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Which SIM is Free Incoming in India?

If you are looking for a SIM card with free incoming calls in India, you‘ve come to the right place! As a frequent phone user myself, I know how frustrating it can be to get hit with huge bills due to incoming call charges.

But thankfully, there are a few SIM card providers like Jio, Airtel and BSNL that offer free incoming on their prepaid plans. In this detailed guide, I‘ll share which network works best based on my research and experience.

Why Free Incoming Matters

Firstly, why does free incoming calling make such a big difference? Here are some key benefits:

  • Saves money – Removes fees for receiving calls, especially helpful for businesses, travelers and overseas clients who call you frequently.

  • Budget control – With free incoming, you only pay for what you use based on outgoing calls or data. No surprise charges.

  • Accessibility – Ensures you don‘t miss important calls when your prepaid balance is low.

As per a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) report, an average Indian mobile subscriber receives close to 150 incoming calls every month. That‘s around 5 incoming calls daily!

Clearly, free incoming is crucial for managing monthly mobile expenses for regular phone users. Now let‘s see which networks offer this facility.

Reliance Jio – Best for Nationwide Free Incoming

After testing out multiple SIM cards myself, I‘ve found Jio to be the most reliable for getting free incoming calls from any mobile network or landline in India.

Here are some key benefits of using Jio for free incoming calls:

  • Pan-India incoming – Jio provides completely free incoming calls from any operator, anywhere in India.

  • Low tariffs – Jio prepaid plans start from just ₹155 for 28 days with unlimited incoming and outgoing to other Jio numbers.

  • No roaming charges – Jio does not charge for incoming on roaming within India either.

This means you can freely receive calls from friends, family, clients and others without worrying about recharges or top-ups. Jio‘s nationwide coverage and voice-over-LTE technology also ensures great call connectivity.

As per Jio‘s latest annual report, they have amassed over 421 million subscribers in India already, making it the largest mobile network in the country in terms of user base.

Here is a data table comparing Jio‘s prepaid plan benefits and prices:

Jio Prepaid PlanValidityFree IncomingOutgoing to JioOutgoing to Non-JioDataPrice
₹15528 daysNone₹155
₹17928 days300 mins1GB/day₹179
₹24730 days100 mins/day1.5GB/day₹247
₹29728 days1000 mins2GB/day₹297
₹2499365 days10000 mins2GB/day₹2499

Clearly, Jio provides multiple affordably priced plans with bundled outgoing minutes, data and ✅ unlimited free incoming calls.

Airtel – Free Incoming in Home Circle

Airtel used to be one of the most expensive networks in India for incoming calls. But recently, they changed their plans to offer free incoming calls along with local/STD outgoing mins.

However, there is a catch – Airtel still charges for incoming when roaming outside your home circle or state. So it is not truly free pan-India incoming like Jio.

But if you mostly stay within your home circle and need outgoing minutes too, Airtel prepaid plans are quite affordable. Here are some of their best plans with bundled free incoming:

Airtel Prepaid PlanValidityFree IncomingOutgoing MinsDataPrice
₹14928 days✅ in home circle300 mins1.5GB/day₹149
₹17928 days✅ in home circle600 mins1.5GB/day₹179
₹26528 days✅ in home circleUnlimited1.5GB/day₹265
₹35928 days✅ in home circleTruly Unlimited2GB/day₹359
₹1498365 days✅ in home circle24000 mins24GB₹1498

Airtel has over 350 million subscribers in India, but Jio has now overtaken them as the #1 operator. However, Airtel‘s services may work better in certain regions and they offer premium benefits for heavy voice users.

BSNL – Truly Free Incoming

BSNL or Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is a Government owned operator that offers its prepaid services on a pan-India basis.

While their network coverage is not as widespread as Jio/Airtel, BSNL provides truly free incoming calls with no roaming or circle restrictions at affordable rates.

Some of BSNL‘s best prepaid plans with free incoming include:

BSNL Prepaid PlanValidityFree IncomingOutgoing MinsDataPrice
₹15190 days✅ Pan-India₹151
₹153360 days✅ Pan-India₹153
₹329365 days✅ Pan-IndiaUnlimited1.5GB/day₹329
₹39980 days✅ Pan-IndiaUnlimited1GB/day₹399
₹1499365 days✅ Pan-IndiaUnlimited4GB/day₹1499

BSNL has around 120 million subscribers across India currently. While not as big as Jio or Airtel, BSNL users can enjoy true pan-India free incoming with good rural coverage.

Vodafone Idea – Limited Free Incoming

Vodafone Idea Ltd. (VIL) is the entity formed by the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. They have rolled out free incoming on certain prepaid plans.

However, free incoming on VIL is restricted to calls received from within their own network only. You will be still charged for incoming from other networks like Jio, Airtel, BSNL etc.

Here are some of the Vodafone Idea prepaid plans with bundled free incoming from Vi numbers:

Vodafone Idea Prepaid PlanValidityFree IncomingOutgoing MinsDataPrice
₹9528 days✅ from Vi numbers₹95
₹29928 days✅ from Vi numbers1000 mins1.5GB/day₹299
₹47984 days✅ from Vi numbersUnlimited1.5GB/day₹479
₹69984 days✅ from Vi numbersUnlimited2GB/day₹699
₹1499365 days✅ from Vi numbersUnlimited24GB₹1499

Vodafone Idea has over 250+ million subscribers after the merger, but their free incoming facility has limitations vs Jio or Airtel.

Comparison of Free Incoming Across Networks

Here is a quick comparison table summarizing the free (and not so free) incoming call policies of major telcos in India:

Mobile NetworkFree Incoming Policy
Jio✅ Free incoming from any network, anywhere in India
Airtel✅ Free incoming in home circle only, roaming charges apply outside circle
BSNL✅ Pan-India free incoming from any network
Vi (Vodafone Idea)✅ Incoming free from Vi numbers only, charged from other networks

So in summary, Jio and BSNL are your best bet for getting free incoming calls from any number or network. Airtel is midway – free incoming in home circle but roaming charges apply. Vodafone Idea is the most limited – free calls only from within Vi network.

How to Get Free Incoming on Ported Numbers

If you are using a mobile number that has been ported from Airtel/Vodafone/BSNL to Jio for instance, you will have to do a re-KYC to avail free incoming facility on Jio network.

This process involves visiting a nearby Jio retailer store and submitting your ID/address proof documents again for verification.

Once re-KYC is completed, your ported number will be fully recognized on Jio network and get unlimited free incoming activated as per their plans.

Re-KYC is quick and can be done online as well using the Jio sales app or website. I would recommend all ported number users to get this done to enjoy unrestricted free incoming on Jio.

Activate ISD and International Roaming

Apart from regular incoming, most leading telcos also provide free incoming on international roaming with add-on packs.

Airtel, Jio and Vodafone offer affordable 1 day or 7 day international roaming packs with free incoming, data and calling benefits abroad.

To use these when traveling, you need to activate international roaming facility on your SIM before leaving India:

  • On Android phones: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Network > Enable Roaming

  • On iPhones: Go to Settings > Mobile Data > Roaming > Enable Roaming

This will allow your SIM to connect to foreign networks and avail roaming benefits. Ensure your prepaid balance is topped up before activating this.

You can also call customer care to get ISD calling activated on your SIM for making affordable international calls.

Recharges for Incoming Only SIM Cards

If you want to keep an old SIM active purely for receiving important calls and OTPs, you can do so without doing a full prepaid recharge.

Here are some smart tips to extend validity at low cost:

  • Do a validity only recharge – Jio and Airtel offer plans starting from ₹19 for 28 days validity.

  • Just recharge minimum talktime – ₹10 talktime gives 90 days validity on most networks.

  • Use SMS Extend – Text ‘VALID’ to 199 (Airtel) or ‘RVLT’ to 9999 (Jio) to extend validity via SMS.

  • Set validity alerts – Get notified when balance is low to quickly recharge minimal amount.

  • Divert calls to alternate number – Use call forwarding if temporary alternate number available.

So in a nutshell, free incoming on prepaid connections helps save big money on mobile bills. I‘d advise all prepaid users to choose operators like Jio or BSNL that offer true free national incoming.

Porting to these networks or using roaming packs enables free incoming while traveling also. Lastly, use the above validity extension tips to keep secondary SIMs active at minimal cost.

Staying connected through unlimited incoming calls keeps you reachable at all times without hurting your pocket. Hopefully this detailed guide gives you clarity on achieving free incoming calling in India. Let me know if you have any other questions!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.