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SIM card - to buy or not to buy?

I am traveling to France, Brussels, and Amsterdam this fall for a total of 16 days. I would like to use my iPhone 7 on my trip and am looking for the cheapest option for making quick phone calls and looking up travel information online. My carrier is Verizon, and their travel plan is an additional $10/day. I've read about using local Wifi and getting a SIM card, but it seems a bit daunting. Some questions: Which card and carrier will work in all three countries? Should I get a card before I go or wait until I get there? Where in Paris is it convenient to get a card, if recommended, and sign up with a carrier? I'm flying into Orly airport, and my hotel is SE of the Luxembourg palace/gardens. Will I likely save money by getting a SIM card? Is the hassle worth it?

Posted by
333 posts

The daily Verizon plan only charges you on the days you use your phone. Verizon also has a monthly plan for a flat fee $$ depending on how much talk and text you need. That's what I did on my last trip and will probably do for my next trip in the fall. Just turn off your roaming and wifi unless you're connected somewhere or are in a pickle. I would look up routes and maps while connected and screen shot them so I could disconnect and still use them. The SIM card route (in my opinion) is pricy and complicated, as well as unnecessary considering the many international plans available. My 5cents. 😉

Posted by
20 posts

I too have Verizon and I just switched to T-Mobile to take advantage of their $50 unlimited data plan which also works in Europe. As I understand it, our phones will work just like they do at home for text and data and we are charged 0.20 a minute for calls (I think). We are a family of four and will be in Europe for three weeks. This made sense for us, as for part of our trip one of us will be working during the day and it will be nice to just send a text when the work day is over to meet up with the rest of the family. We have no contract with T-Mobile so can switch back if we want when we get home (although why we would want to I don't know since our T-Mobile plan saves us $50 a month for more data). If this interests you, check other posts and also check with T-Mobile. It seems like it will be a good situation for us, but we haven't traveled yet with the new plan. Good luck!

Posted by
269 posts

Is the $10 a day charge for talk, text, and data? If so, I will have to look into it. A few years ago Verizon wanted $25 for 100 minutes of talk and 100mgb of data. My wife chose that route when we were in England and it cost me $50. I used O2 for my phone. $16 got me 500mgb of data, 200 minutes of talk and I do not remember how many text messages. Last year in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary we used Vodaphone SIM cards for (1) iPhone 5s and (1) iPhone 4s. The cost was more than I paid in England (don't recall the exact amount) but it was still less than what I would have paid Verizon. T-Mobile in Heidelberg Germany would not give us a SIM card unless we could provide a German address other than our hotel. You should be able to get a SIM card at the airport where the salespeople will most likely be proficient in English. Keep in mind though that wherever you get your SIM card it will give you notifications in the country of origins language. Most often it will be something like "you are now in "X" country and the charges will be"X" euros.
I believe you will save money, the question is, do you want to take the time to get a local sim?

Posted by
2489 posts

I tried the SIM card route and spent way to much time at a phone place in France. And it never worked right. We are with Verizon mainly as there is a nice discount through my employer. Besides the $10/day plan they have a monthly plan at either $25 or $40. The expensive one has unlimited received texts and a larger call allowance. For me it's important that I be reachable and for that I need my same phone number. Can't do that with a SIM.

Posted by
2628 posts

By all means to save money buy a SIM card in France. If your phone is unlocked, it's pretty straight forward. Roaming will be at normal rates all over the EU so just make sure your phone has the roaming feature turned on. Regarding T-Mobile, their Simple Plan is no longer available for new users. To familiarize yourself with SIM cards in Europe, read the "Phones and Tech" section in the Travel Tips section of this site.

Here's a link to info on cell providers in France. My suggestion would be to go to an Orange Boutique and get a Mobicarte (Voice & data SIM) and have a recharge option added to it when you make your purchase. You'll be able to use this for your entire trip. There's a boutique at 30 avenue d'italie in the 13th. Also, there are Orange stores in Brussels and Amsterdam if you encounter problems.

Posted by
1102 posts

Yes, absolutely, first thing you should do is check if your phone is unlocked.

Data plans: Depends on what you need it for, in my opinion. If you only need it to check your e-mails once a day, you may even be fine with the free wifi most hotels offer. If you want to use it at all times throughout the day, you will have to get a plan of course.

For me it's important that I be reachable and for that I need my same
phone number. Can't do that with a SIM.

There are two ways you can in fact do that.

One way is to get a cheap phone with your local SIM card. I think we got a $10 phone in the U.S. once some years ago. It really couldn't do anything at all but make phone calls, but that was all we needed.

The other way - which might be interesting to you if you are a frequent traveler - is to get a dual SIM phone. The iPhone unfortunately doesn't offer that yet, but there are quite a lot of Android dual SIM phones out there by now.