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Airalo vs Holafly: Which eSIM Is The Better Choice?

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com

Byron Mühlberg

Guide

Jonny Pease

Reviewer

Mar 20, 2024
Advertiser disclosure

With eSIMs becoming ever more popular and with more and more devices supporting them, it's no wonder travellers around the world are wondering which service offers the best eSIM deals. Airalo and Holafly are two favourites, leading the pack for their fair pricing, easy installation, and reliable service. Moreover, they're both among the oldest and largest services on the scene.

This begs the question: which is the better eSIM service, Airalo or Holafly? As we'll see in this side-by-side comparison, it's a close call, and the answer comes largely down to where you're travelling to and what exactly you're looking for.

This side-by-side review delves into pricing, data volume, speeds, coverage, and additional functionality. We also compare Airalo and Holafly on themes like trustworthiness and customer satisfaction. For this article, we extensively tested Airalo and Holafly for ourselves and learned some surprising and interesting things along the way! We hope you find our experience useful when choosing the best eSIM for your next vacation.

If you're in a rush, we've summarised in which areas we think each is better than the other below:

Airalo's Best For:
  • Value for money
  • Short trips (<14 days)
  • Long trips (3-12 months)
  • Network speeds
  • Tethering (hotspot/data sharing)
  • Mobile app
  • Countries where Holafly isn't available
Holafly's Best For:
  • Data volume
  • Speedy customer support
  • Free voice calls
  • Medium trips (2-12 weeks)
  • Refunds for trip cancellation

Compare Airalo, Holafly and more eSIM providers:

Which Is More Trustworthy?

Airalo:
  • 📜 Founded in 2019
  • 🏢 Based in Singapore (SG)
  • 👥 5 million customers
  • 🧑‍💼 ±200 employees
  • 🗑️ Allows account deletion
  • 💸 Strict refund policy
Holafly:
  • 📜 Founded in 2017
  • 🏢 Based in Dublin (IE)
  • 👥 1 million+ customers
  • 🧑‍💼 ±300 employees
  • 🗑️ Allows account deletion
  • 💸 Generous refund policy

Regarding reliability, safety, and credibility, both Airalo and Holafly are excellent companies you can fully trust with your business.

They're both registered and licensed telecom companies with an international presence: Holafly is based in Ireland with additional offices in Spain, Peru, and Thailand, while Airalo is based in Singapore with additional offices in Turkey and Canada. Both have over 200 employees and have been around since before 2020 (which makes them old players in the new and fast-growing eSIM sector). As of 2024, Holafly has fewer customers than Airalo, announcing a figure of at least one million customers to Airalo's five million. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they're a smaller company since Holafly typically earns more per customer than Airalo does. Finally, both Airalo and Holafly let you delete your account and personal information whenever you like.

Having used both services ourselves and having felt entirely at ease with the process, we noticed nothing about either Airalo or Holafly that aroused any doubt or suspicion whatsoever. They delivered exactly what they promised in a fast, accessible, and affordable way (more on this later).

Refund Policies

One area of difference between the two is in the area of refunds. Airalo and Holafly give you the full right to request a refund or eSIM replacement if things don't work as expected. This doesn't include accidentally installing an eSIM incompatible with your device, so even though both companies' apps detect your device and warn you beforehand, it's still always important to make sure your device is eSIM compatible (we'll discuss this more later).

However, Holafly lets you request a refund up to six months after purchase, while Airalo requires this request to be made within only 30 days. What's more, Holafly will refund you as long as you haven't activated your eSIM, meaning if your holiday gets cancelled before you activate your foreign data, you're entitled to a full refund. This is an advantage of Airalo's stricter refund policy, where the Airalo support team will first need to investigate the issue while reserving the right to refuse you a refund if you're not cooperative or if you've purchased other products to connect to the internet in the meantime.

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Considering Holafly? Use the code MONITO at checkout to claim a 5% discount on all Holafly eSIMs. Go to Holafly now to get started! ✨

Which Offers The Better Plans?

Airalo:
  • 🌍 200+ countries
  • 📦 1-20 GB packages
  • 📶 3G/4G/LTE/5G
  • 🚫 No throttling
  • 📲 Hotspot available
  • 📡 No mobile number
  • 📞 Call not available
  • 📨 Text not available
  • 📱 Mobile app
Holafly:
  • 🌍 ±177 countries
  • 📦 Unlimited packages
  • 📶 4G/LTE/5G
  • 🚫 Throttling possible
  • 📲 Hotspot seldom available
  • 📡 Mobile number
  • 📞 Call sometimes available
  • 📨 Text not available
  • 📱 Mobile app

Both Holafly and Airalo offer top-quality service which you can rely on in pretty much any major vacation destination abroad. However, there are five crucial differences between the two, which we've highlighted below:

1. Data Volume

The first major difference is that Airalo's data packages in all destinations are limited to a minimum of 1 GB and a maximum of 20 GB. In contrast, in most destinations, Holafly's data packages are unlimited.

There's no sugarcoating it: unlimited data is a massive plus for many travellers. It means you get to travel and never have to worry about when you will hit your limits. However, it's not necessarily a game-changer for everybody either. If you're deciding between Airalo and Holafly, the decision normally comes down to this question for most travellers: how much data do I really need on my trip abroad?

Let's delve into this by looking at the data consumption of an ordinary traveller. A busy day out, whether visiting a new European city for the first time, hiking through the jungle in Vietnam, or diving off the shores of Aruba, typically doesn't require as much data usage as you might think. After all, when you're travelling, you focus more on the real world than you do on the digital world. Still, your mobile phone can be useful, even crucial, for specific travel-related tasks. Below, we've summarised a few of them, plus the amount of data that each normally requires:

  • Navigating for 30 minutes on Google Maps: ±20 MB
  • Doing 3 language lessons on Duolingo: ±10 MB
  • Watching a 30-minute YouTube video (480p): ±30 MB
  • Streaming 10 minutes of Netflix (4K): ±1,100 MB
  • Listening to 1 hour of music/podcasts on Spotify: ±120 MB
  • Uploading on Instagram for 5 minutes: ±100 MB
  • Calling on WhatsApp for 20 minutes (128 kbps): ±20 MB
  • Ordering an Uber for 30 minutes: ±10 MB

As you can see from the above, common travel-related tasks don't tend to be very data-heavy! This means that buying an unlimited data package can be overkill for you, especially if you're planning to use your data for navigation, social media, and the occasional WhatsApp call while using your hotel WiFi for more data-heavy activities like streaming, video calls, or downloads. As a result, we think Airalo is still the better choice for the ordinary traveller who doesn't intend to use much data, while Holafly is better if you know you'll be needing a lot of data or you want peace of mind that you'll never run out no matter what.

Another point to consider here is that Holafly's data packages aren't unlimited in all countries. Although you're covered in pretty much all popular tourist destinations worldwide, there are a few destinations where you'll get a fixed-data package, just like Airalo. We've listed these countries below:

2. Coverage

The second point of difference between Airalo and Holafly's services is that Airalo tends to offer slightly better coverage in general (although for most trips, this difference is so slight that it won't really matter, or it can even be the other way around).

Airalo is available in over 200 countries, meaning you get data via local mobile network carriers pretty much no matter where you travel. Holafly, on the other hand, also offers plans in many countries, although still slightly fewer than Airalo at around 175 destinations in total. For trips to popular destinations, this difference doesn't mean much. However, a few countries that Holafly does not service still have sizable tourism sectors. We've summarised the coverage differences in the lists below:

Another coverage feature is the mobile network carriers associated with your data plans. Although both Airalo and Holafly provide plans through local carriers, Airalo generally offers a somewhat more diverse range of carriers. For example, in Costa Rica, Airalo provides coverage on both Claro and Kolbi ICE networks while Holafly provides coverage only on Telefónica networks. Similarly, Airalo's networks in Mexico are Movistar, AT&T, and Telcel, while Holafly's are Telefónica and Telcel.

Still, this difference very much depends on the country, and sometimes it can be the other way around. For example, Airalo's carrier in India is Jio, while Holafly's are Vi, Jio, and BSNL West Bengal. Another factor to consider here is geographical coverage, which differs by network and country. You can use this handy map to select your destination and the local carrier to see their geographical coverage for yourself.

3. Network Speeds

When it comes to network speeds, both Airalo and Holafly are very good. Both offer 3G / 4G / LTE connections in most countries, with 5G also available in many countries. We found that Holafly was more transparent about its network speeds. It provides potential customers with the speeds it offers by country on its website, which Airalo doesn't.

However, in practice, we didn't think this made too much of a difference. While testing Holafly in an area of the UK where the local carrier we were connected to was supposed to offer 5G, we still only got 4G coverage. In fact, our connection normally remained at 4G throughout. It didn't make any significant difference for us in the end since no matter where (e.g. in a field, at home, or in an urban housing development) or on what connection (3G, 4G LTE, or 5G) we tested, the download speed remained stable at just a touch above 7 MB per second:

We also tested Holafly's promise of unlimited data by downloading feature-length films and we were throttled at about 4.5 GB of usage, with download speeds falling from around 7 MB per second to fewer than 1 MB per second! Fortunately, before the end of the day, the network speeds returned to the stable seven-megs-per-second rate. To learn more about our experience, take a look at our full Holafly review. In general, we were also very impressed by the speeds with Airalo. You can find out more in our Airalo review.

4. Customer Support

If you have a question, concern, or issue with your eSIM before, during, or after your trip, both Airalo and Holafly allow you to easily and quickly get in touch with a human customer support agent. This can be done easiest through the respective mobile apps, but you can also reach out over desktop via a live chat feature.

Regarding waiting times, we tested both out and found that Holafly was much quicker than Airalo (which itself was still rather fast). It took us 22 minutes to reach a human via the in-app support with Airalo while it took us less than a minute to be put in touch with someone from Holafly on the website! Customer support is an area in which Holafly really shines, not just evidenced by our test, but also by the many positive reviews they've received on Trustpilot and the app stores that mention specifically this.

If you'd like to learn more about our global eSIM rankings, take a look at our YouTube video below. (Hint: Airalo and Holafly are the two top contenders!).

5. Additional Features

Finally, in the realm of 'nice-to-haves', Airalo and Holafly are tied once again.

Airalo allows you to make a mobile hotspot or tether your connection wherever you go, while Holafly only allows this in a small handful of destinations. On the other hand, Holafly's unlimited package in Europe has a nifty feature that Airalo does not offer. They give you a local mobile number (specifically an Austrian number with a +43 dial-in code) with which you can receive analogue phone calls from any country and even make calls from any European country except Iceland, the UK, Turkey, Switzerland, Norway, and Ukraine.

Airalo has a better long-term plan, called 'Airalo Discover', which offers 20 GB for a full year (365 days) to be used globally for just $69 once off. On the contrary, Holafly's longest plans are only country- or region-specific and go up to just 90 days.

Finally, neither service offers texts or SMSs in their plans, and both work when connecting to the internet via a VPN.

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Considering Airalo? Take advantage of the following special offers until the 31st of December 2024:

  • 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! ✨

Holafly vs Airalo: Which Is Cheaper?

Airalo:
  • 💵 $0.08 - $22.95 /GB
  • 📆 7 - 365 days
  • ✨ Get 10% - 15% off
Holafly:
  • 💵 $19 - $100 /plan
  • 📆 7 - 90 days
  • ✨ Get 5% off

When it comes to pricing, comparing Airalo and Holafly isn't exactly comparing apples with apples since it depends entirely on how you use your data plan. Let's break this down.

Airalo is priced on a per-gigabyte basis. For example, if you buy a 1 GB package, you'll pay a once-off price (often $15) for that data. If you buy a larger data package, say 20 GB, you can divide the price by the number of gigs to get your per-gigabyte rate, which is always lower the more gigabytes you buy due to economy of scale (for 20 GB packages it can be as low as $1.65 per gigabyte in some countries).

Holafly is normally priced on a per-plan basis, on the other hand. You buy unlimited data over a fixed amount of days for a fixed price. You can divide the total price by the number of days to come up with a 'per-day price', which also gets lower the more days you purchase data for. Five-day plans (the shortest duration) start at $19 once off (that's $3.80 per day for unlimited data) and go up to $99 for 90 days (a much cheaper $1.10 per day for the same data).

As you can see, Holafly's upfront costs are higher than Airalo's, but this doesn't mean much for the effective cost. Whether Airalo or Holafly is worth it for you depends entirely on how much data you use. If you're a heavy data user, you'll save money with Holafly compared to having to top up your Airalo package once it runs out. However, if you know you will just be using a few gigabytes, then Airalo is almost always cheaper.

Which Do Customers Prefer More?

Airalo:
  • 2.4 on Trustpilot (2K reviews)
  • 4.6 on Google (40K reviews)
  • 4.7 on Apple (36K reviews)
Holafly:
  • 4.6 on Trustpilot (36K reviews)
  • 4.7 on Google (1K reviews)
  • 4.7 on Apple (<1K reviews)

It goes without saying that both Airalo and Holafly are well-liked by customers. Although Holafly appears to get a slightly better five-star rating in total, many more customers have rated Airalo, making their total customer satisfaction ratings ever-so-slightly better.

The most reliable places to observe customer sentiment online are review websites like Trustpilot and app stores like the App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android. Interestingly, Holafly does better with the former regarding the number of reviews and ratings out of five, while Airalo shines with the latter.

Customers frequently praised both providers' speeds, reliability, and customer service (especially for Holafly), while common criticisms of both included a weak connection in some places and difficulties installing eSIMs.

Recap: Should I Use Airalo or Holafly?

Before your trip, we recommend reflecting on a few questions, like what you plan to use your data for, how long you will be away, and whether you need any special additional features like hot-spotting or analogue calls. Your answers to these questions will help you to decide between whether to buy an eSIM from Airalo or Holafly.

In general, we recommend going with Airalo in the following cases:

  • you're travelling for less than two weeks,
  • you have minimal data needs and will use WiFi for heavier tasks,
  • you're travelling for longer trips of 3-12 months (in which case check out 'Airalo Discover')
  • you're travelling to multiple continents (check out 'Airalo Discover')
  • you're travelling to a country where Holafly isn't available.

On the other hand, we recommend using Holafly in the following cases where we think its service particularly shines:

  • you don't want to bother about running out of data,
  • you want to work remotely (video calls, VPNs, etc.),
  • you're looking for an alternative to Google Fi,
  • you don't mind paying a slightly higher fee.

Whichever provider you choose, you can be assured of quality service and reliable data no matter what. Enjoy your holidays!

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