I will be traveling in Italy and would like to know about inexpensive options for a cell phone for emergency/limited use. In the USA there are Pre-paid brands (or PAYG?) such as "TracFone" and "GO Phone" that permit you to purchase minutes in blocks of time, as needed. I'm sure that that a similar product must be available in Italy. Anyone know any brands to search for? I've never used a "smart" phone, and I'm looking for a low-tech, simple solution. Cheers!
Buy a used quad-band unlocked cell phone on e-bay. When you get to Italy, buy a new SIM card for about 15 euros and put it in and you're in business with about 10 minutes of time to start and you can add minutes as you need them.
You may can buy a prepaid phone in Italy, but it's doubtful it can call out of Italy.
I have T Mobil to get access to their excellent European systems. With their regular $50 monthly service, you can call home from Europe for $.20 per minute and text and data is unlimited in Europe. My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter kept calling us on her mother's speed dial when we were in Budapest last year--at 3:30 a.m. Service in Europe is seamless with the U.S.
When I return home, I'll be dropping their service and going to one of the prepaids like Tracfone. (I just don't talk much via cellphone when at home.)
Hey Sam, Thanks for your reply. I have heard about the "quad-band unlocked cell phone" idea, but 15 euro for 10 minutes of talking seems very expensive (not to mention the price of the phone)! I only want to call within Italy, and only for in-country contact with hotels and such.
Booknine, I am in the same situation. I have a pay as you go phone for use here in the US (because I do not have cell service at home or in many places I go to on a daily basis- YES, there are still many areas up here that do not have cell service!).
I want a phone while I am Italy in Sept for emergency calls to US, calls to hotels, etc. I did not have a phone last year when my sister's flight was delayed for hours due to strike. I purchased a phone card but could not find a phone that worked! E-mail only works if the person on the receiving end is on-line and checking the email.
If anyone out there has a suggestion that does not include purchasing a phone in the US that I will not use after my trip, I would love to hear it.
"I have heard about the "quad-band unlocked cell phone" idea, but 15 euro for 10 minutes of talking seems very expensive (not to mention the price of the phone)!"
Actually, that's not expensive at all. Unfortunately, the reality is that having the convenience of a cell phone during travels comes at a cost. The basic choices are....
- Buy an unlocked quad-band GSM phone here (E-Bay or Amazon) and then buy a SIM card in Italy OR use with a SIM card from one of the travel phone firms.
- Buy an inexpensive PAYG phone in Italy, which will come with a few minutes of air time. You'll need to top-up as necessary.
- Buy a phone from one of the travel phone firms and use it for all trips to Europe (or elsewhere).
- Rent a phone from one of the travel phone firms (this is usually a somewhat pricey option).
Ken, please excuse my ignorance about this, but what are the travel phone companies? Are they located here in the US (like an airport) or in Europe or both?
Some of the common travel phone firms are Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal, EuroBuzz, One SIM and Max Roam (there are many others). Check the websites for details on their plans and costs. Many are located in the U.S. The plans they offer use SIM cards with U.K. cell networks, but they have consistent rates throughout Europe and will work in all countries.
I don't think Italy has separate brands like TracFone, but the main providers (TIM and Vodafone) will definitely sell you a basic "dumbphone" and a plan. It will probably cost about €30 for a basic phone, which you add credit to in €10 increments. The phone stores are as prevalent in Italy as they are in the US, and it shouldn't be hard to get set up (do bring your passport to the store, as this is required to set up an account).
Right - in Italy, I did have to show a passport at the TIM store to buy a prepaid SIM. In other countries (e.g. Slovenia, Poland), you can buy a SIM card at a convenience store like a pack of gum, without showing an ID. Every country has different regulations on this.