USA->Europe SIM Card Usage

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Felldownthewell, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. Felldownthewell macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #1
    On Monday I leave for a 10 day trip to Europe (Holland, Germany, France, and Monacco) for the World Cup and to visit family. Between now and then I am hoping to switch from Verizon to Cingular (or possibly T-mobile) and get a quad band phone. I would like to use this phone on this trip (and a larger, 3 month trip that is planned for next summer) but I have no idea how cell phone service works over there. I have been to Europe a lot before, but have never needed a cell. I know the major companies are O2, Vodaphone, and T-Mobile (there may be more, please correct me if I am wrong) and what I would like to do is get my new quad band phone unlocked in the states (about $20) then get some sort of pre-paid SIM card in Holland.

    What I am wondering is how on earth do I go about getting a cheap SIM card with pre-paid minutes- and is it even possible? If so, what prices am I looking at? Also, what networks in Europe are GSM and if I buy the card in Holland, will it work in France? Any help you could give would be much appreciated, especially because I am going to buy the phone today, and I want to make sure I get the right one.

    Thanks!
     
  2. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #2
    I was in Amsterdam in January and just happened to notice a phone shop (my wife was in making calls to Ireland) and they had a Vodafone Sim Card for €20 with €20 phone credit on it. You can then just top up as you need (usually in €10 units).

    I think for a deposit you can get it set up for roaming as you progress through different countries, but you might need to check with Vodafone about that. In Ireland it can cost to set up roaming, but it may be different in mainland Europe, as we don't have a very competitive market, just four carriers who gouge us as much as they can.

    All of the main carriers will have something similar, so it might be worthwhile checking out their sites.


    Edit: Just checked - you don't need to register to roam, just have sufficient credit, and you can register for Vodafone passport which makes calls cheaper when roaming
     
  3. Acehigh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    #3

    Make sure you buy an unlocked phone. I know Tmobile will unlock a phone for free. Atleast they did that with my sidekick 2. They email you a code to put in.


    I think most if not all prepaid networks are GSM in europe. If you buy the card in Holland it should work in France but you will be hit with a roaming charge. Also when I was in Poland I brought a Prepaid card, but when I travel to germany, prague , ect I could get calls but couldnt make them. I think I had to contact the phone company to unblock it or something, never did.


    I think roaming rate is about $1/ Euro a min for incoming. Not sure on how many mintues you plan to use.


    Have fun on your trip!.... for next summer maybe better wifi phones will be out.
     
  4. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #4
    Thanks for the answers!

    Since you can't buy unlocked phones from a carrier (which I need to do to get the 2 year plan discount) I will get it unlocked at a store nearby which does this. The phone will be used just for the kind of "Hey I'm over here by the statue" calls to meet friends and tell family where I am, nothing long.

    What I guess I am hearing is that I can just go into a GSM provider's store and say that I would like a pre-paid SIM card and it will work all over...? I am a bit worried about those roaming fees though...does anyone know if I can get an international card for a bit more?
     
  5. miniConvert macrumors 68040

    miniConvert

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    #5
    It may work out cheaper to just buy a new pre-paid (Pay as you Go) SIM card in each country you visit. That way you skip any possible roaming charges. Either that or just buy pre-paid SIM's for the countries you'll use your phone in the most and let your USA operators roaming take care of the odd call or text in other places.

    To the best of my knowledge all major European networks are GSM, with many now also having 3G (WCDMA) coverage. Most also have pretty good roaming agreements, though roaming on pre-pay is sometimes more restricted.

    Whatever way you tackle the problem, international calling and/or roaming from a mobile isn't exactly value for money. You'd be wise to make lengthy calls from a computer! There are dedicated traveller/roaming SIM services, though I've never tried one so look to Google.
     
  6. Acehigh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    #6

    I think it will always roam since it a bunch of different companies. Maybe one of the bigger companies offer this. I will do a search and let you know if i find anything. Also they usally expire after 30 days so u cant use them next summer (atleast your left over mintues). Search ebay maybe somebody has a blank slimcard for cheap. or one of your family members / friends does.

    Probably text messages will be the cheapest way.


    EDIT: has somebody gotten an prepaid simcard Europe recently. Since I heard some countries are a little more strict in selling now. you will need to show IDs to buy one. If that the case destroy the card when you finish using them, since if a crime is commited from that sim card it will be a hassle for you
     
  7. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #7
    Don't think there's a pan-European carrier yet, but Vodafone Passport is a 99c connection charge and 29c per minute in any country, and only 29c per minute in Holland, or at least that's what I gather from the Dutch website (bear in mind I don't speak Dutch). It seems to be €1.25 a minute without Passport.

    But check out the other networks too. And bear in mind that you have to pay to receive calls too.
     
  8. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #8
    Ok, I'm going to check out the Cingular store now, and I'll find out then if this is actually going to work. I'll check for that blank SIM card on ebay, and thanks for the knowledge. :)
     
  9. Acehigh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    #9

    http://www.telestial.com/view_product.php?PRODUCT_ID=MSIM-PP01


    probably can find something like that but cheaper in europe ($69 online so probably $30).. find one with free incoming calls and just text them to call you lol
     
  10. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #10
    Get a pre-paid sim card. I got one in England about a year ago, and I still use it when I go there. I also have one for Germany (probably expired by now) and a prepaid Cingular SIM for the US.

    It works pretty well. I use a SE T630 that works great in all those places (just remember to carry a plug adapter!).
     
  11. PatrickF macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Blighty
    #11
    All 2.5G networks in Europe are GSM and typically use the 900/1800/1900MHz bands. Data transfer is predominantly over GPRS.

    3G services are slowly making inroads in the UK at least although 2.5G services are still by far more common.

    In the UK the major networks are O2 (also in Germany & The Netherlands), Orange, Vodafone (available pretty much everywhere), and T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom).

    You should be able to roam using your SIM card although you will probably find buying pre-pay SIM cards cheaper than the rip-off prices networks charge for roaming.
     
  12. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #12
    So I went down to Cingular and got a Moto RAZR V3 (I am on somewhat of a budget as I am saving for an Ipod but need a new phone) for $10 after rebates.

    He had this plan where I pay per minute with the lowest rates of all the providers is Europe...a few cents a minute, I don't know exactly how much. I pay $6 for the month I will be accross the pond and get the cheap per-minute rate. It seemed simpler and cheaper than the whole SIM card thing and I didn't even know it was an option!

    Thoughts? I have a 30 day full refund for everything no questions asked, so if I did something horribly wrong, I can change it. I bought it from a SmartWireless store (Authorized Cingular Agent) who had much better return and malfunction policies than the actual Cingular direct store.
     
  13. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #13
    That 30 day refund period sounds nifty for when you get back ;)

    It sounds the easiest option for you - just check if you're charged for receiving calls.
     

Share This Page