EUROPE CELL PHONE USAGE

I'll be traveling to Europe in May 08.' Currently have a pay-as-you-go cell phone. Does not allow for European calls. What's the best cell phone system (here in the US)that accomodates coverage in Europe? THANKS.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

Jerry,

You'll have to check either AT&T or T-Mobile to find GSM phones that will work in Europe. A quad-band model will be required, and it's also a good idea to ensure the Charger will operate on 100-240 VAC.

AFAIK only contract customers are allowed roaming while traveling, however confirm this with whichever carrier you choose.

One other option if the phone handset is "unlocked" is to use either a SIM card from a company such as Cellular Abroad or buy a PAYG card with a Euro cell network. IMO this is not the best method, as high roaming charges can also occur with Euro networks (the cell operators in Europe are presently in a minor "battle" with the E.U. over the issue of roaming charges).

I've found that roaming with my home network (Rogers) and using text and very occasional voice calls is the most cost effective and easiest solution.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

Jerry, there are many different opinions about the best cell phone system for European travel. If you page back through the helpline topics or search in the archives (through the search box in the upper right corner of this screen) you can access those discussions.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

I just got European roaming service from AT&T - used it in Italy in September and it worked fine.

Posted by Nancy
Millersville, MD
9 posts

If you are a AAA member, they have a discount of some kind on European cell phone rentals - in case you don't want to switch, just for one trip.

Posted by jane
Orlando, fl, USA
7 posts

I have learned of www.maxroam.com. They offer a sim card you can put in your phone. It accomodates up to 12 phone numbers. You can have a local US number plus 1 from up to 11 other countries. You will need your phone unlock code, which we were able to get from Cingular, or maxroam can do it for you for a fee. According to Clark Howard, consumer advocate on the radio, this is the cheapest cell phone option.

Posted by Linda
Lynnwood, WA, USA
17 posts

You can call your carrier and ask for the International rate which is cheaper while you are traveling. When I was in France earlier this year I bought an orange phone (Orange stores in Europe)and it is a European pay and go phone so you load it first. It is a cheaper way to go to communicate within the country you go to. I was told you can change the chip as you go from country to country if you like.

Posted by Jeff
Reseda, CA, USA
196 posts

I researched this last fall and found T-mobile to have the best deal in the US. Calls from europe are usually about 1 dollar per minute. Keep in mind this 1 dollar is incoming and outgoing data charges are a lot more (if you have a blackberry) You have to activite international roaming (free)

Posted by Bea
OH, OH, USA
1157 posts

There are few ifferent ways to do it.If you get an US tri-band phone , you can unlock it and buy a SIM card in Europe. It will cost you less money, depending of the country you will buy it from.
Another way is to use your US tri-band phone (GSM) and make calls dirrectly from it. T-mobile has very good coverage all over Europe. from Western aEurope to US will cost you $.99/minute.

Posted by alex
nashville, tn, usa
12 posts

Does anyone have any experience in buying a sim (say from Vodaphone) from one country and using it in others with an unlocked phone? Can you call the US from a country the sim did not originate in?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

alex,

You can certainly buy a SIM from Vodaphone (or others) and use this in any country. Whether the phone is unlocked isn't the most important factor - the phone would have to be unlocked to use a SIM other than the home network.

However, when you leave the "home" area using the Vodaphone SIM, you'll be paying roaming charges (even for local calls) which can add up. The high cost of roaming is one issue that the E.U. and Euro Cell networks are "negotiating" at the moment.

There should be no restrictions on calling the U.S. (or anywhere else) from a different country than where you purchased the SIM, however I suspect you'd REALLY be paying high long distance charges.

I find it much easier to simply use roaming with my home cell network, and use text most of the time (with very occasional voice calls). You could also use a "travel SIM" from Cellular Abroad, but the bottom line is that if one wants the convenience, there's a cost!

Posted by Jo
Las Vegas, NV, USA
190 posts

For the past 5 years I have used my T-Mobile tri/quad band cell phone. The costs are reasonable and totally convenient. Only one caveat: If you are going toward Russia, be careful. Those charges are horrendous!

Posted by Tricia
Niceville, FL, USA
154 posts

I found a different method. Get a blackberry from Verizon and just email. It only goes against your regular minutes

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
257 posts

Jerry,
After much research and time,I bought a new cell phone, and made sure it was unlocked, meaning that you can put another companies sim card in and be able to use it. It must be a GMS phone,
able to be used in Europe. You can buy a sim card
in most countries in any tobacco store. It is the most cost effective and easy way to call and receive calls from home. I do suggest you buy large amouts of time because they do charge you a fee with every purchase of time and it does add up!

Debbie
Sherman Oaks,CA

Posted by Elaine
Dallas, TX, US
18 posts

This is your personal choice, but you can take your regular cell phone (if it is designed to work on the European cell phone band frequency) with you and pay a premium charge like I chose to do. I have a Razor phone which is compatible, which means your frequency band must indicate "900/1800" for European usage. "850/1900" is for the U.S. I had to manually change my network band once I arrived in Europe. Other cell phones might change over automatically. If you have to manually change the band, go into Tools, then Settings, and into your Network in order to change your band to 900/1800.

Posted by Sherry
Hernando, Mississipp, USA
458 posts

I have phone service through AT&T. My previous phone worked pretty good in Italy, it depended upon whether I picked up Vodaphone, great service, or TIM or Wind, not so great service. I recently got a Blackberry, and it worked great as a phone on my recent trip to Paris but I was worried about charges for email, I forgot to check that before I left. When I got back I called about it and had a pleasant surprise, no extra charges for email! That may be my new communication method for when I am in Europe.

Posted by Tricia
Niceville, FL, USA
154 posts

If you have Verizon, use the blackberry with the SIM card and then just email. If it's an emergency you can always call. Email is cheaper

Posted by Michael
Orlando, FL, USA
14 posts

To unlock a nokia phone goto http://unlock.nokiafree.org.

To unlock other phones to use a sim card from another country goto your service provider and request that it be unlocked. Congress passed a law stating that if a consumer requests to have their phone unlocked they must do so. You may have to write a letter and it could take some time so don't be a wait until the last minute typical american. Plan ahead or you'll either pay more or due without.