Best eSIM providers in 2024
eSIMs have changed the way we stay connected while traveling. Unlike regular SIM cards, eSIMs aren’t physical, meaning no more dealing with tiny plastic cards. They're digital, residing right in your device, ready to connect you to the world.
Your eSIM plan is more than just data – it's your way to stay connected with loved ones, share experiences on social media, and navigate new cities. Additionally, when you travel, eSIMs eliminate roaming fees, offer flexible and cost-effective plans.
With many eSIM providers out there, choosing the most suitable one can be tough. Continue reading to discover the best eSIM for international travel in 2024.
Top 5 eSIM providers for travel – shortlist
- Airalo – the best overall eSIM provider in 2024
- Nomad – budget-friendly eSIM option for travelers
- aloSIM – reliable eSIM provider for international travel
- Instabridge – good pay-as-you-go eSIM for travelers
- BNESIM – eSIM suitable for longer travel
What to consider when choosing eSIM for international travel?
Choosing the best eSIM for international travel involves considering several key factors. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Check available countries. Explore the plan variety offered by eSIM providers. Some may have local, global, or regional options, such as plans tailored for Europe, North America, Latin America, or Asia.
- Consider your communication preferences. Most eSIM providers offer only data, while others include a phone number for calls and messages. However, data-only plans work just as good as you can use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services to stay in touch with your loved ones.
- Think about the data amount needed. Consider how you'll use it – different activities require different amounts of data. eSIM providers have varying plans for travelers with minimal data needs and for those seeking flexibility, with options for topping up or pay-as-you-go models.
- Keep in mind your travel time abroad. Each eSIM comes with various validity options. Most provider plans start at 7 days and can go up to 30 days.
- Explore different providers. Look into details of the plans, including features, pricing, activation processes, and any promotional offers available.
- Check if your device supports eSIM. Many newer smartphones, including those from Apple, Google, Samsung, and more, are compatible. But it’s always a good idea to verify before buying a plan.
The best eSIMs for international travel – detailed list
Our expert team put popular eSIM providers to the test and created list of the best eSIMs for international travel. We checked each provider based on coverage, plans, pricing, and customer support. Continue reading to find detailed summaries of the 5 best eSIM services for 2024.
1. Airalo – overall the best eSIM for international travel in 2024
|Supports 5G networks:
|$4.50, 1GB of data for 7 days
|200+, 7 regions
Airalo is the first-ever eSIM store globally, providing eSIMs for more than 200 countries and regions, all at the most budget-friendly prices worldwide.
Coverage. Airalo offers three kinds of eSIMs: local, regional, and global. If you’re heading to just one country, get the Local eSIM – Airalo offers options in over 200 countries. For longer trips through regions or continents, a regional eSIM helps. For example, the Eurolink regional eSIM covers 39 countries in Europe, and the Island Hopper regional eSIM covers 24 Caribbean islands. If your travel plans span multiple countries worldwide, the global eSIM is your go-to. It provides coverage for 130.
Plan options. Airalo offers flexible eSIM data plans without tying you into contracts, so switching services based on your needs is easy. Plans vary in data options (1GB, 3GB, 5GB) and validity periods (7, 15, 30 days or longer). Local and regional plans focus on data alone, while global plans provide the choice between a data-only option or a comprehensive package including data, calls, and texts.
Pricing. Airalo local plans start at $4.50 if you get an eSIM for 7 days with 1GB. Unsurprisingly, the cost depends on the country or region you’re visiting. It’s usually linked to the local mobile data prices. Keep in mind that you often save more by getting a larger data package upfront compared to reloading while on the go.
Customer support. We tested different customer support channels, such as email and troubleshooting messages through the contact form on the website. However, it took more than 24 hours to respond.
2. Nomad – reliable and affordable eSIM for international travel
|Supports 5G networks:
|$4, 1GB of data for 7 days
|165+, 8 regions
Nomad offers competitive prices compared to Airalo, with an equally impressive coverage. The eSIM works seamlessly across various countries without any issues.
Coverage. Nomad provides plans for local, regional, and global use. If you’re visiting a single country, pick a local eSIM from the 165 countries Nomad covers. Opt for a regional eSIM for longer journeys through specific areas, like Europe, which includes 35 countries. The global eSIM offers coverage in 139 countries if your trip spans the globe.
Plan options. Like Airalo, Nomad offers various prepaid plans for international travel with different durations and costs. They also provide US, UK, and Canadian eSIM cards for SMS messaging, starting at $4.00 for 100 texts over 30 days. You can add extra messages to your plan, but it requires stable data or Wi-Fi connections through the Nomad app.
Pricing. Nomad’s eSIM plans kick off at $4.00, offering 1GB of data valid for 7 days. It’s a prepaid system with no activation fees. If your current plan is running low, you can easily add more data, but it’s best to do so while the plan is still active.
Customer support. You can ask for help by visiting the Nomad website or contacting customer support by sending an email. We had a question, and they responded quickly and politely within 24 hours.
3. aloSIM – provider with reasonable prices and great customer service
|Supports 5G networks:
|$4.50, 1GB of data for 7 days
|170+, 10 regions
aloSIM is a good choice with budget-friendly prices and dependable service, especially if you want an easy-to-use eSIM. Established in 2022, aloSIM provides a variety of plans with excellent customer service.
Coverage. aloSIM offers local and regional plans covering more than 170 countries. For extended international travel in specific areas, it is useful to choose a regional eSIM. For example, in Europe, it covers 34 countries.
Plan options. aloSIM provides diverse short-term plans lasting from 7 to 30 days, varying on the data amount. If you need more data during your trip, you can easily add it through aloSIM’s travel app. However, none of the offered plans include voice calls or SMS.
Pricing. aloSIM's data pack prices differ based on the region and the data you need. Plans start at $4.50 for 7 days, unlocking 1GB of data.
Customer support. Quick and effective customer service through email. We tried it, and the replies were speedy, thorough, and proved reliable.
4. Instabridge – good eSIM with pay-as-you-go options
|Supports 5G networks:
|$3, 1GB of data for 7 days
|190+, 2 regions
Instabridge is a reliable solution for travelers, digital nomads, and business professionals. Providers budget-friendly pay-as-you-go plans include additional perks like a Wi-Fi map, cloud storage, VPN, and a data-saving browser.
Coverage. Instabridge offers local, regional, and global eSIMs for international travel with over 190+ countries. The Global eSIM covers 127 countries. However, there aren't many regions to choose from – just Europe with 34 countries and Latin America with 17 countries.
Plan options. Instabridge provides three options for validity and data amounts: 7 days with 1GB, 15 days with 3GB, and 30 days with 10GB. Additionally, it has a pay-as-you-go option that lets you use data across country borders while the provider automatically adjusts the rates based on the new location.
Pricing. Instabridge offers affordable plans, with the cheapest one starting at $3 for 7 days, unlocking 1GB of data. As expected, prices will vary depending on the country.
Customer support. For assistance with Instabridge eSIM, you can reach out to the provider via their website, send an email, or explore the knowledge base for helpful information. They also offer live in-app chat, which we tested and received quick and detailed responses.
5. BNESIM – cheap eSIM provider for longer international travel
|Supports 5G networks:
|$0.98, 1GB of data for 30 days
|200+, 2 regions
BNESIM is an exceptional provider, that works perfectly when traveling abroad. The eSIM is easy to set up and use worldwide.
Coverage. The BNESIM eSIM card provides affordable internet connectivity in 200 countries and 2 regions (Europe and Asia). It covers 30 countries in Europe, 29 in Asia, and a total of 128 countries with the global eSIM.
Plan options. BNESIM, like Instabridge, provides prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans. BNESIM allows you to select from one-time, monthly, or daily contracts, giving you the flexibility to choose based on your requirements. In addition to the eSIM service, BNESIM offers physical SIM cards, global calls, international phone numbers, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot router, and a VPN service.
Pricing. Prices vary regarding the package validity and data amount you choose. For a single region, prices start from $0.98 for a 30-day plan with 1GB.
Customer support. BNESIM offers a comprehensive customer support experience featuring live in-app assistance, phone support, and email communication. The technical support team is known for its fast and responsive service. Users can also access a knowledge base for self-help.
Does my phone support eSIM
Luckily, most modern smartphones support eSIM. The easiest way to see if your device works with eSIM is by checking your mobile phone settings for an option to add eSIM. You can also inquire with your phone provider or search online to find out if your phone is compatible with eSIM. It’s also important to note that certain carriers lock devices to their network, meaning your phone needs to be unlocked to use an eSIM card.
eSIM compatibility on iPhone
Apple introduced eSIM support with the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR in 2018. Newer iPhones will likely be compatible with eSIM, depending on your location and carrier.
To check if your iPhone is unlocked, go to Settings, tap General, then About, and look for “No SIM restrictions” in the Carrier Lock section.
eSIM compatibility on Android phone
Many recent Android phones support eSIM, but it depends on the device model, manufacturer, and carrier. To ensure compatibility, it’s best to check with the manufacturer, reseller, or network provider.
Another way is to go to Settings, tap Connections, and then SIM Manager. If there’s an option to add eSIM, your device likely supports it.
Additionally, to check Android phone compatibility, you can look for an Embedded Identity Document Number (EID) in your mobile phone settings. If your device supports eSIM, you’ll see the EID number.
What Is An eSIM?
An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card embedded in a device, like a smartphone or a smartwatch. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, you don’t need to insert or remove it. With an eSIM, you can simply switch between mobile carriers and activate or change your cellular plan directly on your device. It’s a convenient and flexible technology, especially for international travel.
How does eSIM work?
Imagine an eSIM as a virtual SIM card. It’s like a flexible chip that lets you grab data on the go – no need to hunt for a SIM card provider or deal with a physical card to switch your carrier or data plan. Just download the provider's app from the Google Play or Apple App Store. Check the supported countries, regions, and available plans in the app. Once you find what you need, buy the plan, install, and activate the eSIM.
|Seamlessly switch carriers
|Join multiple networks and program many data plans
|Switch between different devices
Smartphones with eSIMs make it easier to manage your service plans. A fully functional eSIM device allows you to add a second plan, whether traveling abroad or needing a separate work line. It simplifies switching providers with just a few taps and swipes. Corporate device managers can also remotely change service plans on numerous lines simultaneously.
However, there are some minor drawbacks for consumers. For starters, ESIMs make switching one plan between devices challenging since you can’t simply swap a physical card. They might also make it more difficult to temporarily remove your SIM if you want to avoid being tracked by a carrier.
How to activate eSIM
Setting up an eSIM card may seem challenging, but Apple and Android have simplified the process. On-screen instructions guide you through most of the setup, making it easy for you.
How to activate eSIM on iPhone
If you purchased an eSIM online and want to activate it manually, go to Settings, tap Mobile Data, and then Add Data Plan. On the “Set up mobile service” screen, you’ll have two options: transfer from a nearby iPhone or use a QR code, which is the easiest way. Choosing the QR code option will guide you through a quick process to set up the eSIM.
How to activate eSIM on Android
After buying a compatible eSIM and ensuring a stable connection, activate it on your Android phone by going to Settings, tapping on Mobile data, and selecting Add Data Plan. Use your phone’s camera to scan the QR code on your eSIM pack. Once recognized, confirm by pressing the Add Data Plan button.
Both eSIMs and physical SIM cards have their advantages, and the better choice depends on personal preference. However, eSIMs have simplified travel, offering affordable plans, strong connections, and flexible validity. They represent the future of telecommunication.
Our recommended best eSIM for international travel is Airalo, as it provides a variety of plans, with validities extending up to 180 days. Offering budget-friendly local plans in 200 countries, along with 7 regional plans and a cost-effective global plan, Airalo collaborates with local network providers for seamless connectivity.
Is eSIM good for international travel?
Yes, eSIM is good for international travel. You can simply switch between local carriers in different countries, ensuring you have a reliable data connection without needing a physical SIM card. The cellular plan with eSIM can be activated right on your device.
Can you call internationally with an eSIM?
Yes, you can call internationally with an eSIM. You just have to ensure that your chosen provider and plan offer such options. Some eSIM providers only provide data, while others, such as , include a phone number for calls and messages.
How do I get an eSIM card for international travel?
Buy prepaid data or pay-as-you-go eSIM from a global service provider. Choose a plan based on how much data you need and how long you’ll be using it. These packages include data, phone numbers for calls, and let you stay connected in over 200 countries and regions while you travel.