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SIM card versus 10 dollar a day at&t international plan

I am seeking advice from other At & t plan users especially. Originally I planned to purchase a SIM card for my new unlocked iPhone. I ordered it directly from Apple to get an unlocked phone. Now I am starting to get nervous about that idea. I have to locate a business in Zagreb that sells the cards. I have to install the card and store my original SIM card in ab absolutely safe place. Is there such a thing when traveling? Then I will not have the number that I used when I booked accommodations so they cannot initiate a contact should a problem arise. I have Traveled internationally trips, but the tripshave been 7 to 13 nights. I actually never used phone service or mapping at all on those journeys. Hey, there is only one main road in Iceland. The other trips were to islands where I often stayed at only one locale. This is a 21 day trip of many different stops. I will need phone and mapping services. The international plan is $10 per day on the days you use it. $210 potential cost if I need services every day. That is a lot of dough. Any thoughts on either way of operating?

Posted by Bob
Reading, PA, USA
694 posts

I am also an AT&T customer. On our last trip (2 months ago) to Europe we purchased a SIM card. I just put my US SIM card into an envelope and put it in my luggage. If it got lost it is not a big cost to replace, just a little inconvenient. The store where you purchase the SIM card will install it for you. There will probably be a phone store in the airport where you land but I would wait until you get into town. You can use Google to find the locations of phone stores in Zagreb. The big difference is with a local SIM card you will use your phone. If you have the AT&T plan every time you want to use the phone you will think about the $10.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
9517 posts

"I have to install the card and store my original SIM card in ab absolutely safe place. Is there such a thing when traveling?

I'm not sure what you think will happen to a SIM card that is "dangerous." It's a tiny thing, so it's easy to find a storage place, and no one will see it (it's not like carrying a big camera or tablet, which is visible). In fact, a bigger problem is losing it, or forgetting where you put it, because it's so tiny. And no one particularly wants to steal it. I use the case that an old SD card came in, but like Bob says, a small envelope or ziplock bag will also work. It's also true that if something does happen to it. AT&T will replace it when you get home (you will need to prove who you are, so they know you're not trying use someone else's account).

"Then I will not have the number that I used when I booked accommodations so they cannot initiate a contact should a problem arise."

There are ways to forward calls from your US number to your new Croatian number. Or, you could e-mail the hotels with the new number. Particularly since you're staying a few weeks, that's probably worthwhile. Just set up a group with your hotels, and send one mass e-mail with the information. In fact, since your US number is an international call from Croatia, your accommodations will probably prefer to use e-mail over texts and calls anyway.

Posted by heather
317 posts

We used the international plan for AT&T on our last vacation after a lot of discussion and planning. We downloaded the maps we needed from the maps app and when possible used WiFi instead of cellular data. It worked out well but we had to be mindful of our phone usage.

What I'd do is do a comparison of costs between AT&T plan and your other options.

Posted by Patricia
Michigan USA
150 posts

My millennial son always rolls his eyes but I find the SIM card thing more hassle than I want to deal with.

Posted by Karen
Arnold, Missouri
722 posts

Have you checked into if at&t’s other international plan will meet your needs? I used it in May. It comes with a rate for calling (not sure what rate,) unlimited texting and some data. In May it was $60 for 30 days. My trip was 11 days and since I knew I would want to use my phone daily, it made more sense for me than the $10 a day.

Posted by stan
The Heartland USA
3058 posts

We had the ATT plan our last couple of trips. It is possible to go through a whole trip without using your phone every day. You can use wifi to do email while keeping your phone on airplane mode. I think we only used the phone twice, to call hotels and home, so it was only $20 for the whole trip. I can read a paper map, so don't need constant GPS support. But if you can't help it, and need it everyday, then yeah its expensive. Last time I checked, ATT also had a plan where you could pay a set monthly fee ($60 I think) for a bundle of data and minutes, for international travel. That is, the old style of plan. But it was not exactly clear on the ATT website how to find this plan so maybe worth a call to a human.

Posted by mark.davis OP
3 posts

Thank you. We are inexperienced when it comes to phone apps . I have never used what’s app or any other communication app. We are just not big communicators. We do not plan to call home. In Iceland we had big plans to use a local sim which the clerk could not get to work even though our phone was unlocked. Do we need any secret code from At & t to get a SIM card to work? Because getting that info can take hours. Just now I tried to long into my at &t account and was refused because my password (recently recorded) did not match my Id. So I have to spend time on that. This has been happening quite often to us, especially with our internet provider. So I am halfway expecting my email to have issues. I could not receive any emails through WiFi in Bonaire this spring. If I can’t receive email and I can’t make calls we will be kinda stuck.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2984 posts

Do we need any secret code from At & t to get a SIM card to work?

Not unless the phone is locked. But it sounds like your new phone isn't locked.

The biggest downside of buying a SIM in Croatia is that you won't have your US phone number while the Croatian SIM is in place - you'll have a Croatian number until you put the AT&T SIM back in. But it sounds like you won't be going a lot of communicating so maybe you don't care about that.

How long is your trip? The AT&T $60/month plan isn't so bad if your trip isn't that long. It gives you 1GB of data, which may last you up to two weeks or so. I generally use about 100MB per day of data when I travel. (I use Google Maps constantly to roam around cities and use public transit, but you won't be doing much of that except in Zagreb I suppose.) Just keep your phone on WiFi whenever you can at the hotel or soba where you are staying and use your data sparingly.

If your trip is closer to 30 days, I might opt for the Croatian SIM card.

FYI, assuming you will rent a car and drive in Croatia (I would recommend it usually), you can use your phone as a GPS. Google Maps works well for this. But you can download the map of Croatia "offline" ahead of time, while you are on WiFI (Google has a specific mode called "offline" mode - find it in Google Maps settings - which lets you choose a map area). Your phone doesn't actually need any SIM or mobile service for GPS to work; you can just put your phone in airplane mode when you drive (to save data), as long as you've downloaded the "offline" map. This is probably easier than you think it is. Try it out at home - works surprisingly well. Just bring a car charger for the phone and a suction cup for the windshield to use it like a GPS.

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
3714 posts

Because there were two of us, we did a hybrid approach. We had our AT&T phones put on vacation hold for the month of travel and used them as Wi-Fi devices in hotels and apartments. Unlocked my phone, put in a Vodafone Netherlands SIM and used the Vodafone plan for calls and texts within Europe and data for connections when we were away from hotel Wi-Fi ; switched back to the AT&T SIM when we got home and put the Vodafone SIM safely away for the next trip. My husband took his phone (still with the original AT&T SIM) off vacation hold just before we flew back, so we were able to use AT&T to connect to Mobile Passport app when we came through Immigration at SFO.

Posted by Brad
Belmont Bay, VA
10231 posts

No issues buying a SIM card. Ask at your lodging. They can point you toward a place to get a SIM card. I prefer a boutique or department store because the salespeople there know more about phones than the person at the local Tabac who also sells them.

I have them install the card and make sure it works (including a call to the person who helps me) before I pay and leave the store.

There are a number of options. An Orange holiday card seems to be geared toward vacation travel. It works for 14 days. I've used them a couple times. Last time, in France, I tested whether that could be extended (the answer is yes, go to a boutique and add value after the 14 days is up). I've used Vodaphone and SFR as well. Most options seem to run about 60 euro total for 21 days. Orange was 40 (depending on the option you choose) plus the value I added later.

Typically, I'll use available WiFi regularly and use data only when needed which seems to leave me with way more data than I can use at the end of my trip.

I put my home SIM inside my travel wallet (for me neck wallet) and replace it myself when I land in the US. My phone has never had an issue recognizing the original SIM and changing to it. One time, I accidentally threw my SIM away when I was cleaning out extra stuff I didn't need. When I got home, I was able to buy a "blank" SIM and keep my same phone number.