Guide on how to choose an international SIM card
In most cases the answer is yes. Local SIM cards are designed for locals with expensive rates back to North America. The SIM cards you purchase in North America are designed for tourists and business travelers. With them you get cheap locals calls when you arrive and great rates back to the US and Canada.
» Show more
Plus in countries where English isn't the native tongue, you might experience issues trying to add funds to your account or dealing with customer service. With some North American SIM card providers calls to customer service are free.
Should I buy a SIM card before I leave home?
By inserting the right SIM card into your phone, you will avoid roaming charges and save between 50%-90% on talk, text and data compared to the majpr Telecom providers.
» Show more
More benefits to buying an international SIM card before your travel:
- If you're traveling to multiple countries, getting just one World SIM Card back home will save you the hassle of buying individual SIM cards in each country you visit.
- With a pay-as-you-go SIM, you're always in control of how much money you spend and can quickly see how much funds are still on your account.
- With a Canadian or US phone number, those calling you from North America won't incur any long distance charges to call you.
- With some SIM card providers you'll get free incoming SMS anywhere in the world.
Why do I need an international SIM card when I travel?
The main advantage of a pay-as-you-go SIM is that you're fully in control of your usage and spend. This is a great option for those that are not heavy users. For heavy users an unlimited SIM card might be better as long as you fully take advantage of your package. If you don't, you might end up paying more for usage than if you got a pay-as-you-go SIM card in the first place.
Which is better: prepaid or a pay-as-you-go SIM card?
The short answer is yes, if you have an unlocked world cell phone (quad band GSM). You can simply insert any SIM card to ensure you always get the best rates no matter where you travel.
» Show more
Take note that it depends on what type of phone you have, and where you are going. To determine whether or not you can avoid roaming charges with your current phone, you need to answer three questions.
- Is your phone GSM or CDMA?
There are two types of cellular transmission technologies: CDMA and GSM. Sprint - and a number of other US carriers - use CDMA. Most of the world uses GSM. To use your cell phone in Europe and most countries, you will need a GSM phone.
- Do you have a quad band GSM phone?
Different cell companies transmit on different GSM bandwidths. All you need to know is that a dual or tri-band phone won't work everywhere in the world. A quad band phone will (except in Japan and Korea which have their own unique standard.) Most modern smart phones - like the iPhone - are quad band GSM world phones. Most inexpensive phones are dual band. Frequent travelers with a CDMA phone or a dual band GSM phone should consider getting a GSM quad band phone. For a single trip, investigate if your dual band phone will work in your destination.
- Is your phone locked or unlocked?
You can NOT use a SIM card in a locked phone. Most phones that come with a contract are locked. Some cell companies will unlock your phone for you but many will not. You can also have someone unlock your phone for you. Unlocking your iPhone by using a tethered jailbreak, is temporary (when you upgrade your operating system, your phone will relock). There are problems with unlocked phones including shorter battery life. Some people are very happy with their unlocked phone, but many are not.
An inexpensive GSM quad band travel phone is a great option for travelers who don't want to unlock their phone.
Will my phone work when I arrive?
The most affordable travel phone offers voice and text functionality (it's great for staying in touch and emergency communication). For $49 you can purchase a new unlocked travel phone that works in Canada, USA, Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, Asia, Middle East and Ocenia.
» Show more
Purchasing an unlocked GSM travel phone allows you to always use the SIM card that's best for you.
Travel phone rentals are also available, although the declining cost of technology makes rental less attractive. Why pay for return shipping if you'll be making another trip soon?
If I need an unlocked travel phone, how do I choose one?
A number of North American companies provide international SIM cards. A good one should have strong customer service, a large customer base, and offer voice, text and data options.
» Show more
- Strong customer service: You will probably only need customer service once or twice, but when you need it, you really need it. Look for 24/7 support. If English is the only language you speak, make sure the support is in English.
- Have a large customer base: Large distributors will be able to negotiate better rates, and as a general rule, will be able to offer you better rates.
- Offer voice, text and data options: The world is changing. Even if you just want voice on this trip, you may want to surf or check your email on your next trip.
Where do I purchase an international SIM card in North America?
- Simply by changing SIM cards when you travel, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars in roaming fees.
- Frequent travelers should have an unlocked world phone. If your North American phone is locked, or isn't GSM quadband, you can buy an affordable unlocked world phone.
- The most convenient option is to buy an international cell phone, and a World SIM card, before you leave.
- Buying a international SIM card before you leave will get you the best rates on calls and text back home.
- Pay-per-use SIM cards can be cheaper than unlimited ones for non-heavy users because you only pay for calls, texts, and data you actually use. Because you receive an itemized bill, pay-per-use is usually better for business travelers.
- Data roaming rates are even more outrageous than calling rates. An international data SIM card can save you thousands of dollars. A data SIM card is essential if you want to travel with an iPad, you need to check your email frequently or you want to use Google Maps to make sure you don't get lost.
iRoam is a prepaid, convenient Global Talk + Text + Data cellular phone service with exceptional coverage and rates in the USA, Europe and globally while saving you up to 90% in roaming costs when compared with your cellular provider.
Powered by the world's best networks to give you exceptional coverage and connection.