Sim Card

Do you need a sim card from each country that you visit.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

It depends. If you get a local SIM from most European countries, you can roam on the original account of that SIM card. Caveats: You have to figure out a way to add value to the card when you're away from the country of origin. If you are European, you can set up a link to a credit card to recharge your account but they won't let you do that with a foreign credit card. I have bought top-up vouchers off ebay or you could buy them at a store before you leave the first country and then add them as needed. Still it is an element of unknown. I suppose if you run out of credit you could just buy a new SIM wherever you happen to be. Can be a bit of trouble, though, although so it getting a new SIM everywhere you go. Second issue: Because you are roaming, you'll pay a bit more to use the phone out of the home country. Rates are capped by law, though, so this may not be a real issue. But the real answer requires knowing what you plan to do with your phone: Make local calls, make calls to the U.S., use it for a data connection, and so on. I can only tell you my experience: For data I use a SIM I got in the U.K. and I roam on it in other countries. For calls, I try to do them over wifi using Skype or a similar service. For text messages, I use my home telephone account. They cost a bit, but not that much more and I know I won't get hit with crazy data bills for text messages (but we've used $30 worth just for text messages on trips before). With relatively reasonable international roaming packages being offered by U.S. cell phone companies, I'm moving to the advice of doing what seems to be the easiest and most convenient: sticking with your home provider and using your phone very sparingly, making use of wifi whenever you can.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

To add to Paul's excellent summary: Roaming rates within the EU are capped by law, and the rates cap keep going down (good for us consumers). But if you buy a SIM in an EU country and roam outside it (to Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, et al) the rates are not capped, and can be very high. A friend of mine has a T-Mobile UK SIM and is going to Turkey, so I told him to look up the rates. It's £1.50 per minute there - ouch! Also, my friend has used AMEX to recharge his account online and has never had a problem. But another poster here, who doesn't have an AMEX, said his other US credit cards don't work in T-Mobile UK's website. So Paul is right - if you're planning to use one SIM for multiple countries, make sure you figure out the recharge situation before leaving that country. Of course, you can also just plan to run out the value of the SIM, then buy a new one in another country. But when you get a new SIM, you get a new phone number, so if people need to reach you, you have to let them know. There are also international SIM cards, which are more expensive then local SIMs but may save money over roaming, and which mean you don't have to keep changing your number. Some details are here on Prepaid GSM: http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/international.php The "National Operators" tab at the top of Prepaid GSM is a great way to find out about available plans in each country, and their Forums have lots of other useful information (although they can get very technical, so don't be afraid to ask for clarification).

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

The major cell phone companies, including Movistar, Orange, Vodafone, should have coverage in multiple countries with the same SIM card - and probably a pre-pay that you can recharge when and where needed.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Keep in mind that every time you change SIM cards, you change phone numbers. If it is important that others reach you, you don't want to change your number more than you have to.

Posted by Thomas
West Linn, Oregon, USA
10 posts

Thanks for the great info. Will be going to Paris, 4 days, Munich, 2 days, Austria, 2 days, Italy,8days.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

"Starting price is about $25-30 US and it includes about that much in calling." This actually varies tremendously. On my trip to Germany in September 2012, Vodafone wanted €45 for SIM with €45 of credit (since I was only there a few days, I didn't get this). But T-Mobile DE was only charging €10 for a SIM with €10 of credit. Furthermore, T-Mobile was having a great deal: a text or a minute of a voice call cost only €0.05, instead of the €0.15 it cost to call or text to customers of other providers. Since my mother and I each got T-Mobile SIMs, it was very cheap to stay in contact with each other. And you don't always get a "free" SIM. In France, Mobiho charged €15 for €4 of initial credit and €4 more when you registered the SIM, so the SIM cost €7. In Turkey, I was not able to wait to find a Turkcell store, so I bought the SIM from another store, and paid 60 TL for only 20 TL of credit (I'll bet I could have gotten a much better deal at a Turkcell store). If you need a SIM in Germany, check to see if that T-Mobile deal is still available. Just as in the US, the particulars of European cell phone plans change all the time.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

I paid 9 euro for a SIM with 9 euro of credit on it in Spain last year, so there is a lot of variability in what's on offer.

Posted by Nick
London
3 posts

It seems an International SIM card would be best for this particular trip. It would be cheaper to get a local SIM card for each country you're visiting, but this is four SIM cards in 2 weeks, which means 4 numbers and some time spent queuing in phone shops, trying to get the right card. Not an ideal way to spend the short amount of time you have. An international SIM from Telestial.com will come with some free credit, and you can always get more by liking them on Facebook, etc. You'll get a US and UK number and for France and Italy, incoming calls will be free. Rates are pretty cheap for making calls and sending texts, and if you're careful and use wifi or Skype where you can, you won't be spending much on your calls. Good luck, I hope you have a great time!

Posted by Gary
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1 posts

I found that SIM cards for Italy and Spain worked for me. I spent the majority of my time in Italy and TIM had the best promotion (e.g., unlimited data for first 30 days and .10 cents for ~ 10 Euros). A couple of calls to US made my minutes vanish but TIM was still more competitive on rates to US than US carriers. The most important things that I learned were to configure the SIM card/phone, the Voice Mail and the TIM customer service prompts - all to English BEFORE I left the TIM store (the first visit). Unfortunately, I did one of the three, but not all three. The TIM stores and resellers that I later visited were great, but finding them was not always easy (for me). Also, I learned a couple of more things: 1) Understand where I could top off the SIM card in the locales that I was to visit, and top off the SIM card before I ran out of minutes. (I did not have a data phone - only voice/text.) P.S.: I assume the other carriers in the country were very good and competitive, too. I would not hesitate using TIM again. Gary

Posted by Joseph
Delray Beach, Florida, USA
1 posts

Hi Guys: My wife and I are going to Spain and about 2 days in France. I was looking at a couple of different Sim Cards from a few providers (i.e. Cello, One Sim Card, Giffgaff and a few others) Any Ideas? Joe