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Long Term SIM Card

I'm traveling to Sardinia in April, Provence in late June, and Venice in September. I'd like to buy a SIM card for me Android unlocked phone that I can use in both countries and have it be long term or at least 60 days with an option to renew. I found an Orange card on Amazon with 8 GB of data for 14 days, but I think I have to keep renewing it to keep it active--no gaps in coverage. Can anyone help? I think I'll have to buy 3 cards--one for each trip When you top off a card, is it the same price as when you bought it?. I'm interested in data, not calls so much. Thanks!

Posted by
4833 posts

I has been awhile since I have had to maintain a SIM, but I had a Vodaphone SIM from time to time, and while the initial deal was usually a 30 day plan, you had the option to top it off or let it sit idle, then add to it when you get ready to travel. For the Dutch one, it took some translating on the site to figure it out, the UK one was easier. I think it took at least a year, maybe longer of inactivity before the account became inactive. Unless the Orange card is specifically for visitors and has different terms, then it might be similar.

As I mentioned, that was in the past, I have since moved to Google Fi, so no significant difference for me when I travel to use Data and only a slight upcharge to use voice, and my regular number is still in use. You can also look to your cell provider and see what longer term travel plans they have.

I guess I can add some about other questions.....

With the Vodaphone card, I believe the Data was a max for the time period, maybe it was a "use it or lose it", can't recall. You do need to determine what a reasonable amount of data for you to use, I find for example I use from a Gig, to less than two Gigs a month normally (with some business travel), in Europe I use maybe 50% more. So for me 8 Gigs in 14 days is way more than I (and I suspect most) need. So getting a plan that allows adding a Gig now and then is worth it. As I recall, the initial plan for a couple Gigs of data is attractive, add on Gigs are at a higher rate, but not out of line, I recall something like the equivalent of $10 US for a Gig, but that was some time ago.

Posted by
5352 posts

Like Paul, I have a Vodafone NL SIM card. Bought it online, put money on it, used that money to buy a data "bundel" for the duration of my multi-country trip. Afterwards the SIM sat quietly in my desk drawer, being re-inserted only to do some transaction (topping up € balance or sending a cheap text) once every six months to keep the number active. Just before my current trip I added more money and bought the appropriate bundel (for me, 2GB for a month is more than ample.)
For your trips, you could buy ONE card then only get a data plan for the time you will be traveling. My 2GB plan is €9 for a month, automatically renewing if there is sufficient € in the account. You would need to tell them to cancel the renewal at the end of each trip (or make sure you have less than the renewal amount in your cash account.) Since you would not have six months of inactivity between your trips, you would just need to top-up by the € amount you needed to buy the data plan you want.
And yes, translating the NL card instructions is a pain -- UK card would not have that problem.

Posted by
4833 posts

Comparing Laura's response to mine, it is maybe worth pointing out that plans and rules vary all over the place. As I recall, mine I have had were a 1 month deal, with the option to top up the account as I went. My data cost was maybe higher than Laura's, but she maybe had a monthly type of plan, likely featuring lower data and voice rates. You will just need to sort through the plans and figure out what works. One option, if you are willing to wait, is hit a phone store on your first trip (one of the major brands, not an Airport Kiosk or tobacco shop, and explain your travel. They may be able to point you to the best SIM, get your phone working, and show you how to add to your account.

Posted by
4694 posts

candyb, you didn't mention if you were willing to change US providers, but are you aware that some Verizon and T-Mobile subscribers have been happy with their low or zero cost additional options when traveling? (I might add that T-Mobile sent me some annoying robo-threats during a 5-week trip that suggested that I might be living in Asia and abusing their plan, which was ridiculous.) I certainly don't think you should cancel a plan for one three-month trip, but it sounds like you may travel a lot.

I once had a renewable multi-country sim card that promoted multiple trips, but it required elaborate "call-back" calling procedures, wasn't that cheap, and was designed to stick you with extra charges. I'm glad to be rid of it.

I don't know if you were asking a question about "coverage", since you wrote Sardinia instead of Italy and Provence instead of France. For SIM card availabilty, it's the country that matters.

Posted by
15 posts

Hello Tim:

Sorry to take so long to reply. I have an android phone solely for traveling outside the U.S. so I don't have a provider. I use the phone for photos and for directions while driving or walking. I realize that it's the country and not the region of the country. Thanks for your input.

Posted by
141 posts

You didn't mention whether you are primarily calling home or calling within Europe, so YMMV.

I have a Lycamobile SIM I bought in Italy a few years ago for € 10.00 and it's still active. I just make sure I have a couple bucks balance on my account and then it remains active when I am not travelling.

When I do use it in Europe, I add a "bundle" via the Lyca website (although it will default to a per minute rate without a bundle). Usually something like 20-40 GB data, unlimited minutes and texts in Italy and EU Roaming for € 10.00 per 30 days.

This account, of course has an Italian number, so if anyone needs to call me, they pay international rates

Another option is buying a pay-in-advance SIM in the U.S. from someone like Ting or Mint which may have not-so-terrible international per-minute rates. That way, you are ready to go when you hit the ground, and folks at home will know your number before you leave home.

Happy Travels!

Posted by
15 posts

Hi: I'm not interested in calling home. Between email and Skype that's good enough. I'd make local calls only, and very few. It's all about data and photos.

Posted by
2 posts

My daughter is studying in Italy this semester. A family friend had recommended to buy a SIM card and service from iIiad Mobile https://www.iliad.it/ once in Italy. For $10 a month she has 50 GB of data, unlimited texts and talk. Calls to the U.S. are included in the plan. She has traveled throughout Italy and has had a great experience with the service for the past two months. Her phone is a Verizon iPhone 8 and she simply exchanged the SIM on it to receive her Italian phone number. I had confirmed with Verizon that the phone was unlocked before she left.

Another Verizon option is to enable worldwide coverage on a particular phone on your account that allows you to use your U.S. plan for data and calls for an additional $10 per day - not very cost effective but useful for the first day you're off the plane if you need it. Lastly, as a Verizon customer Wifi calling is free worldwide to and from the U.S. as long as your phone is on local WiFi (and WiFi calling is enabled) when overseas. Under the above two circumstances your phone acts as if it is still in the U.S., your number is still the same and folks back in the states call you in the same manner as if you were back home. I would recommend you enable WiFi calling back home in the U.S. by default to fill in for bad coverage in rural areas where cell service is bad and where Wifi is available. It switches back and forth between the two methods automatically depending on the strength of the signal.

Other U.S. carriers also offer WiFi calling. It generally is not on by default and needs to be turned on in the smartphone's settings.

Posted by
2 posts

The nickle and diming by Verizon is precisely why I switched to T-Mobile ONE+ after a trip that included Germany, Estonia and Russia several years ago.

With the new plan I have unlimited* data and SMS included in over 140 countries. Voice calls are about $1 per minute from most places, but are seldom needed due to WiFi calling. *) While abroad the data speed is limited to 3G, so it is not enough to stream pretty much anything. But it is plenty to get your maps, forums, emails, look up a train schedule, check in for you next flight ...

It is $50 per line, but you get what you pay for.

Regards, Jan