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International Simcards
Old 08-17-2011, 06:19 AM   #1
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International Simcards

Any recommendations on who might be the best provider of an international simcard for an unlocked GSM phone. Planning multiple trips next year including Ireland and southern Europe (Mediterranean) countries.
Thanks
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:07 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Easypick View Post
Any recommendations on who might be the best provider of an international simcard for an unlocked GSM phone. Planning multiple trips next year including Ireland and southern Europe (Mediterranean) countries.
Thanks
A lot will depend on what you're planning to do with the phone (be called, call the US, etc). SIMs are cheap and if you only have a few people who might want to call you, giving out a new number each time you change country might be cheaper. For genuine emergencies, you could put your home SIM card in a crappy old phone - I presume that if something really bad happens, a few bucks to take the call won't be your major issue.

Using a Spanish SIM in France to call the US probably won't be a whole lot cheaper than using the US SIM. Europe has a way to go on this yet.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:26 AM   #3
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I presume that if something really bad happens, a few bucks to take the call won't be your major issue.
While DW/me spend a lot of time in Europe (DW is off to Switzerland next month for a couple of weeks), we've never have done the "sim swap", even though we call back to the USA every day (to check up on our disabled son) when we're traveling outside the country, together.

It costs a few dollars more per trip to be sure, but after looking at the options to get a local sim card (which in some areas is quite easy to do, just by going to a local store), it got to be too much of a hassle since we would have to work with multiple numbers for contact, in case of an emergency.

If you need to save the bucks and spend a lot of time on the phone, then do your own thing; only you can judge your phone usage. I'm just showing that in our case (daily, short calls), it wasen't worth the extra bother, especially since the international cell rates have really dropped over the last few years...
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:34 AM   #4
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If you can wait to get to the hotel (or other wi-fi spot), SKYPE is great value. I put $10 on my account, and calls from Europe (or just about anywhere) to any phone in the US (not just another computer, that is free) were something like 3 cents/minute. A couple bucks for an hour long call is a real bargain.

You might still want a SIM to have mobile access, but the SKYPE route can cut down the minutes you need to use. There may be alternatives to SKYPE, that's just what I used.

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Old 08-17-2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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When in Europe for a short period of time, I simply use my US iPhone (AT&T):
For long, non-emergency calls, I use Skype over wi-fi.
For short or emergency calls, I use the phone ($1.39 per minute) or text messages ($0.50 per message).



When in Europe for an extended period of time, I use my US iPhone to keep in touch with the US:
For long, non-emergency calls to/from the US, I use Skype over wi-fi.
For short or emergency calls to/from the US, I use my US phone ($1.39 per minute) or text messages ($0.50 per message).
And I use a local prepaid SIM card in a cheap GSM phone to communicate with Europeans. Last time, I used a "mobicarte" by Orange (cell phone provider present in several European countries). The cost per minute was not cheap, but it was a lot cheaper than using the iPhone.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:41 PM   #6
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In Germany, ALDI has a SIM chip which is then connected in many other countries as well - I use is when traveling, but usually only text.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:15 PM   #7
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If you are taking a US based GSM phone to Europe, then be sure that it supports the European GSM frequencies (and not just the US ones).
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:26 AM   #8
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While in the UK I have a local SIM card.

I also have my US phone for receiving any US based calls (rare occaision).

I use Skype for all calls outside the UK including toll free US numbers, which are still free using Skype.

If I receive any voice mail on my US phone I use Skype to pick up the message as it saves an international call. (you need to know your US voice mail number and your PIN to pick up voice mail).
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:38 AM   #9
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I use a local SIM card when in Europe that I always keep topped up with a few euros. Have one for Spain and one for Italy. It is the cheapest way to call within country to other local phones.

Only US phones on GSM will work, the CDMA phones don't work, at least in my experience. Used to have Verizon CDMA and it wouldn't work in Italy, now switched to AT&T as have been guaranteed that will work. For international calls, I use skype for everything. Also have the international skype package where I get landlines world-wide for free and some countries (like USA) even cell phones. It is convenient as I make more international calls then I do local calls from the US.

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International Simcards
Old 08-18-2011, 06:55 AM   #10
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International Simcards

Thanks for all the suggestions. The phone is GSM so will look into getting a country specific card for the upcoming trip for local calls. The use of Skype was one I hadn't thought of but sounds like a cheap alternative for calls back home and checking home/cell phone messages.
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:43 AM   #11
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If you can wait to get to the hotel (or other wi-fi spot), SKYPE is great value.
Ditto.

SKYPE is the way to go for calling the U.S. while abroad. SIM cards are great for local calls, but you still get dinged high international rates if you're trying to call home. Also, if you're planning to hit multiple countries, you may need multiple SIM cards.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:03 PM   #12
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While in Taiwan and China, I just bought a local sim card .... I think it was about $12 in Taiwan and maybe $20 in Beijing (I got caught in a tourist trap)
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:26 AM   #13
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One2Call (AIS) Sim in Thailand $1.67

Even icludes $0.50 of free calls
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:49 AM   #14
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If visiting only one country, buying a local prepaid SIM card allows free received calls in most countries outside of the USA. However, crossing a border to the next country will require purchasing another prepaid SIM. Since I usually visit several countries during my annual trips to Europe, I use Onesimcard. The number I have actually has Estonian country code, but I can receive calls for free (no roaming fee for received calls) in most of the Europe. Also, now I always have the same number when I travel abroad, which is helpful for people who may need to reach me during my travels. Of course, for the caller the cost is same as calling long distance to a mobile phone in Estonia.
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:30 AM   #15
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I use a permanent Skype-In phone number. This is a USA phone number that I pay skype for, it goes to voicemail if I am not online on Skype. I have the option of forwarding it to any phone number in the world, I pay the costs for any forwarded call from the USA at Skype rates.

So I pay about $66 per year for that Skype-in number plus unlimited free calls to the USA and Canada from abroad.

I do not give out my local number, just that USA number. I do not forward it when I am in Asia due to the time difference, but I get an email whenever someone calls it and I can then check voicemail through Skype.

When I was in Colombia, for instance, I got a call from my credit card company about a suspicious transaction. It was just me, I had just purchased an air ticket to Asia. Anyway, they had just called my USA number which forwarded to my Colombia cell, they had no idea where I was.

After I buy a new sim in a country, I just go to the Skype web site to enter in the new forwarding number for my Skype In number.

You can text to any number from Skype (not free) but the receiver cannot reply. So I started using a free program called TextFree on my Ipod Touch. They give you a USA phone number, with the area code of your choice, to text to and from, and the texts are free. All I need is a WiFi connection (and would work on Iphone with a WiFi or 3G data connection). So far, this has worked fine for texting back and forth with USA numbers from abroad.

The solution one chooses depends on how long you will be abroad, how much you want to spend, the hassle factor, etc. When I was in the Philippines, I found the internet infrastructure to be poor so using Skype for international calls was more of a pain.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:09 PM   #16
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I have a question for those who have bought a SIM card in Europe. What happens to the number when you return home to the USA? Does it stay with the phone/Sim until your next trip? Do you lose it if you don't put more time on the SIM card? Any time limits on using the money on the SIM card?
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:15 PM   #17
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I can only speak to TIM sims in Italy. It expires after 1 year if you don't "top it off".
So if you go often, or loan it to a friend who's going... they can add euro's to the account to keep the same phone number.

If it's not topped off/used in a year, the number gets recycled and you lose whatever credit was on the sim.

I tried topping it off, online... but it didn't accept my american credit card. I should have had my husband's cousins (in Italy) top it off.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:33 PM   #18
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I can only speak to TIM sims in Italy. It expires after 1 year if you don't "top it off".
So if you go often, or loan it to a friend who's going... they can add euro's to the account to keep the same phone number.

If it's not topped off/used in a year, the number gets recycled and you lose whatever credit was on the sim.
So you are forced to return to Italy in less than 12 months or lose the Euros on the card. That must be tough.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:04 PM   #19
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If you are traveling overseas you can get a free local US Google Voice phone number and have it automatically forward to any phone number in the world. When you get your local SIM in the country you travel to, just set up the Google Voice number to forward to that number. Then your friends and family don't have to pay for a foreign call and don't have to learn more than one (Google Voice) number to reach you no matter where you are. For calls made from the foreign SIM, often there are local access codes that enable an overseas call to go through VOIP. Here in Indonesia I routinely use such a code and pay about 3 cents/minute to call any number in the US. As they say....talk is cheap!
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:17 AM   #20
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I can only speak to TIM sims in Italy. It expires after 1 year if you don't "top it off".
So if you go often, or loan it to a friend who's going... they can add euro's to the account to keep the same phone number.

If it's not topped off/used in a year, the number gets recycled and you lose whatever credit was on the sim.

I tried topping it off, online... but it didn't accept my american credit card. I should have had my husband's cousins (in Italy) top it off.
I have used local SIM cards for half dozen northern and central European countries. They all have the same one year to-off rule. I have always used the operator web sites and USA visa cards for the charge without a fail.
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