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best international sim cards

The 12 Best International SIM Cards in 2022 | SIM Card Review

Author: Anthony Lee

Phone & Tablet Expert

With the inter-connectivity across continents and the drastic development of Social Media in our daily usage, it is unthinkable to own a smartphone without a mobile internet connection. Businesses would not be able to operate anymore. Economies across the globe would collapse. Most importantly, we would be out of touch with our closest friends & families (and maybe enemies). So what is a smartphone without the internet? It would definitely not be smart anymore – it would simply be a brick.

The SIM Cards in our mobile phones allow us to connect to the local CDMA / GSM network to enjoy high-speed 4G internet and 5G shortly soon. Though the SIM Card and the internet exist for many years already, the availability to the internet depends on the contract you have made with your internet service provider. Meaning, you cannot simply cross the borders and browse the internet just like home.

We all heard about the horror stories where consumers have been charged thousands of dollar in roaming charges because they did not the consequences of activating the mobile internet abroad. Internet service provides charges horrendous sums to deliver you the service.

Therefore, we reviewed the best international SIM Cards and their data plans which allow you go across borders without receiving any extra charges once you come back home from your holiday or business trip abroad. All the international SIM Cards listed below are Prepaid – You pay one price!

 Orange Holiday Zen
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Orange Holiday Europe
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Three PAYG
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OneSimCard
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Data8GB20GB12GBfrom $0.01/MB
Calls30 Min International Calls120 Min International Calls3000 Min within Europefrom $0.01/minute
SMS200 International SMS1000 International SMS3000 SMS within Europefrom $0.10/SMS
Coverage30 Countries30 Countries71 Countries200 Countries
Connection3G / 4G3G / 4G3G / 4G3G / 4G
TetheringTethering allowedTethering allowedTethering not allowed
Validity14 Days14 Days30 Days
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Best International SIM Cards – Quick Overview

  1. Best OverallOrange Holiday Zen – 8GB
  2. Editor’s ChoiceOrange Holiday Europe – 20GB
  3. Best Price – Three UK – 10GB

Orange - The European Prepaid Data Sim Card

If you are traveling to Europe, it is definitely worth taking a look at Orange. Orange is the one the major mobile internet companies and its network has been recognized as the best across Europe several times now. Originally known as France Telecom, Orange now has over 250 million customers and is known for its generous Europe SIM Card data plan including calls and texts. See below the details.

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Three - Pay As You Go Sim Card

Founded in Hong Kong, but mostly known for its operations in the United Kingdom, Three has evolved to be one of the major internet service providers around the world. Today, Three provides mobile internet service to more than 130 million customers. With the SIM Cards offered by the Three and the Pay As You Go SIM Cards, you can browse through the internet in more than 70 different countries worldwide including calls and texts. The full coverage can be found here.

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Mint Mobile Wireless Plan | 4G LTE Data + Unlimited Talk & Text

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Cellhire - International Sim Card for Europe

Cellhire might be less known than the other companies mentioned here but they are the leading supplier during events (FIFA World Cup, Olympics, Tour de France and many more). With the headquarters in the United Kingdom and many across offices across the glove, Cellhire has itself established as a major internet provider. The international SIM Cards offered by them offers great value.

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OneSimCard - Prepaid Sim Card for 200 Different Countries

When it comes to international SIM Cards, we definitely cannot overlook OneSimCard. This international mobile service providers offered Prepaid SIM Cards for more than 200 countries worldwide. You can save 85% roaming charges when using their international SIM Card outside of your home country. Furthermore, they allow free incoming calls from 162 countries. So if you need to enjoy mobile data service abroad and maybe would like to be able to receive calls, then OneSimCard is the right choice for you!

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KeepGo - International Roaming Sim Card

You may have not heard about KeepGo before but this company is an official partner of Vodafone, Telefonica and AT&T. With its offices in Israel, Netherlands and the USA, KeepGo provides products across many segments such as Broadband Internet, Smart Wearables, GPS Tracker and more. The SIM Card provided by KeepGo is valid forever – without any contract! If you need to use, you simply upload some credit and off you go. It is the most convenient option available if you are traveling across several times per year. You can easily upgrade your data plans via KeepGo’s own top up platform.

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Mobal - International Sim Card for Calls & Texts

Mobal was founded by an international traveler who became frustrated by the insane roaming costs abroad. Their focus is providing service to American travelers going to Europe. Nonetheless, they offer a wide range of Talk & Text only SIM cards that allow you to connect anywhere you want to go.

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O2 - Leading Mobile Internet Provider

O2 is a subsidiary of Telefonica UK Limited and employs more than 6700 employees and 450 retail stores worldwide. Just recently, O2 has been awarded as the prize of the Best Network Coverage in 2019 (second time in a row). This mobile network operator is famously known for its blue color and the bubbles. Besides that, they offer great data plans on their international Prepaid SIM Cards including unlimited text messages. Perfect for holiday or business trip abroad to save roaming charges.

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Are you looking for an alternative to international SIM Cards? We compared the best Pocket WiFi’s.

FAQ: International SIM Cards

What kind of data plan do I need?

It really depends on your personal usage of the smartphone. For example, we work online on-the-go quite often – Text, audio and video – and also like to stream ‘privately’ a movie. In addition, we sync most of the data on Google Drive, which can already account for about one third of our mobile data plan.

If you are planning to only send a few online text messages from time to time, for example WhatsApp messages on your smartphone, check emails and surf a bit in the web browser, then you will have a hard time to even use 2GB during a two-week holiday trip.

How many GB exactly you need varies greatly. We noticed that there is a constant average growth of data usage per month. Over the years, the monthly data consumption has risen just by the fact that the applications and websites are becoming more complex and require more data during normal surfing.

Do I need an unlocked phone?

In order for your mobile phone to work with the SIM card, you need an unlocked phone. If you have a SIM lock, we recommend you to contact your local internet service provider to request unlocking the phone. If your minimum contract term has already expired, you can usually unlock the phone directly from your provider for free. If the mobile phone still has a contractual obligation, you might need to pay an additional unlocking charge.

Attention: Unlock your phone while you are still at home. Once you are abroad, it is much harder to organize the process with the mobile internet provider.

International SIM Card for Long-term Stay

The result of the many exceptions to the rule is that mobile operators in ‘expensive’ countries are usually more generous with roaming, while ‘cheap’ SIM cards abroad are cut more frequently and faster, or are not applicable at all. In the end, the dream of cheap long-term roaming remains a dream for the time being. Currently, the best solution is still locally to get a local SIM card with the best local offer or purchase it online.

Can I use my existing SIM Card?

Our advice: You should not use your local SIM card abroad. The roaming rates are so high that you could get rid of a small fortune within minutes. It is better that you will get an international SIM card either directly at the airport after passport control or purchase one online before you travel. The offers are aimed directly at tourists.

Alternatively, you can strike later in the city. In addition to official and free mobile phone shops, local SIM cards are also available at large supermarkets.

The SIM cards are inserted, activated and set up directly by the seller. You do not have to worry about anything and you can start using the mobile internet directly.

Why do I need an international SIM Card?

With a Prepaid SIM Card, you can only use the amount that you have topped up. This is especially helpful when you need to be in control of the cost of your bills.

However, this classic advantage of the Prepaid SIM card has lost some of its importance, as there are cheap data plans that cover almost everything with relatively low costs: calls, texts and data. However, using the SIM Card abroad is not included in the data plan packages and can therefore be expensive.

Our advice: If you do not want to worry about any international roaming charges while traveling abroad, purchase a local SIM Card at the destination or beforehand. Some SIM Cards can even be used around the world such as the Three Pay As You Go SIM Card mentioned above. You will pay only one fixed price for the Travel SIM Card and their data bundles without the huge phone bill when returning home.

How to setup your new Smartphone

Transfer data from old smartphone

Smartphones are important data carriers: they manage personal contacts, save our communication and photos. Of course, the data should be transferred from the old to the new smartphone. But how does data transfer work?

Transfer important data

Via the cloud, via cable or SD card – there are various ways to transfer your data. Whether you work directly from device to device or via PC depends on the mobile devices used. Within the same operating system – for example, if you stay with an Apple device or change within the Android family – the change is easy: Apple customers use iCloud or iTunes, Android customers their Google account. It is then sufficient to register the new smartphone with the old account – all the data is already available.

With different operating systems, the data must be transferred from one service to another. They are first exported and then imported, the smartphone must be linked to the cloud or the accounts. If you don’t want to move your data via the corporate servers, you can take the detour via PC or notebook and fetch data from your smartphone and copy it to a new device.

If the old device is a simple cell phone, a simple SIM card that is plugged in together with the old data can help.

Backup WhatsApp

Anyone who activates WhatsApp on their new smartphone first looks at an empty chat history. But in the same operating system, the dubbing of the protocol works flawlessly: with Android, the path is quite simple via a memory card. To do this, a backup must first be created in the old mobile phone via the WhatsApp settings.

If you then insert the SD card into the new Android or iPhone device, the backup is recognized and can be restored. However, the prerequisite is that the same number is used. The transfer via memory card also works with Windows Phone. Apple backs up the data automatically via iCloud, which is why WhatsApp dialogs are automatically transferred with a new installation using the known mobile phone number.

Charge the battery correctly

The battery should be fully charged before the new smartphone is used for the first time. Batteries do not always have to be fully charged and discharged: it makes sense to keep the capacity between 30 and 70 percent. Manufacturers promise a longer lifespan.

With a smartphone with a nickel battery, users can “train” the memory cells to achieve the best possible storage capacity: when charging for the first time, the device should be charged for at least 12 hours, and this can be repeated several times in the following days.

Security precautions

The first steps in any case include taking security precautions for your smartphone. To prevent unauthorized access, users should of course activate the device lock. It makes sense to set a quick lock that takes effect after a few seconds.

If a smartphone or tablet is lost, location and remote erasure can be helpful to find the device again or to protect data. Such functions are either already anchored in the operating system or can be retrofitted. Besides, you should write down the so-called IMEI number to be able to identify the device properly. If you install new apps on your smartphone, you should make sure that they come from a trustworthy source – for example, the official manufacturer stores.

Use storage efficiently

A well-known annoyance for smartphone users: Even when the device is delivered, half of the promised storage space is occupied by the manufacturer’s installations. The solution: You expand your storage with an additional memory card – or remove the pre-installed apps.

Remove pre-installed apps

Unfortunately, the applications of the manufacturers and providers cannot be deleted easily. One option is to root the operating system, which gives access to rights management for apps. However, this can void the manufacturer’s guarantee. A second alternative is to install a new operating system. A backup of the system and all important data is required both before rooting and before a ROM installation.

Check provider settings

A smartphone is often equipped with branding and default settings by manufacturers and mobile operators. However, users who want to make changes don’t always have it easy. You should weigh the advantages and disadvantages as well as the effort required to intervene.

Branding

Both hardware and software of a smartphone can be branded by the provider. For example, the branding refers to the provider’s logo on the home screen or the provider’s pre-installed apps. While the launcher, the “desktop” of the smartphone, can be replaced quite easily, removing the applications is almost impossible. Software branded by the mobile phone provider can usually be replaced by new software, but it should be noted that in this case the device warranty expires. If the software provided cannot be replaced, at least the updates from the provider can be uninstalled. The provider branding also includes SIM or network blocking.

SIM lock

Some smartphones are delivered by the provider with a SIM lock. This means that the device can only be used within a defined cellular network or even only in combination with a specific local SIM card and is blocked for any other use. The duration of this block usually depends on the minimum contract term of the mobile phone tariff. To unlock the smartphone from the SIM lock, this must be requested from the provider and purchased with a fee of usually around 100 dollars.

Other important settings on the smartphone

System update

Since smartphones are often stored for weeks at retailers or manufacturers before they are sold, it is worthwhile to update the operating system as soon as they are put into operation – so that the device is up to date.

Deactivate automatic data usage

With some mobile phone tariffs, additional data plans are automatically added for a fee after the consumption of a certain texts and data volume. Users should submit a direct objection to the so-called data automation – otherwise there is a risk of cost traps.

Data roaming

Anyone who activates data roaming for their smartphone will automatically surf in other countries abroad at the conditions specified for roaming. Roaming can be deactivated via the settings of the smartphone.

Our Picks: The Best International SIM Cards

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This is our selection of the best international SIM Cards. Most of the SIM cards listed above cover only Europe. If you decide to travel to the USA or Asia, we can highly recommend the Three Sim Card. Our team has made great experiences when traveling abroad. We hope that you will save roaming charges on your next holiday abroad.

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Last product update on 2022-09-29 | Source: Amazon Affiliate