Stay Connected | Mobile Phone Options for your visit to South Africa
Stay Connected

Mobile Phone Options for your visit to South Africa

We get that sharing your holiday with your social network is a huge part of your travel experience. We’ve included some helpful tips for mobile phone usage in South Africa to help make sure you’re connected by the time you jump into your Rentacheapie vehicle and the real adventures begin!

Will your mobile phone work in South Africa?

First up, you need to ensure that you have a mobile phone that works in South Africa. As explain, mobile operators in South Africa work on GSM networks and if your phone is not compatible with a GSM network you will need to get one that is. Depending on mobile phones available in your home country, you may need to purchase a compatible phone when you arrive. You could look at buying a low-budget compatible phone once in the country. If you do have a phone that is compatible with a GSM network then it is important to check with your local mobile phone operator that it is unlocked before you leave for your trip.

SIM Cards

Once you know you have a compatible phone what you will need to get is a prepaid SIM card from a South African mobile phone operator. The SIM card can be inserted into your mobile phone and it comes with a South African mobile phone number. As the guys at The Cape Town Magazine point out, if you’ve only ever had a contract phone you will have to adjust to being on a prepaid option. This means that you will need to purchase airtime with vouchers (from almost all corner stores, supermarkets or petrol stations). Using a prepaid service also means that you will need to monitor how much credit you have so that you don’t find yourself about to post an Instagram snap and  you run out of data. Credit balances can be checked by dialling a number your mobile provider can share with you.

When purchasing a SIM card in South Africa, you will need to go through a mandatory RICA process. RICA is the “piece of legislation in South Africa that governs the interception or monitoring of communications.” It is a law that requires foreigners to, at the time of purchase, supply their passport and proof of where they will be staying while they are in the country. The Cape Town Magazine share that your proof of accommodation can be as easy as printing the proof of your accommodation reservation on a letterhead. If you are staying with friends, in an AirBNB or any other form of home sharing, you will need an affidavit from the property owner or tenant explaining that you will be staying at the stated address.

If you are someone who can’t bear the thought of being without connectivity and don’t want to wait to go through the entire SIM card purchase process when you arrive in South Africa, B4I.Travel is a great option for you. As unpacked in this article, you can sign up and receive your South African mobile number up to 2 weeks prior to arriving in the country. This will also give peace of mind to those who need to be in touch with you. You will simply need to go to the mobile operator at the airport to collect your SIM card when you arrive.

The B4I.Travel prepaid service includes free incoming calls and the lowest International call rate in the country, sitting at roughly $0.06 a minute. It also includes an option for you to top up your data and airtime from a pre-registered online store, eliminating the need for you to purchase vouchers. What’s more is that going this route allows you to pre-RICA yourself so you won’t need to worry about the RICA process when you collect your SIM card.

Other Options

You could look into renting a mobile phone from the airport when you arrive. As with collecting your SIM card, you will need to ensure that your flight lands when the mobile operator of your choice is open at the airport. If you are looking to be a bit more disconnected from the digital realm on your journey you can opt for local WiFi networks. You will, however, be limited to digital connectivity at places like cafés, restaurants, hotels, guest houses and backpackers and you will be at the mercy of the internet connection quality at the location.

Which mobile provider?

The key cellular mobile providers in South Africa include MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Rain Mobile is a new player in the market, offering unlimited data packages. Rain Mobile is only currently available in Gauteng so it won’t cover your trip in Cape Town. If it is speed you’re looking for, My Broadband rank MTN as the cellular mobile provider of choice.

How do South African mobile numbers even work?

Much like anywhere else in the world, South African mobile numbers use the International code of the country. The dialling code for South Africa is +27. Mobile numbers in South Africa start with 06, 07 or 08. For friends, family or colleagues back home wanting to reach you will dial +27 followed by your South African mobile number, just dropping the first 0. So if your number is 084 123 4567 they will simply dial +2784 123 4567. When you are making an outgoing international call you will first dial 00, followed by the international code and area code of the person you are calling and after that, their phone number.

We at Rentacheapie are thrilled to provide you with the wheels that connect you to adventure and fun. We certainly wouldn’t want you to have all these experiences and not be able to share them with your global social networks. Feel free to reach out to us for cheap rentals for connected trips!

Sign up for our newsletter