4 factors to consider for a travel eSIM.
Authored by Nikhil Aggarwal, Growth PM at Nomad
July 7, 2021
Read Time: 4 mins
When you are traveling to the U.S., the last thing you want to do is pay outrageous roaming fees or be stuck constantly searching for public WiFi as you navigate the country. Considering all factors (price, speed, reliability, and duration of trip), Nomad’s USA eSIM has you covered across the board.
Most people do not know what an eSIM is, even though there’s a decent change that your phone supports this technology. An eSIM is an embedded SIM card - a SIM card that is embedded in your device and cannot be swapped in or out for another one. It has all of the functionality of a SIM card and more, and comes directly embedded in your device by the device manufacturer. To see all of the iPhones that support eSIM, click here.
The beauty of eSIM is that it can hold multiple carriers and plans at the same time. That is, you no longer have to worry about swapping your home SIM card out for another SIM card when traveling or risk losing that tiny hardware if you don’t put it somewhere safe. With eSIMs, you can keep your home carrier’s SIM card in the phone’s SIM card slot, and purchase eSIMs easily without going to a store. When traveling, especially for digital nomads or other high frequency international travelers, this is an absolute game changer.
eSIMs can also be much cheaper than buying a local SIM card. Because there are no physical stores required to sell eSIMs, eSIM retailers have lower operating costs and can therefore pass on those savings to you. When traveling to a country like the U.S., this can save you hundreds of dollars over the duration of your trip, when compared to roaming or buying a travel SIM.
Before you buy your first eSIM when traveling to the U.S., there are 4 factors that you need to consider (in no particular order, we know that everyone may have different priorities).
When buying an eSIM, you don’t want to get stuck paying the same amount that you would pay for a physical SIM card. There are some eSIM carriers that launched plans for U.S. travel during the pandemic in 2020, and continue to charge upwards of $20-$30 / GB of data for U.S. travelers. To avoid paying high costs, always do your research and vet multiple options. We highly recommend using this handy tool, eSIMdb, which shows you all of the eSIMs available for your country and can help you make a conscious decision. However, don’t consider price alone. There are always reasons why some carriers have lower prices than others (less reliable, slower speeds, throttling, etc.).
In addition to price, always ensure that you are selecting a plan that fits your speed requirements. Are you going to be listening to Spotify or streaming Netflix on your trip? Are you going to be constantly navigating with Google Maps? For these cases, you’ll definitely want to find a plan that is 4G or LTE, and stay away from 3G plans. Oftentimes, it’s hard to know what speed you can expect from your eSIM as the eSIM providers don’t always provide it upfront. Within the Nomad app, for any plan that you select you can see the expected coverage speed. Although we can’t help when it comes to other providers, we recommend downloading the app to see what speeds you can expect when traveling to not only the U.S. but over 100+ destinations across the world.
Reliability is often very underestimated. Do you want to be stranded without data service and spend multiple hours of your trip chatting or emailing with customer support? Because eSIM is a relatively new technology, many eSIM providers have not been able to create an ideal support experience for their customers. Always check the App Store reviews before purchasing your eSIM and ensure that there are enough users who vouch for the providers support and product. On Nomad, we’ve received an average rating of 4.9 / 5 stars across dozens of reviews.
The final piece to consider is your personal trip duration. Are you staying for a week on business? Are you a digital nomad traveling for 30 days +? The reason you’ll want to consider this is to help inform how much data you will need for your trip and how long you’ll want your plan to last before it expires. In any case, you’ll want the flexibility to have short or long-term plans with varying data amounts. Ensure that your eSIM provider offers this flexibility before deciding to purchase with them. Additionally, you’ll want the ability to top-up at any time and further prolong the duration of your plan - all of Nomad’s eSIM plans for the U.S. can be topped up at any time with more data. Nomad offers numerous options ranging from 7 days to 90 days of expiry, to support any traveler’s needs.
All in all, as long as you make a conscious decision and do your research, there are many good options available on the market for eSIM plans in the U.S. We might be biased, but Nomad offers some of the lowest cost, high speed, flexible, and reliable eSIM data plans today for travelers to the U.S. Don’t get stuck paying expensive roaming fees or swapping SIMs, download the Nomad app and browse the best eSIMs today!