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What's The Best eSIM For India? We've Compared the Top 13 Providers in 2024

Jan Watermann, writer at Monito.com

Jan Watermann

Guide

Jul 3, 2024
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Known for its mouthwatering curries, Ayurveda resorts, and historical landmarks like the Taj Mahal and Golden Temple, India isn't popular with tourists without reason. If you're planning to visit the country soon, it should come as no surprise that you won't be able to call, SMS, or access the web on the go with your smartphone as you usually would at home, and if you do manage to get connected via roaming, it can result in hefty additional charges.

However, none of this means you should leave your smartphone at home. If your device is a newish model (i.e., from 2019 or later), there's a good chance it'll support an eSIM. These nifty digital SIM cards can be downloaded and installed before you travel, promising blazing-fast internet in India at a very low cost compared to roaming and great convenience compared to physical SIMs.

In this guide, we explore everything you need to know about eSIMs in India and the best deals available, specifically Holafly for unlimited data, Airalo for low-cost, limited data, and GigSky for a free 100 MB test eSIM and all-round affordability. But if you'd like to skip ahead and find the best deal instantly, use our free comparison engine below.👇

Compare all 163 eSIM data plans for India in just a few clicks:

As we'll explore in more depth in this guide, when choosing an eSIM, you have two options. The first option is to go through a digital eSIM provider, and the second is to purchase an eSIM directly from your network provider or carrier. We strongly recommend the first option. After all, with reputable online providers, you can always be sure you'll get good support, excellent rates, and quality instructions that normally exceed those of the big carriers.

According to our review and comparison of the best options on the market, Holafly, Airalo, Global YO, and Yesim are the best four eSIM providers for India.

Here are a few key facts:

Key Facts About eSIMs in India

📱No. of Providers Compared

14

📶 No. of Plans Compared

173

✅ No. of Monito Promos

11

💲 Cheapest Price

$0.88 /GB

💵 Highest Price

$9.53 /GB

✨ Cheapest 1 GB Plan

Yesim | 30 days | $1.11

✨ Cheapest 10 GB Plan

Global YO | 30 days | $9.89

✨ Cheapest Unlimited Plan

Holafly | 7 days | $27.55

Best For Unlimited Data: Holafly

📡 Network(s)

Vi, Jio, BSNL West Bengal

💵 Price /Plan

$29 - $79

📅 Duration

5 - 30 days

📶 Speed in India

3G / 4G / LTE

Holafly is another trusted eSIM service which also offers eSIMs for India. The remarkable thing about Holafly is that it only provides packages with unlimited data for India and other countries worldwide. Although these packages cost quite a bit more than the smaller Airalo packages, in return, they offer the certainty that you'll never use up all your data.

For trips to India, Holafly's data packages cost between $29 and $79 once off and are valid from five to 30 days. Like Airalo, Holafly's plans in India give you data via Jio networks, but unlike Airalo, they also connect you to Vi and BSNL West Bengal networks, which you can switch between manually. This means you'll get coverage like a local no matter where you travel in the country. (However, coverage can become spotty in remote regions, as we'll see later in this article.)

Although Holafly's packages are generally great if you'd like uncapped access to the web, it's worth remembering that most travellers don't usually need such a large sum of data and that normally, 5 GB to 10 GB, at most, should be enough for everyday travel needs in India like navigating, browsing, and using social media. Moreover, your speeds might be temporarily throttled if you use a very extensive amount of data (e.g., for non-stop HD streaming or downloading large files). During our test in the UK, this happened to us at around 4.5 GB of usage. Sadly, Holafly's fair use policies don't clearly outline when networks throttle speeds since it comes down to the individual network or carrier and the country you're browsing in.

If you're curious, we tested Holafly extensively to see if its data plans really live up to their 'unlimited' promise. The short answer? Yes, but there are a few things you should know. Take a look at our Holafly review to find out what they are.

recommendation icon

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Best For a Free 100 MB Test: GigSky

GigSky is a popular US-based eSIM provider that offers a unique opportunity: it lets you download and install a free eSIM with 100 MB of allowance to test how eSIMs work without being obligated to pay more once you've used up your data.

Like Airalo, GigSky offers fixed data plans in around 200 destinations worldwide, including India. GigSky's Indian plans range from 100 MB (which, as mentioned above, is free) to 10 GB, which costs $49.99. And just like Airalo and Holafly, you can easily top up or renew your plan from the app if you ever run out of data.

Most interestingly (unlike Airalo and Holafly), Gigsky offers special data plans for flights and cruises. Although they're pricier than the normal plans, they could be useful for you if you'd like to connect in the air or at sea.

Regardless of what kind of data plan you're looking for, GigSky probably has you covered—and at great rates to boot. Sign up now for a no-obligation free 500 MB and top up your data later if you need more.

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Best For Just a Little Data: Airalo

📡 Network(s)

Jio

💵 Price /GB

$2 - $4.50, depending on plan

📅 Duration

7 - 30 days

📶 Speed in India

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

Airalo is an excellent eSIM provider for India. Its online platform offers global access to eSIMs through collaboration with big local telecom providers. In India, for example, Airalo works directly with Jio, India's largest network operator, to provide you with high-speed coverage directly from their networks, wherever you are in the country.

Once-off prices for eSIMs for India range from $4.50 to $40 and include between 1 GB and 20 GB of data. Depending on your plan, that's just $2 to $4.50 per gigabyte! Most travellers should be able to get by with these amounts without any problems. Setting up and activating your eSIM happens entirely on your smartphone and it's very quick – in our test, it took us just two minutes (watch our how-to video on YouTube to see how it's done). What's more, if you start running low on data during your trip, you can easily top this up via the Airalo app. This saves you time and hassle compared to buying a physical SIM, where you'd usually need to stand in line at the counter to buy or top up your card or package (which can sometimes take a while in India!).

We also recommend Airalo in general, especially if you travel overseas often. The service provides an excellent connectivity companion while you're abroad in dozens of countries. To find out more about this excellent eSIM provider, take a look at our in-depth Airalo review.

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  • New customer? Use the code MONITO15 to claim a 15% discount on all Airalo eSIMs. Ts & Cs apply.
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Go to Airalo now to get started! ✨

Another Good Alternative: Yesim

📡 Network(s)

Airtel, Idea

💵 Price /GB

$2.20 - $4.03, depending on plan

📅 Duration

7 - 30 days

📶 Speed in India

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

A smaller and newer company than Airalo and Holafly, Yesim is a Swiss-based eSIM provider offering highly-rated eSIMs for India and other countries around the globe. Its website and app are simple, straightforward, and easy to use, and over 300,000 customers have chosen Yesim's eSIMs so far.

Like its larger competitors, Yesim gives you an eSIM card connecting to local carriers while you're in India (specifically Airtel and Idea networks). It can be installed quickly and effortlessly right from the app or via a QR code sent to your email after purchase. Interestingly, alongside its eSIM service, Yesim also offers a virtual number service that allows you to get an online-only US (+1), Canadian (+1), or Israeli (+972) mobile phone number to use for apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, OpenAI, Binance, Tinder, or TikTok. These virtual numbers can be used for a flat fee of $2.75 per month.

Going back to eSIMs, Yesim's packages typically cost between $12 and $44 for 3 GB to 20 GB (that's just $2.20 to $4 per gigabyte), with contract durations lasting from seven to 30 days. Yesim also offers three unlimited packages in India for varying durations (7, 15, and 30 days), although these plans are, in fact, limited to 15 GB, 30 GB, and 50 GB respectively. This comes to around $2.30 per gigabyte, which is a very decent price for data in India. Plus, you'll also get an additional 5 GB per package for free if you exceed the limit.

Although well-priced, all of this still makes Yesim's packages ever-so-slightly less attractive than Airalo's for traveling to India. However, it's worth remembering that, depending on your plan, Yesim's prices can sometimes be fractionally lower per gigabyte than Airalo's, so if you're looking for the best deal, make sure you visit Yesim's website and compare their prices to Airalo's directly.

How Do They Compare?

In the chart below, we've compared Holafly, Airalo, GigSky and Yesim based on a few factors you might find important on your trip to India or anywhere else in the world. As you'll see, the three are very competitive, with differences normally being slight. If you'd like to compare Holafly and Airalo directly, take a look at our side-by-side review of the two too.

📡 Carrier(s)

  • Airtel
  • Vi
  • Jio

Jio

Various

  • Airtel
  • Idea

⚡ Data

Unlimited

1 - 20 GB

100 MB - 10 GB

3 - 20 GB

💵 Price (USD)

$29 - $79 /plan

$2 - $4.50 /GB

$0 - $4.99 /GB

$2.20 - $4.03 /GB

📅 Duration

5 - 30 days

7 - 30 days

7 - 30 days

7 - 30 days

📶 Speeds

3G / 4G / LTE

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

🔗 Tethering (Hotspot)

🔎 Works With VPN

Visit websiteVisit websiteVisit websiteVisit website

Correct as of 14 June, 2024

Which Indian Carrier Is Best?

Abhishek Prasad Houseboats floating over the Alappuzha Backwaters, Kerala, India.

India has several mobile network operators, and in recent years, the country has experienced a boom in coverage, network speeds, and price reductions for local customers. These are the five largest mobile network carriers by the number of subscribers as of the end of 2023:

  1. Jio
  2. Airtel
  3. Vi
  4. BSNL
  5. MTNL

No matter which of these five networks your eSIM connects to, you can rest assured that you'll enjoy good coverage in pretty much all cities and tourist destinations in India, including Jaipur, Delhi, Chennai, Agra, Goa, Bombay, and Bangalore. However, your coverage might become spotty or unstable if you travel to a more remote region of India, particularly places like the Himalayas, the jungles of Assam, or the Thar Desert.

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If you'd like to double-check if the region you're traveling to is covered by various operators, take a look at this handy map. According to their website, the network with the widest coverage is Jio, although BSNL and Vi offer extensive coverage too. (Airtel and MTNL aren't included in the map.)

Do I Need a SIM Card in India?

Ravi N Jha A view over the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

No, you don't need a SIM card as a tourist in India, but having one will enable you to access useful travel apps like Google Maps, social media, Uber, or Duolingo without having to rely on WiFi.

A good place to start would be to review your contract from your mobile network provider before you travel to India. Most contracts are limited to use just within your home country (or within the European Union if you live in an EU country). For all other countries, so-called 'roaming charges' typically apply. However, there is one exception: specific contracts sometimes allow you to use your data worldwide. If you have a global internet contract, you can also use it in India without unexpected roaming charges.

Otherwise, although precise roaming charges differ according to your network provider, the fees for using mobile internet in India are typically around $2 or $3 per 6 MB (six megabytes) of data used, though they could still be higher. For example, if you wanted to download an average-sized app from the Google Play Store onto your Android smartphone, you'd use around 24 MB and pay $8 to $10 in roaming charges. It should, therefore, be clear that roaming with your regular SIM card in India is generally not worthwhile and can lead to enormous costs. As we saw earlier, it's significantly cheaper to purchase a local Indian SIM card once you arrive or, better yet, an eSIM before you travel.

What Are eSIMs, Anyway?

Akhil Chandran An assortment of curry spices in Mapusa, India.

Simply put, eSIMs are regular SIM cards that don't require inserting an actual microchip into your device while providing the same benefits. Newer smartphones (but also smartwatches, tablets, and other devices) can be equipped with eSIMs, and since you don't need an actual SIM card to install an eSIM, you can also get one before your trip to India. To do this, all you have to do is visit an online eSIM service, purchase the eSIM you want, and follow the instructions to download and install it onto your device.

Like regular SIM cards, prepaid eSIMs come bundled with a certain fixed amount of data, SMSes, or telephone minutes, which you can use at your leisure while travelling. You get to choose the package you want, and you can generally also extend your eSIM's validity easily right from an app.

Pros of Using an eSIM

In general, eSIMs have numerous advantages and are often a better alternative to regular SIM cards for most tourists. In our opinion, the most significant advantages include:

  • internet immediately upon arrival in India,
  • no negotiating with SIM card sellers at the airport,
  • transparent and fair pricing,
  • online extension is often possible,
  • credit card payment is possible,
  • local telecom provider networks are used.

In our opinion, there are only a few reasons against using an eSIM when travelling to India (which we'll discuss below). In most instances, we're sure that it's a far better deal than using your normal SIM card from your home country on Indian networks.

Cons of Using an eSIM

As we've already seen, eSIMs have very few drawbacks and are an excellent option for accessing mobile internet on your Indian vacation.

However, one disadvantage is the slightly higher upfront cost than physical SIM cards. That said, eSIMs are still comparatively cheap, especially for use in India from abroad. In our opinion, the significantly higher level of comfort and the possibility of having access to the internet immediately upon arrival are worth the extra pennies. Another disadvantage is related to installation, where the process may be unfamiliar to you if you've never installed an eSIM before. However, if you follow the instructions carefully, you'll be fine.

Finally, there's a compatibility issue: not all devices support eSIMs. If your device was released before late 2019, we recommend double-checking on the internet or contacting a representative from an eSIM service to confirm whether your device is compatible before you purchase an eSIM. In general, the following devices will support eSIMs though:

  • iPhone 11 or later
  • iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or iPhone SE
  • iPad 7th generation or later,
  • Galaxy S20 or later
  • Google Pixel 3 or later
  • and many other devices (see our full list of compatible devices)

Can I Call From India With an eSIM?

Varshesh Joshi A misty view of a mosque in Agra, India.

Yes, you can call abroad from India with an eSIM, but once again, using your regular network provider and SIM card could result in surprisingly high calling charges at the end of the month (we've personally encountered as high as $4 per minute!). Fortunately, you can call abroad without the high costs, and there are three ways of doing this. We go through each below:

1. Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) With Data

In most cases, eSIM packages are loaded with mobile data, not with minutes or airtime. However, using your data, you can use web-based apps like WhatsApp, Google Meet, Skype, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and others to stay in touch with family and friends abroad while in India.

2. eSIMs With Airtime

Some eSIM services offer talk and text packages alongside normal data packages. These allow you to make direct phone calls or SMSes via local networks in India to your home country for only a slightly higher fee than regular data packages. Not all eSIM services offer this service though, but some, like Wraptel, do.

3. International Calling Apps

If you plan to make calls from India (or anywhere else abroad) fairly regularly, then your most reliable and affordable option will be to use a third-party app. In our opinion, Rebtel is by far the best service out there, offering low rates and providing you with local Indian phone numbers with which you can make calls abroad as though they were completely domestic.

Although it's popular, we typically don't recommend using Google Fi for this purpose unless you plan to go back and forth from the United States regularly (since Google Fi is only available to Americans and will not work if you spend over 90 days abroad yearly). In general, Rebtel's rates are more affordable than Google Fi's too. Look at our in-depth review to learn more about our first-hand experience with Google Fi.

Recap: All About eSIMs in India

Martin Adams A flock of pigeons take flight above a temple in the Royal Gaitor Tumbas, India.

Are you planning a trip to India, and do you have a modern smartphone? Then, you should certainly at least consider getting an eSIM. In our opinion, they offer almost nothing but advantages and are generally far superior to using your regular SIM card.

You should compare the available options to find the right provider for eSIMs in India. As we've seen, we recommend looking primarily at the network provider and the price. Airalo, Holafly, GigSky, or possibly Yesim are the best choices, depending on how long you want to stay in India. To recap, here are what each can offer you:

  1. Holafly: Best eSIM for India overall,
  2. Airalo: Best eSIM for small data packages in India,
  3. Yesim: Good alternative to Airalo,
  4. GigSky: Best free eSIM to test,
  5. Rebtel: Best calling service for international calls.

Compare more than 163 eSIMs packages for your next trip to India:

  • Where are you going?
  • How long is your trip?
  • How much data do you need?
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    Total data

    5 GB

    $10.80

    $12.71

    Data only
    30 days
    India
    15% off with code MONITO15
  2. Total data

    5 GB

    $12.34

    $12.99

    Data only
    30 days
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    5% off with code MONITO5
  3. Total data

    5 GB

    $12.75

    $15.00

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FAQ About The Best eSIM For India

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