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-   -   "Free" AutoEurope cell phones (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/free-autoeurope-cell-phones-496506/)

artsfan Jan 18th, 2005 05:27 PM

"Free" AutoEurope cell phones
 
These are London-based phones, even if you're visiting France and Italy. It costs $1.20 to call out from either of those countries. It costs $.60 to call out from the UK. If you look at the cost of Telestial you will see that, once you buy the phone, it is $.12 to call out from Italy to a landline phone and free to get an incoming call.

artsfan Jan 18th, 2005 05:28 PM

Sorry, forgot to note that those are per-minute rates.

ira Jan 19th, 2005 04:20 AM

Hi Arts,

The Autoeurope phones aren't completely free ($40 for S&H).

However, for those of us who want one for emergency use only, it is cheaper than buying a phone.

The cheapest phone at Telestial is $99. Their SIM card for France is $59.

I can make a lot of $1.20 phone calls for the price difference.

((I))

nonnafelice Jan 19th, 2005 04:29 PM

If you want a phone primarily for emergency use, it's hard to beat Mobal:
http://www.mobalrental.com/

Despite the name "mobalrental" you can actually buy a phone for use in Europe for $49 (shipping included). The phone is yours forever, with a permanent number. The per-minute cost is high (about $1.30) and you pay for incoming calls everywhere except the UK. But as Ira says, you can make quite a few of those calls for what you'd pay for another phone plus a SIM card. However, the cheapest Mobal phone costs only a little more to buy than to rent the "free" phone with $40 S&H.

If you buy a phone with a SIM card, its minutes can expire, so you could be paying for time you wouldn't use. You only pay for calls you actually make on the Mobal. (Calls are charged to your credit card.)

This is NOT the phone for someone who wants to make a lot of calls, but if you want a phone in Europe for the convenience of an occasional call or emergency use, I think it's a great option.

We bought one and used it in Italy a few months ago. I recently got an email from a Mobal marketing person asking for my feedback, and saying that they were considering lowering the per-minute rate for some European countries. When I responded, I got a nice personal reply from her, which left me with positive feelings about the company.

If you do want to make a lot of calls, and want a lower per-minute cost, you might be able to take out the Mobal card and use a regular SIM card with the phone. It looks as though it would work, but I never had the opportunity to try it.

artsfan Jan 19th, 2005 05:53 PM

Ira, yes, I did know about that "free" shipping lol. Nonna...thanks for the tip re Mobal. That is actually a great tip and coule work very well for us. Here is what they say about their phone and other SIM cards: "A GSM phone that is 'locked' means that it only operates with the SIM card that it is supplied with (Mobal World Phones are SIM locked to the Mobal international GSM SIM card). GSM phones that are 'unlocked' work using any SIM card (if you already own an unlocked GSM phone you will be able to use the Mobal international GSM SIM card)." I see that their cheapest phone is a Nokia. And if you go to this site: http://www.thetravelinsider.info/roa...lockingfaq.htm
You can pay $5 and they will give you the code to unlock any Nokia phone. Evidently they've been written up on CNN and the Washington Post.

xyz123 Jan 24th, 2005 04:53 PM

The cheapest Mobal phone is a Nokia 3310, a solid but old dual band (900 and 1800) phone. According to the literature the phone is locked...

But the Nokia 3310 is a DCT3 phone and freely available all over the web are DCT3 unlocking calculators. The problem is that you need the IMEI # (the phone's serial number which there is a code that I have forgotten at present to get) no problem there and the company it is locked to and there is the rub.....Mobal is not listed.

However it has come to my attention that Mobal uses UK O2 sim cards so I suspect (but can't guarantee) that if you enter as the provider UK O2, you will get the unlocking code for FREE (like in FREE).

So if this is so, then the charge for the phone ($49) is probably worth it and then you can use any SIM card you want.

The recommendation for the UK is the Virgin Mobile SIM; competition has become so fierce that in many places the card is sold for £4.99 or so I've read and comes with £5 worth of call credit! A true bargain! And a very simple tariff structure, very inexpensive (at least for mobiles) calls from the UK to North America (20p per minute timed to the second, minimum call charge 5p) and no registration hassles. It comes with a swipe card which you can easily use to top up the card for as little as £5.

Not all that good for roaming throughout the rest of Europe but that is beginning to change. Look up www.riiing.com for what's coming and if it suceeds, you will quickly see roaming costs throughout Europe fall almost as quickly as the US dollar has!


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