International SIM cards.

Was wondering about getting an international or global SIM card for our two unlocked quad cell phones. Have checked out couple sites. There was 0044, Mobal, and Telestial. We will be using the phone in London and Ireland this time. But plan to use it for other international travel. We will not be using the phone often, may be 1-2 times a day to keep in touch with each other during separate outings around the city during vacation and for restaurant reservations. Any thoughts and experiences with service quality and cost. Thanks.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

I have used Mobal several times, but now have a Eurobuzz SIM that I will use, along with a local SIM, on my trip in May. Eurobuzz is owned by Mobal, but their prices are a bit cheaper. Pay attention to the fine print about how calls are made and received. Some international SIMs use a clunky "callback" method, where you dial a bunch of numbers, then hang up. The call is placed, then you are rung back when the call is connected. Mobal and Eurobuzz use a regular direct dial system.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

David, because you asked about global SIMs from one of the travel phone companies, I'm assuming you're not asking about all the options you have for phone use overseas, so I won't go into that. Here is a partial list of those companies I compiled last year: brightroam callineurope cellomobile cellularabroad ekit eurobuzz fonerent gosim mobal onesimcard rangeroamer roamsimple telestial Check the Graffiti Wall. I think there were a number of comments about travelers' experiences with some of these companies. I recollect that one company (cellomobile?, callineurope?) had a number of positive comments. Ken from Canada will chime in shortly I suspect with further comments. I think he's the expert on the travel phone companies.

Posted by Pete
Boston, MA, 02115
3 posts

The National Geographic SIM has good rates, US number phone number. And it can be kept active for years between trips. It's a dreaded "calllback" service, though. You dial normally, and wait 1 to 5 seconds for your call to be connected. People selling more expensive options find the few-seconds wait to be a significant trip-ruining trauma. You've been warned!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17745 posts

Paul, I'm not sure if I'm an "expert" on the subject, but I researched some of the firms you mentioned to find a good solution for my own travels. The list you provided was very comprehensive! David, I'd suggest checking the websites of the firms that Paul listed, and compare rates and features to determine which one might best work for you. I personally don't care for "callback" type services, but if you don't mind that sort of thing, the price will probably be good. Happy travels!

Posted by David
Walnut Creek
69 posts

Thanks everyone for their help. Sounds like the call back thing is bit hassle. However, will mainly be using in country for restaurant reservations and checking where my spouse is. So not that many calls per day at all. So the call back does not sound that bad. Thanks again.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Ken, I've never used one of the travel phone companies, but you have and have examined a lot of the issues. In my book, you're one of the most knowledgeable about the subject in this forum. So, I think of you as the expert. You also are very good at giving thoughtful responses, e.g., Phones in Europe... HELP! I am partial to prepaid accounts bought overseas, but my views are changing more and more where I'm beginning to recommend travelers use their home phone carrier if they can, especially for folks that just want something that works and don't want to deal with all the potential complexities of other options. For me, figuring out how to work through the other options (skype, magic jack, wifi, foreign number, prepaid calling card, etc.) is part of the fun of traveling. My wife doesn't understand it, but she's happy to let me fix her phone so it'll work. Anyway, I think anyone asking questions about phone use while traveling certainly can't complain about getting too little information from us.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2380 posts

If you are looking for intra-Europe calls, be sure to look for a company that gives you the best deal for that in particular. Some of the companies might focuss on getting deals for calls between Europe and the US/Canada, which might not be what you need. I had good luck with Cellular Abroad and intra-Europe calls were cheap since they give you a European number. But it did have call-back. I didn't find it an issue once you understand it. I also liked that you could load minutes easily as you ran low. Not trying to sell them in particular, just things that you might want to look for.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Mobal and Eurobuzz (and others, though these are the only two I have used) have the advantage of being post-paid - charged only if and when you make a call. You don't have to prepay for minutes or worry about running out. If you make no calls, you haven't wasted money on prepaid minutes. And the number is permanent - it never expires.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17745 posts

Paul, Thanks very much for the kind words! I always try to provide helpful information. I want to mention that I've also learned a lot from the information you've posted, and always enjoy reading your replies. I had thought of sending this as a PM but some of these comments are relevant to the OP, so the information may be beneficial to others. I've only tried one of the "travel phone" firms so far and haven't seen any need to try others as I've been pleased with the service. This year is going to be a bit different, as I'll be travelling with an iPhone for the first time, so I'll have to deal with the data roaming issue. I'll be able to provide more details on costs when I return. If my bookkeeping is correct, my Cell phone charges for my trip last year were $53.16. I tend to use text most of the time, which keeps costs down. The subject of travel with Cellphones can be complicated and confusing for many people, especially those without a technical background. I try to provide information in a somewhat "simplified" format, so that travellers can make an informed choice. Now that Smartphones are becoming so prevalent, those that don't do their "homework" may find a HUGE bill waiting in their mailbox when they get home. A good example is This Case from last year (click on the video link for the story). I've found that the "bottom line" is that there's a cost associated with the convenience of travelling with a Cell phone. Unless one has an unlimited budget, there's no way to use these the same as at home. The "trick" is finding the most cost effective way to have the convenience. I chose the travel SIM as it's an easy solution which gives me one number for the entire trip and predictable rates. Cheers!

Posted by 123callback
meriland
2 posts

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Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

It is nice to have this thread revived, especially since I posted a nice list of links to travel phone companies, but I'm a bit suspicious of the last post, especially since it is the person's first post. Is it is an ad for Go-SIM, which may be a perfectly fine company? I've tried to find some negative reviews and admittedly haven't found any. What I did find was lots and lots of five-star reviews. I'd feel better if there were at least a few people who weren't happy mixed in with all the glowing reviews. I've almost always found a mixed set of reviews for even the best products. It would be nice to get a review from someone who has posted here on different subjects. ==
Edit: Okay, I've found a few more reviews and noticed that I cited Go-SIM myself in my list of travel phone companies. From what I've read it is (or has) a call-back service, which may not be what you're looking for.

Posted by David
Walnut Creek
69 posts

We ended up going with Cellomobile, which seems to be well thought-of in other threads on this site. The call-back aspect is not that annoying and the service has worked well for us in London, France and Ireland. Our only issues have been: 1) sometimes phone gets "stuck" searching for a partner neckwork, usually fixable with restarting the phone and 2) limited customer service hours (and you pay for your customer service calls). You can reach them via email if you have internet access and can wait for assistance. We are especially pleased that the sim card doesn't expire if not used for awhile. On our most recent trip to France, we used less than $6 worth of minutes between the two of us - in the past we've purchased two €20-odd Orange sim cards, which expired after thirty days.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

David, thanks for updating the forum with your experience. I think you've described one situation where using a travel phone company worked well.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

David, thanks for updating the forum with your experience. I think you've described one situation where using a travel phone company worked well.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Several people on the very old parts of this thread reported good results with other travel SIMs, too.