International SIM cards - connect while traveling

International SIM cards are, as many of you know by now, a cheaper way to stay connected while traveling internationally. Instead of using your expensive wireless provider's roaming service while traveling abroad it is often cheaper to use a local or sometimes regional service by inserting a new SIM card into your unlocked wireless phone (having a dual SIM capable device is the ideal situation as you wouldn't need to remove your current SIM).

There are two types of International SIM cards you can use:

  • SIM cards issued by local wireless providers and which can be usually purchased only upon arrival to your destination country
  • SIM cards issued by a third party company, specializing in selling these types of services, and which can be purchased online in advance

Purchasing your international SIM card in advance vs buying locally

Answering this question depends on your traveler profile. Locally issued SIM cards will generally cost less. If you are going to live in a certain country for a longer period it would likely be more convenient for you to purchase locally, especially after shopping around and becoming familiar with available services.

Many people however choose to order and insert the international SIM card into their phone before departing. This way one can avoid having to look for a SIM card upon arrival, having to choose between different such products they may not entirely understand, and all of these in a foreign country.

Why the cost difference? Am I getting the same product buying online vs locally?

Not really. Companies focusing on providing international SIM cards usually sell a bundled product, giving you one or more local numbers (not necessarily in the country you are traveling to), sometimes a smartphone app and other features.

Telephone service charges work in slightly different ways depending on the country or region of the world. For example, in many countries there are no charges for incoming calls to mobile numbers. Another example: all European Union countries are in a roaming agreement eliminating all roaming charges between them plus offering the possibility to use your home country data plan in any other EU country. And so on. Therefore, international SIM card providers create their products based on these regional opportunities.

In conclusion, buying a local SIM card from a local wireless provider in your destination country will give you a straightforward solution for voice and data usage, often within that particular country's borders only, while deciding to go for a specialized international SIM card service like OneSIMCard will provide a more expensive, but readily available and more feature rich solution that can be used globally.

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