Has anyone used T-mobile no contract svc in Europe?

I am starting a new thread because this option came up when inquiring about international roaming in Europe. If anyone has taken their t-mobile us quadband phone (preferably someone without an annual contract) and used it to call/text within Europe, I would appreciate hearing about their experience (costs) especially if they also called/texted to another no contract t-mobile customer who was also in Europe.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

Kathy, I have used T-mobile service in Europe in multiple places over the past 6 years. I've used it in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Spain without issue. However, I don't think I have ever totaled more than 10 minutes total on a given trip. The cost is high ($1 or more per minute) so I only use it when I need to make a quick call. I keep it turned off most of the time. I have an unlocked quad-band phone and if I ever needed to use more, I'd get a European prepaid card. I do have a contract. I did have to sign up for international roaming which is free, but it had to be added to my account. I also recall that I had some difficulty the very first time that I used in Europe; it didn't automatically pick up the network and I think it took a day before I got it working but I don't recall how I resolved the problem. The final thing is that I had to use the full 10 digit number for voicemail (look it up on their website).

Posted by Kathy
Seattle, WA, USA
125 posts

Laura & Eileen, I can confirm that t-mobile does now offer international roaming for non-contracted customers. It is on their website and they verified it. My "only" problem with it is that the talk rates are pretty high (especially in Prague at $2.49/min). Their texting rate is good - 50 cents to send and 10 cents to receive. However, you do only have to add $ in $10 increments which is also quite good. I also have the added challenge of unlocking a phone to use with their sim card. Luckily, I can do this before leaving and try it.
Btw, if you are a contracted t-mobile customer, you can purchase unlimited international talk/text for $10/mo!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3580 posts

Unless something has changed since Aug 2011, 'international' only means Canada and Mexico for PAYG plans :-( If you're interested, I used EuroBuzz instead; cheap dual-band phones that work only in Europe, but allow calls and texts to and from the USA (and within Europe, of course). If you have 2 EuroBuzz phones, you receive free texts, etc. You keep your phone number for as many trips as you'd like to take. Just remember they won't work outside of Europe; if you want to make calls stateside, you'll need to bring your other phone.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

Kathy, You've hit the nail on the head. The high rates are the challenge with just about all the U.S. plans. I bring my mobile for personal safety and occasional convenience (e.g. if I'm trying to meet up with a friend or just calling home to say I've arrived). It is a great backup, but if you want to use it a lot, it is not a good option. Thanks for the tip on the international unlimited plan. I will have to see how long they make you sign up for.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Laura, that's what's so attractive about this option: You don't have to sign up for any length of time. It is a prepaid, no contract plan. The calling costs are crazy, but if you only want a phone for emergencies or very, very limited uses, this is could be a good option, especially for those who don't have a cell phone account that would otherwise work overseas.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

Paul, I agree. I think it is a good option for someone who does not want a contract. I already have my regular service with a contract through T-Mobile. I originally picked them because of the flexibility to use internationally and the fact that the rates were lower than AT&T. It is nice that they now offer international options for prepaid customers.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

I did use T-Mobile before my Razr died. I only made a few calls using the international roaming plan (had to call them to enable the feature first). If I planned on making more than a couple, especially local, calls, I bought a sim card which becomes the cheaper option quickly (have to get the phone unlocked before that works). Watch the rates. They advertise $1 a minute. While it may be $1 per minute from certain countries, most are at least $1.99 per minute and places like St. Petersburg, Russia were $7.99 per minute. I think Copenhagen was $4.99; although this link shows better rates than they charged me. Probably because mine was under some other rate schedule, the last time I used the RAZR was 2011 but I had it for quite a few years before that. http://www.t-mobile.com/international/roamingoverview.aspx?tp=Inl_Tab_RoamWorldwide

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Laura, I have a contract plan with T-Mobile, too. I've used them on at least four trips overseas with no problems (knock on wood). I also use a prepaid phone account from the U.K., but primarily just for data. Any calling I did on the T-Mobile phone was for business and the cost was justifiable. My family did use it for texting and although I think our bill was around $30 or $40 just for text messages for a 10-day trip, it was still worth it. The text rates for T-Mobile's prepaid use are much lower, though. I'm curious about how the prepaid option will actually work. When I've used my contract phone, the international charges don't show up until a month or more later. For prepaid to work and T-Mobile not to get stuck with a big bill, the charges have to be applied immediately to the account balance. I guess that is why the no contract usage requires you to sign on to a specific company. T-Mobile must have agreements with those companies to post the calls right away. European companies are used to doing that because you can use a prepaid European phone all over Europe. With the contract plan, I roam on whatever carrier is available. I'm not limited to just one.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11268 posts

Last time I was in Germany (2009) I used a SIM from PennyMobil (www.pennymobil.de) for unlimited data access on my netbook for €2.49/day. They also sell SIMs for cell phone service at €0.09/min. You need, of course, an unlocked cell phone operating on European frequencies. You also need someone who reads German because the instructions are in only that language. The service is actually on the T-mobile network which covers virtually all of Germany. Pennymarkt is a Germany-wide chain of discount grocery stores. You can locate a store near you on their website (www.penny.de). You buy a starter kit for €9,95, which includes a SIM and €5 of Guthaben (credit). I think there is a cost free number you can call initially for activation. After that, you can add minutes by buying a prepaid card at any Penny Markt. They come in increments of either €5 or €10.

Posted by Kathy
Seattle, WA, USA
125 posts

Since I saw this thread referenced recently, I thought I would provide an . My daughter and I used our unlocked AT&T quadband phones with t-mobile's noncontract sim cards which I bought for $1.99 each on t-mobile's website. I preloaded $10 on each of the phones and called t-mobile to let them know that I wanted to use international roaming. I was able to make sure that the sims worked in our phones before we went and set up online mgmt for both phones. We used them in France, Hungary, Czech Republic and Germany. Our primary usage was for texting each other, but we also called contacts in the apartments that we rented and a taxi company. In 3 weeks, we used less than $10 on one phone and less than $20 on the other (used that one for phone calls). So for $35, we were able to meet all our call/texting needs. I did bring a second set of sim cards from eKit as a backup, but we never needed them.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Kathy, thanks for giving us this update. It's good to know a low-cost, low-hassle alternative works.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Kathy, thanks for giving us this update. It's good to know a low-cost, low-hassle alternative works.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3580 posts

Thanks, Kathy! It's always sooo helpful (and just plain nice!) when an OP or other poster comes back and lets us all know how 'things turned out'. I personally appreciate the info; of course, T-Mobile started this immediately after I purchased our European phones 8^P. That's OK, though - now that I've got them, I'd much rather carry our European phones around on a day-to-day basis. They're lighter, and not nearly as expensive and 'precious' to me as my main phone with everything programmed into it! But it's nice to know that now it can be my back-up/understudy...as it waits safely in my room :-) Hope you had a great trip!