How Does a SIM Card Work Internationally?

SIM cards in a sense are the soul of your phone. You can have a phone without a SIM card that you are going to be able to use with wifi. What you would be able to use it for though, would be to just run some apps and that is pretty much it. You would not be able to make calls, text, or have an internet connection while not being directly connected to a wifi connection. Your SIM card where the information on your phone number and your internet data is essentially stored. A SIM card international or not are actual cards that you put into the phone in one way or another hence the name. These days we have what is called an eSIM. That is basically the same exact thing as a SIM card minus the card part. With an eSIM, you are not going to have the need to insert the actual card in to be able to obtain the benefits if you will.

The reason why the term SIM card comes up so much with international usage of cell phones is the fact that you can buy an international SIM card to be able to use your phone abroad. If you have read through some of the other articles on the site you know that this is just one of the options that you are going to have available when you travel abroad. Other than giving a very brief explanation of what a SIM is this article intends to explore the possibilities that you are going to have, in activating a foreign SIM card when traveling abroad.

  • Why do I have to get a new SIM card?
  • What will happen with my old phone number when I insert a new SIM?
  • Is this the best option?
  • Proper research is required to make a good decision.
  • What is the main reason why people decide to go with a different SIM card?
  • Where you travel makes a world of a difference
  • What else am I going to need to know?

Why do I have to get a new SIM card?

This is pretty simple the reason that you would have to get a new SIM card is to be able to have access to a local phone number. This equals local rates and local coverage. If you were to keep your old SIM in your only option would be to pay the international plan that your regular phone company can provide. That usually means pay ten extra dollars a day beside the normal rate that you pay monthly. This could also mean bad coverage. This is not something that is talked about a lot. Some local phone carriers are not going to be able to give you good coverage internationally. That really doesn’t matter though, if you activate the international roaming plan they will take your 10 dollars no matter what.

That is the main reason why people tend to look for SIM card options to be able to save some money. Also, to be able to have good coverage abroad. These are the two main reasons why getting a local SIM card could be an option. iPhone for example already has the option to hold two SIM cards on one phone. This is something that is probably going to become more and more popular as the years go by. For most Android phones though you are still going to have to actually switch out your regular SIM card to put in a new one that you buy at your destination.

What will happen with my old phone number when I insert a new SIM?

This is something that is actually pretty important and not a lot of people fully understand. The SIM card that is inserted in the phone is what is going to dictate your phone number and your coverage. If you have another SIM card in your regular phone unless you have an iPhone X and above your regular number is going to be shut off. If you get a call on that phone people are not going to be able to reach if you don’t have your regular SIM card in a cell phone. There are also certain phones that have the capacity to hold 2 physical SIM cards.

Now, once you put the SIM card back in you should have your regular phone number without any type of a problem. One of the setbacks traditionally of doing this switch in some loss of personal information that you may have stored on the phone. This is typically the contacts that you have only stored on the SIM card. That is why it is important to store contacts either on your phone directly or in a cloud-based operation. So, that if switch SIM cards you won’t have to deal with those issues.

Is this the best option?

Throughout the site, we usually recommend that you buy another phone, even if it is a cheaper phone with less capacity for apps and all these types of things. That you are going to use internationally. This is something that you could look into if you are someone who travels a lot and to different places. So you are going to be needing new SIM cards for everywhere that you go. If you have a newer iPhone then you won’t have that problem since you are going to be able to have 2 SIM cards working simultaneously on the same phone. That comes with its set of issues that we have talked about in other articles as well. In a sense though, if you have that option then you would not really need to buy another phone.

If you are ok with having your regular number go offline for a little while and want to reach out to all of your regular contacts with your temporary phone then you won’t have a problem making the switch. For the most part, though, this could mean missing out on texts from people that you are only kind of close to. Business calls and things like that could also be something that you miss. If this is something that worries you, maybe the best option is to either have two phones or get an iPhone X or above.

Proper research is required to make a good decision

If you are thinking that is exactly why I am here for I want to do good research. What do you mean do more research than visit your page? You are right! We are going to try and give you, all of the information on what will happen if you make one decision over the other as far as usage goes. The thing is, we can’t say this particular SIM card is the best, because it really all depends on where you are visiting and why you are visiting. Of course, we have more information on that in some of the other pages on the site. If you are visiting Europe you have some companies for example that are going to be able to provide coverage all over the European territory. This is without a doubt one of our favorite things about Europe, everything was so grouped together. Until Brexit came along though and made things tougher on travelers!

These types of political events can and do happen. So, it is unclear at this point in time, as this article is being written, how cell coverage is going to vary in the UK. With of course the entire Brexit ordeal. We are going to try our best to update all of the articles to reflect recent, and relevant information. So that you know which SIM card fits your needs the best. As was mentioned before though, there are a lot of things that could potentially go into making this decision.

What is the main reason why people decide to go with a different SIM card?

One of the main reasons why there are so many different SIM cards available out there is that consumers are looking for different types of things. Even if you are not 100% aware of it at the time that you are looking to buy. Back in the day, people were looking for minutes. That was what was important. The idea of using a foreign was not as popular, but anyways there could be people that are still looking for a way to field and make calls internationally. This is something that is still quite important. Especially amongst the business traveler demographic. One of the things that a lot of companies don’t tell you is that you may not be able to field calls from your regular phone number when you are abroad. There are different ways that you are going to be able to deal with this issue.

On other occasions, people are looking for coverage and data that is not going to cost them a fortune. So, what they are going to be looking for are SIM cards that offer a larger amount of data. This is tough for some of the folks that are just so used to the unlimited data plans that they have back home. For the most part, unlimited data on a prepaid SIM card is not the norm. Of course, the more data that you buy the more expensive the SIM card is going to be. Even though a foreign SIM card can allow you to have data abroad at a better price than you could get from the international SIM card plan on your regular provider it is still always a good idea to try and manage your data wisely. Connecting to wifi, when possible is still recommended. As it is going to allow you to save money at the end of the day. Which, certainly is something that most people are looking for.

Where you travel makes a world of a difference

Where you ultimately decide to travel makes a world of a difference. It is not the norm, but typically you are going to be able to get plans on a cheaper deal if you travel to South America compared to traveling to Europe or even Asia. If you are in Africa and certain parts of Asia and even South America you may have trouble finding things like eSIM cards. That you would need to use the double SIM feature that is available on the newer versions of the iPhone. Again, we want to go back to what we mentioned before. That is another one of the reasons why maybe buying a “travel phone” is a better deal. For example, if you travel to Europe a lot you could buy a phone with a European charger. So that, you won’t have to use a converter and have to deal with these types of issues.

Of course, the price of the SIM cards is going to vary as was also mentioned. Also, though if you are traveling to Canada or Mexico on USA plan you are going to have a smaller international fee from your regular service provider. Usually, the fee is around 5 dollars a day instead of 10 which, is what you are going to be paying for most of the rest of the world. In Mexico though, you are going to have a chance to pay really cheap SIM cards. For around 10 dollars you are going to be able to buy a local SIM card. These cards are valid for the whole month. So you won’t have to deal with the quick expiration dates that a lot of other travel SIM cards have. That is just one example though of how extremely different traveling to one place could be compared to traveling anywhere else on the globe. It really basically depends on where you are from and where you are going.

What else am I going to need to know?

It really depends on what route you decide to take and of course, as was previously mentioned where you are going to travel. Another thing that is worth considering is how long you are going to be in a specific place. Even if you are paying 10 dollars a day for 2 or 3 days it may be worth it just to not have to worry about the whole process of buying a SIM changing it out and all of those things. So, the first thing that you would probably have to know is what path you want to take. If you are going to take your phone and you want to use it with another SIM you are going to want to make sure that it is unlocked. How would you know if your phone is locked or not? That is pretty simple to figure out. If you bought your phone directly from T-Mobile, Verizon, At&t and all of the regular suspects then, the chances are that your phone is locked. So you are going to need to make sure that you get it unlocked before you try and insert a new SIM card.

One thing that is very important in this case, this also something that you need to worry about when you have an iPhone. Even the newer versions that come with the dual SIM function could be locked. So, that is something you are probably going to want to look into before you go ahead and try and buy a new SIM. Another issue that is super important is knowing what type of SIM you need to buy. A lot of people are just going to look at the price and go off that. You need to make sure though that the SIM card that you are buying is compatible with your phone. This is especially true if you are looking to buy a SIM card from Amazon or any other online retailer. Be sure that you know what you are getting. If you are going to buy from this type of retailer the best idea is to buy in advance. That way if you have any type of issue like the one that was just described you get a chance to get all of those things fixed. With same-day shipping, this is something that is not as much of a big deal as it probably once was. It is still something that would be a good idea to keep in mind so that you don’t have any type of trouble moving forward.

Finally, this is something that is sort of permeated through the whole article but planning ahead is key towards getting lower rates. You are going to be able to compare different types of SIM cards as well as any of the extra costs that could include that travel phone that was talked about. At the end of the day, it really helps when you have a clear idea of what you want to do. Then, you search for the best options to be able to actually get all those things done. Hopefully, at least some of the points that were exposed in this particular article can help you make a better decision at the end of the day.