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Verizon and smartphones

Verizon stores (have called one and visited one in person). I am trying to get smart (pardon the pun) about my smart phone usage when I'm over there in Paris coming up in next couple of weeks here. Verizon has suggested I get a calling card. But I also want to text and email, say my folks and nearby family to let them know I arrived safely as I'm travelling solo to GET to Paris.

They (Verizon) DID turn on my "global" ability and i know to put to put the smart on Airplane off... and to use wifi when im in a coffee shop over there or whatever... But calling card.... ?? hmmm..

thanks for any input.

and yes, I CAN figure this out, but doesn't hurt for other opinions.

Thank you as always.

Posted by
3380 posts

I also have Verizon and took my iPhone 4s to Europe last summer. Did the same thing as calling "turned on", kept it on airplane mode most of the time, and used wireless for everything else. I can't imagine what I would have done with a calling card? With an international plan you are charged for the time you use actually making calls. If you are careful, the bill you get at the end of your trip won't be significantly higher than what you might pay at home.
You can also consider getting the WhatsApp phone app. If you get your friends/relatives to get it as well, and make sure you're using wireless, then texting through that app is free. I used it all last summer and it saved me some money, although my texts through Verizon were something like 15 cents each...not enough to break the bank but money is money!

Posted by
1994 posts

I've used Verizon on many trips to Europe, currently with an iPhone 5. I have their international plan activated on my account the day I leave and stop that coverage when I get home. With that plan, calls to the US were $0.99 a minute, which was manageable since I just needed to be able to check in with people. And in almost 1 month in Europe, I used $50 worth of data, relying on Wi-Fi when it was available.

My only caution would be to ensure that Verizon's global coverage department sets everything up. In my experience, their regular customer service people seem to be under pressure to do it themselves and not transfer you to global service. The two times that happened to me, I arrived in Europe with a nonfunctioning phone – once in France and once in Italy. I was able to eventually get the phone working by calling Verizon, but the set up had not been done correctly. When I've use their global department, I've not had a problem.

Posted by
1039 posts

What kind of smartphone do you have? I have Verizon too and on my European trips i have bought the international calling plan and data package. For sure, learn how to turn off the data mode on your phone and use wifi when available so you're not using up your data plan. Only use the data when wifi is not available. The whatsapp or viber apps are great for free texting but uses wifi or data to work. If u have an iphone or ipad and the folks at home have them, you can use facetime to communicate with them.

As far as the calling card, dont bother getting one. Youll have to find a payphone to use it and those are impossible to find anymore. I guess you can use it with your hotel phone but then once youre back in the hotel, you can use the wifi to make your phone calls via viber :). Hope this helps.

Posted by
1922 posts

Take your phone or get a calling card, not both. A calling card is 7.50 euros and you can use it to call from your hotel room (it worked fine). My regular Verizon people weren't very helpful re international calling so I left my phone home. Didn't know they had a global department but definitely contact them if you want to take your phone.

Posted by
11294 posts

Verizon's recommendation of a calling card, given what you said, doesn't make sense to me. A calling card is cheap for calls from Europe to the US only IF you buy one locally (not a US one), and IF you call from a land line (not from your cell phone). You plan to focus on text, which should be relatively cheap even if you are not using an app over WiFi (remember that if you are not in a WiFi area, the app will use data, so it's no longer "free"). I don't know if Verizon has an international package that reduces the price of texts (AT&T does).

If you do make a call on your cell phone in Europe using a card, you will pay BOTH for the card fees and the airtime on your phone, so this will be even more expensive than just using your phone to call the US. However, if you do want to make calls from land lines, a card can save a lot.

Your story is yet another example of how the phone store employees often don't know much about international use of their phones and networks.

Posted by
11 posts

Check your voice / text / data plan to see if it suits your expected phone usage patterns on your trip. You can do this online and don't have to speak with a potentially clueless representative. You do not need a calling card if your phone has global capabilities (yours has).

I do not have an iPhone but my phone has global capabilities. I decided to change one feature (did it online) to make international voice calls $0.99 a minute instead of $1.99. The feature cost me $5 so it paid for itself when I made five minutes of calls. I discontinued it after the trip. You can do the same for text and data but they weren't worth it for me. I just used hotspots for data. I turned off data roaming to avoid surprise charges.

Posted by
3866 posts

I have Verizon and have used its Global Plan since 2009 for our trips to Europe. I was never offered a calling card and like others have said, I can't imagine why you would need one. Depending on where you stay, your hotel or host may even have free calls to the US using their landline. In some cases it is bundled in with other communication and entertainment electronic services at no extra charge for them.

What most have said about the clueless general service people is absolutely correct. There are many options on the Global Plan and the couple of times I had them do it, they failed to get all the pieces together. The Global Plan people know what they are doing and when I used them everything turned out okay. Everything also turned out okay when I set it up online myself.

On all those trips in the past I used a years old global-ready flip phone. This next one will be using a global- ready Moto X. I got the smart phone (much to my husband's dismay) because the past couple of years the hotels or hosts where we were staying requested a text message in advance of our stay there. They consistently preferred that over a phone call or an email.

Another thing, your lodgings may have free Wi-Fi in your room or somewhere else in in the building. Just like here, it may be iffy in some locations. You don't really have to go to a more public place if it works okay unless you just want to do that. Oddly, it has been our experience that more expensive hotels tend to both have a charge for the in-room Wi-Fi and have the worst Wi-Fi service.

Here's the link to the Global Services info at Verizon for anyone who might need it: It is not very easy to find if you go into their website from the beginning.

Posted by
1068 posts

I'm on Verizon and the last time I went to France, just a couple of years ago, I gave up trying to figure it out for myself and called them. There's a department that apparently does nothing but help people out with European travel. At the time I had a Droid and my husband had an iPhone. Rather than do any reconfiguring of either of those handsets Verizon sent us a European phone, all set up and ready to go. I think it was $35 to rent, and it was SUPER EASY. We just turned our phones all the way off when we landed in Paris, and turned on the rental phone. It worked perfectly, and since we only made a couple of calls, the whole deal cost us WAY under fifty bucks.

I know that isn't "cheap and cheerful," but it beat the heck out of doing it our (bumbling) selves, screwing up, making a few innocent calls for dinner reservations, and ending up owing a gazillion dollars to the phone company. Cannot recommend this solution highly enough.

Posted by
2258 posts

I will just echo what some others have said-I have had extremely poor experiences in asking in a Verizon store for help with this. By all means call, and ask for the "Global" dept. Kira's suggestion of simply renting a phone is tempting too.

Posted by
672 posts

My experience has been exactly as Sherry describes above. I have Verizon service on my iPhone 5, and simply contacted them by phone to sign up for a global voice plan prior to departing for Europe. I purchased the one-time $4.99 discount fee so the voice rate would be $0.99 per minute and also purchased global data ($25 for 100 MB). Like Sherry, I also had to contact Verizon global support upon arrival in Europe on two out of the last three trips during the past 12 months because my phone would not connect to the local network. However, in both cases the problem was resolved fairly quickly by calling Verizon global support (toll free from a hotel landline or my colleague's phone). For the most recent trip, I called Verizon the day before I left for Europe to make sure that my phone was properly set up (on their end) and it worked immediately upon arrival in Rome. So, just make sure to do as Sherry suggests and call Verizon's global customer service folks ahead of your trip.

Posted by
27 posts

Text and data are included in T-Mobile's US plans now; calls within France (and lots of other countries) are just $0.20 per minute. Since there's no contract, if your phone has a SIM slot, it might just be cheaper to go with them for your trip and then cancel when you get back (or ditch Verizon if that's an option).

Posted by
1994 posts

If you go with T mobile, as suggested above, look very carefully at the paperwork. I don't remember the details but I remember being told that the network you would be using in Europe would be very slow… Equivalent to old dial-up speeds. It would not be the speed that you would have in the US. However, since this is such a new service from T mobile, please verify what whether what I've just said is true.

Posted by
154 posts

That surprises me they said anything about a calling card, but I have been given bad advice about my phone and travel from Verizon too. The best option is the one you have planned. Having your data plan and using it sparingly will let you send emails or check maps when you NEED to and keeping it in airplane mode (with wifi back on) to use at hotels and coffee shops will be easy and let you use the world wide web as much as you want. If you want to make calls use Skype or other internet phone programs when you are connected to wifi. You can find even more information here.

Posted by
61 posts

Ditto what others said about Global Support - They were VERY helpful, regular customer service - clueless.
Also did international calling plan and data plan - while we aimed to only use WiFi, it was awfully handy to be able to pull up a website and check something when wifi wasn't available.

My only addition to the above comments - remember that you use minutes for receiving calls as well as making them. The wifi in my daughter's hotel room was too weak for FaceTime so she'd text and then I'd call her thinking it was a "local" call for me but forgetting that it was till high minute rates for her to receive. Fortunately, she was only there a week, so the nasty bill wasn't too awful to choke down. For next trip, I'm considering a buying a pre-paid phone when I get to France.

Posted by
71 posts

I will be in paris in September. I have an iphone thru verizon and was thinking I could sign myself up online for global service. Is it necessary to call them to set this up?

Posted by
2353 posts

You can add global service on line in the my plan & services area