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Which SIM Is the Best for You-Local SIM? International SIM? or eSIM?

Jan 30,2024 | wilming

Free photo top view of three sim cards with smartphone

photo top view of three sim cards with smartphone

Local SIM, International SIM and eSIM

A local SIM is a small chip that you insert into your phone, which allows you to connect to the local carrier's network. This means that you will be using a local phone number and have access to local data, voice, and text services. Local SIM cards are typically obtained when you arrive at your destination and can be easily purchased at airports, convenience stores, or telecom stores. They offer cost-effective rates compared to international options, and they provide the convenience of having a local phone number during your stay.

Photo sim cards, a memory card, a pin near the smartphone

Photo sim cards, a memory card, a pin near the smartphone

An international SIM card is a specialized SIM card designed for travelers who frequently visit different countries. It allows you to use your mobile device and stay connected to voice, text, and data services while abroad without incurring excessive roaming charges. Unlike a local SIM card, which is specific to a single country, an international SIM card provides coverage in multiple countries, making it a convenient option for those who travel across borders. This eliminates the need to switch SIM cards or rely solely on costly international roaming services provided by your home carrier.

Photo close-up sim card on fingertip

Photo close-up sim card on fingertip

eSIM , or embedded SIM, is an industry-standard digital SIM card that is built into your device. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards that need to be inserted and removed, eSIMs are embedded within the device itself and can be programmed with multiple carrier profiles. This technology allows you to switch between different carriers and plans without the need to physically swap SIM cards.

Local SIM

Local SIM cards are a popular choice for travelers who want to stay connected while visiting a single country. They offer several benefits, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of using a local SIM card for your travels:

Pros of Local SIM Cards

  • Cost-Effective

Local SIM cards often offer cheaper rates for data, voice, and text services compared to international options. This can help you save money, especially if you're planning to use your phone extensively during your trip.

  • Widely Available

Local SIM cards can be easily purchased at airports, convenience stores, or telecom stores at your destination. They are readily accessible, making it convenient for you to get connected upon arrival.

  • Local Phone Number

Using a local SIM card allows you to have a local phone number, which can be beneficial for various reasons. It makes it easier to communicate with residents and local businesses, and it also helps you avoid extra charges for receiving calls from your home country.

Free photo smiling young asian woman using mobile phone while sitting in kitchen room at home with laptop

photo smiling young asian woman using mobile phone while sitting in kitchen room at home with laptop

Cons of Local SIM Cards

  • Inconvenience

Switching SIM cards can be time-consuming, especially if you frequently visit different countries. You'll need to remove your existing SIM card and insert the new one, which may involve turning off your phone and potentially losing any unsaved data or settings.

  • Limited Coverage

Local SIM cards may have limited coverage outside of the country you purchased them in. If you plan to travel to multiple countries, you may face challenges with network coverage and connectivity. This can be a drawback if you have a multi-country itinerary.

  • Language Barrier

Some local SIM card providers may have limited English support. This could make the purchasing process more challenging for non-native speakers, especially if you need assistance with activating or configuring the SIM card.

International SIM cards are specifically designed for travelers who want to stay connected while visiting multiple countries. They offer several advantages, but it is essential to consider their drawbacks as well. Let's explore the pros and cons of using an international SIM card for your travels:


International SIM

Pros of International SIM Cards

  • Convenience

One of the significant benefits of international SIM cards is the convenience they offer. With an international SIM card, you can use the same SIM card across multiple countries, eliminating the need to switch SIM cards or worry about compatibility issues.

  • Wide Coverage

International SIM cards often have broad coverage in various countries, making them suitable for travelers with multi-country itineraries. You can enjoy seamless connectivity without the hassle of searching for local SIM cards in each destination.

  • Prepaid Options

Many international SIM cards offer prepaid plans, allowing you to control your expenses and avoid unexpected roaming charges. You can choose a plan that best suits your usage requirements and budget, providing cost-effective connectivity wherever you go.

  • Advanced Roaming Options

International SIM cards may provide additional features like free incoming calls, discounted rates for international calls, and access to data services at lower rates compared to regular international roaming charges. This can result in significant savings while keeping you connected.

Free photo phortrait of young cheerful dark skinned guy in yellow shirt walking down the street , holds telephone, chatting with friends, broadly smiling, looks happy.

photo phortrait of young cheerful dark skinned guy in yellow shirt walking down the street , holds telephone

Cons of International SIM Cards

Higher Costs: While international SIM cards offer convenience, they may come with higher costs compared to local SIM cards or other alternatives. The rates for data, voice, and text services on international SIM cards can be more expensive, especially when compared to purchasing a local SIM card in each country.

  • Limited Choices

International SIM cards are typically provided by selected telecom companies, limiting your options for service providers. This might restrict your ability to choose a preferred network or take advantage of specific promotions or deals available with local providers.

  • Device Compatibility

Not all devices are compatible with international SIM cards, particularly if they are locked to a specific carrier. You may need to ensure that your device is unlocked or supports the necessary frequencies and technologies to use an international SIM card.

  • Less Local Presence

With an international SIM card, you won't have a local phone number in each country you visit. This may make it slightly less convenient for communicating with residents or local businesses. However, the ability to keep your existing phone number can be viewed as a benefit for those who want to maintain consistency.



eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a virtual SIM card that is built into your device. It offers several advantages over traditional physical SIM cards, but there are also some considerations to keep in mind. Let's explore the pros and cons of using eSIM:

Pros of eSIM

  • Convenience

With eSIM, you can switch between different carriers and plans without physically changing the SIM card. This provides unparalleled flexibility and convenience, especially for frequent travelers or those who switch network providers frequently.

  • Space-saving

eSIM eliminates the need to carry multiple physical SIM cards, which can be beneficial if you have a dual SIM phone or if you prefer a streamlined and clutter-free experience.

  • Enhanced Security

Unlike physical SIM cards, eSIM cannot be removed if your device is lost or stolen. This provides an added layer of security, as the SIM is embedded into the device's circuitry.

  • Over-the-Air Activation

With eSIM, you can activate your SIM card remotely over the air, using a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. This eliminates the need for physical SIM card swapping or visiting a store for activation.

Free photo traveller with hat browsing mobile phone

photo traveller with hat browsing mobile phone

Cons of ESIM

  • Limited Device Compatibility

While eSIM technology is becoming more widespread, not all devices support it. Before considering eSIM, it's important to ensure that your device is compatible with eSIM functionality.

Click/tap here*** to check the eSIM compatibility of your device

  • Limited Carrier Options

While eSIM adoption is growing, not all carriers support this technology. You may have a limited choice of network providers when compared to physical SIM cards, especially in certain regions or countries.

  • Potential Activation Challenges

While over-the-air activation is convenient, there can be instances where eSIM activation may not be as seamless as desired. This can include issues with network connectivity or specific carrier requirements for eSIM activation.

  • Reliance on Network Coverage

As with any SIM card, eSIM functionality depends on network coverage. If you are in an area with limited or no coverage, the eSIM may not provide connectivity.

Where to get one eSIM?

You can acquire an eSIM from a third-party provider, such as ByteSIM . ByteSIM offers access to a wide range of eSIM plans for over 200 countries and regions worldwide. Customers can select the most suitable data plan for themselves, such as data amount( 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, 20 GB and unlimited), service days( 1 Day, 3 Days, 5 Days, 7 Days, 10 Days, 15 Days, 20 Days and 30 Days) and data plan quantity. Of course, there are up to 16 payment ways such as VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, AMEX, JCB, ApplePay and the like.


To utilize an eSIM, your phone must be carrier-unlocked and compatible with eSIM technology. This means that your phone should not be bound by a contract with a specific carrier and must support the use of eSIMs. It's advisable to check with your mobile provider to ensure that your phone is unlocked.

Click/tap here*** if you have no idea how to set up an eSIM


When deciding on the best travel SIM option, consider your travel preferences and requirements. If cost-effectiveness and local presence are important to you, a local SIM card might be the right choice. For convenience and coverage across multiple countries, an international SIM card is worth considering. Alternatively, for ultimate flexibility and space-saving benefits, eSIM is an excellent option, provided your device supports it.

Ultimately, the best travel SIM option varies depending on individual needs, destinations, and device compatibility. It is essential to research and compare the available options and choose the one that best suits your travel requirements.

ByteSIM, the reliable eSIM partner for more than 5 million users every year!