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Need Tracfone cell phone/service alternative for young teen in England

My daughter has a Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime phone supplied by Tracfone, so I don't think it is unlocked. I would like her to have the ability to text or call me if somehow we got separated at a museum or shop where there is no wifi service she can use (for Hangouts). We'll be there for 2 weeks so I think our best bet might be to either get a very inexpensive phone while we are there that is prepaid, or buy an inexpensive unlocked phone here to bring there and buy a European SIM card. Neither I nor my husband are comfortable finding and changing SIM cards, so the first option might be the best. Any suggestions for buying such a phone in London, perhaps in the Pimlico area or one of the major tourist areas that we might frequent? Or if you know about simple SIM cards/unlocked phone combinations I'll consider that too. Thanks in advance.

Update: I have just read that the FCC has worked out an agreement with Tracfone to allow them to unlock phones, so this seems like a possible option for us. We would then just need to know where someone has gotten a good SIM card deal in London. Perhaps the vendor could help us insert this. Thanks!

Posted by
11507 posts

I took an 11 yr and 13 old to europe.. when we entered crowded sights I would choose a meeting point in case we got separated.. did this with all my kids ( they all (3) got one on one trips with either their dad or me ) .. for weeks at a time in Europe.. remember.. its not that helpful to phone and say " I'm at such an such a place" if you don't know where that place is either.. lol.. so even as a back plan with a phone.. this is still a good technique to employ for all family members.
Remember people have traveled without phones for hundreds of years before about 15 years ago..

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks Pat. Yes, I do generally try to keep tabs on my offspring at all times and would have a meeting point plan, but I am a near professional worrier and having plan B is a comfort more than (I hope) a necessity. The thought of getting separated on the crowded Tube (not super likely I know), sends shivers down my spine. Plus having another family member with cell service is a good backup for us parents should our phones run out of battery power or the like. (Here too my worries get the best of me, I know.)

Posted by
1595 posts

In London my recommendation is to go to a "Carphone Warehouse". They will set you up with what you need.
Very helpful people. Not knowing where you are staying and which tube station you will be using I can not give you an address. Just "Google" carphone warehouse and check their locations. We used the one located just outside Victoria Train/Tube Station.

Posted by
5687 posts

We just had another thread about Tracfone. The poster's LG phone bought from Tracfone would not actually work in Europe even if unlocked; it didn't even have GSM frequencies, which is unusual for a modern smart phone. Tracfone has no international roaming, though, so there would be no reason for them to insist that those frequencies be included on one of their phones. Quite the contrary, actually.

Looks like the same is true for your daughter's Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime: no GSM frequencies, so won't work in Europe, even if unlocked. They use GSM over there for voice.

This is an old phone anyway. Consider simply buying her a new Android phone. Cheap Androids don't cost that much purchased outright (so could work on Tracfone or anyone - not locked). Consider the Moto phones for example. The Moto E5 play should work in Europe and costs only about $130 or so (cheaper on sale) - just be sure to buy the fully unlocked version. Then she could use it with Tracfone (or whomever) at home and buy a SIM in Europe to use it there. Take the phone to a store in Europe and have the clerk install the new SIM. It's quite easy - just keep the old one safe and secure so you don't lose it! (Bring a little plastic container of some sort - I always do.)

Posted by
5344 posts

When landing at Heathrow (I'm making the presumption it will be your destination airport) then there are several shops alongside the baggage carousels that sell sim cards if you don't want to wait until you hit the high street.

Posted by
824 posts

Google "Google FI".

The last SIM I purchased in the UK was an O2 pay-as-you-go and I was very satisfied.

I like the Google Fi concept because the phone will work the minute I land so I won't have to waste the time finding a phone store. There call rates are as cheap as most of the PAYG plans and their data is competitive as well. You can get a brand new Moto G6 Google Fi right now for $99.