International SIM Card for iPhone
Once you start using a smartphone, it’s next to impossible to give it up - just way too convenient. But, with many US cell plans restricting (or wildly overcharging!) international data plans, bringing your phone overseas can be a challenge. We knew that, traveling for a year, we A) couldn’t pay the daily international fees our provider offered, but B) absolutely needed phone and data access. After some research and experimenting, we quickly realized that the best international SIM card for the iPhone is Google Fi.
Why Trust Our iPhone International SIM Card Recommendation?
We spent a year overseas, splitting our time between exploring new places and working remotely. The second part - remote work - allowed the first part. Without cash coming in, we’d be hard pressed to get out and see new places.
To keep working on the road, we needed reliable wifi and phone plans (especially Jenna, who had regular phone and Zoom calls with clients and co-workers back in the States). Enter Google Fi. Before leaving the US, we had our current cell providers unlock our iPhones, bought Google Fi SIM cards, and tested them out.
Super easy! When you throw the Google Fi SIM card into your iPhone, it picks up the closest local network, giving you easy access to cell and data. And, because you keep your existing phone number, you don’t need to go through the hassle of letting your entire contact list know you changed numbers. For the next year, whether we needed to use our phones as a hotspot tether while working at a coffee shop or just to look up a local restaurant, Google Fi let us do it - for a fraction of the cost our cell provider was going to charge!
Why We Love the Google Fi SIM Card for iPhones
Affordability without a contract: When we asked our existing provider about international cell and data plans, we were told it would be $10 per day per phone! ~$600/month is exorbitant. The Google Fi plan we selected, on the other hand, only cost $40/month per phone and didn’t require a contract - free to stop and start as you please!
International coverage: The Google Fi SIM card provides coverage in over 200 locations outside of the US, Mexico, and Canada, making it ideal for overseas travel. When you get off a plane in a new country, turn the phone on and it will find/connect to a local cell network. (NOTE: Turns out Namibia is not one of these 200 locations, something we found out the hard way. So, cross reference Google’s location list against your itinerary when planning a trip).
Hotspot tethering: We both did the bulk of our work on laptops, so unlimited hotspot tethering was an awesome perk. While VPNs can provide some protection, we’re both always nervous about connecting to public wifi. With a hotspot tether, you have the inherent password protection of a private network. Plus, from a convenience perspective, the hotspot lets you work anywhere you have cell service, which helps a ton when an apartment’s wifi is running slowly.
Keep your existing phone number: This is a huge selling point. Changing phone numbers is a pain. No one wants to go through the hassle of switching providers and not being able to take your current number with you. With the Google Fi SIM card, you keep your number.
Ease of use: Chipp claims to be many things - tech savvy isn’t one of them… But, even he could figure this out. 1) Insert the SIM card into your iPhone; 2) activate the service via the Google Fi app; and 3) go travel! (NOTE: You need to activate the service while still in the United States, so make sure you don’t head overseas before you’ve activated your plan).
Here’s a full list of the Google Fi international iPhone SIM card features published by Google:
Unlimited calls and texts (all plans)
No contracts or activation fees (all plans)
Built-in VPN and spam blocking (all plans)
Contact controls & data budgets (all plans)
24/7 customer support (all plans)
Easily switch between plans (all plans)
Unlimited data in the US, Mexico, & Canada (Unlimited Plus*)
Data slower after 50GB in a month (Unlimited Plus*)
Unlimited hotspot tethering (Unlimited Plus*)
Free data in over 200 destinations while traveling outside the US, Mexico, & Canada (Unlimited Plus*)
Free texts and 20¢/min for calls while traveling outside the US, Mexico, & Canada (Unlimited Plus*)
*NOTE: Google offers three Fi plans. We selected the “Unlimited Plus” plan, because it made the most sense for our remote work situation. According to Google’s promotional materials, this plan is “Great if you travel, want unlimited tethering, or use lots of data.” Perfect!
Story from the Road
Due to an overstretched electricity grid, South Africa has to regularly cut power to conserve energy, a system known as “load shedding.” Well, when you’re in the middle of a project online, losing power to the nearby wifi router is disruptive, to say the least.
The first couple times we dealt with a load-shedding-induced wifi loss, we had to scramble, quickly switching over to our iPhone hotspots. But, as we gradually established a daily routine, we more closely tracked the load shedding schedules. That way, before a planned couple-hour dark period, we could take a break from work, switch over to our hotspots, and smoothly work through the load shedding period.
Bottom line, our Google Fi SIM cards made working internationally a far more seamless process than it would’ve been otherwise.
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