Temporary Cell Phone use in Europe by Travelers - What's the Best Way to Go?

  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Apr 20, 2012 5:20 AM GMT
    What do you travelers do for cell phone use in Europe? American here, who travels to Europe occasionally. Several years ago, I got a French cellphone (text and voice only) for use in Europe through an American company called Call-In-Europe. The advantage was that I kept the same French phone number, and was able to use the phone anywhere in Europe. Call-In-Europe charged a small quarterly amount to keep the phone registered with them, and a small per minute charge for actual calls in Europe. Just received an email from Call-In-Europe, stating that they were cancelling this program. So now I have a French cellphone, but no carrier to connect with. Would like to find some way of hooking up with a carrier, so that I can use this phone in Europe next month, without paying an arm and a leg in per minute charges. Is this possible? I could use my Verizon phone, except, that besides a $30 charge, Verizon would charge 99 cents per minute for every call. I found that I can buy a European SIM card for the French phone, for $30 for either a phone number in Eastern Europe or a service where you cannot make direct calls, but have to dial a number, which then dials you back after a connection is made (back in 1953 all over again?). OR, for $60, for a Western European number, where calls are 69 cents per minute. It all seems much more complicated than in South Africa, where I used the phone and bought a SIM card for a very small amount, and where calls were very cheap, or in Australia where I just rented a cell phone. Can’t rent a phone on this trip, since I am arriving in Frankfurt and leaving from Paris. In the USA, we have companies that sell cheap “prepaid” cell phones (popularized by the Sopranos and the New Jersey mafia). Are these available in Europe?
  • brazilian_tt

    Posts: 41

    Apr 20, 2012 6:28 AM GMT
    I used to have an unlocked T-mobile phone that I took. I would just buy a prepaid SIM in Europe, put it in the phone, and voilà.

    Nowadays I just take my normal Verizon smartphone, which is set up to forward all calls to google voice if I don't pick up. When people call me, I get a notification (even if they don't leave a message), and I can just call them back via skype on the phone once I find some available wifi. In case of an emergency or really important call, I just bite the bullet and pay the $2/minute international roaming--and then try to keep it short!
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    Apr 20, 2012 12:16 PM GMT
    I travel to Europe frequently enough that I have a cellphone and my experience has been that you can buy a SIM card there cheaply (most often in the airports or at kiosks along the street, depending on where you are). When I was in Greece, it cost something around 20 euros and came with a 20 euro time credit (using Wind Mobile). I like Wind because you can receive calls, even international calls, for free and it's not that expensive per minute/sms.
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    Apr 20, 2012 12:22 PM GMT
    I just activate my international roaming and data plan.
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    Apr 20, 2012 12:26 PM GMT
    I use two phones. My regular AT&T phone with the US number so anyone reaching me can easily do so. Second phone is unlocked multi-band with SIM card purchased locally.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Jun 06, 2012 4:02 AM GMT
    Update.
    Be forewarned, a Verizon phone is almost totally useless in Italy; paid the $30 roaming charge, and was prepared to pay Verizon's 99 cents a minute charge, but there was no service in 99.9% of Italy, even though supposedly covered by Vodaphone service. There was service for the Verizon phone only in Rome, Florence, and another smaller city I was in - outside of these areas, there was never any service. Can't blame the situation on the Italians, since people who had Vodaphone phones could make calls throughout most of the Italy, where I could not with my Verizon phone having Vodaphone service. Conclusions: Verizon lies to its customers about what is available, and pays Vodaphone for only very limited service in Italy. There was OK service in most of where I was in France. Luckily, I was able to pay for a card for my cheapo french phone.
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    Jun 06, 2012 4:19 AM GMT
    Suetonius saidUpdate.
    Be forewarned, a Verizon phone is almost totally useless in Italy; paid the $30 roaming charge, and was prepared to pay Verizon's 99 cents a minute charge, but there was no service in 99.9% of Italy, even though supposedly covered by Vodaphone service. There was service for the Verizon phone only in Rome, Florence, and another smaller city I was in - outside of these areas, there was never any service. Can't blame the situation on the Italians, since people who had Vodaphone phones could make calls throughout most of the Italy, where I could not with my Verizon phone having Vodaphone service. Conclusions: Verizon lies to its customers about what is available, and pays Vodaphone for only very limited service in Italy. There was OK service in most of where I was in France. Luckily, I was able to pay for a card for my cheapo french phone.

    If you have a Verizon phone, it must be a model that has GSM bands that are in use in Europe, otherwise, it is effectively useless.

    http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder_results.php?m=s&w=s&car=r&ca_2=y&avr=r&av_2=y&wor=r
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    Jun 06, 2012 4:33 AM GMT
    I just got back from Europe. Though I did away with cell service while I was there, most of the people I was there with got pay as you go plans from "Orange". It was fairly reasonable.
    When I bought my Eurail pass, it came with an advertisement for a cell phone and contract that looked REALLY good. I'm not sure if its available without purchasing a rail pass, but, I'll look through my paperwork from the trip. If I kept the ad, I'll repost to let you know.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Jun 06, 2012 5:12 AM GMT
    socalfitness said
    Suetonius saidUpdate.
    Be forewarned, a Verizon phone is almost totally useless in Italy; paid the $30 roaming charge, and was prepared to pay Verizon's 99 cents a minute charge, but there was no service in 99.9% of Italy, even though supposedly covered by Vodaphone service. There was service for the Verizon phone only in Rome, Florence, and another smaller city I was in - outside of these areas, there was never any service. Can't blame the situation on the Italians, since people who had Vodaphone phones could make calls throughout most of the Italy, where I could not with my Verizon phone having Vodaphone service. Conclusions: Verizon lies to its customers about what is available, and pays Vodaphone for only very limited service in Italy. There was OK service in most of where I was in France. Luckily, I was able to pay for a card for my cheapo french phone.

    If you have a Verizon phone, it must be a model that has GSM bands that are in use in Europe, otherwise, it is effectively useless.

    http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder_results.php?m=s&w=s&car=r&ca_2=y&avr=r&av_2=y&wor=r

    My Verizon phone did have the GSM bands - It worked in France, just not in nearly all of Italy.