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South Africa SIM Cards: Everything You Need To Know | 2023

Cape Town, South Africa


Visiting South Africa soon? Make sure to know what to expect when it comes to purchasing a South Africa SIM card.

Fortunately, Africa is one of the best places to buy a SIM card easily. You should be able to find a cheap SIM card pretty much anywhere in Africa.

In fact, most data packages are affordable, which makes the whole thing easier!

This guide will explain where to buy a SIM card in South Africa in person and online. We’ll also discuss prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs if your mobile supports them. 

Before you read this guide, you may wonder if you actually need a SIM card in South Africa. If you don’t mind not having Internet, you’ll likely find free Wifi in restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels.

That said, if you need data to get around, call a cab, or translate Afrikaans or any other South African language – you may want to get a SIM card for your travels in South Africa.

Best SIM Cards In South Africa

If you’re traveling in South Africa, we recommend using a SIM card from Vodacom, Telkom, MTN, or Airalo. (I’ll get back to Airalo later on, so keep reading to learn more!)

That said, if you’re planning on visiting other countries during your trip to Africa, you might want to make sure to pick an option that offers coverage in other African countries.

How To Buy A SIM Card In South Africa

You can either buy an Africa prepaid SIM card in person in some international airports, mobile provider stores, convenience stores, or online.

Usually, you can expect higher costs and low data offers at the airport, so we don’t recommend buying a SIM card at the airport.

That said, you won’t necessarily find SIM card shops in every airport, so it’s essential to keep this in mind. And, when you see a shop, you might also have limited options.

For this reason, I’d recommend buying a SIM card directly from the mobile provider store. Note that you may need your passport to buy one.

Although, this means you won’t get data right upon your arrival. So, if you prefer to be connected at all times, you could use an eSIM or purchase an African prepaid SIM card online.

Now, let’s take a look at the data plans offered by Vodacom, Telkom, and MTN.

Vodacom SIM Cards

Vodacom offers a SIM card for ZAR 10 ($0.59). You can then get the following plans:

  • 20 GB, valid for 30 days for ZAR 149 ($8.72)
  • 60 GB, valid for 30 days for ZAR 249 ($14.58)

Telkom SIM Cards

Telkom has several different prepaid plans available:

  • 1.5 GB, valid for 31 days for ZAR 40 ($2.34)
  • 2 GB, valid for 31 days for ZAR 70 ($4.10)
  • 3 GB, valid for 31 days for ZAR 100 ($5.86)

MTN SIM Cards

MTN has several different prepaid plans available:

  • 5 GB, valid for 30 days for ZAR 99 ($5.79)
  • 7.5 GB, valid for 30 days for ZAR 129 ($7.55)
  • 10 GB, valid for 30 days for ZAR 149 ($8.72)

Overall, we think Vodacom is the best option if you plan to buy your SIM card in person. That said, any would do if you can’t find their store!

How To Buy A South Africa Prepaid SIM Card Online

If you wish to have your SIM card ready for your arrival, you could purchase it online or on websites like Amazon.

You’ll find different plans on Amazon. For example, Orange Holiday World SIM works in more than 100+ countries and gives you up to 10 GB of data for 14 days. South Africa is included.

But there are many other options worth considering, so have a look and make sure the countries you plan on visiting are listed.

Another option is to purchase a prepaid Tourist SIM card on Simify. This works if you live in the United States or Australia. They currently offer one plan that covers South Africa:

  • 6 GB, valid for 15 days for $40 – works in 120 countries

Finally, the last option is to buy an eSIM card for South Africa or, if you’re traveling to multiple countries, an eSIM plan for Africa.

How To Buy An eSIM Card For South Africa

eSIM is a new concept allowing you to have a virtual SIM card inside your phone. If your mobile phone supports eSIM cards – it’s definitely one of the best options to get data in South Africa.

Curious? Learn more about eSIM for travelers on esimroamers.com.

I started using eSIM as soon as my mobile phone supported it. And I first tried it when visiting my family in Canada. To buy eSIMs, I usually use Airalo. Keep reading to learn more about the best eSIMs in South Africa.

Airalo South Africa

If you want to buy an eSIM for South Africa, you could purchase one on Airalo. This website offers many eSIM cards worldwide and special plans for Africa and South Africa. I’ve been using Airalo for several months, and it works fine.

Here are the options available:

  • CellSA: 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $5
  • CellSA: 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $13
  • CellSA: 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $17
  • CellSA: 10 GB, valid for 30 days for $33

Here’s an overview of the options available in Africa:

  • 1 GB, valid for 30 days for $27
  • 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $59

The options mentioned above are part of their Hello Africa plan and offer coverage in 26 countries, including South Africa.

Alternatively, if you’re traveling in other countries that are not mentioned on the list, you can try Discover Global, which offers coverage in 87 countries, including South Africa.

Here’s an overview of the options available on Discover Global:

  • 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $9
  • 3 GB, valid for 15 days for $24
  • 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $35
  • 10 GB, valid for 60 days for $59
  • 20 GB, valid for 180 days for $89

Now, one important thing to note about Airalo is that you’ll need to keep an eye out for the provider in each country.

Suppose you ever have trouble connecting to the Internet during your trip. In that case, it might be because you’re connecting automatically to networks and need to select a network manually instead.

When you purchase the eSIM, you’ll get access to the list of networks supported in each country.

Holafly South Africa

Alternatively, you could look at your options on Holafly. You can read our Holafly review to learn more about this eSIM store.

Holafly offers the following plan for South Africa:

Nomad South Africa

Finally, Nomad is also a great eSIM provider.

Here’s an overview of the plans available for South Africa:

  • 1GB, valid for 7 days for $20
  • 3GB, valid for 30 days for $48
  • 5GB, valid for 30 days for $54

Nomad also has Global, an eSIM plan for 111 countries worldwide. This plan offers coverage in South Africa.

Here’s an overview:

  • 1GB, valid for 7 days for $20
  • 3GB, valid for 30 days for $48
  • 5GB, valid for 30 days for $54

Final Thoughts On SIM Cards In South Africa

As you can see, getting a prepaid SIM card in South Africa or even an eSIM for your travels in South Africa is pretty easy.

You’ll even be able to stay connected wherever you go in Africa without changing your SIM card, especially if you purchase an African SIM card.

I believe the eSIM card is the most convenient way to get data in South Africa if you wish to have data upon your arrival. This way, you won’t need to go to a store to buy a SIM card.

Obviously, you need to make sure your mobile phone supports eSIM first.

Traveling soon? Read one of the following blog posts:

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