I will rent a car in Berlin in August and would like a reasonably priced cell phone to use in Germany for emergencies. I will need it only for about 10 days. Any advice? Thank you for your help!
You might want to check out mobal.com and telestial.com. Both offer extremely cheap (49 and 59 dollar) basic cell phones. You get the phone, the SIM card, and can top up your minutes over the Internet as you need them. The phone and phone number are yours permanently. The downsides--the minutes are pricey in comparison to buying a country specific SIM, the phone is very basic (no camera, no fancy graphics for games). If you are going to use it a lot for calling, you would be better off with a more expensive phone. But, if you just want it for emergency calls and the odd call home, you can't beat them. I've had one for three years (used in Turkey, Australia, France, Netherlands, and Italy with no problems.)
If you happen to already have GSM service through T-Mobile or AT&T/Cingular, it works great everywhere we've been in Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe (Czech Rep, Poland, Hungary, Austria). No adjustments or extra expenses beyond the cost of roaming and international charges. Very convenient If you only use if for emergencies, no problem. Verizon & Sprint phones do not offer this world-wide service last I knew.
Verizon offers a "phone-rental" service for Europe. However, I purchased one of the Mobal Global cell phones for my last trip to Munich and Venice. It worked just fine.
We've had a Mobal phone for several years and it's been very handy. We got another one this year so we could be in communication with our daughter who was meeting us mid-trip.
Our new T-mobile phone also works great over there, and is much cheaper to call from here (since it's a local call) - the roaming is about the same as Mobal. However, having it be easy to reach from home (not long distance like Mobal) meant that we had many more calls from our family - they thought it was great, but we pay the bills :)
We just got back and used a phone from telestial company. We still have 40-50 minutes left on ours and we live in Tampa, FL. If you did not get one yet, we will give you a good deal on buying ours.
Let me know by email and I will give you my phone #.
Our T-Mobile cell phone was great in May-June, with strong signals in Provence, Chamonix, Wengen, Hall in Tirol, Castelrotto and Mittenwald. Cost was less than $1/minute, any location. However, the best deal was Rail Europe. We bought TGV tickets through them, and they offered a card, sent with the tickets. Easy to activate, fully functional in each country with good contact numbers, and about 40 cents/minute in each country. T-Mobile was incredible. Imagine calling the U.S. from a mountain top in Switzerland!