The best eSIM for travel in the USA

This article may contain affiliate links
24th February 2024
In partnership with Holafly
Young woman using smart phone on Brooklyn Bridge

As Peter prepares to return to the States for his next climb, we take a look at the best eSIM for travel in the USA

During our first big trip to the US back in 2015, we relied on screenshots of Google Maps saved on our phones and wifi in our motels. On our next trip, in 2019, we upgraded to a wifi hotspot. Soon, I’ll be heading back to the USA to attempt my next seven summit, Denali. This time, I’ll be using an eSIM – the easiest way to stay connected in the USA.

eSIMs have gained a lot of traction recently, particularly when it comes to international travel. An eSIM card is much cheaper than using the data roaming options provided by the major networks, pay-as-you-go physical SIM cards or a wifi hotspot device and far more convenient than any of these methods.

There are several providers to choose from but, based on our experience, the best eSIM for travel in the USA is Holafly eSIM. We first used Holafly across Europe as well as in Mexico and Panama, and they have since become our go-to provider.

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM works remotely, meaning you don’t have to remove your current SIM card so there’s no risk of misplacing or damaging it or losing your number. These days, eSIMs come pre-installed on the majority of smartphones. Tiny chips – around 60 times smaller than standard plastic SIM cards – are already built into devices. As such, they can be activated just by installing the ‘eSIM profile’ of a new provider.

A pile of SIM cards
Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock eSIMs use less plastic

Once you’ve chosen your package, you’ll receive an email with a QR code to scan. All you have to do is activate the pre-installed eSIM profile on your device and you’re good to go. The software connects your smartphone to a local mobile network on the fly, letting you quickly sign up for service without having to track down a store or shop.

Most modern smartphones, tablets and laptops are already installed with an eSIM card and the list of compatible devices is growing. Soon, eSIMs will completely replace physical SIM cards. Another benefit is the reduction in plastic waste and pollution – no small matter considering there are more SIM cards in circulation than there are people on the planet.

It is worth noting that as an eSIM is a virtual SIM, it does not provide minutes or calltime. As such, it does not include a phone number to make and receive calls. However, it retains your WhatsApp number and contacts so it’s still possible to make voice and video calls on an eSIM using WhatsApp or similar apps such as Skype or iMessage.

Best eSim for travel in the USA

We’ve used all of the main providers over the years as well as pay-as-you-go SIM cards and wifi hotspots and think the best eSIM for travel in the USA is Holafly eSIM. Holafly comes highly rated on Trustpilot and covers 170 destinations worldwide with unlimited data available in 122 countries, including the USA.

A man takes a picture on his smartphone in the USA
Winds/Shutterstock The best eSIM for travel in the USA is Holafly

Unlimited data

Holafly has nine eSIM data packages for the USA which all include unlimited data. We can offer our readers 5% off on Holafly purchases with this coupon: ATLASANDBOOTS

Packages include:

  • Unlimited data, 5 days: €19
  • Unlimited data, 7 days: €27
  • Unlimited data, 10 days: €35
  • Unlimited data, 15 days: €47
  • Unlimited data, 20 days: €57
  • Unlimited data, 30 days: €69
  • Unlimited data, 60 days: €87
  • Unlimited data, 90 days: €99
A tourist takes a photo with her eSIM phone in the USA
GaudiLab/Shutterstock eSIMs are more convenient for travel

Get the app

The Holafly app makes the installation process even smoother, helps users track and purchase their data plans and provides the option to top up after your plan expires. It also automatically checks that your phone is eSIM-compatible before the purchase. Alternatively, you can check on Holafly’s eSIM-supported phones list.

24-hour support

Holafly eSIMs also come with 24-hour support in several languages so if you are experiencing technical issues you can reach Holafly by email, on the app or via WhatsApp.


Below you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to using eSIMs in the USA.

What phones are compatible with eSIMs?

Nearly all modern phones are compatible with eSIMs including the latest models of iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola. Likewise, eSIMs work on iOS or Android mobile operating systems.

Can I make and receive calls using an eSIM?

A data-only eSIM will not be able to make and receive calls. However, it is still possible to make voice and video calls on an eSIM using apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and iMessage. Some options such as Holafly’s Europe eSIM can now make and receive calls.

Can I send and receive SMS/text messages on an eSIM?

Like calls, a data-only eSIM cannot send and receive text messages. Instead, use apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage.

Does Google Maps work on an eSIM?

Yes, all apps that only rely on data such as Google Maps, email, social media, hotel booking and streaming apps will work. However, you should keep an eye on your data usage if you are using your eSIM to stream video.

Can I activate an eSIM abroad?

Yes. You can activate an eSIM anywhere but it’s best to wait until you land in the country so you get the maximum time out of your package. You can install the eSIM before you leave but don’t activate it until you arrive.

Are there any security risks with eSIMs in the USA?

Generally, eSIMs are secure. They provide the same level of security as local SIM cards and all reputable eSIM providers should have encryption on their products.

Can I buy an international eSIM online?

Yes, you can buy an eSIM online; they can be bought from anywhere in the world.

Do I have to download any software or apps?

No, you don’t have to download any additional software or apps. Holafly has an app to make the installation process easier but most eSIMs can be installed manually as well.

Can I share data with other devices?

Usually, you cannot share data when using eSIMs which means you cannot use the tethering or hotspot features on your smartphone. Always check the technical specs on the product page for clarification.

Do eSIMs have poor network coverage?

As eSIMs connect your smartphone to a local mobile network, you should have the same network quality as if you were using a physical eSIM.

How reliable are USA eSIMs?

The USA has some of the world’s most reliable mobile networks and, as such, eSIMs are also reliable. Always check coverage maps and read user reviews before you select an eSIM.

Is there a global eSIM?

As eSIMs use local mobile carriers, a global eSIM is not yet available. There are regional plans available for areas such as Europe, Asia, North America, South America and the Caribbean.

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