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24 replies
Cell Phones vs. Calling Cards
KJegel
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Hello All!!

I am studying in the Netherlands this fall and will be away for 4 months and was hoping to gain some insight on how to stay in contact via telephone while I am away. I will only need to call the US, specifically KS and NE. Are calling cards the best way to go and if so which ones offer the best plans? Or is it easier to use a cell phone? I am so frustrated on what to do; any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

stockmanjr
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Depends…You can buy pre-paid calling cards from any newsstand in the netherlands.However with those calling cards the cheapest calls are from your home phone and calls from any pay phones will be very expensive.You best bet maybe a pre-paid sim card for a unlocked gsm world phone..
-howie
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I am leaving from nyc with $2000 for 8 days
London, Leeds, Manchester
OregonDuck
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How do you unlock a GSM phone in order to buy a prepaid sim card?

stockmanjr
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Well depends on your cell phone provider.T-mobile will unlock it for you after being with them for a certain number of days.Another option is to buy one off of ebay.
-howie

I am leaving from nyc with $2000 for 8 days
London, Leeds, Manchester
OregonDuck
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I have a Cingulat LG G4020. What should I do?

pippylee
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Just get a phone that has a SIM Card. You should be able to get rechargable Sim cards while abroad. You can get phones unlocked for a price but its not always cheap.

If you aren’t planning on using your phone much then it will be fine but if used often I would get a calling card.

Hope this helps.

~Pip

frihed89
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The cell phone route is expensive. Overseas calls are expensive. Surely you can get access to a non-pay phone. You will pay 5-10 cents a minute on a phone card.

Packer
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Leave your cell phone at home! It is only one more item to get broken, lost or stolen! It is too expensive! Spend your money on culture, food and drinks! You will be so busy and having too much fun, that you will forget to call home. When you shop for a card, do not ask how many minutes it will last for. Nobody knows! It all depends on what time of day you call and to what part of the world.
Western Europe phone cards usually come in 5.00 Euros ($6.00USD) and 10.00 Euros ($12.00 USD) Just buy the 5 Euro card and see how many calls you get in. Remember that you are 3 to 9 hours ahead of the U.S. and I always call at midnight or later from Europe. They have the same type of phone cards as we do in the U.S. and instructions come in english. Cards can be bought at newspaper stands, post office and in many hotels or hostels.
Some old pay phones require a coin to open up the phone line, many do not. Some cards have a microchip on them and all you do is slide the card in the slot on the phone. You will have a digital screen that shows how many credits that you have left (not minutes). Worn your parents, boyfriend or girlfriend that the credits are running low and not to worry if the phone cuts you off so they won’t panic and think that you got mugged. All you do is enter the U.S. country code 001, your area code and phone number and in seconds, you are talking with your mommy! Some cards are country specific and cannot be used elsewhere. If so sell them to another hostel mate that just arrived. Other cards have tollfree access numers for each country, so don’t lose the instructions. Be warned that many hotels charge a connection fee, per minute fee or per unit fee, verify with front desk before using the phone in the room. Have a great trip and don’t forget to phone home!
Remember – You can E-Mail from so many shops and hostels all over Europe.
CALL YOUR PHONE COMPANY TO FIND YOUR RATES & PROCEDURES FOR USING YOUR CELL PHONE IN EUROPE. YOU WILL SPEND A SMALL FORTUNE!

stockmanjr
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quote:
Leave your cell phone at home! It is only one more item to get broken, lost or stolen! It is too expensive! Spend your money on culture, food and drinks! You will be so busy and having too much fun, that you will forget to call home. When you shop for a card, do not ask how many minutes it will last for. Nobody knows! It all depends on what time of day you call and to what part of the world.
Western Europe phone cards usually come in 5.00 Euros ($6.00USD) and 10.00 Euros ($12.00 USD) Just buy the 5 Euro card and see how many calls you get in. Remember that you are 3 to 9 hours ahead of the U.S. and I always call at midnight or later from Europe. They have the same type of phone cards as we do in the U.S. and instructions come in english. Cards can be bought at newspaper stands, post office and in many hotels or hostels.
Some old pay phones require a coin to open up the phone line, many do not. Some cards have a microchip on them and all you do is slide the card in the slot on the phone. You will have a digital screen that shows how many credits that you have left (not minutes). Worn your parents, boyfriend or girlfriend that the credits are running low and not to worry if the phone cuts you off so they won’t panic and think that you got mugged. All you do is enter the U.S. country code 001, your area code and phone number and in seconds, you are talking with your mommy! Some cards are country specific and cannot be used elsewhere. If so sell them to another hostel mate that just arrived. Other cards have tollfree access numers for each country, so don’t lose the instructions. Be warned that many hotels charge a connection fee, per minute fee or per unit fee, verify with front desk before using the phone in the room. Have a great trip and don’t forget to phone home!

Watch out with calling cards when using pay phones and toll free access the rates can be very high.Also remember with a mobile you dont pay for incoming calls in europe the person making the call pays a much higer rate than if calling a fixed line.Personally I like having a cellphone so people can call me on it and then have a calling card that I can make outgoing calls from.
-howie
turok46368@aol.com

I am leaving from nyc with $2000 for 8 days
London, Leeds, Manchester
STH
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imho,absolutely buy pre-paid sim for your unlocked tri ban gsm phone from home or buy one online before you go or buy cheap one in europe. its affordable and the incoming calls are free to you and you always have a phone for emergencies and text messages(sms)which are cheap. great to have a phone to hook up with people you meet while travelling and ecspecially if studying there as lots of people you will be meeting will be sending sms all the time.. standing at a pay phone won’t do

frihed89
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Do not bring a GSM phone to the EU or UK. You will get hit by long didtances charges the likes of which you have never seen before. Use calling cards

There is no such thing as a free mobile tlf call in the EU to anywhere from anywhere. The per minute rates are astronomical by US standards (and so are the fixed costs).

If you do decide to buy a cheap mobile for local calls, be careful to learn about the roaming charges within the EU. Any call made from/to a phone that is physically outside your provider’s service area gets hit with roaming charges both ways. So, for example, if you take your Holland Mobile phone to Rome and call your girlfriend at another hostile in Rome with her Holland phone, you will get nailed for a roundtrip call from Holland to Rome to Holland.

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I’m with Packer and Frihed. Most mobile phone companies (if not all of them) offer awesome rates, but most have loopholes in the contract you sign. Every single one of them will try to rob you some way or another.

Those calling cards were a blessing to me, and most lasted for over an hour. You dial the 01-800 number, then the number you’re trying to reach and some sexy female voice will tell you how many minutes your card will last, of course if you end your call and make another call to another country or city, the rate will change and you’ll be notified.

These can be found anywhere and you are certain of how much you are spending because you pay up front for the card. No trick there. You buy the card and forget about phone expenses.

frihed89
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An hour??

My GLOBAL TEL by Lycatel costs 90 DKK ($15) and I get 400 honest minutes. Most are in this area. Some cards can be used from multiple countries (like Global One). Buy them at Kiosks.

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400?? What’s GLOBAL TEL by Lycatel???

frihed89
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That is the name of the provider on the card. There are many, many others whose names i have never heard before. I buy these in kiosks in Copenhagen, not far from where i live. I don’t know if this one is available in other countries, but Denmark is far from unique in having many different companies selling these cards. I know some cards can be bought in the US, but i wouldn’t bother.

Pisces
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this is what i’ve done. i’ll be backpacking in 2 months and i just purchased a used Unlocked GSM Tri-Band phone off of ebay for $50 dollars. will purchase a Global Pre-paid Sim card ($69…also gives $20 worth of minutes) and go from there. will total to a bit under $120 plus extra if i need more mintues for my 2 months…seems alright as i expect to call home, friends in europe and possibly new people i meet there.

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I’ve never seen Global Tel anywhere else, I might’ve missed it though. I can tell you this, you can’t get it here in Mexico. Long distance rates here are expensive. Although prices have gone down since the monopoly crumbled, and competitors are giving great rates for national distance calls, the same does not apply to international calls yet.

warbong
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4 months in the Netherlands…you planning on getting stoned everyday to make up for all those sober days?

stockmanjr
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quote:
Do not bring a GSM phone to the EU or UK. You will get hit by long didtances charges the likes of which you have never seen before. Use calling cards

There is no such thing as a free mobile tlf call in the EU to anywhere from anywhere. The per minute rates are astronomical by US standards (and so are the fixed costs).

If you do decide to buy a cheap mobile for local calls, be careful to learn about the roaming charges within the EU. Any call made from/to a phone that is physically outside your provider’s service area gets hit with roaming charges both ways. So, for example, if you take your Holland Mobile phone to Rome and call your girlfriend at another hostile in Rome with her Holland phone, you will get nailed for a roundtrip call from Holland to Rome to Holland.


My advice stands for being in a single country.This changes when your traveling around and have to worry about roaming.
cheers
howie

I am leaving from nyc with $2000 for 8 days
London, Leeds, Manchester
frihed89
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If you don’t have access to phones at your residence and have to duck out to a phone bothe very time you need to call mum to…., then you are probably right. Roaming is the major contributor to high costs, but read the fine print on your agreement, as telecom rate schedules are very different qualitatively than in the US. There is no such thing as a free minute in the EU.

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I’m think of renting a GSM capable phone for my 2 month trip this summer. I did explore the traditional US providers such as Cingular, Verizon, etc., but their plans, and rate are not very good or competitive. So,Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with any of the these companies?

1. http://www.cellhire….
2. http://www.planetfon…
3. http://www.planetomn…
4. http://www.cellulara…

This is just a short list of providers. If anyone has another suggestion, please post it.

Thanks

vickochka
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My advice for people who making calls from US or Canada I use well known company Tel3Advantage No fee,tax,PIN.

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I realize this post has been going on for almost a year now, so it’s of little help to the original poster, but I figure there might be other readers who could benefit from the discussion, so I’ll continue it.

Anyhow, I think the simplest and cheapest way to call your home country is via a calling card. That said, there are seemingly millions of the things. The one I always use is OneSuite, because it’s a well-established company which connects you to virtually all countries from all countries at almost unbelievably cheap prices. Check out onesuite.com for details.

Of course, one could always reprogram his cell phone, but unless you’re very tech-savvy that’s a headache. Also, calling cards are easily portable — it’s best to use them from a hotel phone rather than a pay phone. I think that’s about the limit of my advice. Happy travels to all.

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oh dear, i think i’m still a little confused

my situation is that i was hoping to get a prepaid sim card, with stored vaule inside, and it’s only to contact my friends who are in spain with me cos we might be traveling to different places (she’s dying to go ibiza, i’m not. i’m thinking of heading to france for that 2 days) and we want to regroup after that. proby lots of sms/texting about, hardly any calls. so is there such a prepaid sim card avaible for sale at all in spain? can i use it in france?

also, how much does it cost, which company is recommended and where can i get it?

any help would be great! thanks..

Zesty

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Before starting a new topic on the subject I thought I would just add to this one and see what happens first. Here’s my story. I currently am a U.S. citizen with a GSM phone from Cingular. I’m going to 7 different countries in Europe but the only place that I will need to use my cell phone is in Rome. It will be mobile to mobile calls I’m sure. I have a friend there that I will be needing to communicate with, especially when we’re meeting up somewhere I need to be able to call her & find out where she is. Her phone is an Italian mobile phone and mine is an American mobile. I will need to call her cell as soon as I arrive in Rome. Would you suggest that I just take my U.S. GSM phone with me and eat the charges that I would face (however having to carry around my cell phone for 2 months), or should I get a SIM card for my own cell in Florence (prior to my arrival in Rome)? What do you all think? I’m going to call Cingular and ask them some questions about it too but hopefully you all will know more than them about what the costs, etc. really are. You all are life savers!!!