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SIM Cards for travel: OneSimCard is unreliable and costly

A local sim card is a better choice when using your smartphone abroad.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images



Hong Kong—An hour late, you finally make it to the metro platform to meet your friend. She, of course, is nowhere in sight. She's probably given up on waiting for you. After all, she can't reach you and you can't reach her. The international SIM card in your Android phone has been working so far, but for some reason it chose to cut out service all day today. You can't make any calls above ground, underground, or anywhere. Not only are you worried, but you're very upset with your international SIM card provider.

True story. This happened to me November 2013. Previously to my Asia trip, buying an international SIM card from OneSimCard seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t.

The reasons why I selected OneSimCard out of all other companies was the inclusion of a free US number and free received calls. But read the fine print: the USA number is free for only the first month, and only calls to your primary (Estonian) number are free.

Local numbers (Personal Extra Numbers) cost $4.99 per month. But I couldn't afford a PEN for eight countries for three months! So I only extended the USA number and left it at that. The worst part is that all SMS messaging is through the Estonian number only—receiving texts at your USA number is impossible.

What was even more frustrating is when service cut out in Manila, Philippines for a day or so, similar to what happened in Hong Kong. Also, I couldn't make any calls or send/receive any texts in Bangkok, Thailand until I switched out my international SIM card for a local one.

Furthermore, I never had mobile internet access in the countries where I was supposed to: Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. None of my friends with local SIM cards had the same problem.

I'm almost glad I had no data while traveling, because it would have been extremely expensive. In the Philippines, for example, 1MB could cost anywhere from $31-$33. With local SMART Jump In SIM, it costs 15 pesos (about .33 USD) per day for 10MB, unlimited texting, and 30 minutes of calls. Likewise, 60,000 Vietnam Dong (about 3 USD) got me a Mobifone SIM card with more than enough minutes for texting and calling.

OneSimCard was of little use to me at all. Don’t be like me, so distracted by trip planning that you make a rash decision. In my experience, a local SIM card is always much more reliable and much cheaper than the OneSimCard international SIM card. I won't be buying from that company again.

What SIM card do you use you travel? Please leave a comment below. Want more Asia travel tips? Stay updated by hitting the subscribe button and or following Melissa at @mdwrites on Twitter.

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