cell phone rental

Old Mar 26th, 2003, 12:08 PM
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cell phone rental

Hi, we are planning to rent cell phones for ourselves and our kids (teenage girls, post-grad trip), who are travelling around Europe this summer. Has anyone done this from Heathrow? Please share details and your opinion on the service.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 01:10 PM
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My opinion is that renting a cell phone is a waste of money; especially if it is for a period of one week or more. You can buy very reasonably priced GSM dual band unlocked phones for something like $80 (including shipping). The phones are yours to keep forever and forever. You can sell them on e-bay, you can sell them to friends etc. At Heathrow or when you get into town, you go into a Virgin megastore or a chain store such as the Link and buy yourself a Virgin mobile service pack for £10. The pack includes £5 worth of call credit. Domestic calls within the UK cost 15p a minute, timed to the second, for the first 5 minutes of use each day and 5p a minute, timed to the second, thereafter. Calls to North America cost 20p a minute, again timed to the second. Receiving calls is free (that's right, free). Call costs on rented phones are outrageously high. Don't listen to those know nothings who try to tell you it is a pain to buy a phone; especially in the UK. Buy yourself 2 GSM phones on the web (dual bands), buy 2 Virgin service packs and you can call between each other or send each other text messages at very very very low rates. The good thing about Virgin mobile is no registering of the phone is necessary. As soon as you insert the SIM card, you are signed up with your own British cell phone number...use your e-mail or text message your friends at home or call them, give them your cell phone number, and have them call you back. Incidentally the cheapest way to call from the US to a British cell phone is to use the 1016868 prefix...13 cents a minute to cell phones; most other plans and most other 101..services charge in the vicinity of 40 cents a minute to call a British cell phone.

BTW in Britain, these are called mobile phones and believe me having a mobile phone makes life so much easier.

For those reading on, the one disadvantage of Virgin Mobile is you can't roam with it since they require a British chequing account with direct debit to allow roaming but if you are going to spend a significant time in another country, let's say France, you simply go into a phone store in France and buy a prepaid French plan (Mobilcarte) take the British SIM card out and insert your French SIM card...voila you now have a French cell phone with a French mobile number....when you return to Britain simply switch the SIM cards. Nothing could be easier, more economical and more helpful.

Again renting a mobile phone is just tossing money away unless it's only for a day or two....once you're going to be in any European country forat least a week, the only way to go is to buy the phone as explained above.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 01:15 PM
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Alexantha:

How long will they be in Europe. If it is longer than a couple of weeks, they are probably better off buying one. They can buy SIMs for the different countries that they are in and avoid roaming charges. Cell phone rental is usually at least $25 per week, and the per miute charges are usually substantially higher than the going rate.

There is a US company that sells european cell phones and you can get one for about $100.00. I don't know if they are the cheapest, but they seemed to compare favorably with the prices I got from the companies in Ireland.
http://www.telestial.com/

Bill
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 01:44 PM
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Telestial.com is expensive...go to a search vehicle such as yahoo and do a search for "GSM phones". The cheapest model is a Motorola with few whistles (it does a vibrating battery for use in cinemas and theatres however) for about $69 with $10 shipping. They go up from there; my own choice is the Nokia 3310 a phone identical to the Nokia 3390 except the 3390 is for North American use and operates on the North American bands; the 3310 operates on the dual European bands. The 3310 runs about $100; it is a little dated (2 years old) but it works fine.

To me, the cut off as I noted in my reply is about a week; once you're going to be in a European country for a week, it pays to buy the phone rather than to rent it.....

Incidentally, telestial.com does sell prepaid SIM packsages for many countries; the thing is they are awfully awfully expensive as compared to what you can do when you arrive.

And do remember the caveat once again, in all Western European countries receiving calls on a mobile is free!
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 02:36 PM
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The only trouble with Virgin mobile is it can't be used outside of UK without registration and direct debit from UK bank account. And yes, you can buy SIM pack in each country, but for a stay of a few days it becomes quite expensive, many require registration (local address and ID often needed, esp France and Italy, and potential language problem) and you alter your number every time you change your SIM card. A few SIM packs can be used outside the country of origin (roaming) but then you start paying to receive (around $1.50 a min) and call charge also shoots up (typically $1.50/min to US).
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 03:47 PM
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Alec:

You are right of course...you wouldn't buy an individual SIM for a stay of 2 or 3 days in a country...a week is generally worth it. France does not require registration of the service pack...Italy might, I've never been there so I wouldn't know.

There is another way around this. If your carrier in the US is GSM (T-mobile, Cingular and increasing AT&T), you can register with them for foreign roaming. I am most familiar with T-mobile (ne Voicestream)....if you register with them for foreign roaming, calls from the US to most Western European countries cost 29 cents/minute (no extra believe it or not to a mobile); calls from Europe to the Us cost 99 cents a minute, receiving calls in Europe costs 99 cents a minute. You retain your US phone number so forstays of 2 or 3 days, this might work nicely. Again you need either a dual band or tri band GSM phone and all you have to do is witch your SIM card.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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has anyone had experience with using your own phone and buying a SIM start up package in Portugal?
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 06:46 PM
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Anyone with recent experience buying a cell phone and SIM card at the airport in Rome?? Please provide the details of where, how much, etc. Thanks
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Old Mar 27th, 2003, 05:09 AM
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I did a long serch, still have more pages to go, but so far I have found a few sites that offer phones for less than telestial. They are:
Ghandi Electronics
http://www.gandhiappliances.com/gsmguide.htm
They don't carry the cheapest phones, but they appear to have some pretty good deals.
World Gift Center
http://www.220giftcenter.com/motorola.htm
They carry the lower priced Motorola phones.
Welelectronics
http://www.welectronics.com/gsm.shtml

They have the lowest prices I've seen. A phone for $53.

On the less expensive ones, I have not been able to find anything that lists the talk and standby battery time, but my eyes may be blurry from staring at 100s of web pages.

Bill
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Old Mar 28th, 2003, 03:57 AM
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xyz123- Very nice bit of information for those who might otherwise have been "worried" about buying a mobile phone in UK/Europe.....

One thing you left out of your anaylsis tho, was that another reason to use Virgin instead of O2 or other companies, is that Virgin does NOT "kill" the SIM card if its not used within 6-9 months, as the others do.

I was skeptical about this benefit at one time, and ultimately spoke to someone at Virgin who confirmed it,,,so my "future" SIM cards will all be Virgin!

Best wishes, Dave
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