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Amazon's many International SIM cards. Do they work in Europe?

I am dithering on buying a 4G LTE SIM card for my phone from Amazon before I leave for Paris in 6 days. Could someone recommend a good but inexpensive card that would allow me to make calls within France, from France to Italy, as well as within Italy? This is a totally new area for me. I virtually know NOTHING about the cards. Can I create a hotspot with the card , get the Whatsup
or Viber app and use my husband's dated phone to make calls through the app to the USA?

Posted by
9406 posts

I have not used a SIM form Amazon but with an unlocked Android phone, we simply walk into a cellular service store upon arrival in Europe and have them fix us up. They stores have always been helpful in making certain we were in working order with functioning email before we walked out.

If you buy online and it doesn’t work, what a hassle! Upon activation we email the few people who need to have our numbers in case of emergency. We seldom use our phones for calling, only the occasional restaurant res and to confirm arrival at lodging. Mostly it is for data, email, GPS. Data plans in Europe are cheap so not sure why a hotspot is necessary.

Posted by
991 posts

I did not know that Amazon sold SIM cards. I'd be hesitant to buy one, just in case it didn't work when I arrived. If I were buying a SIM card, I'd think it's prudent to buy it once I arrive in the country I'm visiting.

Posted by
23365 posts

why not just get one as you arrive and have the young kid behind the counter put it in for you, set it up and test it for you. They will set it up for English and tell you how to inexpensively top it up.

It will work with no roaming fees throughout the EU and the UK, and the EEU including Switzerland.

Posted by
4685 posts

I would wait now, too, to get to France to buy a SIM card.

Make sure your phone is unlocked. If not, you can request an unlock code from the original provider (assume the phone must be paid off by now).

However, I would try to install Google Hangouts (and on a Android phone, the Hangouts Dialer app) now so you can make free phone calls home to the US for free, even to landlines. Not sure you can set it up after you get to France as sometimes Google wants to verify you have existing US phone service to let you make calls with Hangouts.

It's possible your husband's "dated phone" won't work well in Europe on mobile networks there (depends what you mean by "dated"). Things like Google Hangouts can be used on WiFi without any SIM card, though, to make calls.

Posted by
70 posts

I have a related question about SIM cards. I have a new iPhone 6 which I assume will work in Europe. I plan to buy a SIM card when I arrive in Frankfurt. But I will be travelling to several countries including Hungary and Czech Republic; others are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Italy. I won't be in some of these countries for very long (only hours for some in train stations) but I'd like to be able to text in case of problems.

So my question is what is the best carrier to use that provides coverage in all these countries? I'd prefer to buy only one SIM card so I hope such a company exists. Thanks for your help and advice.

Posted by
4685 posts

The EU has banned roaming fees for European SIM cards. So if you buy one in Germany, assuming it allows roaming at all outside of Germany, you'll be able to use it (for data at least) in all of the EU countries. For calls, you'll be able to make them in other countries at the same cost that you would if you were using the SIM in Germany.

I've never bought a German SIM card. Each country has different requirements for buying and activating a SIM. Someone posted here recently that he had bought one successfully there but needed to provide a physical address in Germany (he used a family member's; maybe you could use your hotel's?). Can't comment on it myself having never tried. But even if you succeed, the one possible "gotcha" involves Switzerland. It is not in the EU so not technically covered by the EU roaming restrictions. No guarantee a German SIM would work in Switzerland at all without high roaming fees.

I can recommend the Dutch Vodafone SIM, which I bought on eBay last year and have since used on two trips to Europe (not in the Netherlands yet though!). I got mine from eBay seller "cheapeusims." I used my US credit card on their website to add money so I could buy a "bundle" of data for a month. I assume a Canadian card would also work on their site. The biggest downside of this SIM card is calling: you are charged 20 cents/minute for calls except for a few minutes in the bundle provided to Dutch numbers. Texting also isn't free (you can use WhatsApp or some other free texting app with data.) Data is all I need the SIM for, though, so it works great for me. People who need to make local calls within Europe may find the SIM works fine and also buying say $10 of credit on Skype or Google Hangouts to make calls cheaper than 20 cents/minute.

Also, the Dutch Vodafone SIM covers Switzerland as part of their "EU roaming zone" even though not required by the EU regulations. (Not sure if a German Vodafone SIM would or not.)

Look in the tech forum for my write-up from last year about this Dutch Vodafone SIM.

Posted by
1029 posts

Gerald,

In my limited experience most local prepaid SIM plans are valid for 30 days. If your trip spans a longer period you will need to top up your account or get another SIM and plan after the first one expires. I believe the Dutch Vodafone plan referenced by Andrew alllows top ups via an online account.

Posted by
23365 posts

Sims which are free roaming in the EU are also free roaming in the EEA which includes Switzerland.

Posted by
1016 posts

The EU has banned roaming fees for European SIM cards.

That is correct, but there is a catch. The amount of data (GB) you get is for use in the country where you buy it. You can only use a fraction (e.g. 20% or 50% - some even 0%) in the rest of EU.

When you buy a local SIM card, be sure to ask how much you can use outside the country.

Posted by
4685 posts

OneSimCard's features look great. It's just very expensive. 25 cents per MB of data?? 25 cents per outgoing call or outgoing text? 1GB of data for their "European Data Plan" costs $50 USD for 14 days. Any SIM card you buy in Germany will be much cheaper than that.

One advantage of buying a SIM card ahead of time is that, obviously, the phone will work as soon as you land in Europe. You don't have to go hunting for a mobile store. One disadvantage is that if you don't buy it at a mobile store, you may not have anyone to help you before you leave the store, in case the SIM doesn't work as expected. Occasionally people need to set the Access Point Name (APN) to get mobile data to work - something you can do yourself if you know where to look in your phone's settings but which can be confusing especially if you are not tech savvy. (I haven't needed to set the APN in a few years on my SIM cards, but some people still report the occasional need to do so, even on new phones.)

Another advantage of buying one ahead of time is that you might find one from a country (like the Netherlands or the UK) that has better policies or prices than a SIM you could buy in the first country you visit. For example, the Dutch Vodafone SIM has free data roaming in Switzerland - but can you get a German SIM that has it? Maybe - not all of them support it.

Posted by
70 posts

It appears that the best choice for me would be to buy a European SIM card when I get there. That way I can make sure it works before I leave the store plus they are likely cheaper. I will be arriving in Frankfurt and staying near the train station. Any recommendations for a store near there and a company to buy from? Thanks