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Travel SIMs

If you’re travelling overseas, data roaming charges can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Before jetting off, make sure you know how much it will cost you to roam at your destination on your current mobile plan.
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These days, many mobile providers, such as the big four (Three, O2, Vodafone and EE) offer options to use your UK data and calls allowance abroad. But this is usually for an additional daily fee.

One way to save money while you travel is to use travel SIMs, specifically an eSIM. eSIM cards are a digital variation on SIM only deals. They allow you to easily swap to different networks without purchasing a new, physical SIM card. This means you can chop and change providers depending on where you are in the world.

As part of this study, mobile experts have revealed how much you could save by purchasing an eSIM card for the most popular destinations around the world, instead of paying for roaming.

This study also reveals the countries that have the greatest mobile data coverage, paired with tips on how you can save money on your handset while travelling.

Countries with the biggest eSIM savings across the world

An infographic to show the countries with the greatest eSIM savings. The Dominican Republic ranks in first place. Here you can save up to £568.57 by using an eSIM card as opposed to your usual mobile package.

You can have up to five eSIM cards stored on one eSIM at any time. This allows you to switch between different networks if you find yourself without a signal on your usual network. Using local networks while abroad can also be much cheaper than paying your UK provider’s roaming costs.

Here are the destinations where you could save the most on your mobile bill by using an eSIM card abroad and where you can make the most of your international SIM card. 

1. Dominican Republic - Save up to £568.57

Highest big four charge - £600

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £31.43

You could save a whopping £568.57 on roaming in the Dominican Republic l by using an eSIM. EE subscribers will find that they will be charged £20 a day to use their UK allowance in the Dominican Republic, totalling £600 for a 30-day stay. But, Airalo offers a 30-day eSIM deal for £31.69, which comes with 4GB of data.

2. United Arab Emirates - Save up to £196.05

Highest big four charge - £225

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £28.95

Travellers to the UAE could save up to £196 on roaming by switching to an eSIM. EE users would be hit by an extortionate £225 charge to use their network in the UAE, while O2 and Vodafone each charge £180. But a 30-day eSIM with Airalo would cost you just £28.95 for 5GB of data.

3. India - Save up to £194.75

Highest big four charge - £205.50

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £10.75

Again, EE charges the most for data roaming in India, where customers are set back a huge £205.50 for a month of data roaming. To save you over £190, switch to an eSIM from Airalo at just £10.75 for 3GB of data.

Maximum CostCheapest Cost
RankCountryBig four providerseSIM 30-day dealsMaximum eSIM deal savings
1Dominican Republic£600.00£31.43£568.57
2United Arab Emirates£225.00£28.95£196.05
15South Africa£205.50£27.30£178.20
An infographic to show the most popular countries in the world and the potential savings that can be made using an eSIM as opposed to your usual mobile package. Travellers to India can save up to £194.75 by using an eSIM.

An eSIM makes it much easier for you to switch mobile networks before travelling. Instead of ordering a new SIM and waiting for it to arrive, you can switch to a different network much faster - either via a phone call or online.

Here’s how much you could save on data roaming by investing in a 30-day eSIM across the most popular travel destinations.

1. India - Save up to - £194.75

Highest big four charge - £205.50

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £10.75

When looking at the most popular travel destinations, India sees the greatest savings for eSIM users. For travellers to India, the potential savings of switching to an eSIM reach £194.75 for a month-long deal. EE charges travellers a massive £205.50 at a rate of £6.85 per day for 500MB. Luckily, you can pick up a much cheaper eSIM from Airalo for just £10.75 for a month with 3GB of data.

2. Brazil - Save up to £188.50

Highest big four charge - £205.50

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £17

EE charges their users a whopping £205.50 for a month’s roaming in Brazil. Travellers to Brazil may be shocked to find out that the cheapest one-month deal offered by the big four providers comes to a huge £150, offered by Three. Alternatively, you can pick up a 12GB eSIM from SIMCorner for just £17, saving you up to £188.50.

3. Japan - Save up to £181.11

Highest big four charge - £205.50

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £24.39

EE users will be charged £205.50 to use their UK allowance in Japan for 30 days. UPeSIM offers travellers 12-day 6GB deals for £9.76, which works out to just £24.39 to travel to Japan with 15GB worth of data for 30 days.

4. Australia - Save up to £163.46

Highest big four charge - £180

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £16.54

You can expect to pay a hefty sum to use your UK allowance when visiting Australia. O2 and Vodafone users, in particular, can anticipate a whopping £180 bill to use their UK data package in Australia. But by switching to an eSIM card from Airalo, you could save up to £163.46, with an eSIM costing just £16.54 for 30 days.

5. USA - Save up to £158.49

Highest big four charge - £180

Cheapest 30-day eSIM deal - £21.51

Travellers to the US could save up to £158.49 on their phone bill by switching to an eSIM. Both O2 and Vodafone offer travel deals which will set you back £180 for a month of roaming in the US (both charging £6 a day to use your UK allowance). Yet, Airalo currently offers a 30-day eSIM deal at just £21.51 for 10GB of data. 

Regions with the most reliable 4G mobile data coverage

An infographic to show the regions across the world with the most reliable 4G coverage. North American ranks first, with a 99% 4G coverage rate.

When travelling, it’s good to have an idea of where you will be able to get a reliable mobile internet connection, especially as some destinations offer better connections than others.

Here are the regions with the best 4G coverage according to the GSM Association.

1. North America - 99%
2. East Asia - 97%
2. Europe & Central Asia - 97%
3. South Asia - 94%
4. Sub-Saharan Africa - 58%

North America has the greatest 4G coverage of all regions, coming in at 99%. East Asia, Europe and Central Asia and South Asia also record high coverage rates between 94% and 97%.

Regions with the most reliable 5G mobile data coverage

An infographic to show the regions across the world with the most reliable 5G coverage. North American ranks first, with a 92% 5G coverage rate.

Currently, 4G can reach download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, which is great for everyday use. Whereas, for speed and reliability, 5G is far superior. Networks with 5G can reach download speeds of up to 20 Gbps, which is up to 100 times faster than 4G.

But 5G has not been deployed as effectively as 4G has in many parts of the world. North America is the only region where 5G coverage is over 50%. If you rely heavily on mobile data, be sure you know the 5G coverage of your next travel destination.

1. North America - 92%
2. East Asia - 47%
3. Europe & Central Asia - 42%
4. Middle East & North Africa - 9%
4. Latin America & Caribbean - 9%

North America again records the highest coverage for mobile data, with 5G available across 92% of the region. Outside of North America, 5G coverage drops off dramatically, with the next highest, East Asia, recording just 47% coverage, followed by Europe and Central Asia at 42%. Regions outside of this, such as the Middle East, then drop to below 10% coverage.

Countries with the most reliable mobile networks for data roaming 

An infographic to show the countries with the most reliable mobile networks for data roaming. Australia ranks first with a coverage score of 9.11/10.
1. Australia - 9.11

Average Coverage - 99.3%

Average Overall Download Experience (Mbps) - 53.4

Australia and Singapore have the best mobile networks for data roaming. In Australia, the network availability is slightly less than in Singapore with an average coverage of 99.3% across three providers. However, Australia has a better download speed at 53.4 Mbps. To further improve the country's network coverage, Australia’s Optus network launched its 5G standalone access network in August 2022, enabling more advanced 5G services.

1. Singapore - 9.11

Average Coverage - 99.4%

Average Overall Download Experience (Mbps) - 53.1

Singapore has the highest average coverage of all countries we’ve looked at, coming in at an exceptional 99.4% network availability across four providers, with Singtel and Starhub offering 99.5% coverage. With an average download speed of 53.1 Mbps to boot, Singapore also offers one of the best mobile networks in the world right now.

3. Canada - 8.75

Average Coverage - 98.8%

Average Overall Download Experience (Mbps) - 63.6

Canada ranks as the next best country for mobile data networks, with an average mobile coverage of 98.8% and a super high average download speed of 63.6 Mbps. Canada’s big three network carriers – Bell, Rogers and Telus – collectively own 80% of the total 3.5 GHz band spectrum (which is crucial for 5G in the country) and have recently started using it for 5G tech. 

RankCountryNetwork availabilityAverage Download Speed Experience (Mbps)Coverage score /10
9United Arab Emirates98.50%43.47.15

Tips to save money on your mobile bill while travelling 

Here are some tricks you can use to save money on your phone bill during your next holiday or travelling adventure.

See what eSIMs can offer you

eSIMs are well worth considering. A local eSIM bundle is typically cheaper than data roaming bundles from the big four networks, or when paying per MB when in foreign countries. Check out the above to see where you can save the most money on mobile roaming by using an eSIM.

Keep your eye out for free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, from hotels, restaurants and bars to cafes and public transport. Some areas, such as airports, may charge you a small fee for a Wi-Fi connection. But this will often be cheaper than paying for additional mobile data.

For data-intensive tasks, such as uploading your holiday pictures to social media or video calling home, it’s a good idea to find free Wi-Fi if you can. But remember to make sure any network you join is safe and secure.

If you want some additional security, you could also consider purchasing a VPN. This will provide a private connection between your device and the websites you visit and add an extra layer of security that encrypts your data.

Turn off auto updates

Many phones have settings that auto-update your phone's software and apps. This can be especially data-heavy, particularly if you are travelling for a while and you have multiple updates to action. Turning off auto-updates can help you to save a lot of data and minimise your roaming expenses. Alternatively, you can set your phone settings so that auto updates only take place when you are connected to Wi-Fi.

Download content before you travel

Before travelling, download any films, TV shows, e-books or music you might want to access while you’re away. This can help to save you a lot of data should you want to consume your favourite media on the go.


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