International SIM Card: Your Best Options When Traveling

Mobile Network

Traveling to another country? You can be sending a text message notifying your loved ones you have landed at your destination, but we all know that is too expensive. You want to connect to your friends online, but public Wi-Fi might be festered with hackers and malware. Thankfully, there is a better option — an international SIM card. When traveling abroad, you can use international SIM cards just like the usual: texting, calling, and surfing the internet without the hassle of dialing too many numbers.

In this article, we shall know what are the benefits of having an international SIM card.


How an International SIM Card Works

A man making a phone call
Photo by Marilia Castelli on Unsplash

When traveling abroad, data roaming is the default choice for many, not knowing that an international SIM card might be the best option. But, how does an international SIM card exactly work?

We also call an international SIM card a travel SIM card or global SIM card because it is more frequently used as a traveler’s companion. A travel SIM card is specially made to work on multiple networks in different parts of the world. It uses a local number from your origin country and mimics how your local carriers work. You can text, call, or surf the Internet the usual way. You do not need to apply for a roaming plan whatsoever just to get those services.

Just make sure you have applied for enough credit for you to use this international SIM effectively. The good thing is you don’t have to worry about additional bills when you go home. Most of the SIM card plans are available for a one-time payment with credit already bundled in it. If you want to add more, just reach out to the provider and top up your desired amount.

A friendly reminder, though: you need an unlocked phone to ensure that your international SIM card will work properly.


Best International SIM Cards

Ready to travel abroad? Here are our top picks for international SIM cards. These SIM cards will help you continue using your usual carrier services.



onesim universal sim card
Photo by OneSIM from Amazon

One of the best options for travel SIM cards is OneSIM. Their international receiving rates are mostly for free, meaning you won’t get charged when you receive a text or call from your origin country. On the other hand, sending an SMS or calls will depend on the country you are into. But these rates are still cheapo—not exceeding $1. When you want to access the internet, you can get 4G speeds with this bad boy at around $0.20/MB. Their services are available in 162 countries worldwide, so having access to telephony services will never be hard for you.

They also offer prepaid discount plans that can make your spending worth every penny. You can select data, text, or call discount plan. Just select the plan most appropriate for your needs.

More Details on Amazon



telestial data sim
Photo by Telestial from Amazon

When you want a SIM card purely dedicated to internet surfing, Telestial offers the best choices for you. Its internet offering can compete against heavyweights for its inexpensive offerings. It presents plans that charge as low as $0.01/MB.

But if you still want your conventional telephony services, you can still avail of them under their service. You will be charged for every text and minute of call you make. You can grab a travel SIM card for $19.95. This includes a $5 credit that can be used for texts, calls, or Internet services. Since this SIM focuses more on data services, it is much wiser to get a data plan from them.

More Details on Amazon


KeepGo SIM

keepgo sim
Photo by Keepgo from Amazon

If you are not that much of a traveler, KeepGo is the most suitable travel SIM for you. It may be a tad expensive than its competitors, but you can be assured of a lifetime usage of this global SIM. Just like Telestial, this travel SIM is dedicated more to data services. With this in mind, you can turn your unlocked phone into a mobile hotspot for your tablets and laptops.

Starting data allocation only costs $16.50. You can add up to 10 GB of data allocation for your SIM. Again, these allocations will last for a lifetime. There’s a catch, though: you must renew this data allocation annually to enjoy the benefit of having a lifetime data allocation.

If you want your traditional call and text features while abroad, purchase a travel SIM with such features. KeepGo emphasizes using data as your primary means of communication with your loved ones abroad.

More Details on Amazon



knowroaming sim
Photo from KnowRoaming

A cheaper SIM card gives you cheaper options for your travel plans. Knowroaming is one of the cheapest options for your overseas travels. At only $9.99, you can purchase a travel SIM card with them. Standard call and text rates are also cheap. This heavily depends on the country you are roaming in, but you can be assured of less than one dollar rates for these services. Data usage rates are also cheap, and there are many data plans for your travel needs.

Currently, they don’t offer any overseas call and text plans. But their data offers are riveting enough for your overseas travels. They offer global unlimited data plans and large data allocations for specific locations. You can get an unlimited data plan for as low as $4 per day valid anywhere around the globe. That is a great deal if you are up for an all-day journey.

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gigsky sim
Photo by Gigsky from Amazon

If you don’t have a SIM card slot on your phone, it probably uses an eSIM card. It is basically a SIM card that is already installed on your phone without the need to poke that little hole that houses your SIM card or microSD card. When you are still finding the perfect global eSIM for you, GigSky offers just that. Just download their app, apply for an appropriate data plan, and you are good to go. But if you want to try their services without an eSIM, they have a traditional SIM card being sold on Amazon. This will enable you to try their data services for cheaps.

Take note that GigSky primarily offers data services. Traditional calls and texts are not available in their plans. Since this heavily relies on the internet, you must use messaging apps when you want to communicate with your friends at home.

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Why Avail of an International SIM Card

Now that you know some of the best international SIM cards, some of you may ask: why should you even get an international SIM card? There are many reasons why you should avail of such kind of SIM card.


Most Affordable Option

International SIM cards offer more affordable options for your telephony services. Incoming texts and calls usually go for free while outgoing calls and texts will only cost you less than a dollar. You can even choose to subscribe to their plan offerings. This will still cost less compared to other telephony services. Mobile data rates are also less stressful with just at least 50 cents per megabyte (MB).


No Need for Local Registration

Yes, you can buy a local SIM card in some countries, but some other countries would ask for more information before purchasing a local SIM card. This will require SIM card registration at your destination. For example, most of the Japanese networks will ask for your long-term home address in their country. This is a hassle especially when you are just staying for days. Therefore, an international SIM card is more practical in these situations. This will not require any registration at your destination. Plus, some of these travel SIMs can be used just like your local number. It’s because these SIM cards have a local US number in them. No need to dial international codes when using these travel SIMs.



If you’re a true blue jet-setter, an international SIM card is more practical. A local SIM card will only work in a particular country; a travel SIM card will run in any country as long as you are using it and covered by the global carrier. Just make sure that you are using it at least once a year. Otherwise, your travel SIM card might be deactivated by the network.


Difference Between Your Carrier and International SIM Card

We now need to know the difference between your local carrier’s SIM card and an international SIM card. What are some of the key differences between your carrier’s SIM card and a travel SIM card?

Local SIM card International SIM card
Can only be used in a particular country Can be used anywhere in the world
Needs data roaming activation No need for roaming activation
Can be used on a locked or unlocked phone  Can only be used on an unlocked phone
Internet speeds usually limited to 2G when roaming  Internet speeds can reach 4G speeds

As you can see, some key differences can affect your overall user experience when using these SIMs. Yes, you can use your local carrier’s SIM abroad, but it comes with a lot of paperwork before using this SIM card. You’ll need to notify your carrier about your overseas travels. Roaming plans are also necessary since roaming without a plan will make your bill go like a skyscraper.

But in all fairness, local SIMs cards eliminate the hassle of having multiple SIM cards whenever you are traveling abroad. It also lets you maintain that same number as yours. You won’t need to remind your loved ones that you need to call or text this particular number when you are overseas.

Which has better benefits, you ask? That will depend on your preference. If you like the convenience of maintaining your old number and don’t mind the hefty expenses behind it, you may stay on your local carrier. But if you like to save up some more for your next travel goals, a travel SIM card is the more appropriate choice for you.


Data Roaming vs. International SIM Card: Which Is Better?

What Is Mobile Hotspot and How to Use It without Data
Photo by tonktiti on Adobe Stock Photo

You might easily confuse an international SIM card with data roaming but there is a huge difference between the two. Both help you on maintaining your basic telephony services. But which is more beneficial in the end?

Data roaming basically lets you use your carrier’s network without buying another SIM card. Your local carrier will connect to a partner network at your destination.  But get ready to hold on to your wallets. Data roaming will usually cost you around $2.05 per megabyte (MB). Subscribing to a roaming plan will also cost you tons of cash. For instance, most of the major carriers will charge you around $10 per day or $70 per month. You are paying a costly due just to use the most basic services on your phone. That feels unfair especially when there’s public Wi-Fi around.

Meanwhile, international SIM cards will only require an unlocked phone to work. You can purchase either a dual SIM phone or an unlocked phone to make your global SIM work. You may find that as an additional expense but it’s truly worth it. There are two options when availing of an unlocked phone. You can either buy a cheap one online or rent it with an international SIM card dealer. This will enable you to save more: up to $600 per month. You can use that saved money to buy a midrange unlocked phone or get that much-deserved rest.



International SIM cards are still less known today. Some of you might fear that these services are all sketchy and more expensive compared to your carriers. It is not. Travel SIMs are much more practical especially if you are trying to travel on a budget. With low-cost calls, texts, and internet services, you can never go wrong with an international SIM card. Plus, the fact that you can maintain these SIMs for life is a great way of saving money on your travel expenses. Now, you can get that luxurious vacation without worrying too much about extra spending, communications included.