To be connected while in Nigeria. Among the very firsts on your list of priorities, you should get the local Nigeria SIM cards. It is the simplest way to be connected because you will see where you are located, read directions, go to public transport applications or contact at home relatives. The low price and affordability of a Nigerian SIM card is actually something positive, but a lot of people complain about not knowing what kind of SIM card to buy and where to buy it. Get latest information on acquiring the best Nigeria sim card for your travel needs.

Nigeria SIM Cards feature picture

I. Should I Buy a New SIM Card for My Nigeria Trip?

1. Yes, You Should Buy Local Nigeria SIM Cards

Getting new Nigeria SIM cards is highly recommended for travelers. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Avoid Costly Roaming Fees: Using your home SIM card in Nigeria can lead to enormous roaming charges, especially for data usage. A local SIM lets you pay local rates.
  • Better Network Coverage: Nigerian providers like MTN, Airtel and 9Mobile have extensive networks throughout the country. Their coverage can be better than roaming on your home network.
  • Access to Affordable Data Plans: Nigerian SIM card plans come with cheap data bundles, starting as low as N500 ($1.10 USD) for 1GB valid for 1 day. This helps keep your costs down.
  • Use of Local Numbers: Having a local number allows you to sign up for apps, services and even get around easier by calling a taxi or driver. It’s also useful for safety and making local friends.
  • Flexibility: You can easily top-up your Nigerian SIM card balance or swap between data bundles to suit your travel needs and budget. It’s much simpler than roaming packages.

In summary, having Nigeria SIM cards unlocks the best rates, coverage and convenience for staying connected during your trip. They are easy to buy and set up too.

2. What Kind of Phone Do I Need for Nigeria SIM Cards?

To take advantage of the affordable data rates and widespread network coverage provided by Nigeria SIM cards, your mobile phone needs to be unlocked from any specific carrier and compatible with GSM cellular networks. GSM is the predominant technology used in Nigeria by major network operators like MTN, Glo or Airtel

If you aren’t certain whether your device supports GSM or has been unlocked, you can check with the phone’s manufacturer. You should also ask staff at the shop where you intend to buy your Nigerian SIM card. They can verify if your phone model can work with SIM cards on local networks before your purchase. Talking to them ensures you select a SIM that will function properly.

Tip: Make sure that you have your phone unlocked from your current service provider prior to heading to Nigeria or it will cost you more when you get there. You will only have an easy time switching to a Nigerian SIM when you leave if you take care of the unlocking process prior to your departure.

II. Nigeria SIM Card Types – Which One is the Best for Tourists?

Form Function Description
Physical SIM Data-only SIM Provides high-speed mobile data but no voice calling features. More affordable option for those who primarily need internet access.
Physical SIM Voice & data SIM Full-service SIM that allows both calling and data usage. More expensive than data-only but offers the most functionality.
Physical SIM Tourist SIM Simplified activation targeted at visitors. Prepaid SIM cards with small bundles of minutes, texts and data valid for 1-2 weeks. Easy option for short trips.
eSIM Data-only SIM A digital SIM embedded directly into supported devices. Provides high-speed mobile data without a physical card.
eSIM Voice & data SIM A digital SIM embedded into supported devices. Allows calling and data usage like a physical full-service SIM

In summary: For most tourists visiting Nigeria, a Tourist SIM card is highly recommended. It provides essential connectivity without requiring a long-term commitment. The bundles strike a good balance between cost and utility for the duration of a vacation. Just be sure to purchase from a reputable retail outlet to avoid scams. A Tourist SIM makes staying in touch very simple during your travel in Nigeria.

III. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Nigeria?

how much data needed

Nigeria has affordable data rates, but how much is enough for a regular traveler? Here are some guidelines:

  • Light user: For occasional maps and messaging, 1 to 2 GB is enough for a week. You can buy 500MB daily bundles for around $0.40 USD.
  • Moderate user: For daily maps, social media and some video streaming, aim for 2 to 4 GB per week. 1GB daily data bundles cost around $0.60-1 USD.
  • Heavy user: For extensive browsing, video calls, Netflix and uploads aim for 6 to 8+ GB per week. You can get 2GB bundles (valid 1 or 2 days) for $1.20-2 USD.
  • Longer trips: For trips over 2-3 weeks, you could also buy monthly data subscriptions with allowances up to 40GB if available with your chosen operator. These monthly plans would cost $10-20 USD depending on the data allowance.

Note: Prepaid daily and weekly data bundles provide flexibility for short term visitors. 500MB bundles are sufficient for light daily use while 2GB bundles work well for heavier use over 1-2 days. Long term travelers have the option of monthly plans with larger data pools.

In major cities, free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants so your mobile data needs may be lower if you frequently access free hotspots.

It’s easy to top-up your account or switch between bundle sizes as needed. Start small and add more data when required. Also turn on data saving and limit bandwidth heavy apps to minimize usage.

IV. How Much Does a Nigeria SIM Card Cost?

Provider Package Price (USD) Data/Minutes
Airtel 1.5 GB, 30 days $2.17 1.5 GB data
Airtel 2 GB, 30 days $2.61 2 GB data
Airtel 3 GB, 30 days $3.26 3 GB data
Airtel 4.5 GB, 30 days $4.34 4.5 GB data
Airtel 6 GB, 30 days $5.43 6 GB data
Airtel 10 GB, 30 days $6.51 10 GB data
Glo 3.9 GB, 30 days $2.17 3.9 GB data
Glo 7.5 GB, 30 days $3.26 7.5 GB data
Glo 9.2 GB, 30 days $4.34 9.2 GB data
Glo 10.8 GB, 30 days $5.43 10.8 GB data
Glo 14 GB, 30 days $6.51 14 GB data
MTN 1.5 GB, 30 days $2.17 1.5 GB data
MTN 2 GB, 30 days $2.61 2 GB data
MTN 3 GB, 30 days $3.26 3 GB data
MTN 4.5 GB, 30 days $4.34 4.5 GB data
MTN 6 GB, 30 days $5.43 6 GB data
MTN 10 GB, 30 days $6.51 10 GB data

According to the table, across all three operators, packages with higher data allowances generally have higher prices in USD. For example, Airtel’s 6GB package costs $5.43 compared to its 1.5GB option which is priced at $2.17.

In terms of value, Glo seems to offer slightly larger data allowances compared to Airtel and MTN for similar price points. For instance, its 3.9GB package is listed at $2.17 while Airtel and MTN only provide 1.5GB for the same price.

The table provides a quick overview of prepaid SIM card options available from major Nigerian mobile networks and how prices vary depending on data amount. This allows travelers to compare and select the most suitable package based on their budget and data needs.

V. Nigeria eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards

In addition to physical SIM cards, some providers in Nigeria also offer eSIMs. An eSIM is a digital SIM profile that is stored on your phone’s internal eSIM chip rather than a plastic SIM card. Another way to stay connected while exploring beautiful Nigeria is with an eSIM data plan from esimnigeria.com by GIGAGO.

Travelling internationally usually means high roaming fees to use your regular phone plan. But with esimnigeria.com’s Nigeria eSIM plans, you can avoid roaming charges and access fast 4G/5G data on local cellular networks at affordable rates.

Some key benefits of esimnigeria.com’s eSIM plans include:

  • Wide range of plan durations from 3 days to 30 days to suit your trip length
  • Generous data allowances from 3GB up to 10GB per package
  • Instant activation – get your eSIM delivered digitally within minutes of purchase
  • Works on all major eSIM compatible smartphones including latest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models
  • Easy self-installation – just scan the QR code and you’re connected
  • Reliable coverage across Nigeria through partner cellular networks
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, email and live chat

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

Start exploring Nigeria freely with esimnigeria.com! Buy an eSIM plan today and receive it instantly by email for hassle-free setup.

VI. Where to Buy Nigeria SIM Cards?

the palm mall

Nigeria SIM cards are readily available at hundreds of retail outlets. Here are some tips for where to buy:

  • Airports: All Nigerian airports have SIM card sellers, kiosks or vans on the arrivals concourse. Prices might be 20-50% higher than the city.
  • Shopping malls: Malls like The Palms in Lagos and Grand Towers Abuja host dealer kiosks for major providers.
  • Operator galleries: Major operators have dedicated stores and dealers across cities where you can buy SIM packs.
  • Local corner shops: Small roadside shops and phone stores widely sell SIMs often at lower unchanged rates.

When purchasing, know the standard rates so you don’t get overcharged. Carry your passport as ID and ensure the seller sets up the SIM properly before leaving.

For the best experience, visit an official provider store or established dealer. But don’t pay more than the regular SIM pack rates.

Interested in buying SIM Cards in Nigeria Airports upon arrival? Check out our guide now: Where to Buy SIM Card at Murtala Muhammed Airport

VII. How to Use Nigeria SIM Cards

Once you’ve purchased your Nigerian SIM card, here are some tips for setting up and using it:

1. Activate SIM Card

After inserting the SIM, you may need to restart your phone. Then follow any activation instructions that came with the SIM pack.

Dial *555# to check your SIM number and settings are activated correctly.

2. Purchase Initial Data Bundle

Though your SIM may have some preloaded credit, you’ll need to buy a data bundle via the operator app, USSD codes or scratch cards to get mobile internet access.

3. Install Operator Apps

Apps like MyMTN, MyAirtel, MyGlo allows you to easily purchase new plans, check usage and manage your account.

4.Disable International Roaming

Switch your network mode to manual and select the local operator. This prevents accidentally roaming on your home network.

5. Access Local Number

To allow incoming calls to your new Nigerian mobile number, share the number via text or messaging apps.

Following these tips will get your Nigeria SIM card up and running quickly so you can stay connected.

VIII. Best Mobile Operators for Nigeria SIM Cards

Nigeria has several major mobile operators, but MTN and Airtel are generally the best picks for tourists and visitors when choosing a SIM card.

Mobile Operator Coverage Price Range (USD) Pros Cons eSIM Available
MTN Nigeria Widest nationwide 4G coverage reaching over 80% of population $0.35-$1 Largest network, affordable data packs, reliable coverage Occasional network issues in some areas, slower speeds than competitors Yes
Glo (Globacom) Extensive 4G coverage in major cities and towns $0.25-$0.75 Fastest network speeds, good coverage, affordable data Fewer coverage areas than MTN, occasional outages Yes
Airtel Nigeria Wide 4G coverage in major cities and towns $0.50-$1.25 Wide coverage, fast speeds, good international roaming More expensive than others, less reliability than MTN Yes

In summary, all three operators provide eSIM support, making virtual SIM profiles a convenient options for travelers to Nigeria. MTN and Globacom stand out as the preferred choices given their leadership in coverage and pricing in the Nigerian telecom market.

GiGaGo Partner & Enjoy your Benefit

Switch to digital with esimnigeria.com

Not sure which Nigeria mobile operators to choose for your trip! Check our article Nigeria Mobile Operators: Which One is the Best? to get more useful information!

IX. Tips for Saving Data for Nigeria SIM Cards

To get the most value from your prepaid Nigeria SIM cards data plan, here are some useful tips for saving data:

  • Enable data saver modes in phones settings and apps like Chrome, Twitter and Facebook. This restricts background usage.
  • Disable auto-play on videos and music. Streaming consumes huge chunks of data.
  • Limit bandwidth heavy apps like YouTube, Netflix and video calls on cellular. Use freely over WiFi.
  • Disable auto photo and video backups to the cloud which eat up data in the background.
  • Check for free WiFi at hotels, cafes and malls and use instead of mobile data when available.
  • Switch on airplane mode when you don’t need internet and turn it off only when required.
  • Check your usage in your operator account regularly and top up before fully depleting.
  • At hotels, request the daily WiFi password instead of relying on mobile data.

Proactively monitoring usage and limiting bandwidth hungry activities ensures your data lasts longer. With the right habits, you can easily stretch 1GB pack over a full day or more.

Getting and managing local Nigeria SIM cards is easy with the right information. Follow the guidance above and you’ll stay affordably connected throughout your Nigeria trip.

Read also: Using a cell phone in Nigeria – How can I do it?

X. FAQs

Do I need to show ID to buy a SIM in Nigeria?

Yes, you need to show a valid passport or Nigerian ID card when purchasing any new SIM pack. This is required by law for SIM registration.

Can I use mobile internet during international roaming?

Yes but it’s very expensive, often $5-10 per megabyte used. Buying a local SIM is much more affordable.

How long does it take to activate my SIM in Nigeria?

If purchased at a shop, your SIM can be activated instantly. At the airport, activation may take a few hours.

Can I top up my SIM card balance easily?

Yes, recharging talk time and data is very easy via scratch cards, ATMs, quick codes and mobile apps.

Are there advantages to getting a monthly plan vs prepaid SIM?

For short term visitors, prepaid SIMs are usually more practical. Monthly plans require ID documents and have longer commitments.

XI. Final Words

Nigeria SIM cards are the travel essential allowing you to stay conveniently connected across Nigeria without incurring huge roaming fees. This should have made your choice of a suitable SIM card and provider much easier ahead of your travel trip to Nigeria. It won’t cost much for data bundles, so you will be spoilt for choice to select the plan that suits your connectivity demands best.


Just buy a cheap prepaid SIM pack and data recharge coupons. Thereafter, always communicate with friends, consult street guides for directions, and enjoy free internet services until you leave the country of Nigerian.