Looking to buy the best international SIM card for your next trip to Madrid?
Staying connected while traveling has long moved past a “nice to have” and has become a necessity. Being able to navigate and communicate thanks to your smartphone has removed so many of the stresses that come with travel.
That said, how you keep connected has become a stressful endeavor of its own.
Fortunately, there’s a super simple solution to use, and it is cheaper than buying a SIM from one of the Madrid airport kiosks!
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 international SIM card for Madrid?
For years, buying local prepaid SIM cards in whatever country you were visiting was by far the most budget-friendly option, especially if you use a fair amount of data (and who doesn’t these days?).
Roaming was typically too expensive for anything other than short vacations, and international SIM cards, while costing a bit less, still weren’t exactly affordable.
Now there’s a much easier, cheaper, and more convenient solution – getting an Airalo eSIM.
What is an eSIM card?
An eSIM is an embedded SIM card, and that’s what the “e” stands for. So you can think of eSIM as a digital or virtual SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from a carrier without using a physical SIM card.
Your phone needs to have a microchip installed allowing you to install multiple eSIM profiles. It’s would be the same as having several physical SIM cards with phone numbers and data plans plugged into your phone at the same time, but without the actual physical SIM cards.
What is Airalo?
Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store with a marketplace of data packages for travelers who regularly visit other countries. Airalo now has eSIM cards for 190+ countries and regions around the world.
With Airalo, you can have the peace of mind that you’ll stay connected wherever you might be in Madrid, or even Spain.
You can also renew or top up an existing eSIM card, or buy a new one as needed.
What are the advantages of using an Airalo eSIM card?
- There’s no need to swap between your own carrier SIM card and an international SIM card.
- You can keep your number while still being able to switch your phone line.
- Forget about super expensive roaming charges.
- There are no hidden fees.
- It’s super easy to top up online or with the app by purchasing another Airalo eSIM data pack online when you need to.
- Each time you buy an Airalo eSIM or top up your eSIM, you get rewarded with credits.
What are the disadvantages of using an Airalo eSIM card?
The main downside is that it works only if your phone supports it.
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!
Another disadvantage is that most of the packages Airalo offers, don’t come with a local phone number: they’re data-only.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t make calls – you can call and text on WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, and FaceTime. But it does mean that people can’t call you on a local number.
Unfortunately, this eSIM does not allow you to share data or use a hotspot with other devices.
How to buy your international SIM card
Go online. Buy an Airalo eSIM. Press a few buttons. Done.
This is how easy nowadays you can get internet abroad. The best part being that it works in almost every country around the world, plus you can continue using your mobile number.
How to start using your international 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
Installing the Airalo eSIMs is very easy.
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 get lost, there are easy-to-follow instructions to install and switch between SIMs.
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?
Your internet connection just stops working.
At this point you can either top up your eSIM or buy a new one.
Open the Airalo app. From there you can manage all of your eSIMs, top them up with data, and order new ones.
Depending on the eSIM you purchased, sometimes top ups aren’t available, and then the only option is to buy a new eSIM. If you need to get a new one, you should remove the old eSIM first, or to name the new one differently, to avoid any possible future confusions.
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?
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.
This regional plan keeps you connected throughout 39 European countries, which is helpful if you’re on a multicountry trip. You could be using the Eurolink plan while traveling from Spain to France, and the moment you land, you’ll be updated by the same data pack.
That makes your local planning much easier when you have fast data at your fingertips.