As a tourist visiting Egypt, having access to mobile data during your trip is extremely handy for maps, translation, and staying connected. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting an Egypt SIM card for your trip.
Table of Contents
I. Should I Buy a New SIM Card for My Egypt Trip?
When visiting Egypt, getting a local SIM card is highly recommended over relying on roaming with your home SIM. Here are some of the key benefits of buying an Egypt SIM card for your trip:
- Cost savings – Roaming data rates are extremely expensive. A local SIM gives you affordable data packages.
- Better coverage – Local SIM cards provide stronger connectivity from local networks. Roaming can lead to poor coverage.
- Access to local numbers – Egyptian number is useful for arranging tours, restaurant bookings etc.
- Convenience – You can top up your SIM easily when needed. With roaming you’d have to call your provider abroad.
- Pre-planning – You can buy your SIM card ahead of arrival and have it ready to go.
A local SIM card like Vodafone, Orange or Etisalat make travel to Egypt much smoother and more connected. The cost savings alone make it worthwhile compared to costly roaming charges.
While sticking with your home SIM is doable, getting a local SIM card really is the best option for most travelers headed to Egypt.
II. Egypt SIM Card Types – Which One is the Best for Tourists?
When looking to buy an Egypt SIM card, you’ll have to choose between getting a regular prepaid SIM card, a tourist SIM card, or in some cases now an eSIM. Let’s compare the pros and cons of each option for travelers to Egypt:
- Physical SIM cards: These are the traditional SIM cards that come as a small chip embedded in a plastic or paper carrier. They must be inserted into the SIM card slot of compatible devices.
- eSIMs: Embedded SIMs are digital profiles that can be installed onto supported smartphones remotely via scanning a QR code. No physical SIM card is needed.
|Physical SIM Card
|Easy availability at local stores
|Must be inserted into device slot
|Compatible with more devices
|Risk of damage or loss
|No physical card needed
|Requires compatible device
|Instant activation remotely
|Eligible devices more limited than physical SIM
eSIMs offer more convenience and flexibility that physical SIMs cannot match, making them a better choice for tourists on the go in Egypt.
- Data-only SIM cards: These SIM cards only provide high-speed mobile data connectivity without any calling or messaging.
- Voice and data SIM cards: SIM cards that come with a local phone number allowing both data usage and calling/SMS.
- Tourist SIM cards: Prepaid SIM cards targeting foreign visitors.
|Type of SIM Card
|Provides high-speed mobile data only. No calling/SMS. eSIM plans from egyptesim.com.
|No calling or SMS functionality.
|Varies from 3 days to 1 month.
|Can purchase eSIM plans online before travel.
|Voice and data SIM
|Provides both high-speed data and local phone number for calling and SMS.
|Includes calling and SMS functions.
|Monthly plans aimed at residents.
|Must purchase in Egypt, typically from network operators.
|Offers a simple prepaid data package for the duration of stay.
|Optional add-ons available for calling/SMS on some plans.
|Duration matches the tourist's length of stay e.g. 1 week or 2 weeks.
|Must purchase tourist SIM cards from local retailers in Egypt.
Therefore, for its convenience, coverage, flexibility in durations and cost-effectiveness, a data-only eSIM plan is generally the best and easiest option for tourists to stay connected using mobile data during their trip to Egypt. Voice & data SIMs are better suited for residents while tourist SIM cards have more complications for visitors.
III. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Egypt?
If you just need basic maps and messaging access, 3-5GB is a good amount for a trip length of around 1-2 weeks in Egypt. This gives you:
- About 200MB per day for light map usage, some texts/social media, and a few photos.
- You’ll mainly rely on WiFi at your hotel and at cafes/restaurants.
For moderate usage of maps, social media, some music streaming and occasional video calling, 10GB is a recommended Egypt SIM data amount for 1-2 weeks. This provides:
- Roughly 500MB to 1GB per day for Google Maps, email, social media browsing, some Spotify streaming.
- You’ll still try to use WiFi when available, but mobile data supplements when out and about.
If you plan to use your Egypt SIM extensively for maps, video calling, YouTube/Netflix streaming, gaming etc then 15-30GB makes sense for a 1-2 week trip. This gives you:
- Up to 2GB per day for heavy usage – streaming, gaming, large photo uploads etc.
- You rely mainly on your SIM data and use WiFi less frequently.
As you can see, daily data needs range quite a bit from 200MB for light use up to 2GB for heavy use when traveling in Egypt. Buy a data amount that matches your intended usage, with a little extra buffer. You can always top up more later if needed!
IV. How Much Does an Egypt SIM Card Cost?
Egypt SIM cards are very reasonably priced, both for the initial cost of the SIM card itself and for data packages. Here are typical costs:
|SIM Card Only
|Weekly Plan (data)
|Monthly Plan (data)
|$2.50 (2GB data)
|$5 (5GB data)
|$3 (3GB data)
|$7.50 (10GB data)
|$2 (1GB data)
|$5 (5GB data)
|$2.50 (2GB data)
|$6 (6GB data)
When you factor in the convenience and network quality tourist SIMs offer travelers, the extra few dollars cost over regular prepaid SIMs is worth it. You get so much value in data amounts and validity compared to expensive roaming.
V. Egypt eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards
In addition to regular and tourist SIM cards, some providers in Egypt like Vodafone also offer eSIMs now. An eSIM or “electronic SIM” works differently than a physical nano-SIM card:
- Digital profile – The eSIM profile is downloaded digitally to your phone vs activated using a plastic SIM card.
- Dual SIM compatible – Phones with eSIM support can maintain their existing physical SIM, and also add the eSIM for dual SIM capability.
- Remote management – eSIM profiles can be switched on/off and renewed remotely without having to insert/swap SIM cards.
- Limited phone support – Currently only newer smartphone models have eSIM capability. Older phones require physical SIM cards.
- Apple restrictions – On iPhones, you can only use an eSIM abroad if your home SIM is also an eSIM.
VI. Where to Buy a Egypt SIM Card?
There are a few options for where to buy your Egyptian SIM card as a visitor:
Buy at Airport on Arrival
Buying your SIM card airside at the airport when you arrive in Egypt is more convenient – no need to hunt for a store in town!. Just look for the branded SIM card desks after you exit the plane. Check Getting SIM Card at Egypt Cairo Airport for more details.
Buy at Mobile Shop in City
- Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat stores widespread across Cairo and other cities.
- Often smaller standalone shops rather than ‘official’ branded stores.
- Ask your hotel for nearest shop on arrival.
If you miss buying a SIM card at the airport or arrive overland, just ask your hotel for the closest mobile shop on arrival. There are plenty of dealers selling SIM cards all over, often small independent phone shops vs official carrier stores.
Buy eSIM Online in Advance
- Vodafone Egypt now offers tourist eSIMs on online shop.
- Digital profile sent instantly via email or app.
- Load eSIM profile to phone before leaving home.
eSIMs provide some nice benefits, especially not having to source a physical SIM card on arrival. Consider Egypt eSIM from GIGAGO with affordable plans data. Let’s check it:
For eSIM-compatible phones, you can buy and activate an Egypt eSIM before you even leave home! Vodafone sells tourist eSIMs on their website which gets delivered digitally to your phone. Just ensure your phone model supports eSIMs.
Buying at the airport or local stores is the easiest choice for most visitors to Egypt. But eSIMs allow you to use mobile data right upon landing which can be handy.
VII. How to Use Your Egypt SIM Card
Once you’ve bought your Egyptian SIM card, here are some tips for using it during your trip:
- Insert SIM – Turn phone off, insert the SIM card into slot, turn phone back on.
- Setup APN – For mobile data, you may need to manually enter APN settings – ask when you buy SIM.
- Recharge credit – When credit runs low, you can top-up your SIM at phone shops, kiosks, and sometimes your hotel. Ask for the amount you want to add in Egyptian Pounds EGP.
- Check balance – To check remaining data and validity period, dial *888# on your mobile and press call/send.
- Extend validity – Before the SIM expires, just recharge it with top-up credit to extend the validity period.
- Remove PIN – Most Egyptian SIMs come with a default PIN. Call customer service to have this removed for convenience.
- Store contacts – Save important contacts like your hotel, tour company etc in the SIM memory so you have them if switching phones.
Follow those tips and your Egyptian SIM card will be easy to use during your entire trip. You’ll stay connected for affordable calling, texting, and mobile data!
VIII. Best Mobile Operators for Egypt SIM Cards
There are several mobile network operators in Egypt, but the main 3 with the widest coverage and most tourist SIM card options are:
|SIM Card Price Range
|Wide 4G coverage in cities and major towns. Working to expand rural coverage.
|SIM only: $0.50-$1. Starter pack: $1-$1.50. Monthly plans: $5-$8.
|Large network coverage. Wide range of plans.
|Higher priced than competitors. Customer service can be improved.
|Extensive 4G coverage across Egypt including remote areas.
|SIM only: $0.50. Starter pack: $1. Monthly plans: $8-$11.
|Reliable coverage even in remote areas. Large data bundles.
|Most expensive plans. Average customer service.
|Strong 4G coverage in large cities and towns.
|SIM only: $0.75. Starter pack: $1.50. Monthly plans: $5-$8.
|Competitive prices. Regular promotions and bundle offers.
|Limited flash sales, deals and bundling offers for short-term users
|Good coverage in major cities and expanding to other areas.
|SIM only: $0.25. Starter pack: $0.75. Monthly plans: $5-$8.
|Least expensive plans. Good customer reviews.
|Limited coverage compared to others. Newer operator.
So in summary, Vodafone strikes the best balance between extensive network coverage, competitive plans, consistent service quality and partnership benefits – making them the top recommended mobile operator for both residents and travelers visiting Egypt.
Read Best Mobile Operators in Egypt for the best choice.
IX. Tips for Saving Data on Your Egypt SIM Card
To get the most value from your prepaid data package on an Egyptian SIM card, here are some tips for saving data:
- Leverage WiFi – Use WiFi networks at your hotel, cafes, restaurants whenever possible instead of mobile data.
- Offline maps – Download offline Google Maps for the areas you’ll visit so you don’t use data every time navigating.
- Limit streaming – Stream video and music eats up data quickly. Only stream over WiFi and limit mobile usage.
- Disable auto-play – Turn off auto-play options in apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. This prevents unwanted video streaming.
- Limit OS updates – Defer major iOS/Android OS updates until you return home as these download over mobile data.
- Adjust picture quality – Set camera apps to lower resolution for smaller photo sizes that use less data when sharing/uploading pics.
- Disable background refreshing – Stop background app data usage in your phone settings to constrain unwanted data consumption.
Follow those simple tricks and you can make your Egypt SIM data last longer. You’ll still stay connected but conserve data usage when WiFi networks aren’t available.
Do I need to show my passport to get an Egypt SIM card?
For regular prepaid SIM cards, yes a copy of your passport and visa is required when purchasing. But tourist SIM cards aimed at visitors do not require passport registration.
Can I use my Egypt SIM card in other countries?
No, Egyptian SIM cards only provide service within Egypt and do not allow roaming to other countries. Buy a separate local SIM when visiting neighboring countries.
How long is an Egypt tourist SIM card valid for?
Tourist SIM card validity ranges from 60 days to 1 year depending on the provider and package. You can extend validity by recharging with more credit before it expires.
Can I use dual SIM phones with an Egypt SIM card?
Yes, dual SIM phones are very handy for using your home SIM and an Egypt SIM together. Just insert the Egypt SIM in the second slot to add the local service.
Are there SIM card scams in Egypt I should avoid?
Most shops and dealers sell legitimate SIM cards. But most finds do come “pre-activated” so avoid any shops trying to sell SIMs they claim already have credit loaded and activated. Always start fresh with a new SIM card.
With a local SIM card ready to go, you’ll stay affordably connected with mobile data and calls throughout your Egypt trip! But consider Egypt eSIM from GIGAGO for the best experience.
Have an amazing time in Egypt!