Global SIM Smackdown


Ok, so these days when touching down in a country lots of us head straight for the local 7-11 (or whatever the local flavour is, although 7-11 does seem to be everywhere!) to pick up a local SIM card. But what happens if you don’t have the time to do that, or you don’t want to end up with more SIM cards than Jason Bourne has passports? In some cases you may just want to have the one SIM as you go about your travels, but international roaming with your usual mobile provider is far too much of a rip-off to consider.

In this article I look at some global SIM cards that claim to offer you the best deal for global roaming. Which one offers the best deal? Welcome to the Global SIM Smackdown!

Unlike your normal SIM card service, most global SIMs work on a process called ‘call back’. This means effectively you call the number (including the full international code), and their systems will call you back once the call has been connected. This usually only takes a few seconds.

There are more and more of these providers springing up these days. Below, I compare four of them, but feel free to add to the list and the discussion if you’ve come across a provider that provides better rates and services, or if you’ve used these services and have an opinion on them.


WorldSIM –

WORLDSIM is a Prepaid Travel SIM card that allows you to use your mobile phone when you are travelling abroad without incurring expensive roaming charges. It works in over 220 countries, with free incoming calls for over 90 countries. You can have either a UK or a U.S number


Go SIM –

Go-SIM works in 180 countries, with free incoming calls for over 70 countries. There are no contracts or additional service charges. With this service you get a UK or US phone number.

They also have data plans from about USD1 per MB.


airBaltic Card –

airBalticcard originated as a service available to passengers on airBaltic flights, but has since been expanded to include non-passengers. airBalticcard works in over 115 countries. With this card, you get an Estonian number.


BackChat Mobile –

BackChat works in over 190 countries, and like the other services will work with virtually every GSM handset, as long as the handset is unlocked. With Backchat, you get a UK phone number.


Cost Comparison

The tables below compare the cost of calls on the four different services. To try and compare apples with apples (as best as I can anyway), I’ve compared calls from the countries listed below to the United States.

Note: all costs converted to British Pounds where necessary, using


Call Cost Per Minute

World SIM Go SIM airBaltic Card BackChat Mobile
Argentina GBP 0.88 GBP 0.82 GBP 0.57 GBP 1.67
Australia GBP 0.41 GBP 0.31 GBP 0.34 GBP 0.66
France GBP 0.25 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.31 GBP 0.66
Mexico GBP 1.61 GBP 0.82 GBP 0.70 GBP 1.67
Nigeria GBP 0.41 GBP 0.31 GBP 0.52 GBP 0.66
Singapore GBP 0.88 GBP 0.73 GBP 0.44 GBP 1.00
South Africa GBP 0.41 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.44 GBP 0.53
Thailand GBP 0.88 GBP 0.82 GBP 0.52 GBP 1.00
UAE GBP 0.41 GBP 0.47 GBP 0.44 GBP 0.66
UK GBP 0.25 GBP 0.37 EUR 0.37 GBP 0.53


Cost Per Minute to Receive Call

World SIM Go SIM airBaltic Card BackChat Mobile
Argentina GBP 1 GBP 0.56 0 GBP 1.67
Australia 0 0 0 0
France 0 0 0 0
Mexico GBP 1.50 GBP 0.56 GBP 0.25 GBP 1.67
Nigeria 0 0 0 0
Singapore GBP 1 GBP 0.32 0 GBP 0.66
South Africa 0 0 0 0
Thailand GBP 1 GBP 0.56 GBP 0.14 GBP 0.86
UAE 0 0 0 GBP 0.15
UK 0 0 0 0


Cost per Text Message

World SIM Go SIM airBaltic Card BackChat Mobile
Argentina GBP 0.35 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
Australia GBP 0.35 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
France GBP 0.11 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.09 GBP 0.40
Mexico GBP 0.35 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
Nigeria GBP 0.35 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
Singapore GBP 0.35 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
South Africa GBP 0.35 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.46
Thailand GBP 0.35 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.29 GBP 0.50
UAE GBP 0.35 GBP 0.37 GBP 0.54 GBP 0.50
UK GBP 0.11 GBP 0.25 GBP 0.06 GBP 0.23


Data cost per MB

World SIM Go SIM airBaltic Card BackChat Mobile
Argentina GBP 12.66 N/A GBP 10.72
Australia GBP GBP 0.94 GBP 1.54 GBP 6.70
France GBP GBP 0.63 GBP 0.58 GBP 0.66
Mexico GBP GBP 6.33 GBP 11.06 GBP 6.70
Nigeria GBP GBP 15.82 GBP 12.17 GBP 10.05
Singapore GBP GBP 9.49 GBP 2.08 GBP 10.05
South Africa GBP GBP 0.31 GBP 8.85 GBP 3.35
Thailand GBP GBP 18.99 GBP 1.25 N/A
UAE GBP GBP 12.66 GBP 8.85 GBP 12.06
UK GBP GBP 0.31 GBP 0.58 GBP 0.66


Read more on different ways to use your phone overseas.


Image via




About the author


Originally from the UK, Patrick Acheampong’s itchy feet have taken him around the world on business while also ditching his suit and loading up his backpack from time to time. While busy working on ways to combine the two and become a ‘travelpreneur’, and inspired by Tim Ferris’s 4 1/2 hour work week, Pat is currently living in Australia and plotting world domination from the safety of Sydney’s beaches

5 Responses

  1. Ian

    Thanks for the update on the global sims, but with those prices I will stick with a quick visit to the 7-11. That way I can create for myself a necklace with my two dozen sims—a true traveller—and avoid bankruptcy.

    I use my phone far more for data than voice, with those data plans I would soon be begging for rice. 19 pounds a meg for data in Thailand. Come on guys, you can do better than that!

    • Dave

      I’m with you, Ian. Better than roaming with your home provider, but still a very long way from affordable for most travellers. Still, if you need to have a single number for business purposes and Google Voice doesn’t cut it/isn’t available to you, I guess it’s something to consider.

  2. Steve

    Good tips.

    I used Go SIM on my travels. It has benefits such as no contracts and is easy top-up online however credit soon disappears especially in countries such as Japan, China & USA.

    I would recommend local sim cards everytime. Just be sure to unlock your phone before leaving on your travels….

  3. Teun van Essem

    I use Droam with Skype almost everywhere, almost no voice charge and they charge 65 euros per GB all over Europe and other parts of the world

    • Dave

      Droam is a good service hey? I mentioned it in my post/rant about international data roaming as an example of what the costs *should* look like. 🙂