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Keeping US SIM card

After conversing with my cell service provider (Credo Mobile) I decided to keep my US SIM card for a 2-week trip to Ireland and Scotland. It worked just fine. I had to notify Credo and have their tech support folks make some changes in my phone ahead of time, then change it back after I returned, but this was all invisible to me as user.

To avoid the oft-cited problem of astronomical data use charges, Credo simply disables your phone's data function for overseas. You can only use the Internet and email when you are on WiFi. Since most hotels and restaurants and even public buses have WiFi, I found this to be no trouble at all.

The per-minute charge for cellular phone calls is something like $1.70 when you're outside the US. Obviously this could be expensive if you have to make many calls or lengthy calls. I avoided doing so.

As a result, my cell phone bill for the trip was less than what I would have paid to Irish and UK providers for local SIM cards, and I avoided the inconveniences of (a) having to spend precious vacation time going to a phone store to get a local SIM, and (b) having a different phone number in each country. The latter is what I really hate -- one reason for having a phone is so that people can call YOU, and how are they going to do that if they don't know your Irish or UK phone number?

Another great inconvenience I avoided was that the phone worked upon arrival in the US so I could call the person picking me up, who was waiting in the airport's cell phone waiting parking lot. With a foreign SIM card this would not have been possible. Last year when I had a UK SIM, I had to find someone in the airport willing to make the call for me.

Posted by
823 posts

I'm sorry but I have used foreign SIMs on several occasions and never found it to be an inconvenience or a time-waster. In fact, because of all the time it saved my throughout the trip, it was a net time saver. It took no more than ten minutes to acquire the cards and all my contacts were intact in the phone. Notifying necessary contacts of my new (temporary) number was as easy as sending a text. I also had instant cellular data connection so I didn't have to hunt around for an unsecured (UNSECURED) WIFI connection in order to surf the web, get directions, or keep in touch.

BTW - The most important reason to have a local (pay as you go SIM) is for the secure data connection. It is almost impossible for someone to tap into your cellular data connection while unsecured (open) WIFI is notorious for being compromised by criminal hackers. You should NEVER log into ANY internet-based account (email, social media, BANKING, etc.) while on an open WIFI service.

And, my phone worked just fine when I returned because while on the plane ride home, I swapped out the foreign SIM for my 'home service' SIM.

Posted by
2949 posts

Clearly, different people have different preferences.

I don't do any online banking nor do I use Facebook or Twitter or other social media.

As far as I can understand, it would be a huge pain in the neck to send a text message to every hotel where I'd made an advance booking to let them know my current phone number -- and then do it all over again when I went to the next country and had to get another SIM card. I'd have to look them all up individually to send. Ditto for my essential family contacts at home.

As far as calling upon return to US, my cell phone provider led me to believe (could be wrong) that if I swapped out the foreign SIM card on the plane ride home, my phone still wouldn't work in the US until I called their tech desk (from another phone) and had them make fixes in my cell phone.

Posted by
2353 posts

I'm with you ep. So much easier for me to keep my phone & number. This way it is not an international call for folks in the US to call me nor me them.

It is nice everyone can choose which works best for them.

Posted by
9363 posts

You can generally use a SIM bought in one country in another country - you don't have to switch, as long as you can add minutes if you need to. On my most recent trip, I just took my regular phone with an international plan. The plan included calling minutes that I didn't use at all (but were available if someone needed to call me), unlimited texts and a small amount of data (which turned out to be sufficient, since I only needed it for things like calling an Uber car - otherwise I used wifi). I can disable my own data and calling if I want to do so. My phone also worked when I got home to the US. Are you saying that you did not have to pay your regular bill for service while you were gone? Or is your service pay-as-you-go at home? The last time I bought a local SIM, it was 9 euros and came with 9 euros of calling time, which I never used up (can't remember what the data situation was then). I would be surprised if your phone bill was less than 9 euros. And as Work2Travel said, switching back to your home SIM is simple, and doesn't require any "fixes". Either you misunderstood or were misled.

Posted by
2949 posts

OK, last year I was in France and bought a French SIM from Boutique Orange. I asked them if I could also use it in England and they said no.

Long story short, when I arrived in England indeed it was not possible to make phone calls. I went to Carphone Warehouse and got a UK SIM.

I know there are international SIM cards but they don't work with all phones. For this year's trip I was all set to get an international SIM card from T-Mobile but my cell phone provider (Credo Mobile) informed me that you cannot use an international SIM card with their phones. They only allow you to swap their US SIM for a local (individual country) SIM.

So, it depends who your carrier is and probably many other factors.

Posted by
11446 posts

I switched to T-Mobile before my current trip. No real problems. Sure, it takes a few minutes for my phone to connect to the local carrier when I change countries but once it does, I only lose coverage every now and then and it reconnects. I even get a text message welcoming me to the new country. (And sometimes these welcoming messages come from a neighboring country when I am close to the border.)

cheap calls, free data (which is at a fairly good speed), free text messages, and the same number I use at home.

My phone is unlocked so if I go someplace where T-mobile does not have their regular international plan, I can easily change out the sim card. (And those places are few and far between.)

Posted by
3493 posts

People forget that swapping SIMs means you end up with a new different phone number!

The key issue is whether or not you need the people who normally call you to easily do so. Swapping to a local SIM means you have to tell everyone who might call you what your current local number is and explain to them how to dial it internationally. When you are using a local SIM, every call to you from your friends and family back home becomes an international long distance call! Most people I know don't have international calling on their phones, either home or cell. Of course this option means you won't get interrupted by unwanted phone calls while you are traveling which might just be exactly what you want. :-)

If you simply want to be able to call hotels and businesses around where you are at a more affordable price than your home cell service might charge, then a local SIM is the perfect option. You get some data and minutes for calls at a much lower price than most US cell providers will charge for roaming.

A great compromise for people traveling together is to swap one phone SIM to local and keep another with your home service. That way those who need to call can still do so to the phone that is not switched while you still get the better pricing for local calling needs.