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Phone/data Card

We will be London and Paris for 10 days first half of September next month. (arriving in London).

we will have our phones unlocked before the trip. Question is whats the best way/shop to buy data card mainly for using maps for directions and transport related details. we don't need to make calls.

Also will same card will work in both cities?

if there is any old post please refer me to that.

And I would like to thank all of you in advance for your responses. everyone has been greatly helpful in my earlier posts too.

Posted by
1416 posts

I’ve used a Vodafone plan on my last few trips. Worked fine in London and successfully roamed in other EU countries. For £10 or about $12 US you get 6GB data 250 minutes of call minutes and unlimited texts.

https://freesim.vodafone.co.uk/

Or go into a carphone warehouse shop in London. They will have a wider selection of service providers.

Posted by
749 posts

I’ve used EE pay as you go SIM plans on several trips. EE has great network coverage and uses the Orange network for roaming in France. (Orange has arguably the best coverage country-wide in France) https://shop.ee.co.uk/sim-only/pay-as-you-go-phones

On the link, just sort by price and see all the options including double data. EE has boutiques all over London.

Posted by
2791 posts

I will be using a Vodafone UK SIM and plan for the first time on my upcoming trip. It didn't appear that you could have the card shipped directly from the UK Vodafone link to the US. I did find US and UK vendors on both Amazon and eBay that will ship to/in the US.

Thanks to Andrew H (!!) for the advice to check out the Vodafone setup and to order the SIM from eBay. I don't mind a PayPal payment setup, so I decided to go with Vodafone UK.

I bought my SIM a few days ago on eBAY for $4.00 (with no credit) and when it arrives will activate and top it up with the Vodafone UK PayAsYouGo plan.

Posted by
4958 posts

Let us know how the Vodafone UK SIM works out for you. I don't have any experience with it. I avoided it in part because I didn't want to deal with third parties involved in topping off the balance (with Paypal), but it might work OK. The Vodafone NL SIM can be topped up directly on Vodafone NL's website. It's in Dutch, but the Chrome browser translates for me just fine.

Posted by
2791 posts

I will definitely report back, once I receive the card (ETA a few more days) and again after I try it out on my trip to Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic in Sept/Oct.

Posted by
2791 posts

SUCCESS!! (so far anyway, my new Vodafone UK SIM is activated!)

Note: I activated the SIM in an older phone, not my current phone. I'll use "the old phone" with the Vodafone plan when I'm "out and about" - mostly for data - and keep my "new" phone for use in the hotel room with (free) Wifi calling and wifi texts back home. (I made this decision so that I'm not having to swap SIM cards to alternate between Vodafone UK services and my normal US carrier.)

ACTIVATING THE Vodafone UK SIM from the US

I received my Vodafone UK SIM today, 4 days after ordering it (for $4.00) on ebay from a US-based seller. It's taken me about an hour, a few nervous moments (some of the reviews I read said it couldn't be done!) and a few Google searches - but I have received the (free) confirmation text from Vodafone UK as the final step allowing me to activate my SIM card and register it online with Vodafone UK!

Next step: "top up" the card with some credit, which I'll do nearer my September departure date.

THE TECHNICAL DETAILS

This process was "simple" but not for the technically faint of heart. I had to do some research to:

1) Find the Vodafone APN network settings (thank you Carphone Warehouse!)
https://lowdown.carphonewarehouse.com/how-to/how-to-manually-enter-vodafone-apn-settings/39805/

2) Find the steps to set the right network mode for my device
https://deviceguides.vodafone.co.uk/

Note: Vodafone lists LOTS of devices (Android and iPhone) and the specific instructions for each. The instructions for my phone were near-perfect and I only needed a tiny touch of common sense (or was it a good guess?) to make it work.

Within minutes of completing those steps, I received a (free) text from Vodafone with the security code needed to activate my SIM and account online. I was successfully able to set up a MyVodafone account. With that account, I should be able to:

  • "top up" my account online with credit using wifi
  • (optional) add a credit card to my account to simplify future top-ups, or add the CC details manually each time

Note: because my Google account is in the US, I am unable to download the MyVodafone (UK) app. I could create a UK Google account, but the online access to MyVodafone seems easy enough that I'm not going to bother.

I must once again thank Andrew H for giving me the courage to try this technical feat! Even though I decided to try Vodafone UK, rather than his Dutch Vodafone recommendation. I think I figured this process could be tricky enough for me to follow, without having to translate from Dutch!

Posted by
4958 posts

Glad you got it set up to this point! Things change...but last I heard, the issue with UK SIM cards was being unable to top them up with US credit cards online. You might need to do that with a third party using a Paypal account. Have you gone down that road yet?

I'm not familiar with the restrictions of a Vodafone UK SIM card. Each country's Vodafone seems to have different rules. But it would obviously be easier for Americans if they could use this UK SIM instead of the NL SIM that I use (even though I have no trouble with the Dutch - my browser translates it pretty well).

Keep us posted - thanks!

Posted by
2791 posts

I took a closer look at that, now that I have a MyVodafone account set up. It appears that I have several options.

Through the MyVodafone account (online, I haven't downloaded the app):

  • manually enter a credit card each time you want to top up
  • save a credit card to your account to use when you top up
  • if you bought a SIM with credit, you can activate the credit voucher (I did not buy a SIM with credit)

Or go to their Top Up page (https://topup.vodafone.co.uk/topup) where you have the options to:

  • Pay by Card
  • use PayPal

The credit card entry forms look generic enough to accept any credit card. I'll report back when I try it, in September before leaving on my trip. Edit: The credit card processing does not allow the use of a US credit card. See below for how I successfully added credit to the SIM.

You can also pay through their app, but for that you have to have a UK Google play account. They won't allow me to download the app with my US Google Play account.

Edit: I was able to add credit to my Vodafone UK SIM, but not through MyVodafone account (which doesn't allow a US credit card) and not through the link above, which requires a UK address and credit card. I used this FreeSIM Top-up link which allows the use of PayPal (with billing on a US credit card.) So I now can use their PayAsYouGo plan, though my intent - right before my trip - is to add enough credit to then purchase a Vodafone Big Value Bundle. I'll update if I'm successfully able to do that. And eventually actually use the thing!

The Fine Print

The SIM card and any credit will eventually expire. Vodafone UK is one of the more liberal providers in that respect. The SIM card will stay active for 180 days from last use, after which time it suspends. It can be reactivated, but if not the SIM will be cancelled at 270 days and any remaining credit will be lost. Some bundles expire after only 30 days, so check those details for the plan you are considering.

I can either send an international text (at their international rates) from my Vodafone UK phone to my US phone within the 180 days to keep it active. Or worst case I'll buy another $4 SIM.

Posted by
310 posts

To follow-up Barbara's post - I use EE as well and have always had good coverage in the UK and France. Not only do EE have lots of shops in London, but many grocery stores will also sell PAYG sims.