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Cell phone service

So, going to France, Netherlands and Belgium. Should I get a SIM card when I get there or take out TMobile service and get a "pass" for $35 for a month which will give me unlimited talk, text to US and while I'm there? Anyone uses TMobile in Europe? My phone is unlocked. Currently use AT+T.

Posted by
3283 posts

Verizon allows me to add an option for cell service at $10 per 24 hour time period, only if you use it. THe "clock" starts when you make a call or use internet when you don't have wifi. I have that and then ended up not actually using it, but its there should I need it. I used wifi in the hotel and random other places. Maybe TMobile or ATT has something like that?? I didn't like the option of purchasing a SIM card, because of fear that I'd lose the one I need at home.

Posted by
2092 posts

I've used ATT's $10 per day plan on several trips now and it works great for my needs--basically follows whatever plan you already have in place as far as calling, texting and data goes. I use wi-fi whenever possible, send very few texts (the people I communicate with are on IM) and I do need to stay in touch with my elderly parents so it's nice not to have to count every minute we talk. I don't use it every day, so for my last 12 day trip was only charged for 7 days. It's very easy to set up on their website, and once you do it's set for any time you travel internationally, though I check anyway. I have no desire to mess with SIM cards in every country.

Posted by
1487 posts

AT&T's other plan (I think it's $60 for 30 days, 1GB) works for me. No way am I going to pay $10/day for a long trip. I can get by on the 1GB by doing most stuff when on WiFi at my lodging.

Posted by
1169 posts

You can’t just sign up for T mobile and get unlimited data. T mobile requires you to have its service at least as long in the US as on foreign travel. That means that if you want a month of service roaming you need to have spent a least one month domestic first.

T-Mobile works great in Europe.

Posted by
4686 posts

Buy a Dutch Vodafone SIM on eBay ahead of time and add credit to it with your US credit card before you leave. Then you can turn the phone on when you land in Europe and have working phone service immediately. Due to EU roaming fees mostly being banned, you can use a Dutch SIM in France and Belgium, too.

(Search eBay for "vodafone YOU SIM" - seller is called "cheap eu SIMs" .)

My write-up from 2017 is mostly still accurate - people tell me they are still buying the SIM and using it. Don't add credit to the SIM until just before your trip, and don't activate a "you" bundle until you are ready to use it, because a "bundle" is good for only 30 days! You can get 6GB of data for 30 days now for 20 euros:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/dutch-vodafone-sim-card-for-use-in-europe

You won't have your US AT&T phone number if you put in a European SIM, however; if you get a Dutch SIM, you'll have a Dutch phone number while the SIM is in place. That's one downside of buying a SIM. You can still make calls to US numbers (one way with an app like Google Hangouts - being replaced later this year, but as of now, you can still make free phone calls home to the US from Europe, even to landlines. You can certainly tell people in the US your European phone number but it may cost them extra to make an international call. You can also use free apps like WhatsApp to stay in touch with people.

Posted by
62 posts

We've been T-Mobile customers for almost 20 years, and love their service in Europe and elsewhere outside the US. They have a free roaming/data service in almost all major countries (unfortunately not all, as I can attest since my daughter is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, and it doesn't work there). But for Europe it's great. I can text, get my e-mails, etc. with no extra charge. But I do think you have to have a regular T-Mobile plan in the US to take advantage. You should definitely check with T-Mobile.

Posted by
68 posts

I've also been told there is an APP with Apple if you have iPhones....can make calls to other iPhones free. Looking into it.

Posted by
4686 posts

I've also been told there is an APP with Apple if you have iPhones....can make calls to other iPhones free. Looking into it.

Joanne, both phones (iPhone or any other type) must have some connection to a network to communicate. If both phones are on WiFI, for example, then yes, both can communicate without a SIM or mobile service. Otherwise, if not on WiFi, no matter what app you want to use, both would have to have mobile service with a local SIM or US phone service you got before you left home that works in Europe.

There are various apps that let two phones communicate if they are both on a network. Many people use WhatsApp. Apple's version is called Facetime (some features might be still disabled due to a horrendous glitch they are trying to fix, but I'm sure they will soon). If you find Facetime easier to use than the other apps and are comfortable limiting yourself to communicating only with other Apple devices, maybe this will work. Something like Google Hangouts (which lets you call other phones including US phone numbers, for free) lets you talk to other iPhones, Androids, and regular phones.

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you all! Decided to get a SIM card when I get there!

Posted by
28 posts

I have the TMobile Simple Global plan as travel was a key component of retiring. Text and Data free and worked great during our month in Australia and I used Google maps every single day while we drove around. I made 2 actual phone calls while in Australia and paid a total of $5.00. Looking forward to it working in Europe next year.

Posted by
68 posts

It was for my cousins who are in England and Scotland now. They did use What's App a few times. When I was in Europe last month used Orange Vacation and was very pleased with it.

Posted by
15 posts

We buy Orange Holiday sim cards on Amazon. Have used them for several trips to Europe (Italy, France, Germany, Spain) and just bought two for our Spain and Portugal visit, departing this weekend. They come in 3GB and 10GB. Purchased the 3 GB sim for our unlocked Verizon phones for $22 each. Since Orange is based in France it will have a France phone #, but works throughout Europe (same as your US cell # works throughout the US). It comes with a 5 GB bonus, so has 8 GB data (including the bonus) and 300 talk minutes, 200 texts. Install the sim card in your phone while enroute over the Atlantic, then turn you phone on when you arrive. It links up to the Orange network right away. Good for two weeks from activation, but can top-off any time prior to or after expiration to extend its use up to 6 months from activation.

Posted by
3269 posts

Just to mention in case you don't know: When you get a SIM, you get a different phone number. If you are the only one calling, probably won't matter. But anyone trying to call you will need the new phone number -- and will pay international calling rates when they call you.

Posted by
11738 posts

I've used a SIM card. It will start around 30 euros and go up. If the T-Mobile deal is really only $35, no other costs, it's a good deal. Competition drives better deals. My last trip was Ireland and UK and I got the best deal yet on a SIM from 3 Mobile, $20 unlimited everything for up to a month (starts and ends based on calendar month). I don't think they operate on the Continent or I'd search them out.

Posted by
16824 posts

I'm not aware of any $35/month deal on T-Mobile. Existing T-Mobile customers on one of the monthly plans may indeed have service in Europe without taking any action at all, but I don't think non-customers can buy access just for the time they're in Europe. I suspect Sprint works similarly but have never investigated its offerings.