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Cell phone confusion........Cingular

I just called Cingular International Customer Service. ALL calls, even those to other Cingular customers will be charged at the 1.29 rate for calls from Ireland to the US. Even to the other members of my family plan.
The US based customer will be charged minutes, too, even tho' we dont usually pay for minutes between us.

I'd like to know from the previous poster where he found info that these calls would be free.

Thanks.

Posted by
53 posts

I spoke with my mom who works for AT&T about that & she said it depends on if Cingular gets charged from a European carrier. If so, you'll pay the amount, & if not, it's possible u can get it for free. However, she also said that some overseas charges can take 2-3 months to post to your account, so it's possible that the other poster may not have it posted to his account yet.

Posted by
31471 posts

Hope, I'm not too familiar with Cinqular's rate structure, however in my experience most of the North American cell carriers have similar roaming rates for Europe. $1.29 per minute to the U.S. sounds a bit low? You might check the Cingular website, as they should have current roaming rates listed.

Typically the lowest rate is for outgoing "in country" calls, with outgoing calls to North America AND incoming calls at a higher rate. The reason for the higher incoming rate is that calls are routed from the U.S. For example, someone calling you from Ireland will pay long distance to call your U.S. number, and you pay for the call to be routed back from North America.

It's likely that your family plan and other "specials" won't apply, as you're not using the Cinqular network while travelling. Your rates will be determined by the roaming agreement between carriers.

Be sure your Phone has the necessary frequency bands to operate in Europe.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Posted by
59 posts

I can attest that these calls are not free.

They are free for the caller in the US. They will be free for them if they are infact a cingular customer. A land line phone customer calling you would pay whatever rate they pay to your US number.

You on the otherhand will pay for their call to you at the established rate on your bill. The rate is the same as if you called them.

I manage a pile of cell phones for an international company and we use cingular and call each other all the time around the world. This is the way it works.

From the US to you will be free for the caller, not for you. From europe to the US will be charged the rate.

Get a cheaper rate by adding the $5.99 discount plan. You save 50-75% and it pays for itself in 1 call. You can take it off without penalty when you get back.

Posted by
932 posts

Okay, since we're on the subject of Cingular... What about text messages? How are those billed while in Europe? We're going to be in a group of 4 people, and text messaging would be very convenient, especially if it's cheaper than placing a phone call! If you're in Europe, and someone calls and you DON'T pick up, there won't be any extra charges if they leave a voice mail, right? What about calling each other if we're ALL in Europe anyway?

Posted by
31471 posts

Amy, using text message / SMS is a good way to save money while travelling. I'm not too familiar with the Cingular rates, but I believe I pay about 40¢ a message on my Canadian plan (the rates are somewhat similar between North American carriers).

On the topic of "what about calling each other if we're all in Europe anyway", I think a bit of clarification is in order. This will likely NOT save you any money, and will be a very expensive method of communicating.

First of all, to call someone else in your party you will have to dial their U.S. No., which will be expensive. The call will then be routed back to you, and you will pay a fairly "pricey" roaming rate. You can check with Cingular to confirm this.

Be sure ALL your phones are quad-band phones with the Euro frequencies, and that the Chargers are designed to operate on 220 Volt electrical systems.

Cheers!!!

Posted by
515 posts

Why not ask to have your phone unlocked if it's quad band and purchase a local SIM card? I believe the rates are way cheaper and you can still call the US - probably for less than if you used your US plan. We did this for the Caribbean and it worked wonderfully.

Posted by
104 posts

We bought a local SIM card in the UK while we were there. The card was cheap and we could just add more money onto it whenever we wanted. It worked out great, especially since I had trouble figuring out how to use my US calling card overseas.

Posted by
932 posts

Thanks Ken and Mende for the rates. $.50/message is dirt cheap if we need to find each other! And I won't call them unless it's an emergency.
In reference to the SIM cards. I read about doing that, but it sounds like such a pain in the butt. First of all, I wouldn't even begin to know what a good deal would be on one. I don't understand how that works. Would you have a European phone number then? Would I lose the memory on my original SIM card when I remove it? Is it a prepaid plan? Where would I go to get more minutes? Two people in our party have Verizon and us two have Cingular, so with new Sim cards, it would be irrelevant who our carrier was, right? How do I "unlock" my phone. I don't even know what that means. We do have quad-band phones (we both have Razrs). I just already feel so overwhelmed with all our travel plans! Am I overcomplicating it? If it's easy like you say, then I'm definitely interested... Is there a website which explains this in detail?

Posted by
932 posts

Okay, I just read on this website a bit of an explanation of the SIM card deal. But now I have more questions. We're traveling to 3 different countries. Does that mean we have to keep buying new SIM cards and buying more minutes? That just seems so inconvenient! $1.29/minute is sounding better and better!

Posted by
122 posts

I thought Verizon phones are only CDMA network capable and are not compatible with European cell carriers which are GSM networks.
Exception is new Verizon Blackberry which is both CDMA and GSM.

Posted by
1449 posts

Amy, I'm going on a tour to 4 countries and after looking into it decided to live with the AT&T rate. Sim cards are great if your trip is to 1 country, but when you move on to the next you're paying international rates again! If you're not staying very long, AT&T or whoever your carrier is might be the best way to go and you have your usual phone number to people in the states.

Posted by
59 posts

With your Cingular phones just go to the cingular store or call and have them activate international use. The go travel and enjoy yourself.

Cell to cell calls in Europe are charged at the roaming rate of whatever ie $1.29. Both people pay. You for calling, the other for receiving.

The Verizon people are out of luck. CDMA (Verizon) is useless outside of North America.(90% of the world is GSM)

A solution for these people is to add 2 phones to your Cingular plan ($10 each for service under the family talk plan)Get them Razrs and everybody will be able to call everybody else and text each other. You can probably get the $50 deal on the Razrs at a Cingular store otherwise you can buy an unlocked Razr on Ebay for $100. Just take it to the store when you get your plan and the reps will pop in the Cingualr SIM for you and you will be good to go.

Don't mess with buying SIM cards and calling cards through Europe. Yea you can save a few bucks but frustration is not what you want.

Posted by
34 posts

In the past I have purchased Sim cards on Ebay. The problem is you need one for each country (unless that has changed) so if you are going to several countries your Italy Sim card will not work in France.

Posted by
1806 posts

I've used my Cingular (AT&T) Razr phone in Switzerland and Italy and Mexico. I didn't pay for the $5.99 monthly fee. I spoke to customer service at Cingular before I traveled the first time. The guy told me that if I kept my call to below 20 min total I would be better off not signing up for the international plan (of course, you can cancel it the day you get home and only pay for one month)
My bills for my trips totaled about $30 for all my calls and text messages.(each trip, not total for all 3) This included roaming/taxes, etc. It sounds a bit expensive, but I had the security of having a phone with me if a family member needed me. I didn't use it to call within Italy for hotels etc. Only to check with family in the US.

Even though $30 sounds like a lot....just the peace of mind was worth it. I didn't have to mess with phone cards...unlocking phones, buying sims cards. In the over all expense of a vacation, I factor my phone into the cost.

Posted by
31471 posts

Amy, a few comments.....

Yes, if you travel with an unlocked Phone and use a Euro SIM, you do have a Euro no. and anyone calling you will be paying long distance. Your rate for outgoing calls (especially to the U.S.) will probably vary depending on which plan you select when you purchase the SIM.

Purchase of Euro SIM's will always be on a PAYG plan - I assume that's what you meant by "prepaid"?

Regarding those in your party that have Verizon phones, they will NOT be able to use their CDMA phones in Europe UNLESS they have one of the "dual technology" models such as the Motorola A840 or Blackberry 8830. If that's the case, they will be travelling on a PAYG plan negotiated by Verizon with the GSM networks. As someone stated previously, the majority of phones in the world are GSM!

Your RAZR is probably "locked" which means it will only accept SIM's from the home network. There are various ways to get these unlocked, however I'm not a big fan of switching SIM's while travelling.