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Cell phones in Greece--need advice!

Old Feb 20th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Cell phones in Greece--need advice!

My husband and I have "quad-band" cell phones that our carrier (Cingular/AT&T) says we can use in Greece. Apparently, we need to purchase a Greek SIM card when we arrive in Thessaloniki. Can anyone tell us where we would go to buy a Greek SIM card? Also, is there a better way to make our cell phones usable in Greece? I'd appreciate any Fodorite tips!
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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This is the best way--I have done this in UK but not Greece.
There will be stores everywhere, maybe even an airport kiosk. You buy the sim card, insert it (make sure you save your old one in a safe place), buy some credit, and there you go.
Google the phone companies in Greece to know what to look for (e.g. Vodaphone).
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Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 12:06 AM
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Greek sim cards are widely available, and one place you can get them is Germanos, an electronics store with branches at the airport. There is a Germanos at the far end of the lobby in the Arrivals level, so you should be able to get set up before leaving the airport.

The two carriers with best coverage are Cosmote and Vodafone-Panafon. The instructions will be in Greek, so get the store clerk to help set up the sim in your phone if you aren't sure how to do it. Buy enough air time to cover the calls you expect to make.

If you run out, top-up cards are available everywhere, including small supermarkets. Ask the clerk to key in the code for your top-up minutes.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 12:47 PM
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" ... quad-band cell phones that our carrier (Cingular/AT&T) says we can use in Greece... "

If and only if, the phone is "unlocked", meaning it is setup to operate outside ATT's own network, using a non-ATT SIM chip.

Better make sure ... a phone can be quad-band GSM _and_ still be locked to ATT's network ... you'll pay roaming charges thru the nose ... multiple $ per minute
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Good point from tom_h. You may have to ask for your phones to be unlocked if they aren't already.

Looking back at your post, I see you are arriving at Thessaloniki. My comments about the Germanos branch were meant for Athens Airport. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 04:22 PM
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WE use our locked ATT quad band phone in Greece all of the time to call home.. it is expensive, $1.99 per min sometimes less, but OK for emergency.

We bought a Cosmote (Greek cell service company) phone at the Athens airport (you could easily get one in Thesaloniki, airport or otherwise)which gives us a Greek phone # and the ability to load it up with as many euro worth of min. via a SIM card as we want. Very handy while we are there and in need of connecting w/ Greek friends or do business in country.
Still - if you simply tell ATT you will be traveling in Greece, you will be able to use your own phone with no problem at all.
Go online to the ATT 'International' forum and find a lot of info there.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 05:59 AM
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I was assuming the phone is unlocked if AT&T told OP to buy a sim card--if they were going to be using their phone's own intl calling plan, they would not need to replace the sim card, right?
If you have had your phone for a while, they will usually unlock it for you. Otherwise, you can buy the unlock card online.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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Well, being ATT (cingular) customers, we've never had them tell us that we can just use Greek sim cards! Why would they do that and lose $$$?
Of course, after being customers for 3 months they will allow one to activate International calling - and you call, at a price.
That said, by all means, see if they will unlock your phone... good luck!
They would not for us, which is why we bought a phone (Nokia, cosmote) in Greece - all of $50 US and we've used it now for 4 trips, the 5th coming May, and have gone through 1 $20 euro sim card and are on our 2nd.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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Yes, I mischaracterized the OP's statement. They said they need a sim card, AT&T said they can use it oversea (I'm sure meaning on an intl plan).
I had problem with T-Mobile not unlocking my phone because it was new--so I promptly bought the code off ebay and it worked like a charm.
Eventually US companies will stop this unfair practice. If you have a plan that's one thing, but I have a pay as you go phone that I purchased and they would not unlock it--criminal!
Some companies say they will unlock if you have had the phone/plan long enough because that way they recoup money from discounted phones.
There have been lawsuits over this so the days are numbered for this practice of locking phones.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 10:19 AM
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One must be careful of what "they" tell you. Often a well-intentioned but misinformed customer assistant will give you the wrong answer. The only way I know to be sure that your phone is unlocked is to try using it with a sim from a different provider, preferably before your trip to Greece.

Cell phone companies subsidize the cost of handsets - can you blame them for wanting to get a return on their investment before allowing the customer to switch providers?
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