

Check out my in-depth analysis of OneSimCard.

To buy: On Amazon or OneSimCard

WorldSIM

Price: Around $30.00

WorldSIM claims to offer unparalleled deals and perfect network coverages across more than 175 countries. It also claims that it will help you cut your roaming costs by 95%.

Calls, texts, and data

Prices for the calls, texts, and data solely depend on the country you are using the plan in and the country you are contacting. But for casual insight outgoing calls can starting at $0.18 per minute while the incoming calls remain free. Texts messaging starts at $0.15, while the data costs $0.02 for every 100KB.

Some other data packages are also available that start from $13.50 for 500 MB, which is valid for a week, depending on your personal preference and destination. There is also the option of buying data-only bundles (up to 4GB) or voice plus data bundles functional in more than 100 different countries, valid up to 30 days. This is a cheaper option than buying and paying for data as you go. The prices may vary depending on which country you purchase them from.

Plans, add-ons and extra benefits

These SIM cards are initially free; you are given the option to top up credit in the increments of $30, $45, $75, and $150, which remains valid for one year. The $27 or more credit comes with one to six months of free global Wi-Fi, which can be accessed through the WorldSIM app and local hotspots.

Similar to OneSim, all plans come with a free UK (+44) and a USA (+1) mobile number. You can add more local numbers for an additional charge of $2.50 each. These numbers can be added using the Virtual Numbers service. The same service can be used to roam on your current mobile number without incurring any roaming charges.

The SIM card has triple perforated outlines, so it will fit all three slots; standard, micro, and nano. The SIM tends to expire if there is little to no activity for a year.

To buy: On Amazon

KeepGo

Price: Around $50.00

KeepGo offers two types of SIM card solutions for its users – a Smartwatch data SIM card and a Lifetime data SIM card.

Lifetime Data SIM Card

The Lifetime data SIM card is a triple punched SIM compatible with all unlocked GSM phones. This SIM is dedicated to data services only, henceforth no texts or calls can be made. For 1GB of data, it will cost you $49. Data plans do not vary much from country to country when it comes to KeepGo. The range is from 500MB ($14) to 10GB ($165). Quick online data refills also include plans like 1GB ($26), 3GB ($61), and 5GB ($88).

Smartwatch Data SIM Card

The Smartwatch data SIM card is similar in function to the Lifetime SIM card but is fashioned in a way to be compatible with your smartwatch. Costing $10 for 5MB of data, this plan connects you to 2G and 3G networks in more than 110 countries.

Plans, add-ons and extra benefits

It should be noted that all data plans expire a year later, but if you refill the time plan will reset itself for another year from the moment you replenish your data.

The activation process of KeepGo is straightforward. You only have to slide it into your device and change the APN settings according to the instruction given. As mentioned above, it is compatible with all unlocked GSM devices, including Apple, Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Sony, and LG.

To buy: On Amazon

GigSky

Price: Around $10.00

Contrary to most of the SIM cards mentioned above, the model of GigSky is slightly different, given that it is mainly used for accessing the web. Therefore, it can be called a data-only international SIM card. That being said, messaging and calls cannot be made without downloading VoIP apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger.

The card can be purchased for around $10.00, and the setting up procedure is quite user-friendly and straightforward. All that is required is for you to insert the SIM into your device, download the GigSky app, and it will steer you from there. It will ask you to configure, activate, and finally purchase a data plan.

Calls, texts, and data

GigSky provides two types of data that are available from 30MB to 5GB. However, for some countries, the plan only goes up to 1GB or even less. These two types of data are regional plans that are eligible for destinations like Europe, North America, Asia, etc.; while the non-regional plan applies to individual countries.

Pricing of the data plans your purchase is dependent on the destinations. In countries like Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and North America, data up to 5GB can be purchased for $50, valid for 30 days. On the other hand, in countries like the Middle East or Africa, you can only get 1GB of data for the same price.

Plans, add-ons and extra benefits

Although the network service is not limited to any device and is available to all users; iPad users who use an Apple SIM benefit more than anyone else. The SIM works in over 180 countries for iPad Apple SIM users, whereas for Android, iPhone, and Windows users, the window stretches out to 90 countries as of August 2017.

The pay as you go data-only SIM is triple cut, which is suitable for all three SIM slots; standard, micro, and nano.

A bonus feature of GigSky is that it offers a corporate plan. This lets companies manage their accounts and keep tabs on their data usage.

To buy: On Amazon

KnowRoaming

Price: Around $30.00

The Canadian company, KnowRoaming, has a unique attitude towards international SIM cards. Instead of offering a SIM card, they give you a sticker to attach to your existing SIM. This basically changes your home SIM into a travel SIM. Like every other SIM card, the prerequisite is for the phone to be unlocked. The sticker will activate on its own when you are traveling overseas and turn off on its own once you are back home.

To get the SIM up and running, you will be required to install the KnowRoaming app and register an account with complete details. Upon activation, you will receive a $10 credit.

Calls, texts, and data

Unlimited data plans are available in more than 125 countries, and they start at $7.99 per day. If you want to opt for pay as you go data, the charges vary from country to country. However, for a casual insight, it should be acknowledged that the charge starts at $0.15MB. Outbound text messages to any country start at $0.14 per text message. Whereas incoming texts are free. Phone calls start at $0.13 per minute, but it again depends on what type of phone (landline or mobile) and where you are calling.

Plans, add-ons and extra benefits

KnowRoaming offers a US (+1) number free of charge with service. This way, the locals who will call you will not need to pay international roaming rates. Additional numbers from other countries can also be added for around $3 to $12.50 per month. It also offers a call forwarding service (not texts) by the name of ‘Reach Me.’ However, there is a cost involved in that, depending on the home country. It usually ranges from $3 to $14 per month. If you are in the US, it will be free.

Another bonus characteristic of KnowRoaming to be noted is that it offers free Whatsapp data valid for 30 days with any credit purchase through the app.

KnowRoaming is compatible with primary unlocked iPhone (5 and latest), Android phones (4.0 and latest), Windows mobile phones, as well as iPads and Android tablets. Furthermore, it is also compatible with all GSM devices but not CDMA phones from Verizon or Sprint.

The last thing to note about KnowRoam Sim card is that the credit will expire if you do not add to it for 9 months.

To buy: On Amazon

Telestial

Price: Around $20.00

Telestial offers a variety of travel solutions, which include international SIM cards, travel data, and satellite phones. It promises to provide quality low-cost coverage across 200 countries. The three cut SIM is compatible with all SIM slots (standard, micro, nano) in all unlocked GSM phones and devices.

Upon activation, the SIM comes with a $10 credit. World Data Plans start at $0.10 per MB and offer coverage in more than 110 countries. Through the web portal and Telestial app, you can top up credit and also monitor your data consumption.

Telestial confirms that the service is entirely prepaid, and there are no hidden charges or contracts, and the SIM card does not expire till 2 years after your last use.

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To buy: On Amazon

Orange

Orange is Europe’s best internet network provider. It has become the preferred choice of many tourists because its international SIM card comes with some of the best offers at affordable pricing. This SIM card gives the liberty to make calls, send texts, and browse not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world. So you don’t have to worry about enabling expensive roaming services. The features include:

  • Price: Around $50.00
  • Data: 20GB of the internet of 4G data – data tethering and use in hotspots allowed.
  • Calls: 2 hours to make calls worldwide from Europe.
  • SMS: 1000 text messages from Europe to worldwide.
  • Validity: Credit valid for 14 days after first use (first call, text, or internet connection).
  • Coverage: Covers 30 countries in the European Union, including Germany, Estonia, and Hungary.

The triple cut SIM card (standard/micro/nano) requires no activation and works on an unlocked device. It also gives you the convenience to top up your SIM card online on the Orange website with international credit cards when you have exhausted your data, calls, and SMS.

The only drawback perhaps is there is no standard tech support. If any, it is through the French call center.

To buy: On Amazon

Three

Three works as a subsidiary of CK Hutchinson Holdings. It is the fastest-growing network that provides both 3G and 4G services and spreads across 97% of the UK population. The 4G services enable the users to make clear voice calls and browse swiftly through the internet in both urban and remote areas. The features include:

  • Price: Around $30.00
  • Data: 12 GB of the internet of 3G and 4G data to be used over 30 days – data tethering, personal hotspot, and video streaming not allowed.
  • Calls: Preloaded unlimited voice minutes.
  • SMS: Unlimited.
  • Validity: 1-month contract.
  • Coverage: Covers 71 destinations; Europe, including Italy, France, Spain & Germany, USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iceland, Israel, Switzerland, South America, and many more.

There is no activation or personal ID required for registration purposes. The trio SIM, which is suitable for all unlocked phones, only needs to be plugged, and it is good to work. If you run out of data, you can top up with a voucher from an online reseller. To check your preloaded bundle balance from the United States, you can call the hotline number of Three UK customer service, which is 011 44 7782 333 333.

The only drawback to this SIM card is that the calls and SMS are only available within Europe.

To buy: On Amazon

TrueMove H

TrueMove H is a Thailand based telecommunication service. It holds the second position of being the largest operator in the country after AIS. The features include:

  • Price: Around $40.00
  • Data: 6GB mobile data at full speed lasting for 15 days nonstop.
  • Validity: 15 days.
  • Coverage: 51 Asian countries, Europe destinations, including Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Ghana, Ukraine, New Zealand, and Australia.

This trio SIM is ready to use – plugin and turn on mobile and roaming data on your unlocked phone. You don’t need to set up APN except if you are an IOS user. There is no inconvenience with the firewall in China; so websites like Google and Facebook can be used without a VPN. However, the phone must have an LTE Band of 39, 40, and 41, which is not typical for an American or Canadian phone model.

The package is also not inclusive of calls, receiving calls, and sending text messages. For that, the user is required to top up additional credit. The drawback to this SIM card is that the data does not work in Thailand.

To buy: On Amazon

AIS

AIS stands out to be the largest telecommunication company in Thailand, responsible for 40.1 million subscribers. The network has the best coverage across the country and operates 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.

  • Price: Around $40.00
  • Data: 4GB of internet
  • Validity: 15 days
  • Coverage: Works all over the world including Europe, Russia, Middle East, North/South America

The SIM can be easily activated without any prerequisite of personal ID. Its trio format SIM is befitting to all cellphones. In addition to that, it also enables data tethering and personal hotspot, which means you can share the data.

This particular SIM card is ideal for those on a gap year. It is a preferred choice for many backpackers who plan to go to the Far East – Japan, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, etc. However, it does not work in Thailand, and you will need to top up the credit as it is used as a roaming SIM for the local people living there.

To buy: On Amazon

Benefits of International SIM Cards

International SIM cards are viable and are not limited to any particular country. In fact, they work across numerous countries, though for a price depending on your choice of cellular plans. Discussed below is a thorough comparison between some of the best international SIMs out there.

Whether you are traveling for business purposes to multiple countries or you are just a globetrotter, an international SIM card is the most practical choice. It eradicates from the equation the unnecessary trips to the shop to buy local SIM every time you step into a new country.

International SIM cards do not restrict themselves to any expiration date. You can always use them whenever you need them. Whether you are in a travel loop or journey intermittently, you can still pick up your SIM card from where you left off.

Few Things to Consider Before Choosing an International SIM Card

There are few tidbits to keep in mind before you head onto your trips abroad.

Ensure Your Device is Unlocked

For the international SIM card to work on your mobile device, you must ensure prior that your device is not locked to your carrier’s network. A travel SIM card will only work on unlocked devices.

If for some reason that matter cannot be addressed, you may have to use the travel plan your carrier offers instead of travel SIM cards.

Nevertheless, every network in the US has an unlocking policy that comes along with specific eligibility prerequisites. This could be something like no unpaid bills or a certain number of days on the network. It is advised that you start the unlocking process before time as it can take weeks for the device to be officially unlocked. However, every country has a different policy, so you may have to reach out to your provider to sort this out.

GSM OR CDMA

If circumstances are such that you cannot unlock your device or do not wish to unlock your device, you have two options. One is to pick your carrier’s international plan or buy a second phone. Whatever you choose, be assured that the device is GSM compatible for the SIM to work. The other type of mobile network is CDMA, besides GSM.

Carriers like Sprint and Verizon use CDMA while GSM is used by the rest of the world.

Sure, one must think that local SIM cards would be the best pick since it would not incur outrageous roaming charges and will come with modest SMS packages, calls, and data. Withal, it comes with its cons. Buying a local SIM is a hassle on its own. It is a fuss when you step out of the airport and want to call Uber or book a hotel right away. Before doing anything else, you have to locate a local shop to buy a SIM. It gets even more stressful in countries where you face a language barrier.

Local SIM Cards or International SIM Cards?

After all the reviewing one must mull over this question. For a lot of people buying local SIM are a cheaper option for getting affordable calls, texts, and data. It gives the feel of a more local life, which can be refreshing from time to time. However, for some, this option is full of hassle and stress, especially when you have to interact with a layman whose language you do not understand.

So I guess it really boils down to your personal preference and the nature of your travel. Local SIMS can be beneficial if you plan on staying at a destination for a more extended period. For instance, local SIMS are befitting for someone who is going to a country for an exchange program or plans on teaching in some other country for a year.

That being said, international SIM cards make more sense if your trip is shorter, like a business trip or fast-paced leisure trip.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money 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!

Book Your Flight

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices for your preferred destination drops.

Book Your Accommodation

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the currency of your destination for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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