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Add-on vs new eSIM: Which should I get when I'm running out of data?

Where available, it is recommended to get an add-on.

· 3 min read

Running out of data on your travel eSIM plan, and wondering if you should simply get an add-on or if you should get a new eSIM? The general recommendation is that if your eSIM plan allows you to purchase an add-on, you should get an add-on.


What is a travel eSIM?

An eSIM is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan without having to use a physical SIM card. It is built into your device, enabling you to switch networks and manage multiple plans with ease. eSIM technology is supported by a growing number of smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, offering enhanced flexibility and convenience for users.

Travel eSIMs are eSIM plans that are designed for travelers, typically offering mobile data at near-local rates. Unlike prepaid local plans that are typically pay-as-you-go, travel eSIM plans mostly come in two forms:

  • Fixed-data volume plan: You will have a fixed data allowance that will be valid throughout the period of your plan.
  • Day plans: Day plans offer a certain amount of high-speed data each data. After you have fully consumed your allocated amount of high-speed data, you will continue to be able to use the internet at a throttled speed. Day plans are sometimes also marketed as Unlimited plans.

Purchasing an add-on vs getting a new eSIM

When you are using a travel eSIM and you are about to run out of data from your fixed-data volume plan, you typically have two options: to get a new eSIM, or to get an add-on.

In most cases, add-ons are not quite the same as topping up of prepaid SIMs the way we are familiar with. Add-ons do not extend the validity of your current plan, and your balance data (if any) is not rolled over even with a purchase of an add-on.

This essentially means that getting an add-on and getting a new eSIM isn’t all that much different when we are comparing how much data you get to use.

The main difference between both options is that with a new eSIM, you will need to go through the installation and activation process of the new eSIM again, which could be rather disruptive if you are in the midst of a trip.

On the other hand, if you were to get an add-on, the add-on will start automatically when you run out of data on your first eSIM, or when the plan for the eSIM expires. This will help to minimise any disruptions to your connectivity while you are on the trip.

What you need to know about purchasing an add-on

If you are purchasing an add-on to extend the validity of your eSIM or to get more data, it is important to note that:

  • You will need to purchase your add-on before your existing plan expires or before you run out of data. You cannot purchase add-ons for eSIMs that are already expired.
  • Not all plans allow add-ons. So if you are not confident about how much data you might need for your trip, it is always recommended that you look out for plans that support add-on purchases. Typically, day plans (or unlimited plans) do not allow you to purchase an add-on.

Get a Nomad eSIM for uninterrupted data on your next trip

Nomad offers data plans in over 170 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.10/GB.

The networks that Nomad's eSIMs use for each plan are stated on the plan details on the web store and apps, so you can check which networks are supported before buying your plan. Data sharing and tethering is also supported on Nomad's eSIM plans.

In the event where you run out of data, most of Nomad’s eSIM plans also allows you to purchase add-ons for your data pack. With a purchased add-on, you will be able to seamlessly stay connected with the same eSIM. Check the individual plan details to confirm if add-ons are allowed for that plan.