Last Updated on 29/06/2021 by Edy Ragnoli
How to choose the best SIM card for short-term travellers, business people, and digital nomads who want to stay connected everywhere in the world.
Every time you travel and land on a different airport and country you always find yourself in front of an everlasting dilemma: should I use my native country SIM card for my communication or find another solution that can ensure me proper coverage and low spending?
My answer is simple. Use an international SIM card because it will grant you coverage over many countries (195+ which means all over the world) without emptying your bank account. This buyer guide will review 10 of the best international SIM cards on the market and explain why you should buy one now.
The Best International SIM Cards – Quick Overview
- The Overall Best International SIM Card – OneSim
- A Cheaper International SIM Card – TravelSim
- The Cheap but Restrictive International SIM Card – GigSky
- A Worldwide SIM Card – WorldSIM
- Best SIM Card for Travelling Specific Regions – GoSim
- Best Data SIM Card for International Travel – KeepGo
- Unlimited Data International SIM Card – KnowRoaming
- A Simple Data SIM Card for Worldwide Travel – Surfroam
- The Best International SIM Card for Europe – Orange Holiday Europe
- Best Pay-Per-Use International SIM Card – Mobal
What's an International SIM Card?
It's known by several names: international SIM, travel SIM or roaming SIM (different titles but same meaning). An international SIM card can grant you access to mobile telecommunication network almost everywhere in the world. With one single “piece of plastic and chip”, you can call, text, and surf the web worldwide.
How many countries and regions are covered depends on the travel SIM card you choose. So the first questions you have to answer is “what type of traveller are you?” and “which countries will you visit within a certain period?”.
How does an International SIM Card Work?
International SIM cards do exactly what the name says: they can be used internationally with various operators in multiple countries and/or geographical areas. You just need to purchase one international SIM card, before you leave, to enjoy its benefit in all the places it has coverage.
There are a few conditions, though. Your phone must be a) GSM-compatible (which is the network this type of card exploits) and b) unlocked so that it can work with several providers.
International SIM Card vs Local SIM Card
Local SIM cards can be the best option for long-stay travellers who spend months in the same country. This would be the cheapest and more comfortable solution for this kind of people. But there are categories for which an international SIM card is preferable.
If you travel and move a lot from country to country, finding and purchasing different SIM cards in each region you visit can be frustrating, time-consuming and, sometimes, even not easy if you don’t know the place or there are high chances of getting scammed.
Therefore, go for an international travel SIM card if you are a frequent traveller, a business person who takes multiple short trips abroad or a digital nomad whose home is the whole world.
Comparing The 10 Best International SIM Cards
OVERALL BEST INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
A CHEAPER INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
Cheaper calls and SMS by countries
GigSky SIM Card
THE CHEAP BUT RESTRICTIVE INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
Only data plans
A WORLDWIDE SIM CARD
BEST SIM CARD FOR TRAVELLING SPECIFIC REGIONS
Free incoming calls in 135+ countries
Keepgo SIM Card
BEST DATA SIM CARD FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
KnowRoaming SIM Card
UNLIMITED DATA INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
Surfroam SIM Card
A SIMPLE DATA SIM CARD FOR WORLDWIDE TRAVEL
Orange Holiday Europe SIM Card
THE BEST INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD FOR EUROPE
Mobal SIM Card
BEST TALK AND TEXT POST PAID INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
Lifetime non-expiring SIM card
The 10 Best SIM Cards for International Travellers
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to discover my selection of International SIM cards that can give you the best experience and performance depending on your usage habits and destination.
OneSim – The Overall Best International SIM Card
When I move from place to place, I like having as fewer surprises as possible when it comes to communication, especially when I have to work as a digital nomad. Do you recognise yourself in this description? OneSim is what can offer you a reliable service enriched with many extras and options that make it versatile and reliable.
OneSim is available in three versions: Universal, Europe, and Expedition (perfect for iPads, tablets, computers and MiFi hotspot devices).
OneSim Card Summary
- 2 phone numbers included: Europe & USA, Canada, UK or Australia
- Coverage in over 200 countries
- Includes $10 Credit for Voice, Text and Data
- Discount packages
- Free incoming calls received on EU number in 162 countries
- Extra coverage with multiple networks per country
- Internet Data Coverage in 170+ countries
- Optional Wi-Fi calling app for Apple iOS and Android devices
- No contracts, no connection fees and no hidden roaming charges
- Free shipping to the U.S., Canada, and Japan.
TravelSim – A Cheaper International SIM Card
Sometimes you may need to travel and visit fewer countries or regions hence a total coverage is not essential. So it's better you save some money with cheaper calls, text, and data rates. This is what TravelSim can offer you along with up to 10GB data bundles and 1GB free in selected areas.
TravelSim Card Summary
- Cheaper calls and SMS by countries
- Cheap data plans for 100+ countries
- Save up to 85% on roaming fees
- Free incoming calls for 75+ countries
- Free incoming messages
- 4G speed internet
- Prepaid credit valid for 1,5 year
- Buy 3GB or bigger data plan and get 1GB for free (limited-time offer).
GigSky – The Cheap but Restrictive International SIM Card
GigSky is your international SIM card if you need just data plans to stay connected with either your friends, colleagues or applications/devices (IoT). GigSky exploits the eSIM technology featured in the latest Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Just download the app, purchase and add a data plan, connect to cellular data only and you are up and running. You can enjoy global mobile data choosing among country, regional and world plans and without a physical SIM card (Apple SIM included or embedded for selected iPad models).
- Only data plans
- Easy to install and activate with eSIM technology
- Country, regional, and word data plans
- Coverage in 116 countries
- $5 off (limited-time offer)
- Compatible with selected iOS, Android, Windows, iPadOS devices
- Available for business, IoT & M2M.
WorldSIM – A Worldwide SIM Card
WorldSIM promises to reduce international roaming charges by up to 85% with super low fees for calls and data. Coverage has been improved and now extended to 190 countries. The SIM card has no activation cost and is delivered for free worldwide. In addition, WorldSIM gives a UK and USA phone number on the same SIM plus unlimited additional local numbers from 50+ countries.
So consider the countries you're going to visit, calculate the related rates and decide whether WorldSIM is the best international SIM card for you.
WorldSIM Card Summary
- Connected in 190 countries
- Up to 10GB data bundle for 100+ countries
- Free activation
- Free delivery worldwide (conditions apply)
- Free incoming calls in 118 countries
- Competitive rates for voice and data
- Save up to 85% on roaming charges
- Free UK and USA mobile number on one SIM
- Multiple virtual numbers
- 4G network.
GoSim – Best SIM Card for Travelling Specific Regions
GoSim is similar to OneSime with $10 of credit included but a cheaper activation cost. Rates and coverage are pretty the same, but the data bundles are quite expensive. I suggest you GoSim for the regional cards (Europe, USA, Asia) because of the special bonuses they offer, included the China's Great Firewall bypass.
GoSim Card Summary
- $19 SIM cost
- $10 credit included
- Coverage in 210+ destinations
- Access to over 340 networks
- European phone number
- Free incoming calls in 135+ countries
- Free incoming SMS in all countries
- Reduced roaming fees by up to 85%.
Keepgo – Best Data SIM Card for International Travel
Keepgo is a data-only International SIM card and I suggest it if you are looking for reliability and speed. Data plans can be expensive, but the Global SIM card offers a lifetime data bundle as long as you refill it once a year. This card is for you also if you travel in Europe and USA and don't consume a lot of data (for $8/month you get 1GB and pay $8 for any additional 1GB you use).
Keepgo Card Summary
- Lifetime data when refilled once a year
- 1GB of data included
- 2GB bonus data to use anytime during 1 year (Global Keepgo SIM)
- 20GB/10 days bonus data to use anytime during 1 year (Europe+USA Keepgo SIM)
- Coverage in 100+ countries
- High-Speed 4G LTE networks
- Reliable connection
- Free shipping to 200+ countries.
KnowRoaming – Unlimited Data International SIM Card
KnowRoaming international SIM card offers a pay-as-you-go service that let you save up to 85% off roaming fees for calls, SMS, and data. On average, fees and data bundles aren't so cheaper than the other brands. What makes KnowRoaming stand apart is the unlimited data plan although available for just one or three days for the USA or global coverage (in 125+ countries).
Therefore, I suggest it to anyone planning to use the Internet a lot for a limited time (work, gaming, streaming) while, the rest of the days, he/she can enjoy all the other things life and planet Earth have to offer.
KnowRoaming Card Summary
- 1 day or 3 days of unlimited data plan
- Up to 5GB data bundle
- 85% off international voice and data roaming
- High-speed 4G LTE 3G data
- Free incoming SMS
- Coverage in 200+ countries.
Surfroam – A Simple Data SIM Card for Worldwide Travel
Would you like to travel and stay connected without any fixed cost or constraint? Surfroam is the data SIM card you are looking for. Its offer is simple: no subscriptions, no bundle, just pay-as-you-go internet access that charges per MB usage only, wherever you go in the world.
Surfroam SIM and eSIM are free and what you pay at the beginning is just credit you can use entirely worldwide. The card has coverage in 200+ countries and the PRO account gets access to over 800 networks. You'll never be alone (at least virtually).
Surfroam Card Summary
- Free SIM and eSIM
- The initial cost is just credit and you can use it all (€15 for SIM, €20 for eSIM)
- Pay-as-you-go data plan only
- Coverage in 200+ countries
- Access to 800+ networks with PRO account.
Orange Holiday Europe – The Best International SIM Card for Europe
Let's assume you like a nomad life or travelling from country to country, but your destination is just Europe. Orange Holiday Europe SIM card is probably the best choice you can make.
Orange is a major operator in France and the network is stable and wide all over Europe with 4G network coverage in 48 destinations and 30 countries. Currently, you get up to 20GB, 120 minutes of calls and 1,000 SMS from Europe to worldwide for one month at €43.40. For smaller usage, Orange Holiday Europe travel SIM card offers other five plans.
Orange Holiday Europe Card Summary
- Europe's best 4G network
- Coverage in 48 destinations and 300 European countries
- All-inclusive plans with up to 20GB and unlimited calls or SMS.
Mobal – Best Talk and Text Post Paid International SIM Card
Mobal is a call and text travel SIM card for those who don't want to top up the cell phone and run out of credit continuously. For just $15 and free US shipping, you get a never expiring SIM card with a pay-per-use plan. Your credit card is charged after Mobal receives the calls report from the networks.
Anyway, fees are not the cheapest hence I recommend it for the postpaid billing and no expiration date.
Mobal Card Summary
- Lifetime non-expiring SIM card
- $15 initial cost
- Free US shipping
- Postpaid service
- Pay-as-you-use world talk and text
- Coverage in 190+ countries
- Free incoming SMS.
FAQs on International SIM Cards
Can I use my local SIM Card abroad?
The short answer is you may use it. The long answer – and my advice – is you shouldn’t use your local SIM card abroad unless you want to spend a fortune in a few time. I suggest purchasing an international SIM card at the airport once you arrive at your destination or online before you leave.
Can I use a locked phone?
You need an unlocked phone to use an international SIM card. If your mobile phone is locked, take care to unlock it contacting your local service provider. Do it at home because once abroad, the process may become more complicated.
Why should I use an international SIM Card?
Today SIM cards come with enough calls, text, and data bundles that satisfy your monthly communication needs at a relatively cheap price. But these plans don’t apply when you use the SIM card abroad. If you want to save money, you better use an international SIM card that offers specific services for when you travel abroad.
What kind of plan do I need abroad?
There’s no right and wrong answer to this question. It really depends on your personal usage and what countries you’ll visit or live in as a digital nomad. So first of all, you must ask yourself where you will travel to and what you are going to do with your SIM card.
Will you just make phone calls or send traditional SMS? A talk and text plan may be enough but check the country rates first.
Are you an online gamer, movie lover or digital worker who use the Internet a lot for video or music streaming, apps download or files upload on the cloud for your job? You’ll need a data plan with plenty of GB.
Do you just send a few messages through WhatsApp, do a few research on Google, check your email box or scroll rapidly through your social media feeds? You’ll probably consume less than 2GB in two or four weeks during your holiday abroad.
A Review of The Best International SIM Cards
Calls and texts?
200+ countries - fewer for data
Slightly cheaper for Zone B destinations
No, data only
Not the cheapest but fair
No, data only
Yes with unlimited data
200+ countries - text and calls
Mostly cheap but requires regular checking
No, data only
30 European countries
Are you planning to travel abroad for leisure or work? The cheapest and best way to stay connected with your family, friends, and colleagues is by using an international SIM card. Which one do you prefer?