Planning a trip to Cape Town and wondering if you can buy a sim card at the airport on arrival? Avoid high roaming charges! This is a complete guide for buying a sim card at Cape Town Airport in 2024.
In this guide you will find everything you need to know about buying a sim card in Cape Town. Where to get a sim card, up to date prices as per January 2024, my recommendation, the best e-sim cards for South Africa, my own experiences, a vlog about my arrival at Cape Town Airport, information about international sim cards and more.
If you are looking for the best way to stay connected in South Africa then get yourself a prepaid sim card on arrival or an e-sim card for traveling to South Africa.
Make it yourself easy on your trip to Cape Town with a working data connection on your phone you can easily order an Uber, call a restaurant via WhatsApp, get directions from Google Maps, check your banking apps, etc. These are just some of the reasons why having data on your phone when traveling to Cape Town makes life much easier and your trip to Cape Town much more fun.
Being an avid world traveler one of my first travel tips is always to stay connected when traveling abroad. Whether you use an e-sim card or buy a sim card on arrival.
As Traveltomtom is aiming to visit every country in the world and I also like to document all my travel tips you can already find more than 200 sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all over the world: Europe, UK, London, Italy, Rome, Portugal, New York, USA, Toronto, Canada, Istanbul, Dubai, Germany, Frankfurt, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and many more.
Traveltomtom also wrote a complete guide for buying a tourist sim card for South Africa in 2024 as well as a specific sim card guide for Johannesburg Airport.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your next holiday destination. Bookmark me!
Traveltomtom recommends buying an MTN prepaid sim card at Cape Town Airport. Vodacom has slightly better 4G/5G network coverage in South Africa, but are much more expensive than MTN.
Traveltomtom definitely recommends e-sim cards for traveling to Cape Town and there are some great e-sim card deals for example 10 GB data for $26 USD. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for South Africa via either Nomad, SimOptions or Airalo.
Another great alternative is a world travel sim card. These pre-activated physical sim cards will be delivered to your home address before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best international sim cards for traveling overseas in 2024 and pick the one that suits your trip the best.
Best e-sim cards for South Africa
The easiest ways to stay connected when traveling to South Africa in 2024 is an e-sim card. You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. No more swapping physical sim cards or visiting a phone store.
You order an e-sim card for South Africa on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a South Africa e-sim card installed on your phone.
Upon arrival in South Africa it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.
Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for South Africa.
Airalo is a reliable e-sim provider that Traveltomtom has used in more than 50 countries around the world and never had an issue. Check out the Airalo South Africa e-sim card plans for 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $11 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $15.5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD
Click here to order a South Africa e-sim card directly online via Airalo.
The above data-only e-sim cards you can order via Airalo are from CellSA and are valid in South Africa only. They operate on the 4G/LTE network of Vodacom, the best 4G/5G mobile network in South Africa.
SimOptions is another trusted and reviewed e-sim provider. Traveltomtom has been recommending SimOptions sim cards for more than 5 years now.
SimOptions sells international e-sim cards that are valid in up to 141 countries, including South Africa.
The above international e-sim cards are from Three HK and valid in 93 countries:
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
They come with a phone number from Hong Kong that starts with +852. Technically you are able to receive phone calls, but since you lack credit that is not possible. However, this e-sim cards supports receiving sms.
Unfortunately because of regulations in Hong Kong on these sim cards it is not possible to use TikTok as TikTok is blocked in Hong Kong.
SimOptions has 2 other international e-sim cards for South Africa:
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $39.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order an international e-sim card for South Africa via SimOptions.
A third trusted e-sim provider is Nomad. Nomad has often amazing e-sim card deals, but when comparing the Nomad e-sim card plans for South Africa with SimOptions and Airalo it turns out Nomad is more expensive.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $11 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $20 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $28 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $45 USD
Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card for South Africa via Nomad.
With an e-sim card you keep your phone number from home, but make sure your phone is e-sim card compatible. How to find out? Ask Google and find your answer instantly.
You can also buy a physical prepaid sim card for your trip to Cape Town on the internet For$49.90 USD you get 10 GB data. Click here to order this international sim card for South Africa via SimOptions or find more info.
Cape Town International Airport
Don’t worry you won’t get lost at CPT. Cape Town Airport is a pretty small and easy to navigate airport. There are only 5 luggage belts and only one exit door into the arrival hall for international arrivals. People are very friendly and helpful and there is free WiFi at Cape Town International Airport.
Where to buy a sim card at Cape Town Airport
As soon as you arrive in the luggage hall you will see a Vodacom kiosk with big signs saying FREE SIM VODACOM. First off the kiosk is probably not operational, second a Vodacom sim card at Cape Town Airport is NOT free. The Vodacom kiosk is located at Luggage Belt 3.
However finding where to buy a South African sim card for your trip is very easy at Cape Town Airport. As soon as you pass customs and enter the arrival hall you will see a Vodacom and an MTN store on your right hand side.
The operating hours for the shops are:
- Vodacom: 7.00 am - 8.00 pm
- MTN: 7.00 am - 6.00 pm
These are the only two sim card stores at CPT Airport. Although there is also an MTN and a Vodacom store at the Domestic Arrival Hall, but the prices are the exact same.
Buying a sim card in Cape Town City Center
If you missed the opportunity to buy a sim card at Cape Town Airport then don’t worry. All the popular tourist destinations in Cape Town have mobile phone shops that sell prepaid sim cards for South Africa. The best places to buy a sim card in Cape Town are:
- V&A Waterfront - Victoria Wharf Shopping Center
- Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village
- Downtown Cape Town
Locating the nearest shop? Go to Google Maps and type in the by you preferred mobile operator: MTN, Vodacom, Cell C or Telkom. For more info and up to date prices check out my article about buying a sim card in South Africa!
When buying a prepaid sim card in South Africa you need to register with your passport. You can buy up to 5 sim cards per passport.
Check out Traveltomtom's complete guide for more detailed info about buying a prepaid tourist sim card in South Africa in 2024.
Prices South Africa sim cards at CPT
Mind you that prices for prepaid sim cards and data packages constantly change. Traveltomtom tries to keep this article as up to date as possible. Your help is appreciated, so please let me know in the comment section below if things have changed.
The below info and prices are update per January 2024 and prices are in South African Rand: $1 USD = 18.3 South African Rand and 10 South African Rand = $0.55 USD.
Vodacom Cape Town Airport
At Vodacom they keep it simple and offer 3 tourist packages:
- 3 GB data + 30 min + R30 Airtime + 30 sms = R499 - $27 USD
- 5 GB data + 50 min + R50 Airtime + 50 sms = R649 - $35 USD
- 10 GB data + 100 min + R100 Airtime + 100 sms = R899 - $49 USD
The 30 Rand Airtime is like credit and the packages are valid for 30 days.
You can also make your own bundles, but then a Vodacom sim card costs R100. The most common available packages valid for 30 days are:
- 1 GB = R99
- 3 GB = R229
- 25 minutes = R55
- 60 minutes = R110
The Vodacom sim card prices at Cape Town Airport are pretty expensive.
Keep in mind that an Airalo e-sim card with 10 GB data only cost $26 USD, but you arrange everything online and don't need to visit a Vodacom store in South Africa.
MTN South Africa
At the MTN store there is whole lot more options available and an MTN sim card at Cape Town Airport is also FREE! MTN offers multiple packages with more flexibility. Tourists can opt for a sim card with a package valid for 1 week also.
Another great thing about buying an MTN sim card is that you can easily compose your own packages with data + voice. I like that!
Airtime/voice cost 1 SAR per minute, so 60 minutes = 60 SAR ($3.5 USD).
The most common prepaid MTN sim card data packages at Cape Town Airport are:
For 7 days:
- 1 GB = R85
- 2 GB = R149
- 5 GB = R199 - $11.5 USD
For 30 days:
- 1 GB = R99
- 5 GB = R299 - $16 USD
- 10 GB = R469 - $26 USD
- 100 GB = R999 - $58 USD
Then MTN offers also packages that give you 1 or 2 GB data per day, with a renewal every day at 00.00.
- 2 GB every day for 7 days = R149 - $8 USD
- 3 GB every day for 7 days = R199
- 1 GB every day for 30 days = R299 - $16 USD
- 2 GB every day for 30 days = R399
- 3 GB every day for 30 days = R599 - $33 USD
MTN claims to have the best mobile data network in Cape Town. But both Vodacom and MTN have a very good 5G network in Cape Town. Also based on my own experience as I always enjoyed a 5G signal in Cape Town and so did my friend with a Vodacom sim card.
Best sim card at Cape Town Airport
Comparing MTN and Vodacom as the best prepaid sim card for Cape Town is quite difficult. What is remarkable is that Vodacom prepaid sim cards are fairly expensive. A Vodacom sim card with 10 GB data cost $26 USD and e-sim card for South Africa from Airalo with 10 GB data also cost $26 USD.
It would be an easy choice for me as I would always go for the e-sim card. You simply order online and as the plane lands you enjoy data on your phone already.
MTN prepaid sim cards are much cheaper than Vodacom sim cards and MTN also offers much more flexible plans for tourists. Since MTN also has a great 4G/5G mobile data network Traveltomtom rates MTN as the best sim card at Cape Town Airport.
A local prepaid sim card is not the cheapest way to stay connected, because when you need just 1 GB data to stay in touch with friends, check your email and get directions from Google Maps then you should go for an Airalo e-sim card with 1 GB data for just $4.5 USD.
In general Traveltomtom recommends e-sim cards for a trip to Cape Town since they are so convenient. You order online and within a couple clicks you have an e-sim card for South Africa installed on your phone.
Order a prepaid sim card for South Africa online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you would like to order a sim card for traveling to South Africa online before your trip then check out the following.
Arrive prepared in South Africa with an international prepaid sim card. You order them online and a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address. You put this sim card in your phone and it automatically connects to an available network upon arrival in South Africa, basically when the plane lands you are instantly online.
SimOptions is the only sim card provider that sells physical prepaid sim cards for South Africa:
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order an international prepaid sim card for South Africa via SimOptions.
Last reminder that if your phone is e-sim compatible you can arrange everything directly online without visiting a phone store. Get yourself an e-sim card for South Africa in just a couple clicks.
My experiences buying a sim card at Cape Town Airport
As you can see in the video above I checked out both mobile operators first and then came to the conclusion that MTN had better deals. So I decided to buy an MTN prepaid sim card for my trip to Cape Town. Everywhere I went in Cape Town I had a good 4G connection, even when hiking off the beaten path.
I chose the R149 packages and got 1 GB data daily for 7 days. My trip to Cape Town was only 5 days, so that was perfect. This MTN packages is perfect for tourists staying less than 1 week in Cape Town. Just $10 USD.
Every night at 00.00 you get a text saying that they renewed your 1 GB daily allowance. Also when you use 50% of the daily allowance you get a message from MTN.
After a couple days I needed to make some phone calls and I went to the supermarket to add airtime/voice. I added just R20. It was fixed within seconds. All my experiences using my MTN sim card in Cape Town were good!
To make it even easier you can also watch this short 2 minute vlog about my arrival at Cape Town Airport and buying a sim card for my trip to Cape Town.
How to get from Cape Town Airport to the city
The airport is located not far from the city and within less than 30 minutes you will be at your hotel by taxi. I recommend taking a taxi as they are only about $15 - $20 USD one way. The most trusted way is to order an Uber or Bolt, however normal taxis offer rides for the same price.
I hope these tips for buying a sim card in Cape Town were helpful! In case you still have question please leave me a comment below and I am happy to assist.
Interested what it looks like visiting every country in the world? Then check out my Instagram @traveltomtom. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Cape Town!
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