SIM Cards?

A friend from Europe gave me her old unlocked international phone that was purchased in Europe. So I need an international SIM Card. I'm going to too many countries to make it practical to bother getting one in each country, and I just want basic service for emergencies anyway. Has anyone tried this one? http://www.statravelus.ekit.com/ekit/MobilePurchase/Services the Global Premium Service. the $9 plus shipping seems much cheaper than other international cards. But it almost seems too cheap! Any advice on this or other cards is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

If you are going to use the phone mostly for emergencies and other limited uses you might be happier with Mobal. They will give you the SIM card free. You give them credit card information and they charge directly only for the minutes you use. No prepayment, no expiration, no need to recharge. I have used this service for a couple of years and I am very happy with it.

http://www.mobalrental.com/gsm/sim.asp

Posted by Karen
Colorado Springs
326 posts

We've used Mobal.com. It's not cheap, but not so much more than roaming on my cell phone in the states (I don't use expensive plans). It works well for quick calls - get a scratch-off phone card for longer calls (different card each country).

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

You need to evaluate more than Mobal. Go to http://www.telestial.com/sim_cards.php and read about other options. They also offer Mobal cards. Some cards offer free incoming calls in a greater list of countries than others. Some like the Explorer card offer an 800 number for your US friends and family to contact you for free while you travel - though you are charged a reasonable per minute charge for that incoming call.

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

Thanks Erik - that's why I am interested in the ekit one - it is free in several countries to receive, and they have a toll-free for up to 45 minutes of incoming (which is fine for me as it would only be if my parents or apartment complex had an emergency or something). It seems to me that ekit is the best deal because its only $9 and comes with $20 of credit (which seems quite unbelievable really!) plus all the freebies and relatively low per-minute rates (lower than Mobal anyway). No one's familiar with the ekit or can speak to how it works over there? If not, I may just give it a shot because it seems like the best deal....

Thanks all!!

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

From what I see of Ekit, they're a tad expensive for per minute rates. 99 cents? I've used the Explorer card I got from the site I mentioned above. Rates were cheaper at about 65 to 70 cents, though it varied depending on the country I was in. Mostly eastern countries. The Passport SIM would have been best - free incoming calls in the greatest number of countries including places like Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria where I was headed. However, for the convenience we went with the Explorer cards for the 800 # for family. My girlfriend's mom is a worrier. :)

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

Also, a little odd the way the Explorer card worked: Dial the number you want to call on your mobile phone. The phone automatically changes this and tells you to wait for an incoming call - answer that call, and then you will hear the system connecting you to the number you dialed. The reason is because in general incoming calls are cheaper, and so it costs your US based roaming provider less to have the system call you back, and then use their own systems to connect you to the number you are calling. A little awkward, but it worked fine. Also, with Explorer, your phone has two different Estonia (+372) numbers - one for voice, one for SMS / Text. That was the most annoying for me. Incoming texts are always free, I asked family or friends to send texts for urgent messages, but had to remind them to use the separate number for that.

I do not know if any of the other cards work similarly or not. The Passport has a +44 UK number just like Ekit. I'm not sure what Mobal gets you.

Posted by Dick
Imperial Beach, CA, USA
6 posts

I have used both ekit and a Mobal SIM card in an unlocked international phone. ekit is cheaper but is not really mobile. The Mobal SIM was useful for a business/pleasure trip in many countries because I had one phone number no matter where I was so I could be reached easily but it is not cheap (better than intl roaming though). One way to beat that was to use text messages since they are typically very cheap, i.e. to let someone know when/how I was arriving, thanks for your hospitality, etc. If your primary use is to keep in touch with family, etc. then ekit works great.

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

Hello, I haven't used any of these services yet, but I've been researching for about a week for an upcoming European trip. Ekit and Telestial appear to be identical, right down to the name of the services. It appears that the Telestial card is a little cheaper to purchase, but I haven't read the fine print yet.

These two seem identical in name and per minute fees:

http://www.telestial.com/view_product.php?PRODUCT_ID=MSIM-PPPL

http://ekit.com/ekit/MobileInfo/Service/ekplus

One thing I've found is that it's like shopping for a mortgage: the devil is in the details.

It seems the Mobal card is free (is that correct?), but the per call rate is much higher. 1.25 for incoming and 2.95 to call other countries.
http://www.mobalrental.com/gsm/charges.asp?p=A70&cc=

And BTW, Ekit/Telestial is as low as .29 per minute, and I haven't even seen .99 in the plans I was looking at.

I'm not shilling any of these services, I'm trying to find the best deal myself. Best, Rob

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

PS: For me, I'd rather pay a higher fee for the card, and a lower fee per minute, if all else is equal. It seems that after 20 or 30 minutes use, the lower fees will pay for the card, and after that, it's all savings! Rob ;-)

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

Wow Rob, thank you! I noticed the same thing about Telestial and ekit. The thing is, you can get the ekit card for much cheaper here: http://www.statravelus.ekit.com/ekit/MobilePurchase/Services There seems to be no catch to stop you from getting this cheaper, no requirement for an ISIC card or anything (there's a separate link for that), so I'm baffled as to why it's so much cheaper, but ekit (purchased so that it is only $9 plus shipping!!) is the one I am leaning towards. I agree with you that if a card is slightly more but has better rates (such as ekit does over Mobal) it would pay for the difference and then some pretty quickly.

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

Not many seem to think of this - you could still buy a SIM card in Europe from whatever company you'd like when you arrive. Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, etc. It would get you a number of that country, and provided you ask and purchase a card that allows this, you still get to make calls in other coutries, paying roaming rates. It certainly won't be any more expensive than buying Mobal, Passport, Ekit or other cards in the US. Roaming agreements abound all over.

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

Debra, I pulled the trigger, so to speak. I just ordered the Passport card from http://www.statravelus.ekit.com/ekit/MobilePurchase/Services. As you pointed out, it's $30 cheaper than ekit directly, which is weird, because it's the ekit card and services. I got the Passport because it has free incoming calls where I'm going. Keep in mind, they have a service where your friends can call you toll free, but it costs you .39/minute. Otherwise, they'd have to call a European number (UK, I think). Well, I'll try to report back my results for this thread. I won't be there until 6/1. Best to All, and safe travels! - Rob

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

And another thing to remember; ekit seems to tack on a "connection" fee of .25/call on many plans(I haven't checked Telestial yet for this). But they don't charge roaming fees, and many travel sites warn about outrageous roaming fees when buying a card abroad.

I'm told by others who have tried buying a card in Europe that it's much more expensive paying their roaming fees in the long run. Plus, you have to waste valuable vacation time (if that's your purpose for traveling, of course!) at a cellular store!

I say, hunt down the best program here if you can(and more keeps coming out of the woodwork... Debra, thanks for the tip on statravelus.com), and spend your time abroad having fun. And talking on your cell phone... just kidding! - Rob

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

Erik, I did think of buying a card once I arrive overseas, but as the whole point of having the cell phone is for emergencies, I would rather have it all settled before I leave so that I can give people who might need it the #, figure out how to use it, etc. I'm leaning towards ekit because it just seems the best for emergency situations. I might just give it a go and report back here with what the result is. Thanks all!!!!

Posted by Michelle
Anaheim, CA, USA
1394 posts

I got my SIM in London I just picked a random brand (Virgin mobile) and stuck with it. It was for emergencies or to leave a number at restaurants (when booking a table). I decided to stick with one # and knew I would have to pay a bit more for one number, even if I was hopping countries. The cost is not that expensive and besides, its easier for family back in the states to reach you in case of THEIR emergency back home! One number= convience, and if you're on vacation, its much nicer to not worry about finding the cheapest cost for a sim!

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

Got the card...good to go. I have a UK number. The last thing I want is getting calls from everyone that has my US cell #! And one nice thing about the Ekit service is that I can give out a toll free number for friends and co-workers (unfortunately, we can't get COMPLETELY away from work!). That way, they don't pay a dime to reach us, however, I pay .39/minute for the service. But I got the plan that has free incoming calls in the countries I'll be in, so I don't get double-dinged. I can also just give people my UK number, and they'll pay the fees. So far, getting the Ekit card from http://www.statravelus.ekit.com/ekit/MobilePurchase/Services seems to be the best way to go, at least for me. I just wish I already had a GSM phone (don't forget, some US GSM phones don't work everywhere...get a tri-band or quad-band phone). I had to buy a used one. Again, I'm not shilling for any of these services...I'm just a research freak and trying to share the info! Best - Rob

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

Rob, thanks for the updates. You got the card fast, that's good to know. Luckily my friend gave me an old phone of hers (she's from Europe and had bought a phone when she was there for an extended family visit). I think I'm just going to stick with the Global Premium because for me it is really just strictly emergencies, so no need for some of the extras. I can't figure out why it's $30 cheaper from STA travel either, but hey, it's the same service, it seems to work, you got your card ok (which is good to know), you'd be crazy to buy right from ekit LOL!!! Definitely I would appreciate you letting us know how it works after you return. Thanks for all your research and have safe and happy travels!

Posted by Rob
Portland
6 posts

Well, Debra, I did have it overnighted. So I payed a lot more to get it so quickly. Don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow, I always say! By the time I get back in mid-June, and with the flurry of work I'll have to do, I might forget I even logged on to this site. If I don't post something about my experiences with the card by 6/24, can someone send me an email via the thread, here? Best to all, and safe travels. - Rob

Posted by bliuc
new arlean, florida
1 posts

What I needed was a European cell phone I could use during my trips abroad.
And after doing some research I decide to stay with http://callineurope.com/; the rates they offer look more competitive compared to few sources I verified. And I won't have to pay any monthly fees and will be able to reroute my US number.

Posted by Ashley
Miami
1 posts

Hello,
This year for my winter vacations i travel around some countries of Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Germany). i bought a lefrenchmobile sim card i worked perfectly!! i could access to internet when i needed to check google maps, and also i was able to call back home in the US at very good tariffs.