Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

How to order free Lebara SIM card from the U.S.?

How to order free Lebara SIM card from the U.S.?

Old Sep 13th, 2012, 01:35 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, I ordered a Lebara card before leaving for France (where I am now), and it arrived at my U.S. address 4 days later (amusingly enough, with my address noted as "Washington, DC, France" on the envelope.). HOWEVER, when we arrived at CDG and went to the Relay, they said they couldn't add any minutes to the card (and it only comes with a very few), so we ended up buying SFR SIM cards, which worked fine until we'd been in France for 15 days. There's a French law now that says that you have to identify yourself as the owner of a French cell phone/SIM within 15 days of purchasing a SIM...OK, but the SFR website wouldn't allow us to do that, nor could be use the mots de passe that SFR sent us on the cells, and we ended up spending 2 hours at the cell phone store in Le Bugue getting help from an amazingly patient woman who called SFR for us and bemoaned the whole process. I imagine Lebara falls under the same French law, so be forewarned about that, and also that the Relay stores, at least in Terminal 2 in Roissy, cannot top up your SIMs when you arrive in France, or at least they could not for us.

SFR may be more expensive than Lebara; I'm not sure. But their service is really easy to use and the calls are cheap and very clear. At least, until you leave your cell phone out in the garden and go off to bed and there's a huge rainstorm overnight. But the whole business with having to register yourself under some loi ministirielle is one of those things that just requires a lot of time and effort, even if you speak the language. If you don't, I can't see how you could manage it without some serious assistance.
StCirq is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2012, 06:01 PM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,179
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
French law requires that all mobile phones be registered to a name and an address. This requirement is not provider specific, all SIMs must be registered.

Relay does not top up phones, the owner does that by dialing 2323 and following the instructions. Topping up or adding talk time is simply a matter of purchasing the desired credit (I have purchased credit at Relay) which is usually sold in the form a a ticket with a series of numbers on it. The user calls the recharge number and enters the code. That's it.

SFR is significantly more expensive than is Lebara. For example SFR has special pricing for calls to other SFR phones. For a 5€ monthly fee, you can make SFR to SFR calls for only .30€ per minute. Lebara to Lebara calls are free.

SFR charges 1.55€ per minute for calls to the USA, Lebara is 0.01€ per minute with a 0.15€ connect fee.
Sarastro is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2012, 02:09 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Topping up or adding talk time is simply a matter of purchasing the desired credit (I have purchased credit at Relay) which is usually sold in the form a a ticket with a series of numbers on it. The user calls the recharge number and enters the code. That's it."

Relay did not have any such tickets. I know about that, speak French, and inquired. They said it was not possible. They had no Lebara tickets, only Orange and SFR.

Our SFR cards are charging .02 cents (euro) for calls within France. We're not using them to call the USA, so I don't know what the charges are for that. We put 15 euros each on our cards when we purchased them, have made a zillion calls since being here, and have 8+ euros left on each after almost 3 weeks.
StCirq is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2012, 01:09 AM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Could someone pls tell me when I should register and load the card if I am traveling in December? If I register when I get the card (say in 2 weeks), am I able to wait until december to add funds to the card since I've read the funds expire rather quickly (10 Eu in 20 days..etc.) Any advice is greatly appreciated
johnnevre is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2012, 04:12 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I got my card in April and registered it in mid-September. I could not recharge it/add time to it online. I simply went into a neighborhood tabac, paid 10€ and got a receipt with a code to use when I called on the phone (I guess you don't need any time on the phone to call in, must be free). Easy to do and the phone works great.
DebitNM is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don't register it until you're ready to use it. You can order it any time in advance, but realize it can take some time to be mailed to you (though mine came in about 5 days).
StCirq is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2012, 11:59 AM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the assistance debitnm/stcirq - much appreciated!
johnnevre is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2012, 07:04 AM
  #48  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,849
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just to bring you up to date with my misadventures with Lebara SIMs, I screwed up the free Sims I sent off for before I left. I took my two cheapo GSM phones along with me to Paris and began looking for Lebara logos in the windows of Tabacs and magazine/news store windows near our apartment in the 11th. I found that many of them would recharge the SIMs, but did not sell the cards themselves.

Finally, I noticed a phone store that said " Tout Markes" on the sign. The did not have the Lebara logo displayed, but happily sold me two SIMS. They asked to see some ID, and asked for an address. I gave them the address of our apartment, but I could have just as easily pick an address at random. They didn't care; just another stupid Government regulation that requires a scribble on a line in q form.

The cards are working just fine, BTW.
nukesafe is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2012, 12:22 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 10,479
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
On our recent trip, I couldn't seem to buy more Lebara time online once in France. Primarily because I couldn't set up a "My Lebara" account from the USA, which one needs to get more time online once in France. Also, the way they offer to do it over the phone involves dialing 2323, which gets you to Lebara, with a recorded phone-tree message....in French.
Which I dialed 4 times and hung up, after asking the phone-tree software for an English speaker. Near the end of our trip, I tried again and pushed 1; I got someone, and tried my pigeon-French, asking if he spoke Anglais. In barely accented English, he replied yes, and after a few words, switched the account to English so that when I next dialed 2323, it would give me an English recorded message. He also said that, once in France, one could not set up a "My Lebara" account using a non-French credit card. Sounded like Catch 22.22.22 to me, but at the time I had larger fish to fry.
As it turned out, the 10 euro top-off I bought at CDG had something like 1 minute 5 seconds left when we returned to the US, so I never needed to top it off.
But a word to the wise for those more talkative than I; be TOTALLY aware of how to use the system before you arrive, not merely assuming things would work out as I did.
tomboy is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2012, 01:28 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,989
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
nukesafe - I had the same experience trying to get a Lebara SIM after arriving in France. Every place said they could recharge but didn't sell the SIMs. Just curious, what did you actually end up with? What was the cost? I ended up throwing myself on the mercy of a friendly Phone House person who set me up with something for €20 that covered our 3-week stay and a few local calls. Good to know that any French address would work.
MaineGG is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2012, 12:19 PM
  #51  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,849
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cost me 15 Euros for each card, which included 7.50 Euros talk time, MaineGG. I know the ads say you can get them for 10 Euros, but at that point I was not about to quibble.

Damned glad I got them, as my DW bought something today that required shipping, and FedEx had to call her to straighten out some details. If I did not have a number to give them we might never have seen our goods.
nukesafe is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2012, 12:50 AM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Does the Lebara sim permit data access as well? I mean, may I browse the web and use android apps like RATP (french transp. site for the train/metro system)or does it just permit calls? Does anyone have experience with the data side of things? Thanks in advance.
johnnevre is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2012, 08:34 AM
  #53  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Lebara sim is for voice(phone calls) only. You would need a data plan to use Internet. I have not been able to use free wifi on my phone out and about, seems like they want to be able to send a verification code before you can use it. With no data plan ,no texts!!
I have the RATP app downloaded on phone and can use the metro maps ok.
DebitNM is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2012, 12:23 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, DebitNM. Oh no...no texts..Is there any card that includes sms? I wonder...
johnnevre is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2012, 03:31 PM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 602
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bookmarking for future reference.
Dee_Dee is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2013, 03:36 PM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,244
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am going to India for two weeks before I go to French. Can I set up the Lebara chip from there? TIA
AGM_Cape_Cod is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2013, 10:17 PM
  #57  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What do you mean set up? If you have the SIM card you can set it up from home in US (activate it).

As far as putting money on it, I have not been able to do so while in US. First trip using it, I simply went into a tabac in Nice and paid for 10€ credit, got a receipt with a code on it and then entered the code using instructions on the receipt.

This trip, I was able to recharge online using my US VISA card , which I could not do last year. BUT I did it while I was already in France. Not sure if it was physically being in France or if things changed that allowed me to use my Visa card.

As far as using the SIM card, I simply swap it out when I arrive in France and am set to go
DebitNM is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2013, 03:23 PM
  #58  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,875
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just topping this with updated info: I ordered a Lebara from Amazon for $29.95 (includes 7.5 euros of airtime) because I was concerned that the free one wouldn't get here before my trip.

http://www.amazon.com/Lebara-France-.../dp/B00ADSPEQ4

I received it overnight from Amazon prime and am in the process of registering it online. It absolutely does include texts (incoming are free.)
crosscheck is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2013, 05:42 PM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As I think I mentioned in another thread, I would never pay Amazon $29.95 instead of nothing just because the Lebara sim wouldn't arrive before I left, unless I absolutely had to walk off the plane with a working phone. All you have to do is buy one when you arrive at the airport. Maybe crosscheck had to have a working phone immediately upon arrival.
StCirq is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2013, 03:03 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,244
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
FYI I ordered the free Lebara sim card but it is not the micro sim which is required for iPhone 5. I will see if I can get it in Paris.
AGM_Cape_Cod is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -