Global SIM Options when you Travel from India

If you think most mobile operators are fleecing you with ridiculously high roaming tariffs, this post is for you.  The good news is there are quite a few options now. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Matrix and Clay, both provide country specific SIM cards. The obvious advantage is that you get a local number for the country you plan to travel to.  The offerings are quite similar and more or less equally priced. However,  both do not provide tariff details on their web site and you have to call them instead. The customer service rep than transfers you to a sales rep who in turn promises to get back with tariff details. C’mon folks, this is 2010! They also provide data services (GPRS and/or Blackberry) for some countries but that seems to be quite expensive ($ 4 per MB in case of Matrix).
  2. Airtel WorldSim: Airtel offers a global SIM that works in many countries. The advantage is that you don’t have to change SIM when you are traveling to multiple countries.  Your Indian Airtel number is mapped on to forward calls to this SIM. So your folks in India can dial a local number to reach you. The negatives are that this is more expensive (per call charges as well as initial SIM card charges) than other alternatives (although less expensive than normal roaming). Also, you will need to have an Airtel connection before you can opt for this service. Since it is a single SIM that works everywhere, you get just one number (a UK number). That is probably good if you are traveling to UK but may not be a good option if you are traveling elsewhere. No GPRS/data services.
  3. Reliance Passport World SIM: This is the cheapest option. Like Airtel, you get one global SIM that works everywhere. But you can’t forward calls from your India number. This also gives you one UK number and so the same issue that applies to Airtel applies here as well. Another big disadvantage is that it works on call back mechanism – which means when you dial a number, the service connects that number, calls you back and bridges you. Not sure if that’s convenient! Even though the web site says they provide data services (GPRS), they don’t.
  4. You could of course stick with standard roaming facilities provided by your cell phone provider. That’s possibly the most convenient option if you are okay to pay that much.
  5. Finally, you could buy Skype credit and use that or buy a SIM card locally.

So what’s been your experience with these? Is there anything else that i’ve missed out?

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15 thoughts on “Global SIM Options when you Travel from India

  1. normally i have observed buying locally helps splly in UK where u hv pretty cheap deals from operators like Lebara. In US u may not be able to buy a Prepaid SIM directly but go for a handset with a sim embedded in it. Even then it works pretty cheap abt 20 USD for handset+10Usd talk time.
    Its the lack of transparency of Matrix and Clay that puts me off and normally the process is also elongated.

    • Nice blog you share a lot of informational. people who use to going abroad can use world SIM, International travel SIM card, Global SIM Card surly you can a big amount.

  2. The option I use is: Keep your phone on roaming. See the number of caller id. Use another phone/local SIM / Skype to call back. This works well as
    1. Most tele marketing call centers do not recieve calls on the number you get on caller ID – that saves you that time.
    2. Of course lowest cost.
    3. You do have an option to pick call on roaming if you want to.
    4. you still send SMS on roaming – which is quite cheap.

    Disadvantage:
    1. You need to carry two phones.
    2. The mobile pricing is so complicated that when buying a local sim – its very difficult to get a pre-paid SIM which gives you cheap local calls, cheap international calls, cheap SMS and cheap data.

  3. i would advise you not to use reliance passport at any cost. grossly unreliable service and worst they just do not want to help you. i travel a lot and would suggest that you buy a local SIM, works best and cheapest.

  4. I have a suggestion which my friend suggested me for Travelers, Businessman, there is a site PrePayMania who are offering UK sim cards for FREE just you to have pay 1 pound to get it deliver to your home(anywhere in world). UK sim card international calls, local calls all can be attended while traveling and that too without roaming charges.

  5. Hello all, Uniconnect is indian company who provides international sim cards to people who travel overseas from India. Uniconnect has prepaid sim cards which are easy to carry. they have local as well as global sim cards. If you are travelling to one country you can carry uniconnect’s country specific card which has unlimited free incoming and comes with talk-time. and if you are planning a multi country visit then opt for their multi country travel card i.e Global sim card. Get the mobile number before you travel. 24X7 Indian customer care as well as local customer care available. anywhere recharge available. for tariffs you can visit http://www.uniconnect.in

    • Skype number can be bought only for a selected countries and India is not in that list. So Skype is not helpful!!

  6. I am going to Canada , one day stay at Seoul. Please let me know which is most convenient method getting connected in India and Canada. if possible also for one day stay at Seoul.

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