We all want to stay connected to our loved ones, especially while travelling in a foreign country. it is awesome to be able to share your amazing experiences with friends and family while still on your trip. You also don’t want to get back home and pay off your monster cell phone bill because you were using international roaming rates to make calls and access data.
The answer? Get a South African sim card for your phone when traveling to South Africa.
Staying Connected on Your Cell Phone While in South Africa
The good news is that wi-fi connections are widely available in the country. So, you can opt to use your phone only when connected to the internet. The handy feature of chat services such as WhatsApp or Skype, is that you can access these using your international number.
But if you want to call a local restaurant to make a dinner reservation, you will be forced to connect via the local phone networks. For these little logistical calls, it’s best to use a South African SIM card.
Cell Phone Networks in South Africa
You will have to choose between the main cell phone providers: Cell C, Vodacom, MTN, 8ta (Telkom Mobile), and Virgin Mobile. Some networks offer stronger coverage than others. The three main contenders are Cell C, Vodacom, and MTN. 8ta (Telkom Mobile) and Virgin Mobile came onto the mobile network scene more recently. In the rural, outskirt areas the signal can be fickle. But in the main city areas, it’s mostly stable.
The Cheapest Cell Phone Packages in South Africa
Many South African contracts include a free smartphone with a contract. But prepaid SIM cards are still very popular. Each cell phone provider offers their own unique contract deals. Research has shown that Cell C and 8ta (Telkom Mobile) contracts are the most reasonably priced. Vodacom is the biggest cell phone network, but their contracts tend to be very pricey.
The prepaid SIM cards have limited data usage, but you can substitute it with free wi-fi in your hotel and at many restaurants. Some of the shopping centres in Cape Town and most coffee shops and restaurants also offer free wi-fi.
Buying a South African SIM card
You need to ensure that your phone is compatible with a GSM network. If not, you will have to buy a local phone. The basic low-budget phones are reasonably priced. You must also make sure that your phone can be unblocked for international usage. Check with your mobile provider to make sure that this is possible with your contract.
If you are using a pay-as-you-go smartphone, purchasing a South African SIM card should be a straight-forward process. SIM cards are sold at various retailers including supermarkets, convenience stores, and cell phone shops. Or you can visit the network provider of your choice’s official store.
Verify Your New SIM Card
But buying a SIM card in South Africa isn’t so straightforward. You need to go through the RICA process to activate it. The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication (RICA) telecommunications regulatory body ensures that there are no fraudulent SIM cards activated. You will need the following to purchase a South African SIM card:
- valid identification (your passport or National ID card)
- proof of residence (formal confirmation from hotel, on a letterhead)
If your accommodation is private, you will need the landlord or your friend to write an affidavit for you, which declares you will be staying temporarily in the country.
Seems Like a hassle?
Simplify your time in South Africa and organise your sim card before you travel.
B4I Travel South Africa is an international company that has partnered with Vodacom to offer travellers cellular deals. You can order a South African SIM card package before your trip and collect it at the airport upon your arrival. This is a handy option to inform your family and friends of your temporary phone number before you leave.
We recommend that you use B4I Travel South Africa. They are accredited suppliers of South African SIM card. The packages might seem a bit pricier than dealing directly with a local cell phone provider, but the convenience of their system makes it well worth it.
Cell Phone Deals in South Africa
A prepaid SIM card works on a credit system of 30 days. Whether you are activating only a data deal or airtime as well, it will expire 30 days from the purchase date. It is advisable to use a local SIM card for calls while in the country. There are always little logistical things to sort out, and Googling will only get you so far.
Once you have activated your prepaid SIM card, it will be easy to top up your data or airtime. Top-up cards can be bought at the airport, supermarkets, convenience stores, and mobile shops. Make sure you don’t run out of data or airtime, you will be charged at higher rates for out of bundle online searches or calls.
South African cell phone contracts are not available on a month to month basis. The usual length for a contract is 24 months. With a contract you do get a smartphone included with the data and airtime deals. But if you want to cancel the contract, you will have to pay it up in full. A contract is much pricier than a prepaid SIM card deal.
Alternative Deals for Cell Phones in South Africa
If your phone is not enabled for usage on a GSM network or you don’t want to deal with the paperwork hassle of RICA, another option is to rent a phone with preloaded data and airtime. This way you can effortlessly stay connected with your family and friends back home and deal with travelling logistics while in South Africa.
There are a few different companies offering cell phone rentals in Cape Town. A few of our recommendations include Square Mobile, Cellular Dynamics, and Cell Hire. Vodacom, the biggest cell phone provider in South Africa also offer rentals.
Understanding a South African mobile number
The South African international code is +27. This is followed by the local area codes. Landlines are a combination of three numbers, for example 021 for Cape Town and 011 for Johannesburg. Each cell phone provider has their own number combination, starting with 06, 07 or 08.
When saving a local phone number in the international format, the 0 will be replaced with the +27. For example, a landline (021 453 3356) will become +27 21 453 3356. This format is especially important for chat services like WhatsApp, if you want to add numbers of friends you make while travelling.