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'Good' international SIM card provider?

Could anyone recommend, from their experience, a ‘good’ international SIM card provider for my upcoming trip to Europe (France, England, and Belgium)? I have a Verizon Galaxy S4 smartphone, and the easy thing for me would be to just subscribe to Verizon Global Services.

But it looks like purchasing an international SIM card would be less expensive for voice, texting, and data service.

What I’m concerned about is that the Galaxy S4 won’t function properly after I’ve installed the SIM card. Or that the service provider doesn’t deliver the services advertised.

I’d appreciate everyone’s thoughts & suggestions.

JM

Posted by
11970 posts

You need to make sure your phone is NOT locked by your carrier (Verizon). If it's locked your carrier's Tech Support can get it unlocked for you but they will do so only if your phone is fully paid. So if got your phone for free from the carrier on a 2 year contract and 2 years have not expired yet, your phone will probably not be eligible for unlocking.

I'm not familiar with your specific phone, however once unlocked, you should be able to insert a local SIM car in Europe. Once in Europe, you could buy the SIM card in the first country you land. However you will be roaming once you go to the next country. A good strategy is to buy an International plan that allows you to roam for a set weekly fee (generally not too expensive).

There are also companies that specialize in selling European SIM cards for travelers, such as Telestial and CellularAbroad (go to their websites).

Posted by
40 posts

Roberto:

Thanks for the reply & your thoughts.

I've already explored the capabilities of the Verizon Galaxy S4. It is a GSM-capable smartphone. And Verizon has stated on its website that S4's aren't 'locked' for use outside the US. So I don't think that's a concern to me.

My concern (I guess I didn't make my initial question sufficiently clear) is purchasing a SIM card for the S4 from a provider who advertised great rates for voice, text, and data access. But then, when I arrive in Europe, I find that the provider doesn't provide the advertised minutes/MBs, and/or has poor customer support for resolving problems.

For example, MaxRoam is one provider who, at face value, seems to be offering great rates for international service. But when I dug further to find out about MaxRoam (by visiting another travel website called 'TA'), posters there complained that they were very dissatisfied with MaxRoam.

What I'm looking for are the experiences of folks who had no (or minimal) issues when they used an international Sim card in their smartphones which visiting Europe.

TY
JM

PS> I'm very excited about this vacation! My first trip to Europe.

.

Posted by
4688 posts

These "international SIM cards" don't make as much sense as they used to, for the simple reason that the EU has now capped roaming charges within Europe. So now you can just buy a SIM card when you get to the UK and use it there, then when you go to France, use it there too. Calls may cost slightly more (within France, anyway) than when you were in the UK, but it still be manageable. If you run out of your allotted minutes or data, buy a new SIM in each country.

Roaming charges are NOT capped when calling North America from Europe, however. One possible solution to this is to buy a Skype US phone number ($18 for three months). Whenever you are on WiFi you could receive calls for free (beyond the $18 one-time for three months). Anyone in the US could call you without paying for an international call. To call out with Skype you could buy some Skype credit ($10 USD increments) or a monthly plan ($2.99?) for making calls out. And when you are not on WiFi, you could still use Skype using your local SIM card's data.

These local SIM cards don't really cost that much - anywhere from 5 to 15 Euros I think, depending on the country. Unless you are planning to use your phone a lot while over there, it's probably not worth stressing over - just buy SIM cards after you arrive.

Posted by
30958 posts

Juan,

Have you looked at any of the other travel SIM providers such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal, EuroBuzz or Lebara? Some of them provide very good service and consistent rates through out most of Europe.

I've found that their rates are quite reasonable for voice and text calls, but increase sharply when data is added. One other benefit is that many use post-paid billing (calls charged to a credit card), so no need to top-up when minutes are depleted.

Posted by
2518 posts

I used Lebara on my trip thru France last November and had no problems other than finding a nano sim for my iPhone. This might present a problem if you need one. After arriving at CDG I tried the shops there and none had a nano. Hopped the TGV to Strasbourg and on my walk to my hotel stopped at 2 cell phone stores and neither could help. Then I saw a shop that has international phone booths,faxes and Internet. Though they didn't have the nano, they used a die cutter to cut another card. Worked perfectly. The year before on my trek through Spain and Portugal, I used a T-Mobile card that I signed up for and cancelled after a month. Worked flawlessly! Another benefit to the T-Mobile card is that folks in the states can call you using the U.S. number at no charge.