Getting a portable phone in Europe

May 31st, 2014, 06:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 16
Getting a portable phone in Europe

If I buy a travel phone in France, how do I type in the numbers to make a US call? How do I use that phone in Italy to call a place in Italy? Where should I buy the travel phone--the airport?
lolochaun is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 04:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,628
Rick Steves makes it too complicated. You can dial any number in Europe and the US from any other place in Europe and the US if you dial the full number including the country code and city code. (Rick says to drop the "area" code, but this is optional and it's much simpler to just include it, especially since you might not be sure which part is the city code.

I live in Italy, but I travel a lot, so whenever I add a number to my phone contacts, I include "+39" in front of the number. (The + is the international dialing code, and "39" is the country code for Italy. That works just fine in Italy, and, more important, it's the only thing that works when I'm somewhere else. My husband doesn't do this, so when we're abroad, whenever he has to call someone in Italy, he has to edit the phone number to add the +39.

The equivalent code for the US is "+1", since "1" is the country code for the US. When you get your travel phone, put your important US numbers in it, with a +1 in front of each number. This will work everywhere.

The country code for France is "33". Phone numbers in France that begin with a "0" (land lines) drop the "0" when you use the country code. For example, if you see a French phone number "01 43 33 12 07" (01 being the city code for Paris), enter it in your contacts as "+33143331207", where + is international dialing code, 33 is the country code for France, and 1 is the city code for Paris, with the 0 dropped.

In Italy, the initial 0 in a phone number doesn't get dropped ever. If you see an Italian number "06 43 33 12 07", enter it in your phone contacts as "+390643331207", where 39 is the country code for Italy and 06 is the city code for Rome, without the 0 dropped.
bvlenci is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
very well explained. I am not sure in those countries but in Spain you would buy a "pack" prepay.. for about 15-20E that includes a phone and sim card. Good luck. NO CAHRGE AT ALL for incoming calls when you are receiving the call in the same country the phone was registered and purchased. But all calls are charged when outside that area .
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,861
You don't need to wait until you're in France to buy a phone. Just go on e-bay or Amazon and buy a cheap (under $30)unlocked GMS quad-band phone and order a free Lebara ( SIM card - they'll send it to you in the USA. Activate the card and register it once you're in France (you'll need to go to a phone store and show your passport or use the phone itself to put in your passport number). Then top up the phone with more minutes if you need to (also can be done on the phone itself). If you're going to be in more than one European country, get a dual-SIM or tri-SIM phone (doesn't cost any more) and get individual SIMs for the different countries so you don't incur roaming charges.

Follow bvlenci's advice for making calls.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
As noted in your Spain post, switching to T-Moble is the simplest thing for anyone from the States traveling to the EU. or several other locations. There is no longer any need to purchase a quad-phone or use a local sim card. At $0.20/minute for local calls or calls back home, T-Moble is hard to beat. If you have a phone with WiFi calling (the iPhone 4S or later and certain Android phones), then calls are free with calling from a WiFi zone.

Making international calls is automatic when using the iPhone.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,631
T-Mobile worked beautifully for me in Europe in April, but not everyone has the realistic option of being able to switch to T-Mobile. I live in a city in the US and I get excellent coverage everywhere I go, but in rural areas they don't do nearly as well.

And even if you have T-Mobile, it's not guaranteed your phone will even work in Europe. It must be a quad-band phone. My old GSM phone isn't quad-band and doesn't work over there. Not everyone has a brand new or smart phone.
Andrew is online now  
Jun 1st, 2014, 10:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 16
Thanks everyone. I talked with someone at ATT today and since I leave on Wed. the best and cheapest option they say for me is to get a travel phone over there. Where should I buy one? The Paris airport you think?
lolochaun is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
I'm not sure you'll find the less expensive ones at an airport store.
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 1st, 2014, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,699
I'd go to the local cell phone store. There is usually an Orange store in the city center. Or some pharmacy carry cheap PAYG phones for about $20
emily71 is offline  

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