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eSIM vs SIM: Which One is Better for Your Panama Trip?

A Panama eSIM card can be a good choice for some travelers, depending on their needs and preferences. If you are traveling around Panama, you don’t want to lose signal or data at any point.

That’s why many expats look for options to stay connected, such as apps with international internet coverage, eSIM or regular SIM.

Each option may or may not fit your Panama travel plan when you finish reading this article you can make your decision and travel safely connected throughout the country.

Sim cards in Panama and Cell Service

A local SIM card is a physical card that you insert into your phone to access the mobile network of a Panamanian operator. There are four operators in Panama: +móvil, Digicel, and Tigo. 

You can buy a SIM card from their stores, resellers, or some airports. Although it considers that at airports the prices of these SIM cards are very high compared to shopping in a store in Panama City. 

The prices vary depending on the operator and the plan you choose, but you can expect to pay between 21 USD and 35 USD for a SIM card with data, calls, and texts.

Panama eSIM Card

An eSIM is a digital SIM card that you download and activate on your phone without needing a physical card. You can buy an eSIM online before or during your trip and choose from different providers and plans. One of the advantages of eSIMs is that you can have mobile data as soon as you arrive in Panama, without having to look for a SIM card or a WiFi hotspot. 

If your plan is to spend a couple of weeks in Panama, and your phone plan does not offer you any benefits outside of your country, it is best to get an eSIM card. Not only for its ease of obtaining it but also for its versatility to use with applications with international coverage. 

So if you plan to rent a car to tour Panama or Costa Rica, or you think Colombia would be a good destination to visit, you won’t have to make investments buying a local chip in each country you visit.

Airalo Most Popular provider for Panama expats

Another benefit is that you can switch between eSIMs easily, without having to swap cards. One of the drawbacks is that not all phones are compatible with eSIMs, and some operators may not support them. 

Airalo is a popular eSIM provider that offers attractive rates for Panama, starting from 3 USD for 1 GB of data. But it is more expensive than a local company like Movil, offering physical sims. Convenience vs cost savings.

Airalo is great for your family trip in Panama, there’s usually discount codes floating around on the internet so don’t pay full price. You can find discount codes up to $3 off, if one of your friends who already uses Airalo share you one of their codes 

Operators have eSIM in Panama

Digicel does offer eSIM in Panama, but only for prepaid and postpaid mobile customers with compatible devices. The service has a one-time cost of $10 plus taxes, which includes a $5 recharge. The eSIM does not include a data or voice plan, so you need to buy one by dialing *111#.

On the other hand, +Móvil also offers eSIM in Panama, for both prepaid and postpaid customers with compatible devices. You need to visit a +Móvil store and request assistance to activate it. A representative will provide you with a card with a QR code that you need to scan with your phone. The activation process is similar to a physical SIM card

Activate an eSIM in Panama

To activate your eSIM with Airlo, you need to follow these steps:

  • Download the Airalo app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Choose your destination and package. You can select Panama from the list of local eSIMs and choose the data amount and validity period that suits your needs.
  • Install your eSIM by scanning the QR code that you will receive via email or in the app.
  • Activate your eSIM by following the instructions on the app. You can also switch between different eSIMs on the app.

To activate your eSIM with +Móvil, you need to visit the nearest service centre and request assistance. There, a representative will give you a card with a QR code that you need to scan with your eSIM-compatible device and camera. The representative will help you with the scanning and activation process.

To activate your eSIM with Digicel, you need to download the Digicel app and follow the instructions to purchase a plan and scan the QR code. You can also visit a Digicel store and get assistance from a representative

The best option for you depends on factors such as your phone model, your budget, your travel duration, your data usage, and your network coverage. You can compare the features and prices of different SIM cards and eSIMs online to find the best deal for your Panama trip.


Can Airalo be used temporarily in Panamá then when I go back to the US, start using my US eSIM again?

Yes, if your phone supports multiple eSIMs. you can decide how many GB you want. Enough for a week or a year in the location that you choose.

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