Are you planning your trip to the Philippines and looking for the best way to stay connected with an e-sim card? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about using an e-sim card when traveling to the Philippines including a comparison of the best Philippines e-sim cards in 2024.

Don’t waste money on high roaming charges, read my recommendations below and order an e-sim card for the Philippines on the internet and get connected in just a couple minutes. Below you will find up to date prices as per June 2024, including all specifications per tourist e-sim card.

This guide will show you where and when to order an e-sim card for the Philippines, answer all your FAQ’s about e-sim cards, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards for the Philippines and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to the Philippines online.

Since 2012 I am already traveling the world full time and throughout the years I turned my passion for traveling into a lifestyle and became a full time nomadic travel blogger. That is why I constantly get to a different country and pretty much every week I need to look for a new sim card to stay connected.

In 2023 I visited for example 34 different countries in 1 year so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used throughout the year.

In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards to stay connected when traveling abroad. On my latest trip to the Philippines I tested the below recommended Philippines e-sim cards for tourists.

Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visited and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.

Traveltomtom also wrote a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for tourists at Manila Airport.

Traveltomtom also wrote specific and in-depth guides for buying e-sim cards in: Vietnam, SingaporeMalaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Asia, Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, Europe, United Kingdom, Italy, USA, Mexicointernational e-sim cards and many more.

So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination.

First I will make a Philippines e-sim card comparison then I will explain how e-sim cards work, more about the network coverage and 4G/5G, data speed, answer some FAQ about e-sim cards, show you the difference between e-sim cards for tourists and local prepaid sim cards in the Philippines and tell everything else you need to know about using e-sim cards when traveling to the Philippines. 

Let me start with giving you my e-sim card recommendation for the Philippines. These are my favorite e-sim cards for traveling to the Philippines in 2024.

Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for the Philippines are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends the following two e-sim cards for traveling to Philippines in 2024: 

1. Nomad e-sim card for $35 USD

  • 30 GB data-only e-sim
  • 5G ready
  • Valid in Philippines only
  • Valid for 30 days
  • Operates on the Globe network
  • Only $1.17 USD per Gigabyte 

2. Airalo e-sim card for $21 USD

  • 10 GB data-only e-sim
  • 4G/LTE
  • Valid in Philippines only
  • Valid for 30 days
  • Operates on the Globe network
  • $2.1 USD per Gigabyte

The best value tourist e-sim cards for the Philippines are the Joytel e-sim cards from Nomad. Joytel operates on the mobile data network of Globe. Best thing about the Nomad e-sim cards for the Philippines is not only that they are the cheapest but they are also 5G ready.

Nomad has more e-sim deals and they go down as much as only $0.98 USD per Gigabyte.

A good second best is an Airalo e-sim card for Philippines. These e-sim cards operate on the 4G/LTE Globe network in the Philippines. The Airalo e-sim card plans for the Philippines are more expensive than Nomad. Traveltomtom has a long history of using Airalo and never had a problem. So Airalo is very reliable and therefore also recommended.

Both e-sim cards are data-only e-sim cards and incoming and outgoing calls or sms are not supported.

Is the Philippines one of your stops on a trip to Asia or around the world then you can also look into getting an e-sim card for world travelers or an e-sim card for traveling in Asia. There are a bunch of e-sim cards that cover multiple countries.

There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for the Philippines or in general before using an e-sim card. 

Unlocked phones only

Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards for tourists only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.

In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.

If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in the device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.

E-sim compatible phones only

Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly. 

If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to the Philippines.

However, you can still order a sim card for the Philippines on the internet before your trip. Find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2024.

Comparison of the best e-sim cards for the Philippines

Buying an e-sim card on arrival in the Philippines is also possible at Manila international airport and at certain phone stores anywhere in Philippines. Some mobile internet providers in the Philippines provide e-sim cards for tourists. But you will have to wait until you set foot in the Philippines to buy them.

Luckily there are multiple e-sim providers on the internet that sell Philippines e-sim cards for tourists. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Philippines from one of the well-known e-sim card providers that have proven to be reliable operators. 

Here are 3 trusted e-sim card providers and they sell great e-sim card plans for the Philippines. They are tested and reviewed multiple times by Traveltomtom: 

  1. SimOptions
  2. Airalo
  3. Nomad

Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country around the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim card in your email. But before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.

SimOptions is the only e-sim provider that also offers international prepaid sim cards for Philippines. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards that will be delivered to your home address before your trip and it is plug and play when you arrive in the Philippines.

Airalo and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for the Philippines.

SimOptions

SimOptions is a reputable e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your tourist e-sim card for Philippines through SimOptions is done fast and easy.

Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals. 

Normally SimOptions is always one of my top recommendations but the SimOptions e-sim card plans for the Philippines are more expensive compared to Airalo and Nomad.

simoptions esim cards for philippines

Here are the e-sim card plans from SimOptions for 2024: 

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
  • 3 GB data for 15 days = $14.90 USD
  • 6 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $39.90 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $64.90 USD 

Click here to order a SimOptions e-sim card for the Philippines.

All the SimOptions e-sim cards that you can order through SimOptions are only valid in the Philippines

The only exception is the Smart Traveller eSIM with 3GB data, this e-sim card is valid in 26 countries around the world. It also is the best value SimOptions e-sim card with $3 USD per Gigabyte.

Unfortunately SimOptions doesn’t specify exactly which mobile network operator in Philippines they use and the SimOptions e-sim cards for the Philippines are not 5G ready, so the max data speed on the e-sim cards from SimOptions is 4G/LTE.

The SimOptions e-sim cards for Philippines do NOT come with a phone number and they do not offer incoming/outgoing calls or sms services. The validity of these e-sim cards is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in the Philippines. For more info check the SimOptions website

Airalo

Airalo is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using Airalo for ordering an e-sim card. 

Why using Airalo? When it comes to Philippines e-sim cards Airalo has much better e-sim card plans than SimOptions and is therefore also recommended as one of the best e-sim cards for the Philippines.

airalo esim cards for philippines

Here are the Airalo data-only e-sim card plans for the Philippines for 2024: 

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $9.5 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $13 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $32 USD

Click here to order an e-sim card for the Philippines from Airalo.

The Airalo e-sim cards for the Philippines are from Alpas Mobile and they operate on the 4G/LTE network of Globe. Unfortunately the Airalo Alpas Mobile e-sim cards for Philippines are not 5G ready.

The best value e-sim card from Airalo gives you 20 GB data for $1.6 USD per Gigabyte. 

In the most popular places to visit in the Philippines you will find a 4G/LTE signal and the data speed is pretty good these days. 

For more info about the best 4G/5G mobile data network in the Philippines check my complete guide for the best prepaid sim card for the Philippines in 2024, including network coverage maps of all the mobile internet providers.

All the Airalo e-sim cards are data-only sim cards without a phone number, so any phone/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website

Nomad

Last but not least there is Nomad and actually Nomad has some of the cheapest Philippines e-sim card plans. The Nomad e-sim cards for the Philippines are from Joytel and they operate on the Globe mobile data network.

nomad esim cards for philippines

Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for Philippines: 

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $4 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $7 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
  • 15 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $27 USD
  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $35 USD
  • 40 GB data for 30 days = $40 USD
  • 50 GB data for 30 days = $49 USD

Click here to order an e-sim card for the Philippines from Nomad.

The Nomad website is a little less user friendly for finding the best e-sim cards for traveling to the Philippines and it is not as easy to spot the amazing e-sim card deals. 

As mentioned the Nomad e-sim cards are from Joytel and they are data-only. Incoming and outgoing calls and sms are NOT supported. They operate on the LTE/4G/5G network of Globe, which means they are 5G ready! 

As I mentioned before these Nomad e-sim cards for the Philippines have exceptional good value and their rates go as low as $0.98 USD per Gigabyte. 

nomad esim card specifications

The Nomad Philippines e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 30 days and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in the Philippines. Basically when the plane lands. For more info check the Nomad website

Smart

Smart is a mobile internet operator in the Philippines that offers their prepaid sim card plans also as e-sim cards. Big difference between Nomad, Airalo and SimOptions is that you can only buy Smart e-sim cards in person in one of their stores or at Manila Airport. So only once you have set foot in The Philippines and not on the internet.

At the Smart shop they have 8 different prepaid sim card plans for tourists:

  • 73 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,050 PHP - $19 USD
  • 72 GB data (no expiry) + unlimited calls & text for 60 days = 1,550 PHP
  • 122 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,550 PHP
  • 144 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,550 PHP
  • 192 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 2,050 PHP - $38 USD
  • 240 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 2,550 PHP
  • 288 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 3,050 PHP
  • 336 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 3,550 PHP - $64 USD

The Smart prepaid sim cards are 5G ready and the big advantage over the other e-sim cards is that these local e-sim cards come with unlimited calling and texting in the Philippines.

What is the cheapest e-sim card for the Philippines?

cheapest esim card for philippines

The cheapest e-sim card for the Philippines is an e-sim card from Nomad for just $4 USD, it will give you 1 GB data for 7 days. Airalo offers the same e-sim card plan but charges $4.5 USD. These e-sims are only valid in the Philippines and do not support calling and texting. 

Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in the Philippines

E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines in 2024 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes. 

The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to the Philippines without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants and bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply staying in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or your banking apps when paying contactless. 

One of the best things about arriving in the Philippines with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.

There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to the Philippines so much more convenient and fun!

At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 20 MB * $3 USD = $60 USD! Not kidding… it still is very common in 2024.

E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!

Overseas data roaming plans

So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed. Do you have the patience to handle 3G? It is frustrating when all around you in pretty  much every amazing tourist destinations in Philippines there is 4G/LTE available.

And price-wise it should be a no brainer since you have seen how affordable the e-sim cards for the Philippines are.

Uncountable times travel friends have asked me: “Tom, can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to the Philippines.

Spend a couple dollars extra and be connected all the time instead of begging for WiFi or a hotspot from friends. 

Where to buy an e-sim card for the Philippines? 

Online

You can buy an e-sim card for the Philippines on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for the Philippines. Traveltomtom compared 6 e-sim card providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are the best e-sim card providers in 2024.

When buying an e-sim card for the Philippines through one of the above recommended e-sim providers you only need your email address and the e-sim card is instantly ready to use after installation. There is no ID registration needed.

On arrival in the Philippines

There are 3 main mobile internet provider in the Philippines: Globe, Smart and Dito. Unfortunately as per June 2024 only Smart offers e-sim cards for tourists. Globe and Dito only offer physical prepaid sim cards for tourists.

For more info about buying a prepaid sim card for tourists in Philippines in 2024 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in Philippines, including a comparison of the 4G/5G network.

Flying into the Philippines and landing at Manila Airport then you can buy a tourist sim card for Philippines on arrival at the airport. Click on the link above to read my complete guide. 

 

You will find several sim card shops from Globe and Smart in the arrival hall where they sell tourist sim cards. As mentioned before Globe only sells a physical prepaid sim card, but Smart also sells tourist e-sim cards.

When to order/activate an e-sim card for the Philippines?

You can order an e-sim card for the Philippines pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.

More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.

Traveltomtom advices to instal your e-sim card on the day of departure to the Philippines or before. You will need a stable internet connection to instal your e-sim card. Manila international airport has free WiFi which works good so you could use that to install your e-sim card.

Just make sure it is a stable internet connection. But just to make sure Traveltomtom advices you to install/activate your e-sim card in your home country. 

My personal advice is to instal your tourist e-sim card for the Philippines before you get into the plane, because then as soon as the plane lands you will be connected to the internet without any problems. 

How do I know all this? Traveltomtom has visited the Philippines 6 times and traveled all around the country to many of its amazing places to visit.

Traveltomtom also wrote a blog about buying a prepaid sim card for tourists for Philippines in 2024 and there is also a vlog on my YouTube channel about my arrival at Manila International Airport and buying a prepaid sim card for traveling in the Philippines

How to activate an e-sim card

Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email. But wait, it gets even easier. Just scan the QR code. 

When you order an e-sim card plan for the Philippines you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.

You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Philippines e-sim card. 

But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your Philippines e-sim card. 

Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed.

Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur. 

Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.

Tips for how to get around Philippines

Let me help you find the best bus, boat, train and flight tickets when traveling in Philippines. Check out the below search engine for public transport and be amazed what they find. Try it below yourself.

Powered by 12Go system

At 12Go Asia you will get all the modes of transportations in one overview.

Bus, boat, flights are all displayed and travel time, price, available seats, etc. are all indicted and best thing is you can directly book your ticket online and instantly get a confirmation on your phone.

Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for the Philippines 

Here are some general tips and FAQ’s for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Philippines e-sim cards, but are things you have to know before buying an e-sim card in general.

Make sure your phone is unlocked

To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.

If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to the Philippines. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone. 

If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a portable WiFi for staying connected when traveling to the Philippines or better… bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Philippines and use it as a portable WiFi device.

Which smartphones support e-sim cards?

Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest smartphones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones of the well known brands support e-sim cards. 

The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!

Can I trust these e-sim card providers?

All the e-sim card providers for the Philippines recommended above (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are reputable e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in the Philippines.

Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for several consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad is a fairly new partner of Traveltomtom, but has so far proven to be a reliable e-sim card provider as well. All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.

Traveltomtom does NOT sell Philippines e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to the Philippines. 

Can I keep my phone number from home with a Philippines e-sim card?

Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.

So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!

For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Your new Philippines e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.

This is also the trick to keep receiving sms for example for OTP (one time password) sms to login to applications.

Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings. Just always make sure your sim card from home is switched off for data roaming.

Can I make phone calls with a Philippines e-sim card?

No, unfortunately all the tourist e-sim cards for Philippines available on the internet do NOT include calling and texting. The e-sim cards from SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad are data-only e-sim cards and any incoming/outgoing calls/sms are not supported. 

If you buy a prepaid sim card or e-sim card for tourists on arrival in Philippines in a store or at the airport then you get (unlimited) calling and texting included.

Most hotels, restaurants and tour companies in the Philippines have WhatsApp services, so you can easily give them a call through WhatsApp. There is no direct need for calling minutes. 

Does a Philippines e-sim card come with a phone number?

No, none of the Philippines e-sim cards that you can buy on the internet come with a phone number which also means you can not receive any phone calls or sms. Only local e-sim cards that you buy once you are in the Philippines offer calling and texting.

In the above Philippines e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card.

Can I use 5G on an Philippines e-sim card?

Yes, the Nomad e-sim cards for the Philippines are 5G ready. 

All the e-sim cards from Airalo and SimOptions are not 5G ready yet. Which means the max data speed is 4G/LTE. 

Are there e-sim cards for Philippines with unlimited data?

None of the by Traveltomtom recommended Philippines e-sim cards for tourists include unlimited data.

Even if you would come across e-sim card providers that offer e-sim cards for the Philippines with unlimited data then make sure the unlimited data is on max data speed. Mostly the data speed is capped after you used X amount of Gigabytes. 

Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data, but does NOT specify what is the exact so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP). 

Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Philippines e-sim cards with unlimited data plans. There are always restrictions. And on Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. When I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.

Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media apps were not even loading! 

Again, Traveltomtom does NOT recommend e-sim cards for the Philippines with unlimited data. But if you think you will never use more than 2 GB per day, then this might be your favorite e-sim card. 

Nomad e-sim card for $35 USD gives you 30 GB data which for most travelers is more than enough for their trip to the Philippines.

There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close look at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to the Philippines in 2024 before choosing your favorite.

Are e-sim cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines?

E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to the Philippines, but what is the best way?

There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines:

  • Local prepaid sim cards
  • International prepaid sim cards
  • E-sim cards

Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards, for you to find out what is your preferred way of staying connected.  

Local prepaid sim cards

In general if you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. 

Philippines prepaid sim cards for tourists offer bigger data plans than tourist e-sim cards you order online. In fact local prepaid sim cards with data are pretty cheap for tourists in Philippines.

However, a local prepaid sim card can only be purchased on arrival in Philippines in a phone store or at the airport but NOT on the internet. 

Another big difference is that local prepaid sim cards have the advantage that they come with a local phone number and mostly with calling minutes and sms bundles. That means incoming and outgoing calls are supported.

More info about the best Philippines sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for the Philippines in 2024. 

International prepaid sim cards

If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling to the Philippines. Some of them are great for the Philippines as well as in all other countries in for example Europe, Americas and Asia and you can easily order them online. 

If after visiting the Philippines you are traveling onwards in Asia then check Traveltomtom’s list of the best sim cards for traveling internationally in 2024.

international prepaid sim cards for philippines

A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground in the Philippines and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play! 

Click here to order an international prepaid sim card for the Philippines directly online.

E-sim cards

As explained throughout the article there are two different e-sim cards:

  • E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
  • E-sim cards that you buy in the Philippines in a mobile internet provider store

However, as of June 2024 only Smart sells e-sim cards for tourists. The other mobile internet providers in the Philippines only offer physical prepaid sim cards for tourists in the Philippines.

On arrival at Manila International Airport Globe stores only sells physical prepaid sim cards for tourists and Smart sells both e-sim cards and physical prepaid sim cards. See my complete guide including a vlog about buying a sim card for tourists at Manila Airport.

E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards

Getting an e-sim card on the internet is the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to the Philippines.

You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop on arrival in the Philippines. As soon as the plane lands, you are online!

But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists?

When we compare the prices for Philippines e-sim cards with the prices for local prepaid sim cards in the Philippines, it is an easy conclusion that local prepaid sim cards are much more affordable as you get many more Gigabytes for the same price.

In fact, for around $20 USD you can already get a prepaid sim card with 70 GB data for 1 month. For more info check out my article about the best prepaid sim cards for Philippines in 2024. 

But local prepaid sim cards can only be bought in the Philippines on arrival in a sim card shop or at the airport and a tourist e-sim card for the Philippines can be bought in 2 minutes on the internet before your trip to the Philippines. 

Remember that some of the e-sim cards for Philippines also go down to only $0.98 USD per Gigabyte as well. 

After a long flight you just want to get to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected. With e-sim cards you buy on the internet you are connected as soon as the plane lands.

For this convenience Traveltomtom definitely recommends to order one of the listed best e-sim cards for the Philippines in the comparison above. 

Many reasons why a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for the Philippines. Faster, easier, less stress and even cheaper depending on how much data you need.  

Data speed

Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO’s operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth. 

This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card from a mobile internet operator. 

Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid Philippines sim card.

I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to the Philippines were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card for the Philippines right away.

If you still have any questions about e-sim cards then please leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you out.

Curious what the life of a full time nomadic traveler looks like? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along with daily updates from around the world about the good, the bad and the ugly about traveling. 

Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of June 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, still about 40 to go, but no rush.

Enjoy your trip to Philippines!