Data SIM cards are modern life savers. Whether you are travelling for business, work or pleasure, having an easy way to connect with friends and loved ones is paramount. As a seafarer, you can stay connected on any country’s network with ease using international data SIMs.
In the past, seafarers bought SIM card for the country they dock. This enables them to access individual country’s mobile network. I worked out a separate article for roaming sim cards which includes internet, texts and calls that you can check out.
Now there are several low cost data SIM cards that work internationally. Simply load the SIM card into your phone, turn it on, and enjoy data in nearly every country on the planet. So no matter what port you find yourself in, you can connect to a mobile data network during a smoko.
eSIMs and Data SIM Cards
Many newer phone models can accept eSIMs so a physical SIM card won’t be needed. If you run out of credit on one of these international data SIMs you can easily top up credit online. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular international data SIMs and what each has to offer.
Data only SIM cards are a great option for seafarers. Traditional SIM cards come with a certain allotment for call time, number of SMS messages, and data. These call and messaging rates can vary greatly from country to country and can be a headache to keep track of.
With a data only SIM card, the only thing you need to worry about is going over your data allotment. There are a number of messaging and call apps that you can download on your device which allows you to voice and video chat with anyone in the world.
AIS is a mobile network provider based in Thailand. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with over 62 million tourist entering its borders each year. As tourist arrive they buy local SIM cards which gives AIS a data surplus which it can sell back as a low cost travel SIM.
- Asia and Australia: 10 days; 6GB; $12.85 USD
- Rest of the World: 15 days; 6GB; $28.95 or
- 1 year; 15GB; $90.14 USD
AIS has just started providing eSIMs as well, making staying connected in over 130 countries even easier. If you ever switch networks, you can reset your roaming on your phone and the new network should connect automatically. Furthermore, no matter where you run out of credit, topping up online is easy on any network.
Poginet is a mobile network provider made with the seafarers in mind. Customers can apply online and receive their SIM card in a few ways:
- Receive your SIM by Royal Mail within 4–12 business days
- Get an international SIM sticker that gives you worldwide coverage by Royal Mail within 4–12 business days
- Receive an email with an eSIM and activate your plan from home*
*only available on mobile devices that are compatible with eSIM use.
Poginet is a data only sim card. Their data packages vary depending on what part of the world you find yourself in. In Europe, you can get 3GB of data for around $20 USD. Outside of Europe that same $20 will only get your 1GB of data.
Both of these SIM cards are for 15 days but you can top up your phone credit online. Poginet’s coverage is mostly in Europe, North America, and Asia with little service availability in South American and African countries.
Gigsky is another data-only provider, so you will not be issued a phone number, make regular calls or send SMS messages. They have offered physical SIM cards in the past however they have switched to using eSIMs only.
This narrows the scope of who can use their services because not everyone’s phone is eSIM compatable (yet). Only a Google Pixel 3 or higher, iPhone XR/XS or newer, or an iPad with LTE support can work with an eSIM for now.
If you do have one of these devices Gigsky could be a good solution for you. Their plans are simple and straightforward; for $59.99 USD you can receive 5GB of data in 116 countries for a total of 30 days.
Knowroaming.com provides eSIMs and international SIM cards that work in over 120 countries. While they do offer calls and SMS messages with your SIM card, they also provide packages with unlimited no-roaming data options; perfect for the seafarer constantly switching networks.
Their data packages start at $25.00 USD which gets you 3GB of data for 15 days. Or for $99.99 USD you can get 5GB of data for 30 days. Each of these can easily be topped up online after they have run out of credit.
Travelsim.com is a SIM card provider that works in over 135 countries. They ship your physical SIM card to you before your trip and you choose the country to which you are travelling.
If you have more than one stop planned like many seafarers there is no need to worry, you can change the mobile network at anytime and keep your data credit.
They have 2 separate “zones” for their data packages where Zone A includes 80 countries and Zone B includes all the Zone A countries plus 40 more. Zone B, which offers a more broad coverage area, has varying levels of data you can purchase but 1GB will cost you $69.99 USD and will be valid for 30 days.
That same 1GB in Zone A on the other hand will cost you $19.99 USD for 30 days.
Which SIM Should You Buy?
As a seafarer, having instant and easy connectivity when you come into port is invaluable. Choosing a SIM card with a reasonable rate and good service coverage will allow you to connect with friends and family after those long stints at sea.
Which SIM card is right for you really depends on what you are looking for.
Ease of Use
If you want easy connectivity and have a device that supports it, an eSIM maybe your best option. All of the above mobile network providers offer eSIMs except for Travel Sim. Moreover, if you require a physical SIM card, they options can mail you a working SIM card within 2 weeks at most.
As far as pricing and coverage area, AIS’s SIM2Fly and eSIM2Fly offer the most comprehensive package. With their worldwide SIM card costing $28.95 USD for 6GB of data is one of the cheapest international SIM cards on the market.
You can easily find SIM2FLy SIM cards online and if you ever run out of credit while using your SIM card you can quickly top up phone credit online.
This article is a guest post by Mitchell of Mobiletopup.com.
May the winds be in your favor.