This is a stupid question - so I will own it. I have an international SIM card from MOBAL. I should be able to unlock any cellphone and use that SIM card, shouldn't I?
Elaine, First of all, I don't consider this a "stupid question". The answer may be of interest to others. The "short answer" to your question is maybe. There are a few things to consider: > The phone should of course be a GSM phone, as "any cellphone" could be a CDMA model (which doesn't use a SIM card). > If you're intending to use this in Europe, it must have the two European (and rest of the world) frequency bands (900 & 1800 MHz). If you were to buy a cellphone here, it may only be equipped with the two North American frequencies (850 & 1900 MHz). Using a phone with the correct frequencies is crucial! I've encountered travellers from the U.S. in Europe on several occasions that were puzzled on why their phones wouldn't work. After all, the cell company sales staff told them it was a "GSM phone and would work fine in Europe". When I checked the settings, it was obvious why the phone wouldn't work in Europe! Hopefully this answers your questions.
The only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked! We used Mobal for years and found it convenient, however we retired our Mobal sim since there are better options in Europe where we travel. The sim cards in Europe are very cheap and provide much better calling rates than Mobal. For example, Lebara in France offers free incoming calls, 0.15€/minute calls within France and 0.09€/minute calls to the US. The sim card costs 10€ which includes 7.50€ talk credit. In the UK, Carphone Warehouse offers a number of free sims which require a purchase of 10£ talk time. They have free incoming calls, 20p/minute call rates and rates to the US as low as 7p/minute. Recently I've seen deals at Carphone Warehouse for 15£ which included a phone and 10£ talk time. Also, Skype is a useful service for making almost free calls on a computer or iPhone using wifi. Even AT&T's roaming rate is competitive with Mobal in most places. We'll keep the Mobal card as there may be places where it will be useful, but not where we go in Europe.
I second buying a phone from Carphone Warehouse if you are visiting the UK. They are selling an unlocked handset for 99pence if you buy ten pounds worth of calltime. http://www.carphonewarehouse.com/mobiles/mobile-phones/ALCATEL-OT-209/PPAY You can then use the handset in other countries using local SIMs.
Lebara is also in the UK
I needed exactly this information. Thanks.