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Are international SIM cards worth it?

Are international SIM cards worth it?

How you can save money with an international SIM card

International SIM cards are often hailed as the best way for frequent travellers to save money by avoiding the extortionate roaming charges levied by their current provider.

Everyone has come across phone bill horror stories where people have returned from their trips only to be greeted by surprise bills running into the tens of thousands of pounds. But what about more careful travellers? Are international SIM cards really worth it?

How much your provider charges for roaming depends not only on your monthly usage plan, but also on where you are. Since June 2017, subscribers to UK providers have paid normal rates when roaming within the EU. Should you venture outside of the EU however, you can still accumulate an extortionate phone bill without realising.

The question is, can you save money by buying an international SIM card?

UK phone providers' standard rate roaming fees compared

For the sake of making a fair comparison between some of the leading UK phone providers, imagine that you have a standard rate SIM card and are travelling to the USA. Assume also that you are planning on keeping in contact with your colleagues and friends in the UK by text, over the phone, and by using your mobile data to send emails and upload photos.

If you are on Tesco Mobile, it will cost you 89p per minute to make or receive a call and 40p per message to send text messages. Using mobile data will cost you £5 per megabyte. On O2, meanwhile, making or receiving phone calls will cost £2 per minute while text messages will cost you 50p per message, with data usage coming in at an eye-watering £7.20 per megabyte.

On EE, unless you are on one of their premium plans, making or receiving calls will cost £1.20 per minute and sending text messages will cost you 60p per message. Roaming data on the network is only available through an add-on. This is good for avoiding expected costs, but it still doesn't make using your phone abroad a particularly affordable venture. The smallest roaming data package EE offer is £4 per day for 40MB of data to use each 24 hours.

Vodafone are slightly different in that they offer global roaming to all their pay monthly customers, even those on their basic packages. This allows them to use their UK allowance abroad, but there is an additional cost of £6/day for the privilege.

How you can save money with an international SIM card

Truphone's Europe Plus international SIM card starts at just £12 per month and works not only throughout Europe, but also in the USA, Australia, and Hong Kong.

Using 300MB, 600 minutes and 500 texts (as included in our £12 per month international SIM card) would cost an average of nearly £1,800 on a standard phone plan provided by one of the major UK companies. Even if you only used half the allowance of a Truphone Europe Plus plan, the savings that you would make by switching to Truphone would still be considerable.

The case for an international SIM card is clear. Find out more about our plans today.


All data quoted correct at time of writing, December 2017.

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