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International SIM cards for traveling abroad with iPhone in 2024

Get to know the options available to get international SIM cards for iPhone when traveling. Find out what they offer and where to get them.

Mark Robins

January 1, 2024

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With an iPhone, you can travel internationally and get the internet abroad easily – but don’t get ripped off. You should make sure you buy affordable international SIM cards for your iPhone before you travel abroad.

Let’s learn more!

International virtual SIM card

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Can I get International SIM cards for an iPhone?

When traveling, people will need to stay connected. In this case, travelers can get access to a prepaid international SIM card iPhone to have an internet connection while abroad

One thing that’s important to keep in mind when using or trying to get international SIM cards for iPhone is to read all about the data plans the company offers and how long it takes to receive the SIM card, in case it’s delivered internationally.

But beware, keep in mind that the iPhone 14 international version only comes with eSIMs. The same goes for the latest iPhone 15 and all its models. Therefore, people need to keep this in mind before traveling as they will need to have access to a virtual SIM card rather than a traditional SIM.

Does my iPhone need to be unlocked to use an international SIM card?

The short answer is yes. This is due to the fact people won’t be using local mobile carrier networks. Let’s say you are traveling to Europe. There, you will get access to other networks, such as the ones provided by Orange, Vodafone, Three UK, and many others.

Therefore, make sure you have an unlocked iPhone before getting a SIM card, as you won’t be able to connect to international mobile networks. So, you might want to check how to unlock SIM on iPhones if that’s your case to stay connected!

How does an international SIM card work on an iPhone?

International SIM cards work in iPhones exactly as a traditional SIM card, but with an international SIM, you can connect to the internet abroad and, in some cases, make and receive calls. You can buy an international SIM card in online stores or when you land at your destination.

The only thing you will need to have is an empty SIM card slot on your device to install it, and you also need to purchase the SIM card before traveling if that’s what you prefer.

Other than this, depending on the carrier people decide to use, chances are there will be some extra features available for use.

For us, we recommend buying an international SIM card before travel. It comes with cellular data at an affordable price from the moment you land.

How to use an international SIM card on the latest iPhone models?

If you have one of the new iPhone devices (iPhone 14 and iPhone 15), you cannot get an international SIM card abroad since these new smartphones don’t support traditional SIM cards, but you can purchase an international virtual SIM card or eSIM and enjoy your travel without connection problems.

International SIM cards for iPhone
An iPhone 15 is seen from behind. Source: Pexels.

Both alternatives (international SIM cards and eSIMs) are cheaper than the roaming services usually offered by your domestic local operator. Depending on the company people decide to use, they can get access to unlimited data and phone calls depending on their destination. One of the best companies to get an iPhone eSIM is Holafly due to all the features it offers.

  • Keep in mind that some iPhones have locked bands and cannot support an international SIM card or eSIM; you can check here if your iPhone is unlocked to use international SIM cards or eSIMs.

How to get an international SIM card for iPhone?

As we mentioned before, there are two options for buying an international SIM card for the iPhone:

  • Buy before you travel in online stores.
  • Buy at your destination.

But which one should you choose? Let’s compare:

Advantages of buying before you go

  • An internet connection the moment you land is perfect if you need to order a cab from the airport or use Google Maps.
  • Order online from the comfort of your own home.
  • Don’t get ripped off – some operators know that tourists will spend almost anything to get online (especially in a foreign country). With an online store dedicated to travel, you can trust you’ll get the right price.
  • Buy in your language – if you don’t know how to say “SIM card” in Chinese, it might be challenging to get the right product.

Advantages of buying once you arrive

  • More choices – you might find that at your destination, there are more data plans available to find the right fit for your trip.

You can buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card for tourists abroad in airports and at official stores from the leading operators in each country. For Example, in the USA, you can buy an eSIM USA card for travelers with AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, and in the UK, you can buy some of these SIM cards with Vodafone UK. For a Canadian eSIM, there’s Rogers, which is an option to mention, too.

International SIM cards for iPhone
A person taking a photo of some train rails. Source: Pexels.

International SIM card iPhone T-Mobile

T-Mobile is well-known within the USA, and they do offer different data packages to use while abroad. In this case, not all the carriers plan work while traveling internationally. 

Therefore, people need to check what plan they prefer using from the different available, such as the Magenta and Go plans the company provides. 

T-Mobile SIM card USA

It’s important to keep in mind that, depending on the data plan people choose, chances are they need to pay an extra fee for what they consume abroad.

International SIM card iPhone AT&T Mobile

When talking about AT&T Mobile, they offer an international SIM card to use while traveling abroad

Currently, their service works in more than 225 countries around the world. When using this service, people can get access to different amounts of mobile data depending on the plan they are using.

AT&T SIM card USA

Also, people can use phone calls and text messages with the AT&T SIM card.

International SIM card iPhone Verizon

The alternative given by Verizon works differently. In this case, people can pay a plain fee of $10 per day and get access to their local mobile plan.

For Verizon customers, this means they can get to use their text messages, phone calls, and data allowance while traveling to more than 210 destinations around the world. In certain destinations, such as Mexico and Canada, the fee is set to $5 per day.

Verizon SIM card USA

There’s also another option given by Verizon. In case people are traveling somewhere without coverage to the Travel Pass 210 destinations, the pay-as-you-go becomes the best option to use. Here, fees are different, and people will be charged for each MB, phone call, and text message they spend.

International SIM card iPhone Vodafone

When talking about a prepaid international SIM card from Vodafone, there are different options available for use. As there are so many data plans to choose from, people will get the chance to get Xtra Plans, which allow customers to use their UK data plan while abroad, or they can use the pay-as-you-go service instead.

Either way, Vodafone gives people the chance to use their services in more than 150 different destinations around the world. 

Virtual SIM cards for using iPhones internationally

A virtual SIM card or eSIM is a recently developed tech known for being easy to use and cheaper than other services, and as an iPhone user, you can take advantage of this new technology.

But what are the benefits of using a virtual SIM card when traveling? Let’s list them!

  • Virtual SIM cards are easy to get. Travelers only need to visit a mobile carrier website or app, in the case of Holafly, and choose the data plan for the destinations they are visiting, and they are all set.
  • Easy activation process. People only require a QR code to activate an eSIM, and this process is done within minutes. Even if you have iOS 17.4 or higher, you can use the automatic installation function without a QR scan.
  • No need to wait for delivery. As virtual SIM cards are sent directly to the email, there’s no need to worry about it not arriving on time.
  • Cheaper than a SIM card. As there’s no need to pay for the physical SIM card and no need to pay for delivery, it’s cheaper for users to get a virtual SIM card!
  • Unlimited data makes it better. People can use unlimited data if they use Holafly as their carrier, which helps travelers to stay communicated.

Overall, it’s a great option when traveling. The only thing to keep in mind is to use an eSIM-compatible device! Beyond this, setting up the eSIM on the iPhone is much easier and more direct than other alternatives.

Holafly home website.

Can I use an international eSIM on my iPhone?

Since the iPhone XR came to the market, Apple has been including the virtual SIM card feature on all its devices

Therefore, people with devices from that generation can get to use an eSIM while traveling abroad with an iPhone by properly setting things up. There are some devices that only work with eSIM now, such as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15, as we mentioned before.

In this case, the only thing to remember, just like when using an international SIM card, is to have an unlocked mobile.

Learn more about the devices compatible with eSIM in the following post: eSIM Supported Phones list, and if you are interested in knowing which smartwatches support eSIM, you can take a look here: Smartwatches compatible with eSIM.

How to set up an international eSIM on an iPhone?

  • Turn on WiFi
  • Click “Add new data plan” from your settings menu.
  • Scan the QR code
  • Install the eSIM and choose it as the option for cellular data.
  • Turn on data roaming, and start browsing.

It’s as easy as that and only takes 3–4 minutes!

You can also transfer an eSIM from one iPhone to another. Check this post to learn how you can do so: How to transfer an eSIM from one iPhone to another?

Automatic Activation

Holafly has integrated a new function called “Automatic Installation” into iPhones when we use their eSIM. It is included in the Apple mobile app, which allows you to use automatic installation when you buy an eSIM as long as you have iOS 17.4 or greater.

Holafly eSIM installation process
Holafly eSIM installation process. Source: Holafly.

To use this function, we must have access to our user in the Holafly App and then follow the steps

  • The user must be logged in
  • Select the eSIM and the destination you want to install
  • Select automatic installation
  • Finally, you have to click on the “install and activate” button
  • You can go to the cellular network menu to see your installed eSIM

Where can I use my iPhone to connect to the Internet abroad?

With an iPhone, you can enjoy many popular destinations abroad, such as:

  • The United States:
    • Fast internet connection with AT&T, perfect for your trip to the US.
    • Lower prices, so you don’t have to break the bank to get online.
    • The best option for a trip to Miami, New York, or any other part of the USA.
  • Asia:
    • Fast internet in many countries around Asia.
    • 4G speeds are available on these destinations.
    • Affordable prices for the eSIMs are available.
  • Europe
    • 40 destinations with Europe eSIM – and all for the price of one!
    • Connect to the best internet provider in each destination.
    • Options for up to a month, so you’re covered during your whole trip.
    • Phone calls to most European destinations.

Discover all 160+ destinations at Holafly’s online store.