Buying a prepaid SIM card is the best way to get internet connection during your holiday in Spain.
Wi-Fi is common in Spain and you’ll usually find it in hotels and rental properties, as well as many coffee shops and restaurants.
But, if you want to be online everywhere you go, the cheapest way to stay connected when traveling around the world is to buy a local prepaid SIM card instead of international roaming or using an international SIM card.
Pro tip: Download your eSIM the day before you travel. The best time to activate your plan is while you’re still at home and can connect to your internet. Then when you land, it’s as simple as switching on your eSIM line.
What is the best prepaid SIM card for Spain?
In the past, if you wanted to use your mobile phone while in a foreign country, you would have to swap out your SIM card for a local one. This meant getting a new phone number and not being able to receive calls or texts from your usual contacts.
eSIMs really come in handy when traveling. This is because you can buy local eSIMs remotely through select eSIM marketplaces like Airalo.
What is an eSIM card?
eSIM stands for “embedded Subscriber Identity Module”.
This type of card acts like any other SIM card and contains your phone number and data plan, letting your smartphone connect to a cellular network for data, calls, and texts.
Unlike standard SIMs that you need to physically insert them in your device, eSIMS are embedded in your phone or tablet. So you don’t insert anything – you add these eSIMs to your mobile device by scanning a QR code or entering a code on your device instead.
What is Airalo?
Airalo is a marketplace that sells temporary phone service that you can used in 190+ countries. The benefit of this is that you can buy mobile data plans at near-local prices without having to physically buy a prepaid SIM card at a cell phone shop once you get to Spain.
This saves you a ton of time, especially if this is your first time in Spain and you don’t know where to go to buy an international SIM card or don’t speak Spanish.
You can buy these eSIM cards at-will, too, and they generally work for a set amount of time. When this period ends (or you run out of data) you can simply top-up the eSIM or purchase a new one.
What are the advantages of using an Airalo eSIM card?
- You can stay connected without having to worry about swapping out your regular physical SIM card or getting a new phone number. So you can set your physical SIM card to handle voice and text messages, while your eSIM card handles all of your mobile data.
- An eSIM is more secure than a traditional SIM card, since you can’t lose it or have it stolen.
- You can take advantage of local rates and plans without having to worry about roaming fees.
- You don’t need to physically buy a prepaid SIM card at a cell phone shop once you get to Spain.
- All are prepaid and don’t automatically renew, meaning that there are no strings attached.
- You don’t have to worry about canceling a data plan or dealing with a carrier directly when you leave Spain.
- Dealing with Airalo’s Customer Support is a breeze.
- All eSIM cards purchases and top ups allow you to earn Airmoney. Airmoney is Airalo’s loyalty program that gives you 5% back on all Airalo purchases in the form of store credit.
What are the disadvantages of using an Airalo eSIM card?
Because the eSIM is a relatively new technology, only the newest phones support it.
So make sure to check out the full list of supported phones, tablets, and computers for more info.
One other important thing to check is that your device is unlocked by your carrier. Many carriers lock devices that are on a monthly payment plan.
If you have an iOS device (like an iPhone), you can go to Settings > General > About. Scroll down a bit and you should see “Carrier Lock” – if it says No SIM restrictions, you’re good to go!
Most of the eSIMs available are data-only, meaning that they’re not assigned a phone number so you cannot make or receive calls or text messages. They do, however, give you ultra-fast mobile data at nearly local prices.
If you need to make calls and send text messages, I suggest you use popular services like FaceTime, iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and Facebook Messenger. All these apps run over mobile data.
How to buy your prepaid SIM card
You can purchase Airalo eSIMs through the Airalo mobile app or on the Airalo website.
Airalo offers eSIMs for 190+ countries worldwide, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find a country that it doesn’t support. Just keep the app installed on your device, and you can connect to mobile data just about anywhere in the world.
How to start using your prepaid SIM card
The first thing you need is an eSIM compatible device or Airalo compatible phone.
If you have it, then follow these steps:
- Go to www.airalo.com or download the Airalo app (available on iOS and Android).
- Create an account and buy yourself an eSIM (e.g. an internet data pack for Spain).
- Connect this eSIM with your phone by scanning a QR code.
- Activate data roaming for your eSIM.
- Start using the internet!
How to set up your eSIM card with your phone
There are 2 ways to set up our Airalo eSIM card with your phone.
QR code installation
If you purchased your Airalo eSIM card on another device than your phone, follow these steps.
- Download the Airalo app if you haven’t done so yet.
- Open camera on your phone.
- Scan the QR code you see in your Airalo account.
- Name your eSIM (so you can remember what is what).
- Set your regular physical SIM as standard SIM, and your Airalo eSIM as the SIM for internet, and you’re done.
If you purchased your Airalo eSIM card on your phone, follow these steps.
- Download the Airalo app if you haven’t done so yet.
- Click the Manual Installation button and you’ll see your SM-DP+Address and Activation Code. These are the 2 things you’ll need to install your new eSIM on your phone.
- Copy the SM-DP+Address first.
- Open the Settings app and tap on the Cellular option at the top of the screen.
- Look towards the center of the screen and tap the Add Cellular Plan button.
- Tap the Enter Details Manually button at the bottom of the screen.
- Paste the SM-DP+Address in the top line of the screen.
- Switch back to the Airalo app and copy the Activation Code and paste it into the second line.
- Leave the Confirmation Code blank and tap the Next button at the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Now, your phone will now walk you through the eSIM setup process. It will ask which of your SIMs you’d like to use for talk and text and which you’d like to use for data. You can change this at any time in the Cellular screen of the Settings app.
- You’re all set!
What happens when you reach your data limit?
Once data is used up, your internet connection stops until you top up your eSIM or buy another one.
Some providers offer rechargeable eSIM plans where your can add additional data, and or voice/text, and or extend validity period. If existing, you will have the top up option available after you purchase.
However, most eSIM plans are non rechargeable. In this case, you’ll need to buy a new Airalo eSIM.
How to recharge your international SIM card
Recharging your Airalo eSIM is super easy.
However, only rechargeable eSIMs can be topped up. So check whether the eSIM is rechargeable or not under the “Additional information” tab before you purchase it.
After your purchase, you can find the “Top up” option available for rechargeable eSIMs under the “My eSIMs” tab.
- Log into your Airalo account. Make sure you are logged in to the same account that you used for purchasing the eSIM you wish to top up.
- Go to My eSIMS.
- Tap “Top up” on the eSIM you wish to add a new package.
Does the eSIM card work in other European countries?
Airalo sells 3 types of eSIMs: local, regional and the Global eSIM (that covers 87 around the world).
As you might expect, local eSIMs are cheaper but only work in 1 specific country, while regional eSIMs are more expensive but let you connect in multiple countries with 1 plan.
If you plan to travel not only to Spain, but to other European countries as well, you should consider buying Airalo’s Eurolink (Europe) regional travel package.