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Are you somebody who likes to travel a lot? If so, you might know about eSIM cards, and if not then you definitely should. Basically, eSIM stands for embedded sim which is a card that, unlike a regular sim card, is not a physical item and can't be taken out of the phone. Having a digital version of your SIM card is useful since it'll allow you to keep the same phone number and connect to networks no matter where you are. Many eSIMs are available around the world and are compatible with most phones, and it's common for frequent travelers or nomads to use them.
There are several benefits to having an eSIM card, especially if you're frequently on the go. For example, eSIM cards make it very easy to change wireless providers either permanently or temporarily, they allow you to have more than one SIM, and they actually take up less space on your phone compared to a traditional SIM card. eSIMs are also a cheaper option overall since you won't have to pay for a physical sim card or expensive data plans, you can't lose them, and you won't have to wait for a new one to arrive in the mail every time that you want to switch carriers.
With your newfound freedom of being able to change network providers whenever you want to, you'll find that it's much easier to do all sorts of things during your vacation. Using your eSIM you can easily keep in contact with friends and family back home, find cool places to visit or book a Bounce luggage storage spot.
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Best eSIM cards for trips to Europe
If you aren't from Europe you most likely won't be able to use your existing phone plan when you're traveling abroad here. Instead of paying extra for international service plans, eSIM cards will let you still make phone calls, answer emails, or use the internet in Europe. You'll notice that phone coverage will vary throughout the country so make sure that you choose a card and plan that works for where you'll be staying. Here are a few solid options that might work for you.
SMART COMFORT x eSIM
This is one of the least expensive eSIM service plans available in Europe and it'll cost you only $17.90. Included in the eSIM cost you'll get 5GB of data and a service speed of 4G/LTE, as well as a credit validity for 30 days. It's important to be aware that this plan does not include text or calls so it's best suited to users who can chat with friends via the internet or don't need to make any calls during the trip. This eSIM is compatible with any cell phone that can use eSIM cards.
ORANGE HOLIDAY ZEN eSIM
For just $29.90 you can explore Europe with 8GB of data and 4G/LTE internet speed. Your credit validity will last for 14 days and data tethering is available if needed, plus the eSIM can work on a variety of devices like phones as well as tablets, your apple watch, and even hotspots. As for texting and calling, you can enjoy unlimited use within Europe as well as 30 minutes of calls and 200 texts outside of the country. The plan also comes with a French phone number.
The main selling point of Holafly eSIM cards is definitely flexibility and you can tailor it to match your needs. Prices range from just $19 for 5 days up to $99 for 90 days, and it includes unlimited data. You can choose between plans that work across Europe or ones that are specific to a country, but beware that data tethering, calling, and texting aren't included.
Best eSIM cards for trips to the United States
There are so many incredible things to see in the United States, and if you get the chance to explore the country you'll never get bored. By using an eSIM card you won't have to put the rest of your life on hold and can keep in contact with loved ones or clients from around the world. There are quite a few cards to choose from, like the ones listed below.
Since your primary carrier will probably have roaming charges when you're visiting a different country it can be much cheaper to use an eSIM card. Nomad's plan is very affordable at just $9.90 and includes 1GB of data, although texts and calls aren't included. It's a great choice for travelers who just need a bit of data on their trip and you'll have a 30 day credit validity.
SimOptions is one of the biggest companies for eSIM cards, and they have some great options to help you avoid paying roaming fees. This option and the others are data plans meaning that you'll not be able to make calls or texts, but you can enjoy 6GB of data. The plan costs only $17.90 and the credit validity lasts for 10 days.
3 HONG KONG
This network provider is a great choice when you're searching for eSIM plans in the United States. For just $34.90 you'll get 20GB of data and a 30 day credit validity. Like the ones written above, you won't be able to text or call with this particular plan. If you're planning to use the internet a lot it's a very good choice.
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Best eSIM cards for trips to Australia
If Australia is your destination then eSIM cards will definitely come in handy for you. Using the latest eSIM technology you'll have fast and reliable access to the internet, text and phone people around the globe, and save money by eliminating those pesky roaming fees while exploring Australia. On top of that, the whole process to activate an eSIM card is simple and can be done completely online. Here are a couple of providers to consider when traveling to Australia.
With Felix, you can pay just $17.50 per month and receive unlimited calls and texts in the nation as well as unlimited data with a speed of up to 20 Mbps. Since the plan renews every month it's great for people spending 30 days or more in Australia, and for an extra $20 you can enjoy international roaming in 40 different countries without having to change wireless carriers.
Check out Optus the next time you're visiting Australia. Their virtual sim cards cost $30 for 28 days and they offer 40GB of data plus unlimited calling and texting. If you recharge your plan before it runs out the remaining days will roll over so you won't be missing out on any time that you're paying for.
Amaysim is convenient and affordable with unlimited calls and texts as well as 16GB of data available for only $20. The plan expires in 28 days and auto renews after that time, and as long as you stay on that plan you can take advantage of unlimited data banking.
Best eSIM cards for trips to Asia
Are you planning an exciting trip to Asia? When traveling internationally to Asia it'll be really useful to have an eSIM card which will basically allow you to use your phone like normal without having to pay for expensive plans or switching phones. Once you purchase embedded SIM cards you can set them all up online without having to fill out any forms, and you can even buy one while you're on vacation away from home. There are a few different companies that offer eSIM cards and each one is a little different, so keep reading to learn a bit more about the ones available in Asia.
With your Airalo eSIM enabled you'll be able to use a set amount of data in Asia, although you won't be able to text or call. The good news is that you can choose from a range of plans with prices varying between $5 for 1GB of data that is valid for 7 days, to bigger plans of 100GB of data for 180 days costing $185.
Holafly's Asia plans can give you access to cellular data and can be used on any eSIM compatible phone. Currently, you can choose between a plan of 6GB for 15 days at $44, or 10GB for 30 days at $54. Now you won't have to worry about roaming costs or trying to find an internet connection while you're abroad.
Once you pick the right plan for you, Nomad sends you a QR code that you can activate from anywhere. Depending on what your needs are you can choose either 1GB for 7 days costing $6, a 30 day plan of 3GB for $15, or 5GB for 30 days at $17.
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A traditional travel SIM card vs an international eSIM card
When you're traveling to a new country and want to use your smartphone you'll have a few options; buying a travel SIM card or an international eSIM card.
- Traditional travel SIM cards can help you to connect to a mobile network in your new destination, and they often work in multiple countries depending on which one you buy.
- Since they are a physical sim card, you'll need to take your regular card out of the physical SIM tray to put the new SIM card in and if you aren't careful you could lose the removable SIM card.
- You'll notice that, in order to connect to a local carrier, you're given new phone numbers while using a physical SIM card from another country.
- Purchasing physical SIM cards also means that you'll need to order one beforehand and wait for it to arrive, which can require extra planning and lead to complications.
The alternative to buying a removable SIM card is the international eSIM. Here are a few reasons to consider this option.
- eSIM devices are often cheaper and easier to use than buying a physical card.
- Instead of having to replace your main SIM card, you can just activate an eSIM online or use whatever activation method it requires and you're ready to go. Once you're through the simple activation process, which often involves using your phone's camera to scan a QR code or looking through the phone settings, you'll easily be able to connect to a local carrier's network.
- If you have a dual sim phone then you won't even have to do anything with the physical SIM card slot meaning that you still have access to all of your contacts and regular phone numbers, although only one can be used at a time and they are reserved to one device.
- They take up less space than regular SIM cards, but you'll need to make sure that you have an eSIM compatible phone in order to use one. Today many phone manufacturers have eSIM support. If you have a new iPhone past the iPhone XS Max then it should support eSIM, but any previous iPhone models later than the iPhone XR might not. Plenty of other carriers support eSIM technology including Samsung Galaxy cell phones, the Google Pixel and Motorola Razr. Generally, all recent smartphones support eSIM adoption.
Safest ways to purchase a travel SIM card
If you're interested in a travel SIM card then you'll need to buy your card before your trip or once you arrive. Buying a card beforehand can save you the hassle of tracking one down in a new country or having to deal with a language barrier, just make sure that you give yourself plenty of time for it to arrive before you leave. These cards can be bought through Amazon, although this comes with the added risk of the card not being loaded, being already activated, or just faulty. If you want to be safe you can pay a bit extra and buy from a trusted travel SIM company like OneSIMCard, Flexiroam, GigSky, Keepgo, WorldSim, or KnowRoaming.
Alternatively, you can buy a physical SIM card from a provider at your destination which will require some research and you'll need to rely on the local wi-fi or wireless service until you find one. Where to buy one can vary depending on the country and you should be aware that some places have restrictions for foreigners. To find a travel card you can look around the airport as there are often tourist SIM cards for sale, although they will be expensive. If you don't see any there you'll need to find a local carrier that offers cellular service.
Top traditional travel SIM card providers
- Flexiroam: With over 700 offers to choose from and coverage in 167 countries you'll definitely be able to find a plan that works for you with Flexiroam. Their prices per GB range from $2.00 to $40.00 and are offered for a variety of days, and they also have unlimited data and global plans available.
- Maya Mobile: The Maya Mobile network is available in 192 countries around the world and there are more than 800 plans to suit your needs. Although their prices can range from $1.60 to $336.00 per GB, they are bound to have a plan for where you're traveling to. Their secure services are also available for global and unlimited data plans if that is what you need.
Best phone carriers for travelers
As you can see there are plenty of choices when it comes to finding a travel SIM or eSIM card, but before you buy anything you should check to see if your own phone provider offers international coverage.
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Best Europe phone carriers for travelers
If you're going to be traveling from Europe a lot and want to stick to one provider for your mobile phone then you should find a company that has the option for international coverage. Here are some to consider.
T-Mobile is a great choice for frequent travelers, especially after they began offering included international coverage with all of their Magenta plans which will automatically work without any required setup. Aside from escaping expensive roaming fees you'll also get to enjoy 5GB of data available in 11 European countries, unlimited texts, and calls for just $0.25 per minute.
Verizon has a couple of options for international travelers, like their TravelPass which includes unlimited talk and text in 210 different countries and costs only $10 per day. You can keep the plan active and will only be charged when you use your phone in a different country. Alternatively, you can buy their International Monthly Plan for $100 per month which includes unlimited data and texts as well as 250 minutes of calling, or you can buy a one-time bundle. You can add either plan to your devices using their website or by texting them.
Best United States phone carriers for travelers
Somebody who is often on the go from the United States might want to look into wireless network and smartphone providers that will let you use the same device and SIM card around the world. Check out the ones below.
You should take a look at AT&T's Unlimited Premium plan which is valid in 19 different countries around Central and South America as well as some places in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific areas. For just $10 per day, you can add the International Day Pass which gives you texts, calls, and data in 210 countries, plus if you have multiple lines it'll only cost $5 per additional line.
With access to over 200 countries, you can go almost anywhere using Google Fi. This US mobile service costs $20 per month for talk and texts, as well as an additional $10 per GB of data used. If you'd rather have unlimited data they offer that too in their Unlimited Plus plan which is $65.
Best Australia phone carriers for travelers
An international phone plan can be really useful if you're traveling in and out of Australia often. We've found a couple of great companies that could offer just what you need.
Vodafone has some solid options when it comes to international roaming which automatically applies to any eligible plan. For just $5 per day, you'll get to enjoy up to 90 days of roaming, and your calls, texts, and data from your regular plan carry over to wherever you're visiting.
Optus customers can take advantage of 24 hours of 5GB of data for only $5 as long as they are using an Optus Choice Plus, Optus Plus Kids, or Optus Plus Family plan, or if you want more data you can just buy 35GB of data for $35. The Optus Roaming Pass can be activated through their My Optus app.
Best Asia phone carriers for travelers
It's useful to have a working mobile device when you're traveling so that you can keep up with work and relationships no matter where you are. These providers offer international coverage from Asia, so they might work for you.
AT & T can be a good option for travelers in Asia as well, especially with their Passport plan. This option gives you 1GB of data plus unlimited texts for 30 days and costs $60 plus an additional $0.35 per minute of phone calls. You might also benefit from their International Day Pass which lets you use the unlimited texts, calls, and data already available in your plan and is only $10 per day, although this option might not be available in all Asian countries so do some research beforehand.
Verizon's TravelPass plan is only $5 per day in Canada and Mexico but they offer the same services for $10 per day in 130 other countries, including many in Asia. You can use the same talk, text, and data that is included in your plan and you'll only be charged once per 24 hours. The TravelPass kicks in as soon as it recognizes that you're in a new location.