Making international calls, whether calling loved ones and friends, business associates, or anyone else back home when abroad can be very expensive. Expense is not the only thing you need to think about because you also need a carrier or network provider who is reliable and who will ensure calls that are of sufficient quality. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps you need to take to ensure you find an international SIM card that serves your exact needs.

To Get an International SIM or International Calling Add-on?

Before looking at how to get an international SIM, let us look at the difference between one and an international calling add-on. You can buy an add-on for international calls if you use or have a contract with a network that charges high international calling fees.

These add-ons add cost to your monthly bill and will either reduce the cost of calling an international number to a few pennies or give you a set number of international minutes every month. These add-ons are not a bad value if you make a lot of international calls, but they are if you only make a few of them a month.

These add-ons are also not the cheapest option either because Lebara gives you a generous amount of international minutes as part of your monthly plan.

Additionally, the monthly cost of these international SIMs is in line with what you would be charged by major networks, meaning one can be cheaper than having a mobile contract and an international calls add-on.

First Step, Determine Your Destination and Calling Locations

Before comparing carriers and network providers, you should list all the countries you will visit or the ones you will be calling frequently. The reason for doing this is that different SIM cards and providers have different rates depending on the regions and countries you wish to call. This means the regions you call or travel to and your chosen provider will determine how much you pay for the calls.

If you travel instead of calling from home, some of them might not have enough coverage, meaning you will have a SIM card that does not serve its purpose.

Starting Your Search for the Best SIM for International Calls

The first place to start looking for an international calling SIM card is online. Start with reputable review sites where real users discuss and compare these SIM cards. Remember to pay attention to the overall satisfaction level, call quality, customer support, and any potential issues or limitations reported by users as you do your research.

Once you have gone through different review websites, you should have a list of providers who likely fit your criteria.

The next thing to do is to go through all their websites to find relevant information about their international SIM cards and rates. Remember to check the calling and receiving rates in different zones and regions around the world.

Apart from online resources and review websites, other sources of information include local mobile stores and travel websites if you want a SIM card that lets you call home as you travel abroad.

Compare Rates

Now that you have information on the calling rates for different providers, it is time to start comparing them. The best SIM for international calls should have affordable per-minute rates or generous minute allocation on a typical plan.

In addition to comparing the typical rates on their websites, you should also do some digging to determine if the different carriers have additional or hidden charges. Factor these in when making your comparison to ensure you have the full picture before choosing a carrier.

Consider Data and Other Services

Just because you are looking for a SIM for international calls doesn’t mean you do not need other services. Providers like Lebara, who bundle international minutes into their plans, also have generous data, minute, and text allocations.

You should check all the providers on your list to ensure they provide the additional services you might need alongside your minute allocation.

If you travel around the EU a lot, you might also get free international calls from providers. You should be on the lookout for this, as it can save you a lot of money if you pick the right provider. Also, check where you can access the internet using your SIM card in the different countries you travel to.

Some providers have been known to limit internet connectivity depending on the countries you visit, so this is very important.

Research Coverage and Network Quality

Every provider says their network has the best coverage and quality. Evidence shows that this is not always the case and that you must check these claims for yourself. You can lean on reviews from reputable sources again to discover whether the claims different providers make are true.

Remember that different providers have great coverage in areas where they know people call a lot, and it might be spotty in other areas.

Check The Validity Period

You must know how long your SIM card is valid for. Some international calling SIM cards have limited validity, meaning they will expire unless you use them within a given timeframe. It is a good idea to consider a SIM card with an extended validity period or one without.

Also, many people choose SIM cards with rolling contracts that they can activate as they like. These are typically 30-day contracts, after which they can be renewed at the end or after some time when they have used the SIM card. Just be sure to check the fine print to ensure the SIM card doesn’t become invalid if you do not renew your contract or use it after a set period.

Purchase and Activate the SIM Card

At this point, you should have a provider who it’s all your criteria and that you trust for your international calls. The next thing to do is to purchase and activate one. How you go about this will depend on the carrier you have settled on. Some allow you to order a SIM card via Royal Mail, while others require that you visit their shop for purchase and activation.

Regardless, you should follow the instructions provided to activate the SIM card. Note that you might be required to provide some information, such as your identification, and to fill out some forms. Once all this is done, the only thing remaining is to insert it into your phone and turn your device on or unlock it.

Test the SIM Card

Before relying on the SIM card for important international calls, test it by making a few calls to ensure the connectivity and call quality meet your expectations.  It is also a good idea to check whether additional settings or configurations are required for optimal usage.

If you have any issues connecting to the network or the internet, you can check the provider’s network or contact their customer service agents. Lebara has detailed guides on setting up your device and agents standing by during business hours to help.

An international SIM card makes it easy and affordable to call friends and loved ones where they or you are abroad. Picking the best SIM card for international calls requires research, comparisons, and considerations to ensure you get one that serves your needs.