As a traveler, chances are you’ve experienced your fair share of international roaming plans. Truth be told, they aren’t terribly travel-friendly. Most data roaming comes with a hefty price tag, limited coverage, and unclear instructions from service providers.
Enter the prepaid eSIM plan. A prepaid eSIM is a digital data pack that you can download directly onto your phone. Rather than be charged a daily roaming rate by your mobile provider, you pay for the data you want to use upfront. Plus, you can access hundreds of prepaid eSIM plans worldwide, making international connectivity that much easier. Pretty straightforward, right?
Read on for our top five reasons to use a prepaid eSIM instead of an international roaming plan.
1. You Get What You Pay For
When you download a prepaid eSIM from the Airalo app, you know exactly what you’re paying for. Every Airalo plan outlines:
- How much data you can buy (e.g., 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, etc.)
- How long your pack is valid for (e.g., one week, two weeks, one month, etc.)
- The total cost of your package (no hidden fees here!)
- The networks and countries you’ll have access to
- The plan type (if it’s data-only or has a calling card)
- Your activation policy (if it activates upon installing or connecting to a network)
- If you can top up your plan
With an international roaming plan, the opposite is true. Since roaming follows a pay-as-you-go model, many things are out of your control:
- The total cost of roaming
- Your connection to an outside network (premiums can occur when you try to auto-switch to the best network)
- Coverage quality
- The size of the roaming area
2. You Won't Go Over Your Data Plan
Prepaid eSIMs are upfront about when they start and finish. Say you’re traveling to Malaysia and purchase a 1GB data plan for seven days. You’ll get the exact amount of time and data you pay for:
- The eSIM plan will cost what it says (nothing extra)
- It will be active until you use up 1GB of data or seven days lapses
- When your plan expires, you can top it up or download a new one
A data roaming plan operates very differently. If you go over your data allowance, you may not know until you receive your phone bill. And, while some roaming plans will automatically prevent you from using too much data, that threshold varies and is set by the provider.
3. You Can Change Plans Easily
Changing your Airalo eSIM plan is as simple as downloading a new one. Say you're visiting Thailand as well as Malaysia. If your phone supports Dual-SIM-Dual-Standby, you can install multiple eSIMs at once, making it easy to switch between plans for each country. Even better — Airalo offers regional and global prepaid data plans so you can stay connected in multiple countries with just one eSIM.
4. It's Entirely Digital
One of the most significant advantages of an eSIM-compatible device is that you can download data packs to your phone without opening your SIM tray. That means:
- No more waiting to get a SIM card from your local provider
- No more having to find SIM vendors while traveling
- No more losing SIM cards or damaging them while traveling
5. Prepaid eSIM Plans Are More Affordable
As mentioned, roaming plans can be costly. Anything with the promise of unlimited calling, text, and other services comes with a high (and often hidden) price. If you’re after an easy, affordable way to connect, a prepaid eSIM plan is just what you’re looking for.
What if I Need a Phone Number While Traveling?
While most countries don't support phone numbers with an Airalo data pack, the tradeoff is minimal. Data functions allow you to do all the same things from an eSIM, including:
- Make calls over messenger/video-based apps
- Send texts over messenger apps
- Verify information over email
Ready to switch from an international roaming plan to a prepaid eSIM? Browse Airalo’s local, regional, and global plans to get started!