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Curiousaboutit Mar 20th, 2008 05:18 PM

Cell phones for Italy to US
Thank you for the suggestions about cell phones in France; it was very informative. I hope someone can be helpful specifically for cell phone for use in Italy. My husband and I will be in Paris one week and 25 days in Italy. We can do without making calls home for the Paris time; calling from Italy is vital.. recommendations?

Packed2Go Mar 20th, 2008 07:12 PM

You might consider purchasing an international phone from The phone is $49 - yours to keep and use for years, and you only pay for the calls you make (reasonable rates).

If you will be renting a car while in Europe, the folks at Auto Europe ( offer free cell phone rental when you book a car rental. I've used them several times in various countries and have always found both the car rental service and cell phones to be excellent.

janjanjan Mar 20th, 2008 07:39 PM

I have the exact same problem, and have investigated in gory detail. Auto Europe may have once offered free cell phone rental, but no more. Their charge is now about $50 with high connection costs.

Telestial offers a cellphone for purchase with a plan. It's their Pack Lite plan which includes a phone that you actually own permanently. By-minute rates are quite high, and you may prefer one of their other plans, but for $50, you get the phone and about 20 minutes of outbound talk time. Incoming talk time is free. For us it will be our best option.

Curiousaboutit Mar 27th, 2008 03:36 PM

Thank you for the current information. I was looking into the offers from telestial international phones. The numbers are UK based and to call from France to USA is .39 and from Italy is .29. Who has used them and how was the service. I will be needing a sim card and my husband will need a telep[hone and sim card.

cwojo99 Mar 27th, 2008 04:20 PM

I purchased a pay as you go phone last year when in England and Ireland.Inexpensive and cheaper than renting.

Check out thsi link from Carphone Warehouse:


sheri_lp Mar 27th, 2008 04:42 PM

When I was in Italy a few months ago, I just used my regular old TMobile phone. They offer an international calling plan that you need to sign up for before you travel, and I think it cost about 99 cents per minute to call in Europe, but its about $4 to receive a call from the US. So tell people to make it fast or just send an email!

Apres_Londee Mar 27th, 2008 04:46 PM

For your husband, you could buy a quad band, unlocked cell phone on Ebay.

As far as sim cards go, one option would be to buy travel sim cards from travelsimshop. Their sim cards costs €30, which includes €10 of airtime credit. Calls to the US from either France or Italy cost .45 per minute. If you and your husband were to call each other, it would cost .45 per minute for the phone making the call, and no charge to the phone receiving the call. I went this route after reading through endless threads about this very subject. I don't know if it's the absolute least expensive way to go, but it seems to be one of the simplest.

janjanjan Mar 27th, 2008 05:06 PM

Unless you're going to make a lot of calls, I'm not sure there's any better solution than just using your own phone, assuming you can indeed use it in Europe.

If you're gone a month, and use 100 minutes of phone time, you'll pay $100 plus the one time $6.99 fee, or $1.07 per minute.

If you buy a SIM card and pop it into your own phone after unlocking it, you'd pay 29.90 Euros. At current exchange rates, that equals $46.64. For that you get only 10 Euros of calling time at 0.59 Euros or $0.92 per minute per call. Let's say you actually use 100 minutes, topping up your SIM later.

You'd pay $92 plus $31 extra for the SIM (US dollars for the 19.90 Euro) that the SIM card costs in addition to 10 Euros useage.

So, those 100 minutes calling the US with the SIM card would cost you $123, vs the $107 you'd pay to use your own phone.

Of course, if you expect to receive calls, the SIM card wins hands down since you don't pay for incoming calls. Your caller does pay international rates from his/her phone, but this may not matter to you if these are business calls.

I think a lot of the answers about cell phones have changed with the dreadful exchange rate deterioration in the past year. What used to look like highway robbery now looks like a reasonably competitive option.

A lot also depends on what your own phone is capable of doing, and just why you need a phone in Europe. If it's for occasional use calling ahead in Italy, that's a different issue than if it's for calling back to the US.

sanschag Mar 27th, 2008 05:41 PM

I'm assuming your phone is with T-Mobile or Cingular. If not, you can't use their international roaming option, obviously. Even if it is, I would buy a second unlocked quad-band GSM phone from Ebay and 2 SIM cards once in Italy.

In Nov, I was able to buy a TIM card for EUR 5 with EUR 5 talk time (yes, effectively free) by simply walking into a TIM store. Calls to the US were EUR 0.50/min. It seems there may now be a EUR 7 activation for this rate ("Tim Base"), but it still may be a good deal. Based on 1.5 USD/EUR, you'd save ~$0.25/min and break even at only 14 mins of calls. Using the above example of 100 mins, this would only cost $85 and give you the ability to make local calls (for restaurant reservations or calling each other) for EUR 0.30/min (landline or mobile) and allow people to call you without you paying the $.99/min roaming charge. (Give them a 10-10 number and it can be as little as $0.05-$0.09/min for them.) True, you won't know the number beforehand, but you could text it to them for EUR 0.15 once you do know it.

Hope this helps,

Curiousaboutit Apr 2nd, 2008 11:00 AM

The suggestions are so diverse! My husband and I are with Sprint and even though I have a Treo 700, it is not capable of using a SIM card. I am curious what you think of Telestial "Pack Lite" Siemens A55 for $49. It includes $20 airtime included, free incoming both in France and Italy, pre-paid, no connection fees, and includes universal plug adapter. We would use this phone for incoming calls mostly and a few out going. It is re-loadable air time wise too. Then, if a friend mails to use, as pormised, an unlocked tri-band phone and from Telestial buy a sim card which is for .49 out going in both countries with only a .25 connection fee per call. Oh, the card cost $39. What do you think of that offer? Thank you.

scatcat Apr 2nd, 2008 11:24 AM

I bought the Telestial phone for trip last September. It was perfect. The incoming calls were free and we were given the $20 credit. We also were given a number that was dialed from the US to my phone with no charge to my home phone. I think that was good for 45 minutes. I recharged my phone online while I was In Nice. Easy.

bmetz Apr 2nd, 2008 12:28 PM

Any suggestions about use in Prague and Budapest
and Austria ?????? Basically would love to be able
to make both local and long distance calls back to the States. Also, would love some sort of ability to read/send e-mail. I have sprint now but I also have
an unlocked GSM phone at my disposal. Just need
convenience and simplicity. Thanks, Barbara

cwojo99 Apr 6th, 2008 11:33 AM

bmetz -

What carrier service do you currently use in the states?

Sprint has a world blackberry phone that can be activated to travel abroad. I use it when I travel and it allows me to check email via the internet or black berry service.

Verizon has one as well.

Some AT & T phones can be unlocked - but you need to buy service to use abroad.

Hope that helps!


Curiousaboutit Apr 22nd, 2008 05:04 PM

I am interested in Scatcat's positive experience with Telestial. What type of arrangement did you make to have the connection to your home phone. I will need to phone home every other day and talk for a two minute hi how do you do type call, nothing long. It sounds too good. I now have a friends Nokia 1100 just needing a sim card and we still need the Pack Lite phone that comes with $20 in call time. I am hoping the simplicity of doing this is as easy as click and pay online with Telestial. We seem to need some hand holding reassurance about the process. Thanks

scatcat May 2nd, 2008 12:59 PM

I just checked back on this posting. It is very easy to call home from a Telestial phone. You turn your phone on, press and hold zero til you see a + sign, then you simply dial 1 then area code and number. I think it costs about .79 per minute to dial out. You can recharge your minutes easily on line. It is not cheap to call from your phone, but it is cheap to call from home to your phone by using a 10-10 number. And you also get 45 minutes of FREE time with your purchase for your family and friends to call you. They get a 1 866 number and it is free. After you have used the 45 minutes of free time, it cost $.50 per minute charged to your credit on your phone. I also buy a phone card from each country I am in. This is really cheap to call home from your hotel room. I also call home at least once per day and my husband calls me about 3-4 times per day. I don't know why!

xyz123 May 2nd, 2008 01:58 PM

Getting + is different on different model phones...if it's a nokia phone, you press the * key twice...+ stands in for the international long distance code on gsm phones....or you can use the actual long distance code which is 00 in almost all European countries...thus to dial a number in the USA you would dial 001 212 555 1212 or +1 212 555 1212....goes through either way.....

Curiousaboutit May 5th, 2008 02:18 PM

Thank you for the last two helpful directives. I am curious about one thing mentioned in scatcat's 4.2.08 message and the one above ( We also were given a number that was dialed from the US to my phone with no charge to my home phone. I think that was good for 45 minutes.) What magic did you use to get that? If all goes well this week we might be getting a Samsong Ace (Sprint) international phone and only need the sim card for the borrowed Nokia 1100. If you can tell me more, I will smile.

Danie3633 May 5th, 2008 02:57 PM

I'm sorry for jumping in on someone else's question but all of you have so much information.
I'm in a similar situation but instead of France and Italy I have Italy and Israel.
Any suggestions or do the above still apply?

scatcat May 5th, 2008 03:44 PM

The free 45 minutes is a promotion with the Passport Lite Siemens phone. The phone cost $49. I got $20 credit on the phone + the free 45 minutes with no charge to our home phone. I have carried this phone on two European trips now and it will be going with me on May 27. It's nice to know that our family at home can keep in touch.

Curiousaboutit May 6th, 2008 11:20 AM

Hey Scatcat, thank you for the followup information. The purchase time is soon upon me. We are leaving on May 26th for Paris and then onto Venice the afternoon of June 1st .. and then for the next 24 days through Italy; home from Rome. Where are you traveling?

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