travel advice & savings
 
SAVE on RAIL PASSES LOWEST PRICES / FREE SHIPPING on orders over $449!
Now use the Trip Planner to:
  • Find and Buy Rail Passes
  • Find and Book Hostels
Already know which Rail Pass you need?
Click here and buy now!
Special Eurotrip Member Savings!
25 replies
Cell phone and SIM card for calls b/t Euro countries
jeffn10
jeffn10's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 14
Member: 6854
Joined: 11/12/2007
User offline. Last seen 6 years 16 weeks ago.

Hi everyone,

I’ve been planning my May-June trip the past few months and this site has been a great help—thank you all!

I’d like to have a phone to call ahead for reservations in the different countries we’re visiting (England, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Prague).

Would purchasing a “quad band” or “world” phone like this: http://cgi.ebay.com/…

and a SIM card from a site like www.riiing.com or www.riing.com be a good option? Or would you recommend sticking to calling cards and pay phones?

Thanks!

Jeff

Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

If they send you a SIM that allows free incoming anywhere in Europe, that’s really good. The outgoing rates don’t look too bad—although the SMS rates are kind of high. Not bad for a travel phone. Re: phone type, get any GSM phone that’s “unlocked.”

jeffn10
jeffn10's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 14
Member: 6854
Joined: 11/12/2007
User offline. Last seen 6 years 16 weeks ago.

Thanks Don,

So if I do buy an unlocked GMS phone, I can also buy the prepaid SIMs cards in each country, right? With either the prepaid or the Riiings service on a GMS phone, you can just plug the card in and you’re good to go?

I really just want it to call hostels/attractions from the trains to book in advance, so I don’t plan on using many minutes.

Joeri
Joeri's profile picture
Member
MemberMember
Eurotrip Points: 143
Member: 4625
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.

That international SIM looks like a good deal.
 
All over Europe a dualband (900/1800) GSM without a simlock will do fine, plug in the card and you’re ready to go. The other two bands are not used in Europe.

I am traveling for 4 days
Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

Yeah, just pop in the SIM in your unlocked phone and if you have network service, then you should be ready to make and receive calls.

On second look, it looks like they’re charging €30, yet you only get €10 call credit. I didn’t get that the first time. That means they’re charging you €20 for the SIM, which on the surface seems kind of high. If you already have a GSM phone in the US (is that where you are??) and a plan that allows international roaming in Europe, the high per-minute price might actually be simpler and more cost-effective than Ringzz—in the usage scenario you mentioned.

I wish there was a Europe-based pre-pay SIM that had free or low-cost roaming, but if there is, I’ve not heard of it. There’s plenty of subscription plans, but those require residency to establish, so for visitors, you’re stuck with pre-pay purchased online, or at post offices or fruit and veg shops once you arrive. You can buy a pre-pay sim in many countries, but beyond those borders, the high roaming costs kick in, and to do that for every new country you visit isn’t cost-effective at all.

You might also consider making hostel reservations via email, but probably requires at least a day advance to receive confirmations back from them, finding a net cafe with printer, etc. You could also just use pay phones.

jeffn10
jeffn10's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 14
Member: 6854
Joined: 11/12/2007
User offline. Last seen 6 years 16 weeks ago.

Thanks!
 
Yup, I’m in the U.S. I have a U.S. Verizon phone. I was thinking about buying a quad-band phone for Europe and then getting an SIM card.
 
I suppose I could go the calling card + pay phone route, too.
 
http://www.united-mobile.com/cms/website/index.php?lang=2&idcatside=26 This looks good, too, because some friends will be meeting up with us over there, and this deal includes free incoming calls. Plus, no network or contracts, etc.
 
Any other suggestions are welcome, as I’m still a little unclear on the whole phone situation.

Seva
Seva's profile picture
Eurotripper
EurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripper
Eurotrip Points: 741
Member: 91
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 5 years 10 weeks ago.

First off, congratulations on your find! AFAIK this is the first reasonably priced prepaid international phone plan that anyone ever reported to this board.

As others said, this will work, just like you’ve described, as long as you get an unlocked phone that supports 900/1800 band GSM. (All quad and nearly all tri band phones do.) As far as this being feasible and cost effective alternative to buying local calling cards that’s hard to tell without knowing how much you’ll be using it.

Your initial investment is 19 Euro (cost of card less initial credit of 10 Euro) plus 5 Euro shipping plus whatever you pay for the phone. Well, you do get to keep the phone though.

By the way, if anyone in your family is a T-Mobile customer and did an upgrade, they may be able to give you their old phone. T-Mobile gives their customers unlock codes without much fuss and free of charge.

The rate of 29 (Euro) cents all over Europe is excellent. I gather that’s cheaper then most calling cards charge for long distance calls placed from a pay phone.

On the other hand, if you buy a 5 Euro calling card, and for some reason can’t/won’t use it, the max you lose is, well, 5 Euro.

Free incoming calls is another plus, although whoever calls you will pay long-distance rate to a British mobile number. Plus you get a number were you can be reached at any time during your trip, definite advantage over buying a separate prepaid SIM in each country you visit.

The only concern I would have (aside from the high initial cost) is the reliability issue. They use somewhat strange call-back scheme for outgoing calls: you dial the number, the system hangs up and then calls you back. May be a problem in areas with not so good reception. Finally the company that sells the card is registered in Lichtenstein, operates under Swiss law, but issues UK phone numbers. I wonder what the customer service is like.

Anyway, if you decide to give it a shot please tell us about your experience. If all goes well for you, I may be getting one of these for my future trips.

brianoes
brianoes's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 21
Member: 5489
Joined: 02/04/2007
User offline. Last seen 5 years 34 weeks ago.

For my trip this summer, I am planning bringing along my Quad Band Windows Mobile smartphone, complete with 3G internet access. There are several prepaid (10-25 euro) voice + data plans available for many different contries. I plan on just hopping to an authorized store and buying the card, which gives me a local phone number and access to email, hostel reservations online, online maps, etc, as well as relatively cheap phone coverage. When I’m done with the card, either find someone to sell it to or take it home and sell it when I get back. I’ll probably get one for Italy and Germany/Austria, and maybe go with a US bought SIM for just voice calls in other countries like Poland and Hungary.

jeffn10
jeffn10's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 14
Member: 6854
Joined: 11/12/2007
User offline. Last seen 6 years 16 weeks ago.

Thanks for all the replies! I’m leaning toward buying a used phone and the SIMs card. I’m just afraid of hidden costs, etc. Wouldn’t want to get over there and then have problems with it.
With the phone card you know what you’re getting. But this option looks to be a pretty good deal.

Tppin
Tppin's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 27
Member: 17006
Joined: 08/14/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 25 weeks ago.

I have a quad phone (Nokia) and will just buy SIM cards from each country I’ll visit to be able to call home. You can also bring your netbook and use the wi-fi in airports or hotspots to log-on.

I am leaving from NYC with $5000 for 37 days
Fátima, Granada, Seville, Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Food, Sights
Tppin
Tppin's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 27
Member: 17006
Joined: 08/14/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 25 weeks ago.

We’ve added London to our itinerary. I have found some good cruise bargains and planefare already (booked them). Now, I’m in the process of looking for hotels/hostals/apartels in Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and London. Also, looking for excursions and found some but haven’t booked them yet. Hopefully, I’ll be done with all the bookings by March, 2010. Still reading the posts on this site for more tips on everything.

I am leaving from NYC with $5000 for 37 days
Fátima, Granada, Seville, Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Food, Sights
scott.mcafee@gm...
scott.mcafee@gmail.com's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 36
Member: 8711
Joined: 01/01/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 29 weeks ago.

Jeff, If I may suggest, buy an unlocked quad band phone from Overstock.com. They are often equal in price, if not cheaper, than what you will find on ebay Smile For example, I bought this phone: http://www.overstock… for my upcoming Europe trip. I have a US based SIM card and I’m picking up a SIM card when I land in Europe. This will allow me to contact my US pickup and allow me to quickly change over to the EU Network.

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $5000 for 33 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam
Requesting help with Hostels, Itinerary, Food, Sights
Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

That’s a good plan, Scott. Just be aware that there’s no “EU Network” per se. You might find a pre-pay sim that allows roaming in Europe, but the roaming charges can be quite steep—for making or receiving calls or sms. The per-minute rate is cheapest if you purchase a new sim start-pack upon arrival in each country. Those often include credit to get you started. Lebara is one that is in a lot of European countries, but once you cross a border, you’re up to the very high roaming rates again. (See Lebara.com). …. But maybe this sort of plan is what you meant?

scott.mcafee@gm...
scott.mcafee@gmail.com's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 36
Member: 8711
Joined: 01/01/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 29 weeks ago.

Hi Don, Yeah, that’s what I meant Smile By “network” I mean “available services” which I’ll be able to pick up when I get to Europe. I’m just blown away by how cheap it’s getting to make calls nowadays. When I went with my buddy to Europe just two years ago, the cost of an “international phone” was extremely high, and making or receiving calls was also extremely expensive. Now, all one has to do is purchase a SIM card in whatever country they are visiting, pop it into their unlocked phone which can be bought off of ebay or overstock, and that’s it!

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $5000 for 33 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam
Requesting help with Hostels, Itinerary, Food, Sights
Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

Yep. Cellhut is another good source for unlocked phones. Just remember to bring a plug adaptor. Be sure your phone takes input up to 220V. Most say something like input 100-230V or something like that; Europe is 220, N. America is 110, so a device that says a range of 100-230V should be good to go for either continent—as long as the plug fits! Something like this: http://www.bedoxinc….

scott.mcafee@gm...
scott.mcafee@gmail.com's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 36
Member: 8711
Joined: 01/01/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 29 weeks ago.

Hi Don, Great advice! I just discovered yesterday, while searching for a power CONVERTER, that ALL of my electronics are 110/240, which means I only have to buy an ADAPTER (much cheaper and lighter than a converter).

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $5000 for 33 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam
Requesting help with Hostels, Itinerary, Food, Sights
Jayson
Jayson's profile picture
Member
MemberMember
Eurotrip Points: 69
Member: 18586
Joined: 10/14/2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 11 weeks ago.

Don, really what a great advice. Really i was not aware of all this its so simple to buy an adapter with the range of 100-230V. Smile

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” (Keep traveling).

mwmack
mwmack's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 11
Member: 21166
Joined: 01/12/2010
User offline. Last seen 4 years 18 weeks ago.

This trend is driven by increased sales of portable computers that can connect with mobile phone networks, Compare UK mobile broadband providers prices have fallen 50 percent in the last year and the speed of the current mobile broadband connections continue to increase and are getting close to any fixed broadband connection.
The World According to records, at present, one in 10 regularly access the Internet from their laptops via a mobile broadband internet connection.

HARRY

jasmine2
jasmine2's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 43
Member: 22086
Joined: 02/05/2010
User offline. Last seen 4 years 24 weeks ago.

I like using Nokia Cell phone during my trips…

jasmine

funkyj
funkyj's profile picture
Nomad
NomadNomadNomadNomad
Eurotrip Points: 396
Member: 1139
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 2 years 45 weeks ago.

Hi
I always take my T-Mobile unlocked phone and pop-in my Global Sim card. I purchased it a few years back for like 50 bucks and all I have to do is go online and top-up minutes using my credit card or debit card. Your credit never expires either, so I will always have the same card and same number. Incoming calls and texts are free which is a plus. Rates vary between countries though and sometimes it is cheaper to buy a sim for a particular country. Still, I rely heavily on the convenience of having a phone to confirm reservations and to meet up with friends and fellow travelers.
Check them out and compare: http://www.gosim.com…

Happy travels.

Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

Roaming prices withing the EU are now cheaper: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/regulation/index_en.htm#new_rules This should mean that if you purchase a pre-paid sim in one EU country, you should be able to roam at the rates listed in the EU commission article, IF you contact your provider to get the “Eurotariff”:

Quote:
How can I switch to the Eurotariff?

There is no obligation to switch to the Eurotariff. If you are satisfied with your current rates, you don’t need to change.

However, if you would like to switch, just contact your operator. He must apply the Eurotariff within one month maximum. Switching to the Eurotariff is free of charge.

Your operator’s contact details can be found on your telephone bill or in the address book of your mobile phone. Alternatively you can also check our ‘Find your operator’ page.

Hugo
Hugo's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 35
Member: 21205
Joined: 01/12/2010
User offline. Last seen 4 years 12 weeks ago.

The answer might have been posted already but I don’t know ish about cellphones:

I bought a pre-paid Meteor cellphone in Ireland about 2 years ago (since I was spending 3 months there for work…anyway). Now, I haven’t used it since then so I guess I would have to pay just to reactivate it right ? Also, will I have to buy a SIM card for each country I visit (I’ll be travelling in Central and Eastern Europe) or can I roam around freely ?
Thanks !

I am leaving from Montreal with $4500 for 44 days
Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Český Krumlov, Bratislava, Budapest, Kraków, Lviv, Chişinău, Tiraspol, Odessa, Kiev
Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 28
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 21 hours ago.

Hugo, if I understand the article that I posted just before your question, you must request your provider turn on the Eurotariff for all of your roaming. The rates, to me, seem quite reasonable—cheaper than anything else I’m aware of that allows cross-border roaming in Europe. Of course your Irish provider will need to have partner providers in the countries you plan to visit. If that doesn’t work, then buying pre-paid sims and topping up via those providers’ online sites, or via top-up cards from shops, should be the way to go. Lebara looks good. So does Tele2 — especially if they have roaming at Eurotariff in the countries you’ll need. I’m just thinking the Eurotariff roaming seems a lot less hassle, but you probably could do better if planning to make a lot of calls, by getting pre-paid sim in each country.

Hugo
Hugo's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 35
Member: 21205
Joined: 01/12/2010
User offline. Last seen 4 years 12 weeks ago.

Thanks Don, I just sent them an email to ask them about the Eurotariff roaming. I won’t make too many calls so that’s probably the way to go. As for the partner providers, I’m okay everywhere except in Ukraine where it seems I’ll be on my own.

I am leaving from Montreal with $4500 for 44 days
Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Český Krumlov, Bratislava, Budapest, Kraków, Lviv, Chişinău, Tiraspol, Odessa, Kiev
syed
syed's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 21
Member: 22733
Joined: 02/23/2010
User offline. Last seen 4 years 21 weeks ago.

this is wonder full.

cheers

I am leaving from london with $5000 for 15 days
Périgueux, Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich, Bruges, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Geneva
Helionita
Helionita's profile picture
Eurotrip Points: 9
Member: 30785
Joined: 10/23/2010
User offline. Last seen 3 years 39 weeks ago.

Roaming tariffs in Europe are quite expensive but I don´t think it´s worth to buy a sim card for each country that you are visiting if you are in a tour for Europe. I would turn off my mobile phone, use pre-paid telephones and keep my mobile just for emergencies. Who wants that his phone ring when they are visiting The Sixtine Chapel?. You will enjoy your spam link removed by moderator Youcan use internet to keep in touch with family and friends. I would only bother if I´m in a business travel. Has Vodafone bought Tele2?.