Travel Tips

How to choose the right Global SIM Cards for Indian travellers

Having a SIM card that can connect you globally is enviable. You will always want to send a quick text message or make a short phone call to your loved ones and let them know exactly where you are. Yet with the growth of free WiFi hotspots available throughout the world in this day an age, the need for having access to phone and mobile data is being lessened.

Not long ago, I used to get a “World Traveller” addon from my mobile service provider in order to avoid the hassle of buying a SIM card abroad. However, the plan did not live up to its name. While my SIM worked in Europe, it was useless in Asia. Using 1GB of data on that plan would cost more than my monthly cell phone bill.

Such outrageous international roaming charges by major mobile service providers has stemmed many online businesses providing “Global SIM” or “Travel SIM” cards. Despite the name, these SIM cards are not truly “Global”. You will rarely find a single plan with a unified rate for all countries on the planet.

You see, every global SIM provider has a contract with one or more mobile-service providers in as many as countries they have reached out to. It is easier to make partners with private networks in Europe and the United States for example.

But state-owned operators, such as those in the Middle East can be harder to deal with. They will insist on visitors using local SIM cards for commercial reasons as well as for their own security. In some places like India, for example, you will require a national ID card which only available to Indian Citizens. In this case, you may need to persuade a local to buy a SIM card in their name using their National ID card and passport photos.
Cell phone and internet connections are also prohibitively expensive in places with poor telecommunications infrastructure.

With all that said, it is still convenient and much cheaper to buy a local SIM card in the country you are visiting. You will assuredly find a mobile phone kiosk at the arrivals halls of most airports in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Buying a SIM from these kiosks and getting it set up and registered will take no more than twenty minutes.

A dedicated Global SIM plan is useful for leisure and frequent travellers visiting multiple countries. It will save you the hassle of keeping track of multiple SIMs and can be a cost-effective strategy.

When choosing a Global SIM, you will need to figure out why you even need one. Will you need to make phone calls? Will you mainly use it to send SMS or Texting? Or are you a social network addict who needs data only?

In this post, I will discuss several of SIM card options that can be useful for Indians travelling back home or abroad. I will mainly focus on services and rates in regions where we are likely to travel most, such as the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia, Australia and North America.

The evolution of eSIM cards

Apple Inc. gave a boost to the spread of eSIM technology when they launched the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max in September 2018. An eSIM or embedded-SIM is mounted directly inside the device and is programmable.
This eliminates the need for a physical SIM-card, therefore enabling users to add or remove mobile network operators through software.

In regards to the iPhones, although you can store more than one eSIM into your device, there is a catch: you can only use one eSIM at one time. 😒

International SIM card providers are keen to offer an eSIM alternative as this technology gains wider acceptance. This will significantly reduce their cost of producing and mailing out physical SIM cards in the near future.

Talk, Text and Data International SIM Cards

Drimsim

With Russian investors behind this Spain registered company, DrimSim aims to target travellers from the former Soviet Republics. Therefore, you will find Drimsim ideal when touring Europe and North America.

With Drimsim, you will receive either a UK (+44) or EU (+3xx) based phone number. The SIM, however, will also work in more than 197 countries around the world.

When stacked up against competitors, Drimsim has the best rates for data in Europe, Australia and the United States.

Sending SMS on Drimsim is costs only 4 euro cents in Europe and North America, and with a few exceptions, up to 16 euro cents in most countries around the world.

Drimsim may not be suitable for data while roaming the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent due to high tariffs and lack of data plans.

CountryMake a Call per minSend a Text1000MB Data
India€0.30€0.16€50
Bangladesh€0.85€0.10€40
Pakistan€0.85€0.10€40
Europe & UK€0.15€0.04€10
United States€0.08€0.04€20
Canada€0.50€0.16€35
Australia€0.13€0.07€10
New Zealand€0.15€0.04€10
UAE€0.40€0.41€300
Qatar€0.40€0.16€200
Saudi Arabia€0.35€0.16€50

For more details and information on Drimsim universal SIM, visit their website.

WorldSIM

WorldSIM is a very popular Global SIM provider based on the Isle of Man. In addition to offering an International SIM card, it also has SIM cards specific to the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia+New Zealand.

With the WorldSIM International SIM Card, the rates for making calls and sending SMS are listed in the table below.

CountryMake a Call per minSend a Text
India42¢20¢
Bangladesh72¢40¢
Pakistan92¢40¢
Canada50¢20¢
UAE50¢45¢
Qatar55¢45¢
Saudi Arabia65¢45¢

If you are roaming in the UK, you should consider getting the WorldSIM UK SIM Card. Inside the UK, they offer a uniform rate of 5p for making a call, sending a text, checking voicemail and 1MB of data.

Calling India on the UK SIM card only costs 5¢ minute (compared to c/minute on the International SIM). A call to Pakistan costs 11¢/minute. Sending SMS costs 16¢ however, when compared with sending SMS on the International SIM which will cost 15¢ from the UK.

Choosing a data bundle for your UK SIM-card, in my opinion, can be cost-effective. These bundles start at $15, giving you 1Gb of data, 100 minutes of outgoing calls and 200 SMS for 30 days. The other bundles you can choose are:
2Gb of data with 200 minutes of talk time for $20
5Gb of data with 300 minutes of talk time for $35
11Gb of data, with 500 minutes of talk time for $46

If you are travelling to other countries of Europe, trip WorldSIM offers a Europe Travel SIM Card with Data Plan, which offers similar bundles as the UK plan but at a slightly higher cost. You can choose one of:
1Gb of data with 100 minutes of talk time and 200 SMS for $20
2Gb of data with 200 minutes of talk time for $27
5Gb of data with 300 minutes of talk time for $41
11Gb of data, with 500 minutes of talk time for $54

The WorldSIM USA SIM card is discussed further down in this article.

Data Plans with WorldSIM

While WorldSIM is competitive with its talk and text rates when compared with other international SIM card providers, postpaid data charges, however, remain very high. For every 1Mb of data, you will be charged at anywhere between, 20¢ to 40¢.

WorldSIM provides you with two options of either adding a data bundle to your existing international SIM card account or purchase a data-roaming SIM card.

The WorldSIM International Data Only SIM Card has the same rates for the Data Bundles discussed above. However, you also have an option add pay as you go credit from $27 to up to $135 at one time.

Data only bundles begin at 250Mb for 7 days upto 2Gb for 30 days. The cost is dependant on the country you plan to roam in.
For example, the 1Gb data bundle, with a validity of 14 days costs $74 in India, $61 in the UAE and $88 in Pakistan.

Country1000MB with a
World SIM Data Bundle
valid for 14 days
India$74
Bangladesh$64
Pakistan$88
Canada$74
Australia$61
New Zealand$61
UAE$61
Qatar$88
Saudi Arabia$61

If you are roaming in the USA or the UK, it would be advisable to purchase a Voice and Data bundle which are cheaper than data only bundles.
For $15, you can get 1Gb of data, 100 minutes of outgoing calls, and 200 SMS.
While you can get 11Gb data with 500 minutes of outgoing and 200 SMS for $46 for 30 days.

OneSimCard

OneSimCard is a division of Massachusetts based Belmont Telecom Inc. It is a prepaid SIM card, which comes with a US number as well as an Estonian number starting with +372. Estonia is one of the most liberalized telecommunications markets in the world. It is estimated that there are two cellphones for every person in Estonia.

You can also buy a Personal Extra Number (PEN) for a small fee, that will give you a local number in the country you will be roaming in. Then PENs are available in around 60 countries worldwide, however, excluding most of the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent.

A subscription with OneSimCard comes feature-rich with an iPhone and an Android App, where you will be able to view and recharge your balance, set up Voicemail, Caller ID, Call forwarding and much more.

As of writing, One SimCard does not provide service in Pakistan.

OneSimCard 24/7 Global Concierge

A unique offering to all OneSimCard subscribers is a Concierge Service, available worldwide, round the clock and every day of the year. For those unfamiliar, a 24/7 Global Concierge Service is a huge perk, which moneyed people pursue, especially when signing up with exclusive credit cards.

A 24/7 Global Concierge service can help you in any mundane or emergency situation. If you or your fellow companion were suddenly taken ill, or involved in an accident or a life-threatening situation, a concierge service will be able to guide you through these situations by working with thousands of professional and emergency medical networks globally.

You can use a concierge service for everyday tasks such as a hotel or restaurant reservation. You can call to find information about different countries, flights, transportation and weather. You can schedule a wake-up call just like you would at a hotel.

Additionally, concierge services can also be able to organize business meetings and conference calls, get you office equipment for rent, give you currency rates, stock market indices and even document translation.

OneSimCard offers three tiers of subscriptions

OneSimCard has provides three different types of SIM cards: Universal, Expediaiton and Europe.

The differences between Universal and Expedition can be confusing at first because it is not clear in what areas and in which countries choosing Expedition has advantages over Universal.

However, things get even more confusing when you need to choose a plan for data, talk, or text. You will find OneSimCard has divided the world effectively into Zone A, which consists of countries with advanced economies and Zone B, the rest of the world.

While it is easy to see that Zone A has better deals, OneSimCard has targeted several Zone B countries with Giga and Asiania plans by offering attractive rates compared to their other plans.

You may want to use their SIM card selection tool to make it easier for you to decide your options and avoid any regrets.

OneSimCard Universal

OneSimCard Universal will provide Talk and Text service for standard rates in most countries around the world. It will allow you to dial directly to over 70 countries around the world. Compared to other plans offered by OneSimCard you will find that Universal will fit most of your needs.

The table below list roaming rates in countries around the world frequented by Indian travellers.

CountryMake a Call per minSend a Text
India55¢$1.10
Bangladesh59¢$1.10
United Kingdom39¢25¢
United States49¢20¢
Canada65¢45¢
Australia49¢45¢
New Zealand39¢$1.10
UAE69¢45¢
Qatar75¢$1.10
Saudi Arabia59¢$1.10
Data plans on OneSimCard Universal

An Internet Data plan is a must if you need to be connected to e-mail and social media. OneSimCard Universal provides 5 types of Data plans: Zone A, Zone B, Asiania, Giga and EU Data.

Zone-A data plan provides discounts in countries like Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, the USA and the United Kingdom.
1000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $20
2000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $38
3000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $55
5000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $90

Zone-B data plan covers countries such as India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and South Africa.
On this plan, 1000 MB of data for 30 days costs $75
2000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $110
3000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $175
1000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $199

The Asiania plan offers 3000 MB for $39 for 30 days. It covers 13 countries in Asia such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan. It provides the best value for data in these countries with a significant discount compared to Zone A and Zone B data plans.

The Giga data plan provides up to 40% discount for those requiring a large amount of data.
5000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $50
10000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $87
The Giga data plan is provided in countries such as Turkey, France, Germany, Israel, the USA and the UK.

The EU data plan is for those roaming in Europe on trips lasting no longer than two weeks, yet, requiring large amounts of data.
5000 MB of data for 14 days costs $29
10000 MB of data for 14 days costs $59

OneSimCardExpedition

OneSimCard Expedition provides better rates of data and text in several countries around the world. This SIM card may prove a better deal than the Universal SIM card as long as you are not making too many phone calls.

OneSimCard Expedition uses call-back dialing in order to provide a lower cost of calling in some countries and it provides better rates of data in countries Bhutan, Iran, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

CountryMake a Call per minSend a Text
India$2.50 (and $2.00 when receiving)85¢
Bangladesh59¢40¢
United Kingdom49¢15¢
United States49¢20¢
Canada29¢20¢
Australia95¢20¢
New Zealand62¢20¢
UAE55¢40¢
Qatar94¢85¢
Saudi Arabia69¢20¢
Data plans on OneSimCard Expedition

OneSimCard Expedition comes with 3 types of Data plans: Zone A, Zone B and Giga.
Discounts are more noticeable on Zone A and Giga plans when purchasing data of up to 5000MB compared to OneSimCard Universal

Zone-A data plan provides discounts in Europe in countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
1000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $20
2000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $35
5000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $45 (compare $90 with Universal)

Zone-B data plan on OneSimCard Expedition has no advantage over other plans. It is best to avoid this plan altogether. Confusingly, the Zone-B plan on OneSimCard Expedition is split into Standard Data allowance and Advantage Data allowance.

The Standard Data Allowance covers countries such as Canada, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
500 MB of data costs $75
1000 MB of data will cost you $100

The Advantage Data allowance covers countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, the UK and the USA.
1000 MB of data costs $75
2000 MB of data will cost you $100

The Giga data plan on OneSimCard Expedition is only offered in Turkey. It offers a further 40% discount on the Universal Giga Plan.
5000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $30 (compare with $50 on Universal)

OneSimCard Europe and More

The OneSimCard Europe plan unifies all of Europe with a uniform rate for calling and texting. You can make a call for 25¢/minute and send a single text message for 25¢ from anywhere in Europe.

This subscription offers two kinds of data plans splitting Europe into two: Zone A and Special

Zone A covers major countries such as the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland
1000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $20
3000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $50 (compare $55 with OneSimCard Universal Zone A)
5000 MB of data for 30 days can be purchased for $60 (compare $90 with OneSimCard Universal Zone A)

Zone Special covers the rest of Europe such as Ireland, Switzerland and Sweden.
1GB of data for 14 days will cost you $50
2GB of data for 14 days will cost you $75
3GB of data for 14 days will cost you $100

Therefore if you are visiting Zone Special countries, you will be better off with a OneSimCard Universal plan.

Data Only SIM Cards

If you are someone who seldom needs to make a phone call and keeps in touch mostly through messaging apps, then a Data Only SIM card can be an ideal and affordable alternative.

You can also use Data Only SIM cards in your Tablets, Chromebooks and Laptops that have SIM slots, and remain online to write e-mails, connect to VPN and watch YouTube.

Keep Go

Keepgo stands out from the other Data Plans because the amount of data you purchase is valid lifetime and will not expire. But there is one catch: You must keep your account active with at least 1 refill a year.

A Keepgo SIM costs $50 to purchase and comes with 1GB data. You can then refill data whenever you need to at discounted rates.

As of writing, a 1Gb refill costs $26
A 3Gb refill costs $61
A 5Gb refill costs $88

Before you buy a Keepgo sim, you must find out if your destination is covered and the type of network you are likely to be on. Most notably missing from this list are Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE, Oman and Bahrain,

KnowRoaming

Do you have a phone that accepts only a single SIM card? Then a KnowRoaming sticker may just be for you.

KnowRoaming is unique in offering a sticker to go on top of your existing SIM card. This sticker operates as a second SIM card, to be used for roaming data. As of writing, this SIM sticker costs $30

Additionally, for smartphones such as the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, Google Pixel 3, KnowRoaming offers an eSIM that can be activated using a serial number. An eSIM (embedded SIM) eliminates the need for a physical SIM card altogether.

If you have a spare SIM slot and like to have a SIM card you can touch and feel, KnowRoaming sells one $10.

There are 3 kinds of data packagesKnowRoaming offers to its customers for flexibility.

Unlimited data packages with KnowRoaming

For select countries around the world, KnowRoaming offers Unlimited data packages starting $4 a day.
A 3 day unlimited global data package costs $10

If you are visiting the USA, KnowRoaming offers an unlimited US data package of $6 for 3 days, which is actually a deal.

These short term unlimited data packages are great for short trips, or when you require large amounts of data for example in an emergency, or if you are left waiting and your options to do anything else for fun are limited.

Long term data Packages with KnowRoaming

Long term with KnowRoaming only lasts either 15 days or 30 days maximum. 🤨

A Global Data package with 1Gb data for 15 days costs $25
while 5Gb data valid for 30 days costs $100

KnowRoaming offers better deals for those roaming in the USA or select countries in Asia-Pacific such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, and Qatar.

The following are the rates for The USA data package and the Asia Pacific data package

Data AmountValidityCost
1Gb15 days$10
5Gb30 days$40

This is a better deal than DrimSim and OneSimCard.

Pay as you go data with KnowRoaming

Know Roaming Pay as you go data rates are very high if you compare to other services like DrimSim. Therefore I would not recommend this.

Country1000 MB dataSend a Text
India$20021¢
Bangladesh$25058¢
Pakistan$20058¢
United Kingdom$25021¢
United States$10018¢
Canada$15025¢
Australia$15025¢
New Zealand$15021¢
UAE$25088¢
Qatar$50048¢
Saudi Arabia$25038¢

GigSky

GigSky takes out the confusion of lengthy rate tables and instead offers a uniform rate in select countries across four of seven regions of the world.

The GigSky data SIM card is ideal when North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The following table list the rates for these regions.

Data AmountValidityCost
800MB1 day$10
1Gb15 days$20
2Gb15 days$30
5Gb30 days$50

However, not all countries are covered in these plans. For example, the Asia-Pacific plan excludes most countries in Central-Asia, Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Europe regional plan excludes the Balkan states and Belarus. The South America regional plan excludes Venezuela, Suriname and the Dominican.

Although Gig Sky covers some of the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean, the rates are much higher for these regions. 1Gb for 30 days will set you back $50.

SIM cards for roaming in the USA 🇺🇸

The United States is a very large travel market which welcomes more than 76 million visitors from abroad every year. More than half of these visitors come from Canada and Mexico. Therefore, international SIM card providers are eager to tap into this market by offering attractive deals and special SIM cards for roaming in the USA.

Roam Mobility

Roam Mobility is specialized in providing a roaming SIM card only for the United States. It targets Canadians who go south of the border for a few days and those who spend their winters in the warmer states.

Roam Mobility prices are stated in Canadian Dollars. Their daily rates start at $4.95/day, which gives you unlimited talk, text and data on 2G network.
The first 1Gb of data will be provided on a 4G/LTE speeds after which your data will slow to 2G for the rest of the day.

This is a competitive rate compared to Bell, Rogers and Fido which charge $7 a day to bring your Canadian plan (talk, text and data) across the border. To protect consumers, Canadian providers, by law, will limit you to $100 of data on your bill.

Roam Mobility provides Monthly plans and Tri-Monthly (snowbird) plans for visitors and business travellers who spend extended time in the USA. Starting at $40 a month, Roam Mobility offers unlimited talk, text and 2Gb of data on LTE speeds and unlimited data on 2G.

Roam Mobility offers Data only plans, which are not add-ons. The amount of data you purchase is all you get. However, the rates for data only are not as attractive as offered by their subsidiary, AoW as discussed below.

AoW – Always online Wireless

Always online Wireless or AoW is a subsidiary of RoamMobility which is discussed above. It provides data-only plans in over 90 countries around the world.

AoW’s data plans are ideal for travellers who may only need to access the internet from their devices for short periods of time. Many travellers, for the most part, do not see the need to be constantly connected. They sometimes require only access their e-mail or retrieve their online bookings.

When compared to data-only SIM cards, discussed earlier, AoW comes out expensive for roaming in most countries. However, it has very attractive rates for roaming in the USA.

Roaming in the USAAmount of DataRate
1 hour100Mb$1
1 day500Mb$3
15 days1Gb$8
15 days3Gb$23
15 days5Gb$35

WorldSIM USA Travel SIM Card

We discussed WorldSIM’s International SIM card above, which works in over 118 countries around the world. However, if you are roaming in the USA for extended periods, then WorldSIM has a USA special SIM card and attractive plans to go with.

If we start with the most expensive USA plan by WorldSIM, it starts at $46 and comes with 11Gb of data valid for 30 days, 200 SMS and unlimited minutes.

The next cheapest WorldSIM USA plan comes with 5Gb of data for 30 days, 200 SMS and unlimited minutes for a total of $35.
Compare this with AoW’s 5Gb data only plan at $35 and Roam Mobility’s $40 plan that offers 2Gb of data on LTE with Unlimited talk and text.

WorldSIM USA uses T-Mobile, which covers 59% of the USA, second only to Verizon. While T-Mobile covers the entire Eastern half of the USA and most of the West coast, there are blank spots in the states of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa, where you will be better served by SIM cards operating on Verizon and AT&T networks.

International SIM for Indian Residents and Students going abroad 🇮🇳

If you are a resident of India who is travelling abroad, there are domestic companies, that are offering International SIM cards with rates posted in Indian Rupees.

While these companies offer attractive packages for talk and text, the rates for the amount of data entirely depends on the local provider they are partnered with abroad. For examples, these SIM cards offer competitive rates for countries like the USA, the UK and Australia. But in places like Canada and the Middle East, it would be best if you skip this option and instead buy a local SIM card in the country you are going to as soon as you land.

Roam1

Roam1 offers plans for talk, text and data for travellers roaming more than 60 countries around the world.

A US SIM from Roam1 card with unlimited talk, text and data for 30 days costs ₹4000 [≈ $55 US]. This same plan is offered by Verizon for $70 and T-mobile for $60 per month.

Roam1 offers discounts to students going to the UK and Australia. While these plans do not offer unlimited data, a UK student plan that offers 10GB of data with unlimited talk and text for 30 days costs ₹2645 [≈ £30].
An Australian student plan which offers 40 GB of data with unlimited talk and text for 30 days costs ₹2695 [≈ A$55]

A Canadian SIM from Roam1 with 2GB data with unlimited talk and text costs ₹3945 [≈ C$73], which is quite expensive.

A SIM for UAE and other Gulf Countries lasts only 10 days but costs a whopping ₹3699.

Airtel

If you are an existing customer of Airtel and have their SIM, then you can activate their International Roaming Pack using their website.

A 30 day International Roaming plan with Airtel that offers with 5GB of data, unlimited incoming calls, 500 minutes of outgoing calls, and 100 SMSs, will cost you ₹3997 [≈ $55 US]. This is probably the best offer with data from Airtel.

If you are rather on a budget and are not particular about a data plan, but require making a phone-call, then Airtel offers a ₹450 [≈ $6 US] plan that gives you 75 minutes of free calling. It is also valid for up to 90 days after activation.

Airtel also offers other plans that are valid for 10 days and 1 day, but these are comparatively more expensive than the two plans discussed above.

Matrix Cellular

Matrix Cellular is a Mehrauli, Delhi based International SIM card provider that has attractive offers if you are an international student roaming in the UK and the USA.

Matrix Cellular offers three plans, exclusive for students going to the USA, which are valid for 90 days. The plans start at ₹3150 and feature unlimited incoming and local calls, 50 minutes of calls to India, 3GB of high-speed data per month and unlimited data on 2g networks.
If you need more high-speed data per month in the USA, you can get 8GB of data for ₹4200 and 15GB of high-speed data for ₹5250, including all the features in the 3GB plan.
A student visa is mandatory to purchase these plans.

If you will be studying in the UK, then Matrix Cellular as similar 90 day plans with start at ₹2700, with 5GB per month of high-speed data, 50 minutes per month of calls to India and unlimited incoming and local calls.
Matrix Cellular also has a UK Student plan offering unlimited high-speed data for 90 days for ₹6750.

There are several plans from Matrix Cellular if you are travelling to the UK and Continental Europe. All plans offer unlimited data on 2G networks and differ only in the amount of high-speed data and the number of minutes of outgoing calls.

If you are travelling to the UAE, Matrix Cellular offers talk, text and data plans for a maximum of 10 days. If you are a heavy data user, for ₹2500, you can get 2GB of high-speed data, 100 Minutes Local Calls 50 Minutes Calls to India.
The ₹3500 plan also 3GB of high-speed data 200 Minutes Local Calls and 100 Minutes Calls to India.
Both plans offer unlimited data on 2g networks and are limited to a maximum of 10 days.

If you simply need to make phone calls from the UAE, there is a 7-day plan for ₹1000 allowing you unlimited incoming calls and 50 minutes of outgoing calls.

If you plan to stay for more than 10 days in the UAE, it is best to buy a local SIM card from local network providers like Etisalat or du (continue reading to the end of this post for a discussion on this)

Matrix Cellular also offers a Global MiFi device which becomes a mobile internet hotspot for all your devices. A mobile hotspot device is ideal when you are travelling with your family or a group.

Matrix Cellular has three MiFi plans that offer unlimited data worldwide depending on the length of your trip.
A 10 day MiFi plan with Matrix Cellular, with unlimited data costs ₹4000,
a 20 day MiFi plan costs ₹5700,
and a 30 day MiFi plan costs ₹7100.

When you return your MiFi device to Matrix cellular, you will be refunded ₹1500 from the total amount you had paid before your trip.

Reliance Passport

Reliance Communications offers a World SIM that is targeted to business travellers. It works in more than 160 countries, with mostly post-paid options – keeping in mind that business people will travel to more than one country in a year.

A local call with Reliance Passport on average costs ₹15/minute in Europe, North America and most of the Middle East. A 1-minute call to India costs an average ₹25/minute.

Data charges are not clearly posted. However, a USA package, which offers Unlimited local calling, 500 minutes to India, and 1GB of data on 4G and unlimited on 2G for 30 days will set you back ₹4000 [≈ $ 55 US]

The Reliance passport is not sold online. You will have to call a number or email them at the address provided on their contacts page.

The Final Word

I can only speak for myself on what I would choose because your circumstances are likely to differ from mine.

As someone who lives in Canada, who travels to India and the Middle East and takes occasional trips into the USA, I have to look at more than one option.

🇮🇳 When I visit India, I stay anywhere between 10 and 30 days. I would usually travel across the states of Karnataka, Maharastra and Gujarat. I may have to make quick phone calls about my whereabouts but having data will be important to me because of WhatsApp.

For Foreigners, buying a SIM in India is a pain. Not only you need your ID, but you need proof of Address as well. The only ID that is widely accepted is the Aadhar card. Although stories about easing the rules for foreigners circulate, I doubt this will come due to mandatory Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

If you do obtain a SIM by persuing a local resident, you will be charged roaming fees as the moment you cross state lines.

Anyway, with all that said, if I am going to India, I would go for OneSimCard Universal with the Asiania Data Plan, which costs $40 for 3Gb of data for 30 days.

🇸🇦 The next time I’ll visit Saudi Arabia is most likely to do Umrah or Hajj. That stay can be anywhere from one week to one month. If I insisted on having an international SIM, for Saudi Arabia, I would go for DrimSIM which would cost me roughly $55 for 1000 MB of data, 39¢ for a one minute call and 18¢ for text.

If I plan to stay for more than two weeks, I would rather, buy a local SIM card. It’s not too hard to buy a SIM in Saudi Arabia: you’ll need to show your Passport and Visa and give them your fingerprints. All major mobile network operators compete in offering special packages to visitors and pilgrims.

There are 3 major SIM providers in Saudi Arabia: the state-owned Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain.
Mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) such as Virgin Mobile, Jawwy & Lebara will use one of the former three networks.

For as little as SR 70, (≈ $20), you can get a SIM card that comes with 10GB of data and 500 minutes of calling (Jawwy SIM 70, STC Sawa, Zain Postpaid Voice Plans Internet)

🇦🇪 If you have read on every SIM card I have written above, you will find that the rates for the UAE don’t make economic sense. If fact, the UAE has the worst rates of mobile and internet in the Middle East and some of the highest costs for accessing the internet in the world.

The UAE has a duopoly of mobile network providers: Etisalat and du. Both provide prepaid packages for tourists and visitors. For 110 AED (≈ $30) du provides 2Gb of data and 40 minutes valid for 14 days (See du tourist plans).
Etisalat offers a Visitor Line for 100 AED (≈ $28) that includes 750 MB of data, 40 minutes and 40 SMS for 90 days. You also get 5 hours of Free UAE-WiFi with this plan.

UAE WiFi by Etisalat and WiFi UAE by du is an initiative to cover all of the Emirates with wireless internet access. Once you obtain a valid UAE number, only then can you connect to one of these networks. WiFi UAE has limited coverage and you can connect for free at a limited speed of 512kbps. If you need HiSpeed WiFi, on either of the two networks, then you will be looking to pay a premium for the day using your credit card or a recharge card.

🇺🇸 If I am visiting USA, it would be anywhere from less than a day to no more than 1 week. For these short stays, Roam Mobility, with their daily rate of $4.95 comes out at the top.
If I only need data, then Always Online Wireless, with their daily rate of $3 for 500Mb would be my next choice.

For a USA trip beyond 1 week, WorldSIM USA Travel SIM Card would be the easiest choice to make. You will get 5Gb of data, 200 SMS and unlimited minutes for 30 days for $35, which makes this an unbeatable deal.

🇪🇺 Since I transit through Europe on my travels, there is a tough choice between Drimsim and WorldSIM Europe.

With WorldSIM Europe, you can get a $27 data bundle for example, for 2Gb for 30 days, which includes 200 minutes of talk time and 200 free SMS. This is great if you are actually holidaying in Europe and are actually going to see places there.

With Drimsim’s pay as you go, model. you will be looking at around $23 for 2Gb data only. If you add in the cost of 200 minutes of outgoing calls, that alone will be around $30.

Drimsim is great if you are in Europe only for a few hours, at an airport that has non-existent wifi or where you may need to pay an additional fee to go online.

🇨🇦 I have a confession to make. At home, I live my life without a data plan on my phone.

😬

It saves me a lot of money because, besides having the Internet at home, my ISP gives me access to more than 1000 of their WiFi hotspots in Southern Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe region.

Additionally, I can get free WiFi in department stores like Walmart, Real Canadian Superstore, Canadian Tire, and at malls such as Toronto Premium Outlets, Vaughn Mills and Square One. Then there are countless of Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Libraries providing free public WiFi to their patrons.

But if I was out on the highway, away from the urban area, and needed Internet access on my phone, then I would seriously consider getting KeepGo.
I don’t see myself as a heavy user of mobile data. Even if I was getting Canada’s cheapest data deal at $15/month, this becomes an unneeded commitment.

With KeepGo, my data will not expire at the end of the month, and I only need to commit to refill once a year and still spend less. On top of that, I can use my KeepGo SIM and data worldwide.

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