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Ubigi vs Airalo: Which eSIM Is The Better Choice?

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com

Byron Mühlberg

Guide

Jonny Pease

Reviewer

Jun 12, 2024
Advertiser disclosure

Which is the better eSIM provider, Airalo or Ubigi? As eSIMs become more popular and as ever more devices support them, it's no surprise that travellers are comparing providers like these to find the best data deals. And, as we'll see in this comparison, the answer comes largely down to where you're travelling to and what exactly you're looking for.

This review compares Airalo and Ubigi on various aspects such as pricing, data volume, speeds, coverage, and additional functionality. We also evaluate the trustworthiness and customer satisfaction of both services. 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:
  • Smaller data packages (<3 GB)
  • Mobile app
  • Purchasing in advance
  • Refund policy
Ubigi's Best For:
  • Larger data packages (>3 GB)
  • Network speeds
  • Reusing the same eSIM
  • Monthly or annual packages

Compare Ubigi, Airalo, 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
Ubigi:
  • 📜 Founded in 2017
  • 🏢 Based in Paris (FR)
  • 👥 1 million+ customers
  • 🧑‍💼 ±150 employees
  • 🗑️ Allows account deletion
  • 💸 Very strict refund policy

We start by looking at reliability, safety, and credibility. In this category, there's no doubt that both Airalo and Ubigi are well-established eSIM providers which you can fully trust with your money.

Both companies are registered and licensed telecom firms with an international presence: Ubigi is based in France and is a subsidiary of Transatel, a French network operator with hundreds of employees and backed by NTT Communications. Airalo is based in Singapore and has additional offices in Turkey and Canada. Both companies have around 200 employees and have been around since before 2020 (which makes them old players in the new and fast-growing eSIM sector). Also (and importantly, in our opinion), both Airalo and Ubigi let you delete your account and personal information whenever you like.

Refund Policies

One area of difference between the two is when it comes to refunds. Airalo and Ubigi give you the full right to request a refund or eSIM replacement if things don't work as expected through no fault of your own (i.e. not in cases where it's your fault, like accidentally installing an eSIM incompatible with your device, etc.).

The difference is that Airalo lets you request a refund up to 30 days after purchase, whereas Ubigi requires this request to be made within only 14 days. This is particularly strict, especially considering Airalo already has a strict refund policy compared to Holafly, which lets you request a refund up to six months after purchase. This doesn't have to be an issue since if there are issues with eSIM, they're normally spotted quickly, but it can be a headache if you don't request the refund quickly after purchasing or detecting the issue.

Which Offers The Better Plans?

Airalo:
  • 🌍 200+ countries
  • 📦 1-20 GB packages
  • 📶 3G/4G/LTE/5G
  • 🚫 No throttling
  • 📲 Hotspot available
  • 📥 Once-off plans only
  • 📞 Talk not available
  • 📨 Text not available
  • 📱 Mobile app
Ubigi:
  • 🌍 200+ countries
  • 📦 0.5-50 GB packages
  • 📶 4G/LTE/5G
  • 🚫 Throttling possible
  • 📲 Hotspot available
  • 📥 Once-off, monthly & annual plans
  • 📞 Talk not available
  • 📨 Text not available
  • 📱 Mobile app

When all's said and done, Ubigi and Airalo both provide top-notch eSIMs that you can rely on in practically any popular holiday destination abroad. However, there are a few crucial differences between the two, which we've highlighted below:

1. Data Packages

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 for a fixed contract period. In contrast, Ubigi's data packages are a bit more flexible: you can purchase a once-off plan of anywhere between 1 GB and 50 GB (depending on the exact country), a monthly plan, or an annual plan with a fixed amount that renews monthly.

Regarding contract periods, Ubigi is also more flexible than Airalo: its package durations range from one day to an entire year, whereas Airalo's start at three days at the minimum. Additionally, Airalo's annual plan needs to be purchased globally (i.e., it's not possible to get a year's worth of data for just one country).

If you're deciding between Airalo and Ubigi, most travellers will ask themselves: '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:

App

Data /1min

Data /15min

Data /1hr

Google Maps

~0.08 MB

~1.2 MB

~5 MB

YouTube

~35 MB

~525 GB

~2 GB

Spotify

~5 MB

~75 MB

~300 MB

Netflix

~120 MB

~1.8 GB

~7 GB

Duolingo

~0.3 MB

~4.5 MB

~20 MB

Instagram

~6 MB

~90 MB

~380 MB

TikTok

~14 MB

~210 MB

~850 MB

WhatsApp (Messaging)

<0.05 MB

~0.75 MB

~3 MB

WhatsApp Call (Voice)

~0.75 MB

~11 MB

~45 MB

WhatsApp Call (Video)

~2.5 MB

~37.5 MB

~150 MB

As you can see from the above, common travel-related tasks don't tend to be very data-heavy! This means that buying a large data package can be overkill, 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.

However, since both Airalo and Ubigi offer small- and medium-sized data packages, there's not much difference on this score.

2. Coverage

Airalo's and Ubigi's coverage is very similar: both offer services provided by large carriers in their destinations, both support data plans in over 200 countries, and neither has a clear edge in this category globally.

However, there can be some differences locally. For example, in some countries, Airalo offers a bespoke data plan specifically for that country, while Ubigi only offers a regional plan that includes that country. This is the case for Costa Rice, among others. Here, Airalo provides coverage on Claro and Kolbi ICE networks, while Ubigi only provides coverage through a Latin America plan. However, even in this case, Ubigi offers service through local carriers per country (in Costa Rica's case, Kolbi ICE and Claro, too), so the difference relates more to the higher price of the regional data plan than it does to the coverage per se.

Another factor to consider here is geographical coverage, which differs by network and country. Use this handy map to select your destination and the local carrier to see their geographical coverage for yourself.

3. Plan Activation

One rather significant difference between the two is that Airalo's plans start once the eSIM is activated (i.e., connects to a local carrier in your destination), whereas Ubigi's plans start as soon as the eSIM is installed.

This difference is inconsequential if you're making a short trip, plan to leave soon after your purchase, or buy your eSIM while already abroad. In other cases, however, it can prove a bit of a headache for Ubigi users, who could easily lose a few days of their plan just by installing it a bit too early.

4. Customer Support

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

Regarding waiting times, we tested both and found that Airalo was a bit quicker than Ubigi. It took us 22 minutes to reach a human via Airalo's in-app support, while it took us 29 minutes to contact someone from Ubigi on the website.

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

5. Additional Features

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

Airalo and Ubigi allow you to make a mobile hotspot or tether your connection wherever you go. Airalo is the only provider between the two to offer a global 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, Ubigi's longest plans are only country- or region-specific, though they also up to 365 days.

Then, there's reusability. Ubigi lets you reuse the same eSIM on multiple trips to various countries simply by purchasing a new plan each time (without reinstalling the SIM). On the other hand, each Airalo plan comes with its own eSIM each time.

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

Ubigi vs Airalo: Which Is Cheaper?

Airalo:
  • 💵 $0.08 - $22.95 /GB
  • 📆 7 - 365 days
  • ✨ Get 10% - 15% off
Ubigi:
  • 💵 $0.60 - $26 /GB
  • 📆 1 - 365 days

Pricing is often the area where eSIM providers are the most different.

However, once again, there's not too much difference in the case of Ubigi and Airalo, who both offer excellent rates all around, although the winner of this category will depend on which country you're travelling to.

Airalo and Ubigi are both priced on a per-gigabyte basis. For example, if you buy a 1 GB package, you'll pay a once-off price 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 larger packages it can come to less than $1 per gigabyte in some countries).

So, which provider offers the better rates? Well, it depends on the country. Here are a few examples, comparing packages in various popular countries that offer the same data allowance over the same number of days:

  • 10-GB package (USA): Airalo $26, Ubigi $17
  • 3-GB package (Vietnam): Airalo $9.50, Ubigi $12
  • 10-GB package (Europe): Airalo $37, Ubigi $18
  • 1-GB package (Australia): Airalo $4.50, Ubigi $9
  • 3-GB package (Japan): Airalo $8.50, Ubigi $8

As you can see, it's impossible to say one provider is always cheaper than the other. However, if we were to observe one pattern, it'd be that Ubigi is generally cheaper on larger plans and Airalo on smaller plans. Still, you should always compare the plans on each for your specific destination before purchasing an eSIM, as you could easily save some money by choosing the cheaper option.

Which Do Customers Prefer More?

Airalo:
  • 2.4 on Trustpilot (2K reviews)
  • 4.6 on Google (40K reviews)
  • 4.7 on Apple (36K reviews)
Ubigi:
  • 4.1 on Trustpilot (11K reviews)
  • 4.6 on Google (2.2K reviews)
  • 3.7 on Apple (1.8K reviews)

It goes without saying that both Airalo and Ubigi are well-liked by customers. Although Ubigi 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, Ubigi 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, while common criticisms of both included a weak connection in some places and difficulties installing eSIMs.

Recap: Should I Use Airalo or Ubigi?

Before you leave on your holiday, we recommend reflecting on a few questions, specifically 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 whether to buy an eSIM from Airalo or Ubigi.

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

  • you have minimal data needs and will use WiFi for heavier tasks,
  • you're travelling to multiple continents (check out 'Airalo Discover')
  • you're travelling to a country where Ubigi isn't available.

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

  • you want a lot of data for an affordable price,
  • you want to reuse the same eSIM for multiple trips,
  • you're looking for a renewing monthly data plan abroad.

Whichever provider you choose, you can rest assured of receiving quality service and reliable data. Enjoy your holidays!

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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.
  • Returning customer? Use the code MONITO10 to claim a 10% discount on all Airalo eSIMs.

Go to Airalo now to get started! ✨

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