Traveling to Egypt and flying to Cairo International Airport? This is the ultimate guide for buying a sim card for Egypt on arrival at Cairo International Airport. I will tell you in detail where to go, why to get a local prepaid sim card, show you the up to date prices as per January 2022, give you my recommendation and you can even find a vlog about my arrival at Cairo Airport.
My continuously trip around the world since 2012 never got me to Egypt, but since I started my journey to visit every country in the world I finally decided to travel to Egypt lately. As I love helping people save money while traveling I wrote already over 150 local sim card guides for places like: Ethiopia, Nairobi, Israel, Lebanon, Istanbul, Italy, Greece, USA and of course a complete guide for finding the best Egypt prepaid sim card.
This blog is updated in January 2022 with the latest info and prices.
Vlog about buying a sim card at Cairo International Airport
To show you where to go exactly, how easy it is and how much it cost to get a prepaid sim card for Egypt I recorded the below vlog.
Why buying a sim card at Cairo Airport
First of all, buying a local prepaid sim card in Egypt is the cheapest AND best way to stay connected, but there are many more reasons I recommend you to get a local sim card for Egypt.
Did you know that overseas data plans limit their internet speed? You will mostly be roaming on 3G! We are almost in 2022, we want 5G! Although unfortunately there is no 5G yet in Egypt.
Also a reminder that public WiFi is an UNSECURED network, so you don’t want to rely on WiFi either. On top of that free public WiFi is no guarantee that it is actually working or that it is even fast enough to upload a video.
Last but not least, life is simply much easier with a data connection and so is traveling in Egypt with internet on your phone. Think about ordering an Uber. Yes, there is Uber in Cairo and you can order one straight away from Cairo Airport to the city center for less than $10 USD, around 120 EGP.
Or what about finding nearby restaurants or rooftop bars, looking up info about a historical site you are looking at or simply getting directions from Google Maps?
Anyway, as you might have seen in my vlog, buying a sim card at Cairo Airport takes just a couple minutes, is very simple and done fast!
My recommendation for Egypt
Traveltomtom recommends an Orange prepaid sim card for Egypt when arriving at Cairo Airport. They have great network coverage and the best sim card deal at Cairo Airport.
We do NOT recommend international sim cards with global coverage. These travel sim cards are simply too expensive compared to local prepaid sim cards. For a complete review and comparison of all the international sim cards have a look at my article in the link.
Where to buy a prepaid sim card at Cairo International Airport
The 3 main mobile internet operators in Egypt are: Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat. All of them have stores at Cairo Airport. However, be aware that they are located at the luggage belts and not in the arrival hall like usually.
This means that if you want to buy a sim card at Cairo Airport you will have to do it BEFORE you pass the last customs check.
But don’t worry you can’t miss the kiosks as while waiting at the luggage belt they are clearly visible, see my vlog.
Vodafone and Etisalat are located at luggage belt 4 and 5 and Orange is at luggage belt 1.
All the sim card shops are open 24 hours and you can use your credit card to buy a sim card for Egypt. American Express cards are NOT accepted, only Visa and Mastercard.
Sim card registration in Egypt
When buying a sim card at Cairo Airport you only need to show your passport. At the kiosk they take a copy of your passport as well as a copy of your Egypt visa including the entry stamp. Then they will register your new Egypt sim card on your name. You don’t need a fingerprint or a passport size photo like in many other African countries.
The registration process takes just a few minutes and your sim card will be activated on the spot. Traveltomtom recommends to ALWAYS put the new sim card in your phone and see if it is working before you walk away from the shop.
Prices Egypt sim cards at Cairo Airport
All the stores basically offer a free prepaid sim card. You can buy one of their sim card deals that include a new Egypt sim card with an Egyptian phone number. All prices include taxes.
Vodafone offers 2 tourist sim card packages and so called flex lines that include units that equal MBs. Packages are valid for 28 days.
- 255 EGP = 10 GB data + 200 local minutes + 20 international minutes - $16
- 505 EGP = 30 GB data + 200 local minutes + 30 international minutes - $32
- 280 EGP = 16,000 unites (16 GB) - $18
- 351 EGP = 24,000 unites (24 GB) - $22
- 523 EGP = 44,000 unites (44 GB) - $33
- 637 EGP = 60,000 unites (60 GB) - $41
- 780 EGP = 82,000 unites (82 GB) - $50
The Flex Lines work a little complicated as there are so called ‘Super Apps’, basically social media: Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. but NOT YouTube.
In case you use one of the Super Apps then the use of 1 MB equals 0,5 unit. That means if you would only use these social media apps you basically get double data.
Browsing the internet, using YouTube, 1 minute calling or 1 text also equals 1 unit and you are free to use the units exactly as you want to.
Orange offers 3 different packages that are valid for 30 days.
The two main Orange tourist sim card packages are:
- 265 EGP = 10 GB + 400 minutes + 20 international minutes - $17
- 565 EGP = 40 GB + 400 minutes + 30 international minutes - $36
The third package is a great Egypt sim card deal for tourists for less than $10:
- 150 EGP = 16 GB + 1,000 minutes - $9.5
Orange also uses ‘Super Apps’ (social media): Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapshat, etc. see the photo above. However, in this case 1 MB equals 1 MB for these apps and all other apps 1 MB = 2 MB. So if using only Youtube then this package only contains just 8 GB instead of 16 GB. A bit misleading to be honest.
Etisalat offers by far the most sim card packages, 7 in total:
- 185 EGP = 20 GB + 1,000 minutes/text - $12
- 200 EGP = 20 GB + 400 minutes/text - $13
- 220 EGP = 20 GB + 1,000 minutes/text - $14
- 248 EGP = 20 GB + 1,000 minutes/text - $16
- And more, see photo above!
Similar like Orange, Etisalat also count social media apps as using 1 MB = 1 MB, but all other apps 1MB = 2 MB.
Best prepaid Egypt sim card at Cairo Airport
It is a simple conclusion that Vodafone and Orange are slightly more expensive than Etisalat. Etisalat gives it costumers the best value for money, but are they also the best prepaid sim card in Egypt?
In fact it is actually Orange that offers the cheapest prepaid sim card at Cairo Airport. For less than $10 and you get 16 GB data. Since the Orange mobile network coverage in Egypt is also pretty good I say that…
Orange is the best prepaid sim card at Cairo Airport in 2022!
In the link you will find a more detailed guide about the best Egypt prepaid sim card for tourists.
My experience buying a sim card at Cairo Airport
It took me about an hour to figure out all the information, prices and details for this article as well as filming the above vlog at Cairo Airport. I got to the Etisalat kiosk the last and the lady was friendly and helpful. So I decided to go for Etisalat.
At that time I could NOT connect to the Free Public WiFi at Cairo Airport as it wasn’t working for me. I wanted to look up the mobile internet network coverage in Egypt for all the mobile internet providers.
As that wasn’t possible, I had to believe what they told me, but all 3 providers of course told me that their network was great. Since Etisalat was offering the best sim card deals, I decided to go with them and bought the Etisalat prepaid sim card for 185 EGP with (max) 20 GB data.
Was I satisfied? Not really! I found out later that Etisalat has the weakest network coverage in Egypt and rather often the network was weak, right in the middle of Cairo, the capital of Egypt. Sorry Etisalat, but I expected better network coverage and faster internet speed.
A friend of mine who was arriving a day later I adviced to get an Orange prepaid sim card for Egypt so I could compare. As expected his network was constantly stronger than mine, especially inside buildings. Etisalat network performance inside buildings was actually pretty poor and that was in Cairo, imagine outside of the capital. Therefore I would not recommend an Etisalat prepaid sim card for Egypt.
In fact, Vodafone has the best cellphone network in Egypt so a Vodafone prepaid sim card for your Egypt trip is definitely not a bad choice. At Cairo Airport they are slightly more expensive than Orange and Etisalat, but if you want the best performance then buying a Vodafone sim card for Egypt is your best bid. Read more about it in my article about the best prepaid sim card in Egypt.
I hope all the above tips for buying an Egypt sim card at Cairo Airport were helpful. May you have any additional questions or remarks please leave me a comment below.
Interested in some cool photo spots around Cairo and Egypt then check out my wanderlust fuelling Instagram profile @traveltomtom.
Enjoy your trip to Egypt!