Airtel International Roaming vs TSIM Europe vs local sim cards - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Airtel International Roaming vs TSIM Europe vs local sim cards

For my Europe trip, I purchased a T SIM Europe pre-paid sim card. Other options were to activate international roaming on my airtel pre-paid card or purchase a sim card locally on arrival. In this post I am comparing the cost, features and my experience.

Sim card for Europe trip: Options and their pros & cons

T SIM Europe

Airtel Prepaid international roaming

Buy a local SIM Card on arrival


1600 INR for 30 days, 10 GB data, other options available

900 to 3000 INR

What we get

TSIM sends a sim card by post, 1 free gift, carry with you

10 days/1GB: 900 INR

3000 INR for 1 month/5 GB or 1 year 2 GB

A local sim card, 40 Euro approx for 2 weeks (INR 3500+)

How it works

Activation once in Europe

Sim card connects to various local operators and provides access to net

Use same SIM card as in India

New sim given on payment


Can start using soon after we land.

Data seems to be unlimited

Good Whatsapp support

Can start using soon after we land

Can get OTP, SMS updates and other usage linked to your mobile number even when abroad

Airport purchase is expensive, cheaper in city, works with specific operator, may not work in certain countries within Europe

top up needed


Didn't activate on arrival, had to contact customer service

More expensive

Have to deal with spam calls

Data limit is very less

Didn't have Europe as an option. Had to select specific country, without knowing if it works in neighboring countries

Costs more

Reliability in other European countries not sure

Another option was to rent Matrix Sim card at Indian airport, but I didn't consider them as the previous experience was not good- they add a hefty airport convenience fee, have to keep paying rent from day 01 till we return the sim card, even if we need it for lesser number of days. Read about Matrix experience here

I had used TSIM Global for my international trips in 2019, so it was my preferred option. Ast the past experience was good, without much hesitation I ordered a TSIM Europe card a couple of weeks before the trip. It cost me some 1600 INR and I got a gift worth some 200-300 INR.

Sim card was delivered via courier within couple of days. Had a sim card, a metal casing and bill. Sim card comes with a PIN which we have to enter each time we restart the phone. TSIM could have given a sim card ejector- none was included in their box. I had to buy one myself for 10 INR.

I was asked to upload documents (visa etc) which I did.

I didn’t get any mail saying everything is fine.

Luckily their whatsapp support was easy to access. They confirmed all is good and I can use the card after landing in Europe.

On my day 01, when I tried using the card in Frankfurt airport, it didn’t work. That was a shocker. I used airport WiFi and intimated TSIM Whatsapp support that my sim is not working. They took some time, did something and asked me to use slot 1 for the sim, restart the phone and try again. While this was happening I flew from Frankfurt to Paris and was evaluating alternate options.

Buying a sim card at airport would have set me back by 39 Euros for an Orange Sim card (2 week validity, will have to top up again- so easily 50 Euros cost. I hesitated buying a local sim card due to multiple reasons

  • Money already paid to TSIM will go waste- maybe they will fix the issue soon
  • Not sure how Orange sim will work in different countries I plan to visit. If they don’t have network or presence or tie up in certain countries again I will have to buy some other sim card
  • I had a Lyca sim card in Denmark during 2015, 2017- it didn’t work in other European cities I visited
  • I had a feeling that I should get to city somehow and buy there instead of airport- it will be cheaper and I will have better options

As I was contemplating my options, TSIM Europe card started working. That was a relief.

At each country, TSIM could connect to their partner local operator and provide connectivity. Usually if automatic connectivity doesn't happen I would have to restart the phone. Even airtel does the same.

Free adapter that came with TSIM was put to good use, but this model is not very convenient- while it supports several formats and can be used around the world, for Europe, buy a smaller one that fits into the hole, preferably has USB ports and not too bulky. The TSIM adapter didn't have a USB port, so if I insert charger often the combined setup becomes heavy and may fall off the port.

But a week later I had to activate Airtel prepaid sim international roaming as well, as I wanted to get some OTP. Around 900 Rs for 10 days usage, got 1 GB data which exhausted on last day.

On last day while at Zurich airport both airtel data exhausted and even TSIM didn't work. I wasn't sure what is the issue. I guess I exhausted 10 GB limit. But it was last day and only few hours left to board my flight to India, so I didn't bother much.

I am also wondering how TSIM or Airtel are able to offer roaming cheaper than local sim card companies. My thoughts below

- Buying sim at airport is always expensive. Local SIM card bought from shops in city might be lot cheaper

- Airtel/TSIM can do bulk deals with telephone operators and negotiate cheaper rates

Which SIM card is better for Europe travel?

  • If the visit is very short (1 week, 10 days etc) or if you definitely need India number access (say to get some OTPs) then activate international roaming on your India sim card
  • If your visit is longer, TSIM Europe is more economical and versatile
  • Local sim card can be your last option. 
  • VFS Global also sells some sim cards for Europe- you can check the cost and buy one if convenient when you visit them for visa process. I didn't try.

eSIM: I am not yet familiar with this technology, so no comments. iPhone users can try this option. TSIM reportedly has it for France.

TSIM Europe website URL here

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