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Cell phone in Europe

Is it possible to purchase a SIM card before traveling to Europe in order to use Cell Phone. Or do you have other suggestions? Thanks in advance for assistance.

Posted by
5338 posts

I don't know the answer to that question, but I understand that T-mobile has a system that works in Europe.

Also, even with an American cell phone, you can use it in Europe via wifi.
Another option is to purchase a cheap cell phone once in Europe.

Posted by
1180 posts

My iphone with Verizon worked fine in Europe. I had to pay extra for an international plan. I'd check and see if your carrier has an international plan. That to me seems the easiest.

Posted by
2415 posts

Yes it is possible and not terribly difficult. Here is a recent post with a few suggestions, including a link to a post with the details of buying, activating and using the Vodafone UK SIM that I bought in advance in the US and take with me to Europe in an older Verizon (unlocked) phone.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/question-about-getting-sim-card-in-advance

Original link detailing the Vodafone UK SIM added:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/vodafone-uk-sim-card-for-use-in-europe

I recently checked and the Vodafone UK SIM Pay as You Go plans, including their Bundles of calls/data/text are still valid in Europe post-Brexit.

Posted by
583 posts

We use our regular cell phones in Europe. My husband is on Verizon and I am on AT&T and both have international plans that make it very easy.

Posted by
40 posts

Where will land in Europe? Some countries still don't require registration of SIM, which means you can grab one upon landing.

That should give you the most competitive rate. Plans in Europe in general are way cheaper than in North America.

The cheapest plans tend to be offered by MVNO's, such as Lebara, Lyca and Giffgaff. The operating carriers would still be the major players in Europe, i.e. Vodafone, O2 Telefonica, Deutsche Telecom and Three.

Posted by
57 posts

Don't bother. Now days just add a plan to your phone. With AT&T you can get a $10/day plan and Verizon has similar that is only triggered when you actually use roaming data. If you try and stay on Wifi (data and Phone) it doesn't even trigger the $10 on any given day. Swapping cards is something we as frequent business travels used to do, but over the last 5 or 6 years there is no need. You see them advertised but pretty much only tourists use them. Too much of a hassle for $10/day

Posted by
2415 posts

Update: Beginning June 8, 2022, Vodafone UK SIM cards have new post-Brexit roaming zones and prices for their Zone B (49 countries in Europe) roaming. Whereas previously a Big Value Bundle included roaming usage in much of Europe, now you must also purchase their "European Roaming passes, available as £8 for 8 days or £15 for 15 days."

CORRECTION: the Pay as You Go passes may be £15 for 8 days or £25 for 15 days. It's still unclear to me.

For a 1 or 2 week trip, you might buy their smallest Big Value Bundle (currently £10, with 7GB data) plus the 8 day or 15 day European Roaming pass. This is still significantly cheaper than my Verizon International plan options, but for longer trips, the value becomes questionable in my mind.

Posted by
6855 posts

We too use T Mobile's international plan where the smartphone works just like it does in the U.S. T Mobile's owned by the Deutsch Telecom. When I return home, I cut off the international service.

I once had a international SIM card with another company, and the phone wouldn't work. And their customer assistance in Italy didn't speak English. I just wasted my money.

Posted by
371 posts

"Too much of a hassle for $10/day"

Never too much hassle when for a 28-day trip that would ring out @ $280, whilst an in-country SIM card would cost $30 for 20GB of data. Let me see, yup, that's a savings of $250.

"pretty much only tourists use them"

Hey, that's me.

Posted by
290 posts

Periscope, our Verizon International Plan is EITHER $10 a day OR $100 for the whole month. Still quite a bit, but since we'll be in three different countries in 30 days we will probably just pay the $100.

Posted by
133 posts

How expensive is it send 5 messages?:

-- I forgot to stop the mail. Please check my mailbox.

-- I forgot to throw out the milk. Can you handle it?

-- Does the doctor need my signature?

(But with most emergencies concerning my child, I won't be thinking of cost of a phone call.)

-- Call my bank and have them send money.

--- Will be back in x days. it can wait.