Planning a trip to Cape Town and looking for the best way to stay connected in South Africa? Get yourself a prepaid sim card or an e-sim card to avoid high roaming costs. Buying a sim card for South Africa at Cape Town Airport is very easy. Make it yourself easy on your trip to Cape Town: ordering an Uber, calling a restaurant, get directions are just some of the many reasons why having data on your phone when traveling to Cape Town makes life much easier.
In this guide I will tell you everything about buying a sim card in Cape Town. Where to get a sim card, up to date prices as per August 2023, my recommendation, my own experiences, a vlog of my arrival at Cape Town Airport and even information about international and e-sim cards for South Africa.
Being an avid world traveler I recommend every tourists who likes to stay connected to buy a local prepaid sim card. There are also global sim cards that can come in very handy when traveling to multiple countries but they are a little more expensive. Wanna read more about this then check out my article with the best international sim cards for world travelers in 2023.
The first thing I do when getting to a new country is buying a local prepaid sim card to get connected. As Traveltomtom is also aiming to visit every country in the world you can find already more than 150 prepaid sim card guides on Traveltomtom: Europe, UK, London, Italy, Rome, New York, USA, Toronto, Canada, Istanbul, Dubai, Germany, Frankfurt and many more.
You can also buy a sim card for your South Africa trip online and get it shipped to your home address before your trip to South Africa. For example: $49.90 USD gives you 10 GB data. Click here to oder this international sim card for South Africa online or find more info. Or get an order an e-sim card for South Africa with 10 GB data for $33. Click on the links for more info.
Traveltomtom recommends buying an MTN prepaid sim card at Cape Town Airport. They have much cheaper South Africa sim card deals than Vodacom.
Another great alternative is a world travel sim card. These pre-activated sim cards will be send to your home address before your trip. Check out our comparison of the best international sim cards for traveling in 2023 and pick the one that suits your trip to South Africa the best.
However, if you don't want to visit a store and arrange everything online then look into getting an e-sim card for South Africa.
E-sim card for South Africa
No more swapping physical sim cards, arrange everything online in just a couple minutes. Order online, receive an email, follow the instructions, applied the settings and you are all set. Easy as that! Check out the following e-sim card deals for South Africa:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $13 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $33 USD
Click here to order one of the above South Africa e-sim card deals directly online or find more info on how it works.
The above e-sim cards are only valid in South Africa. There are also international e-sim cards which are valid in more than 70 countries including South Africa:
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for South Africa.
Cape Town International Airport
Don’t worry you won’t get lost here at CPT, it is a pretty small and easy to navigate airport. There are only 5 luggage belts and only one exit into the arrival hall for international arrivals. People are very friendly and helpful and there is free WiFi at Cape Town International Airport.
Where to buy a sim card at Cape Town Airport
As soon as you arrive in the luggage hall you will see a Vodacom kiosk with big signs saying FREE SIM VODACOM. First off the kiosk is probably not operational, second a Vodacom sim card at Cape Town Airport is NOT free. The Vodacom kiosk is located at Luggage Belt 3.
However finding where to buy a South African sim card for your trip is very easy at Cape Town Airport. As soon as you pass customs and enter the arrival hall you will see a Vodacom and an MTN store on your right hand side.
The operating hours for the shops are:
- Vodacom: 7.00 am - 8.00 pm
- MTN: 7.00 am - 6.00 pm
These are the only two sim card stores at CPT Airport. Although there is also an MTN and a Vodacom store at the Domestic Arrival Hall, but the prices are the exact same.
Buying a sim card in Cape Town City Center
If you missed the opportunity to buy a sim card at Cape Town Airport then don’t worry. All the popular tourist destinations in Cape Town have mobile phone shops that sell prepaid sim cards for South Africa. The best places to buy a sim card in Cape Town are:
- V&A Waterfront - Victoria Wharf Shopping Center
- Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village
- Downtown Cape Town
Locating the nearest shop? Go to Google Maps and type in the by you preferred mobile operator: MTN, Vodacom, Cell C or Telkom. For more info and up to date prices check out my article about buying a sim card in South Africa!
When buying a prepaid sim card in South Africa you need to register with your passport. You can buy up to 5 sim cards per passport.
Prices South Africa sim cards at CPT
Mind you that prices for prepaid sim cards and data packages constantly change. Traveltomtom tries to keep this article as up to date as possible. Your help is appreciated, so please let me know in the comment section below if things have changed.
The below info and prices are up to date as per August 2023. $1 USD = 18.5 South African Rand and 100 South African Rand = $5.41 USD.
Vodacom Cape Town Airport
At Vodacom they keep it simple and offer 3 tourist packages:
- 3 GB data + 30 min + R30 Airtime + 30 sms = R499 - $29
- 5 GB data + 50 min + R50 Airtime + 50 sms = R649
- 10 GB data + 100 min + R100 Airtime + 100 sms = R899
The 30 Rand Airtime is like credit and the packages are valid for 30 days.
You can also make your own bundles, but then a Vodacom sim card costs R100. The most common available packages valid for 30 days are:
- 1 GB = R99
- 3 GB = R229
- 25 minutes = R55
- 60 minutes = R110
A bit pricey as you can see South Africa sim cards are not super cheap.
MTN South Africa
At the MTN store there is whole lot more options available and an MTN sim card at Cape Town Airport is also FREE! MTN offers multiple packages with more flexibility. Tourists can opt for a sim card with a package valid for 1 week also.
Another great thing about buying an MTN sim card is that you can easily compose your own packages with data + voice. I like that!
Airtime/voice cost 1 SAR per minute, so 60 minutes = 60 SAR ($3.5 USD).
The most common prepaid MTN sim card data packages at Cape Town Airport are:
For 7 days:
- 1 GB = R85
- 2 GB = R149
- 5 GB = R199 - $11.5 USD
For 30 days:
- 1 GB = R99
- 5 GB = R299
- 10 GB = R469
- 100 GB = R999 - $58 USD
Then MTN offers also packages that give you 1 or 2 GB data per day, with a renewal every day at 00.00.
- R149 = 2 GB every day for 7 days
- R199 = 3 GB every day for 7 days
- R299 = 1 GB every day for 30 days
- R399 = 2 GB every day for 30 days
- R599 = 3 GB every day for 30 days
MTN claims to have the best network in Cape Town. But both Vodacom and MTN have a very good 5G network in Cape Town, based on my own experience. I always enjoyed a 5G signal in Cape Town and so did my friend with a Vodacom sim card.
Best sim card for tourists at Cape Town Airport
As you can already figure out I am recommend tourists the following prepaid sim card: MTN is the best prepaid sim card at Cape Town Airport in 2023!
First off they are much cheaper than Vodacom, second they offer better and more data plans and third they are more flexible when it comes to how many days the plans are valid.
A local prepaid sim card is not the cheapest way to stay connected, because when you just need 1 GB data to stay in touch with friends, check your email and get directions then you should go for an e-sim card for just $5 USD.
Order a South Africa sim card online
Too much hassle buying a sim card on arrival at Cape Town International Airport then get yourself one before your trip. Order an international sim card for South Africa online and get it shipped to your home address. The below international sim card deals for South Africa are data-only.
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order the above prepaid sim cards for South Africa directly online or find more info. These international sim cards are automatically activated from its first use.
If for some reason you aren't able to buy a sim card for South Africa at Cape Town Airport then I recommend you to check out the my guide for buying a sim card in South Africa in 2023. It also includes a South Africa sim card with unlimited data, called Rain.
Also a last reminder that you can also order an e-sim card for South Africa and they give you great value for money.
My experiences buying a sim card at Cape Town Airport
As you can see in the video above I checked out both mobile operators first and then came to the conclusion that MTN had better deals. So I decided to buy an MTN prepaid sim card for my trip to Cape Town. Everywhere I went in Cape Town I had a good 4G connection, even when hiking off the beaten path.
I chose the R149 packages and got 1 GB data daily for 7 days. My trip to Cape Town was only 5 days, so that was perfect. This MTN packages is perfect for tourists staying less than 1 week in Cape Town. Just $10!
Every night at 00.00 you get a text saying that they renewed your 1 GB daily allowance. Also when you use 50% of the daily allowance you get a message from MTN.
After a couple days I needed to make some phone calls and I went to the supermarket to add airtime/voice. I added just R20. It was fixed within seconds. All my experiences using my MTN sim card in Cape Town were good!
To make it easier, you can also watch this short 2 minute video about buying a sim card for South Africa at Cape Town Airport.
How to get from Cape Town Airport to the city
The airport is located not far from the city and within less than 30 minutes you will be at your hotel by taxi. I recommend taking a taxi as they are only about $15 - $20 USD one way. The most trusted way is to order an Uber or Bolt, however normal taxis offer rides for the same price.
I hope these tips for buying a sim card in Cape Town were helpful! In case you still have question please leave me a comment below and I am happy to assist.
Interested what it looks like visiting every country in the world? Then check out my Instagram @traveltomtom. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Cape Town!
Some links in this article about buying a sim card in Cape Town are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at no extra cost to you.