Airtel is one of the leading telecommunications companies in Nigeria. With extensive network coverage, fast internet speeds, and competitive prices, Airtel SIM cards are a great option for tourists visiting Nigeria.

Airtel Sim cards

I. Quick Facts about Airtel

  • Founded in 2010 when Zain Telecom sold its African operations to Bharti Airtel Limited
  • Full company name is Airtel Networks Limited
  • Provides mobile voice, data, SMS, mobile money and other telecommunication services
  • Over 50 million subscribers as of 2022
  • Coverage across all 36 states in Nigeria plus Abuja
  • Over 1,000 retail shops, kiosks and thousands of roadside sellers and agents nationwide

II. Why Airtel When You’re Exploring Nigeria – Coverage and Speed

1. Airtel Network Coverage in Nigeria

Airtel Network Coverage in Nigeria
Airtel Network Coverage in Nigeria. Source

Airtel has extensive 2G, 3G and 4G LTE coverage across all 36 states in Nigeria as well as Abuja. They have boosted network capacity in recent years focusing on data services and improved quality.

With over 12,000 base stations nationwide, Airtel’s mobile network reaches many remote areas and smaller villages that may not have coverage from other providers. This widespread presence across the country makes Airtel a reliable choice when traveling off the beaten path.

Some specifics on Airtel’s network footprint in Nigeria:

  • 4G LTE available across 32 states plus Abuja
  • 3G high speed data services in all 36 states and Abuja
  • 2G services reachable in all 774 local government areas

So you can stay connect almost anywhere you travel within the country.

2. Airtel Speed

Airtel Speed

In addition to extensive geographic coverage, Airtel also offers fast data speeds leveraging its 4G LTE network and 3G HSPA+ technology.

Some average measured download speeds on Airtel include:

  • 4G LTE - 33 Mbps, with peak speeds up to 80 Mbps
  • 3G - 11 Mbps average speed

These quick data rates allow you to load web pages rapidly, stream video and music smoothly, upload photos to social media, plus make crystal clear video calls.

III. Airtel Connectivity Options for Travelers to Nigeria

Airtel offers several SIM card and mobile data options for short term visitors to suit different travel requirements:

Connectivity Option Pros Cons
Airtel Wifi device rental - Allows internet access anywhere via portable device   - Can connect multiple devices simultaneously - Additional cost to rent the device - Limited data allowance may run out quickly
Airtel SIM card - Unlimited options to purchase data bundles - Can make/receive calls and texts - Requires compatible phone - May need to unlock phone for foreign SIM
Airtel broadband dongle - Portable high-speed internet access - Longer battery life than phones - Additional cost to rent dongle - Still reliant on mobile network coverage
Public Wifi hotspots - No additional costs beyond data bundles - Available in many popular areas - Coverage only in hotspot locations - May be slow connections if crowded

The table outlines the pros and cons of renting an Airtel Wifi device, purchasing an Airtel SIM cards, renting a broadband dongle, or using public Wifi hotspots. Travelers can consider their needs and available budget to determine the best option for internet access during their trip. 

IV. Best Airtel SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Plan Price (USD) Validity Data Voice Minutes SMS
Flexi N200 $0.50 7 days 600MB + 50 SMS 50 mins 50
Flexi N500 $1.20 30 days 2GB + 100 SMS 150 mins 100
Flexi N1,000 $2.30 30 days 4GB + 200 SMS 300 mins 200
Flexi N2,000 $4.70 30 days 8GB + 300 SMS 600 mins 300
Flexi N5,000 $11.80 30 days 20GB + 500 SMS 1500 mins 500

In summary:

  • Customers can choose a plan based on their budget and data needs ranging from just 600MB for 7 days in the lowest plan to 20GB for 30 days in the highest plan.
  • All plans also include voice minutes and SMS in addition to data which provides customers an all-in-one prepaid plan and value.

V. Does Airtel Support eSIM in Nigeria?

Yes, Airtel launched electronic SIM (eSIM) support in Nigeria in 2021 for compatible smartphones including newer iPhone and Samsung models.

This allows you to activate a cellular plan digitally without needing to physically insert a plastic SIM card.

Some advantages for travelers:

  • Access connectivity right at the airport after clearing customs
  • Avoid SIM replacement if you lose a physical card
  • Quickly setup mobile data across multiple devices like phones, tablets and smartwatches

Airtel consumer and tourist eSIM packs provide the same allowances like regular SIMs with generous data, calling and SMS.

Otherwise, esimnigeria.com also provides travellers visiting Nigeria with convenient electronic SIM (eSIM) solutions operated by GIGAGO networks. The site offers affordable eSIM data plans for staying connected while in Nigeria. Packages like 3, 5, 7, 10, 15-day plans are listed which include 1 to 3 gigabytes of daily data. This flexibility suits trips of different durations and data needs more than regular SIM cards. Visitors can choose a plan matching their travel period and internet requirements.

Plan that may interest you

Nigeria eSIM 7 Days Plan
Nigeria eSIM 7 Days Plan
From $9.50
Nigeria eSIM 15 Days Plan
Nigeria eSIM 15 Days Plan
From $17.50
Nigeria eSIM 30 Days Plan
Nigeria eSIM 30 Days Plan
From $24.50

VI. Where can You Buy an Airtel SIM card and eSIM?

1. Where to Buy Airtel SIM cards in Nigeria

As Nigeria’s second largest operator, Airtel prepaid SIM cards are widely available at hundreds of official shops and third party retailers in all major towns and cities.

Some recommended purchase locations include:

Airtel Stores/Kiosks

Find Airtel branded stores and retail kiosks at most shopping centers and airports to buy new SIM cards or recharge your phone. Staff can also assist with activations and answer questions.

Buy Airtel SIM cards in Nigeria

Dealers/Agents

Authorised Airtel dealers have signup packages and often stay open late. Look for signboards touting “Airtel SIM sale” on roadsides and intersections to grab a card quickly.

Airports

NAIA Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports have dedicated Airtel SIM vendors in the arrivals halls arrivals before you exit.

Prices average ₦200-500 ($0.14-0.36) for a standard prepaid SIM depending on location and any special offers available.

2. Where to Buy Airtel eSIM in Nigeria

You activate Airtel eSIM straight from your phone without needing to visit a physical store.

To get started:

  1. Open your smartphone settings and turn on cellular
  2. Select "Add mobile plan" and choose Airtel
  3. Signup and make payment by debit/credit card
  4. Activation is done digitally over-the-air

Alternatively you can text to join from your Nigerian SIM then switch phones. Dial *141*700#.

No plastic SIM card required for convenience!

VII. How to Activate Airtel SIM/eSIM in Nigeria

Activating new Airtel SIM cards or eSIM is quick and easy right after purchase.

1. How to Use Airtel SIM Cards in Nigeria

Airtel SIM Card illustration

When you buy your SIM pack, it likely comes bundled with an allocation of domestic minutes, texts and mobile data to use immediately.

To activate:

  1. Insert SIM and turn on your phone
  2. Select your language preference
  3. Choose Airtel network and appropiate access point name (APN) settings
  4. Enter SIM pin if prompted and restart device
  5. Check your number by dialing *124#
  6. You can now make calls, send SMS and use mobile data straight away

2. How to Activate Airtel eSIM

Activating an Airtel eSIM profile onto your compatible iPhone or Android smartphone only takes a few minutes as well:

  1. Open Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan
  2. Scroll to and select Airtel
  3. Enter email and credit/debit card details
  4. Confirm plan selections
  5. Activation Completed!

You’ll get SMS welcome message and can start using your Airtel eSIM.

VIII. Airtel Call & SMS Rates

Recharge Plan Calls Rate SMS Rate
Rs 155 Unlimited voice calls 300 SMS
Rs 179 Unlimited voice calls 300 SMS
Rs 265 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 299 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 359 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 599 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 479 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 549 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 699 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 455 Unlimited voice calls 900 total SMS for validity period
Rs 719 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 839 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day
Rs 1,799 Unlimited voice calls 3600 SMS
Rs 2,999 Unlimited voice calls 100 SMS per day

In general, Airtel plans provide excellent data and calling benefits depending on the budget. The longer validity plans ensure good value for money. Users can choose the best suitable prepaid plan as per their data, calling and budget requirements.

IX. Useful USSD Codes for Airtel SIM/eSIM

Here are some useful Airtel USSD codes to check your usage balances and activate different services quickly:

USSD Command Usage
*141*0# Check airtime balance
*141*2# Remaining data balance
*141*4# SMS bundle balance
*141*1*16# Check missed calls
*123*recharge PIN# Enter top-up card code

More codes available on the Airtel Nigeria website or app.

X. How to Top-up Airtel SIM/eSIM

Adding more call minutes, texts or gigabytes of data to your Airtel mobile plan only takes seconds.

You can recharge both Airtel SIM cards and eSIM profiles safely and securely using the methods below:

Self-Service with MyAirtel App

The fastest way to recharge is directly through the My Airtel Nigeria app using your debit/credit card or ewallet like PayPal.

Airtel Retailers

Take cash or card payment to thousands of corner shops, supermarkets and petrol stations displaying Airtel signs nationwide.

Online/ATM Payment

Select bank ATMs and internet banking platforms allow you to pay securely online then receive top-up.

International Transfer

If you have a Nigerian bank account, request friends/family overseas to transfer airtime credit.

This flexibility to recharge anywhere makes staying connected with Airtel super convenient.

XI. Alternatives to Airtel

1. Other Main Local Mobile Operators

While Airtel is one of the top telecom choices in Nigeria, travelers do have multiple network options:

  • MTN – Biggest local operator with widest 4G reach but pricier
  • Glo – Competitive data packs but less extensive network in remote regions

So explore all operators when you arrive to compare bundles and connectivity in the area you’ll be visiting.

Ultimately Airtel provides outstanding coverage and speeds at reasonable prices across all states making them a trusted choice for hassle-free Nigerian holidays.

2. eSIM provider from esimnigeria.com

Getting online on your travels around Nigeria has never been easier with esimnigeria.com. As one of the top eSIM service providers in the country, they offer affordable data packages that allow you to enjoy fast internet access without commitments or deposits typically required with SIM plans.

The purchase and activation is seamlessly simple. Once an eSIM is bought, a QR code is immediately emailed. From there, connecting to the swift network is just a QR scan on your compatible device after downloading – no fussing with physical SIM card swaps. This brings incredible convenience for maintaining connectivity while mobile. Simply order and scan provides instant access.

Truly a smooth solution perfect for getting online while traveling thanks to this clear purchasing and setup process. Esimnigeria.com powered by GIGAGO makes enjoying high-speed internet a breeze wherever your travels in Nigeria may take you.

GiGaGo Partner & Enjoy your Benefit

Switch to digital with esimnigeria.com

XII. FAQs about Airtel

How do I check my data or airtime balance on Airtel Sim cards?

Dial *123#, *141*0# and *141*2# to see your available minutes, texts and MBs left respectively.

Can I use 4G on my Airtel SIM cards?

Yes, Airtel tourist SIMs default to blazing fast 4G/LTE connectivity out the box for social media, Google Maps navigation and more

Is Airtel good for smartphones and WiFi hotspots?

Definitely. Airtel has excellent 3G and 4G speeds for the latest iPhones and Android devices plus portable WiFi modems.

How can I track my Airtel data usage?

Check MBs consumed via MyAirtel App or dial *141*2# USSD code to monitor so you don’t accidentally overuse.

XIII. Final Words

Airtel makes staying connected seamless while visiting all corners of Nigeria with extensive coverage, affordable prepaid rates and hassle-free tourist SIM card packages.

With clear calls, fast mobile data and bundled minutes lasting 30 days, Airtel Sim cards should be your first choice to avoid communications headaches from Lagos to Abuja plus destinations in between.

Be sure to compare network quality once you arrive since Airtel may not have the widest 4G reach in some rural areas. But overall their reliability and value makes for smooth Nigerian holidays.