International SIM card Help

Old Feb 20th, 2007, 08:37 AM
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International SIM card Help

Has anyone purchased an international SIM card from one of the online offerings? I have an AT&T/Cingular cell phone which has the capability of working internationally but, AT&T rates are much higher than the rates I am finding for international SIM cards. Any suggestions, recommendations?
CharlotteR is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 10:07 AM
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I bought from United Mobile last year. (www.united-mobile.com) I bought it after doing a lot of research (including these forums), and it worked just fine - easy to order, easy to add time, works in multiple countries, but it might be a little more expensive than others, so do your research before purchasing. I've seen others recommend www.sim4travel.com, but I haven't tried that.
But also note that as it turned out, I found out after my battery died and wouldn't take a charge. I was in Italy, and I bought a cheap cell phone from a TIM (main cell carrier in Italy) store, which came with a TIM sim card. The rates were cheaper than my united sim, and I could walk into most any news stand, souvenir shop, cafe, etc. and buy more minutes, which you can also do online or through your phone, once you register. The TIM card also worked in France, and according to the web site, works in several countries. (It works here, too, but at roaming rates.)
I would suggest looking for a sim card from the country in which you will be spending most of your time. That way, if you have a problem, you could probably find somewhere to resolve it. Before buying any card, make sure it will work in each country you are going to visit, and compare their rates for each country.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 10:27 AM
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This one looks pretty good for Germany: www.smobil.de

It's 1¢ per minute to another smobil customer - which makes it highly desirable for a touring party to stay in touch.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 10:53 AM
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@Robespierre
If you want to "call home", this may be interesting.
http://www.ortelmobile.de/
9ct per minute to US Numbers from Germany, plus 15ct per call. Card costs 12.95€, with 10€ on it. You can dial direct, no routing via the internet! (so they say). Network is E-Plus.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Hello Charlotte, just out of curiosity as I have an AT&T/Cingular cell phone also, it is a quadband. How did you get them to unlock your phone so that you can use a SIM card? Thanks
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 02:15 PM
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Call AT&T/Cingular CS tell them that you want your phone unlock. First,they will transfer you to international CS to active international call. After activating you can request to unlock your phone. they will send unlock code for you couple days later via email.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 03:45 PM
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Hi grubs, How much did you pay for your TIM phone? Do you know if it works in Spain?

We're looking for a phone that we can buy in Italy and later use in Spain without having to change cards.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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Things on this whole international roaming bit are in a state of flux right now...the eu is threatening European carriers that they will impose price caps on international roaming charges and hopes to have this in place by the summer...what will actually happen is anybody's guess.

In general, it is possible to buy a prepaid sim in most any European country for not too much...for example you can buy a TIM sim card in Italy. You can check the rates at www.prepaidgsm.net which will also direct you to their web site which may or may not be in English. That part is easy.

The more difficult question to answer is how much you will be paying to make and receive calls, for example, if you are using the TIM card in France...it will work but calls may be pretty expensive and you will probably lose the ability to receive calls for free..I say probably because one of the eu "threats" to the mobile companies was to mandate that free reception of calls be made available throughout the eu..looks like they won't get this but it does look like receiving calls will be much cheaper than it is now.

Also vodafone has plans in many of its networks called vodafone passport....the rates include a one time charge of around €1 as a surcharge to receive calls while roaming on a vodafone network in another country...thus if you buy a vodafone Germany sim card in Germany and sign up for vodafone passport, you will be able to receive calls while in France if you roam on SFR in France for free with a charge of €1 for call (not for minute)...this rate may come down in response to the eu.

United Mobile for a while has been a very good alternative if paired with callbackworld as has been described elsewhere. The nice thing about United Mobile is the sim card doesn't expire in 6 months like others unless re-charged but in 9 months if not used...I bought mine about 3 years ago...I originally had €10 of credit...as I use callbackworld, I have not had any charges by United Mobile and every eight months I send a sms message to my local sim card (it never gets delivered BTW as T Moble USA seems to block these sms messages) but what the hell...the charge for the sms message is enough to keep the card active so I still have €7 worth of credit on the card and it is still quite valid.

But I am watching developments in the eu very closely.

What is clear is the asininely high internatinal roaming charges of cingular and/or T Mobile USA are just that, gigantic rip offs but as others and I have noted if you don't believe in using your mobile phone and only want to use it for emergencies, it is certainly a solution that will work.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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Question: I have a new unlocked GSM phone. I want to take it to Egypt with me in a month for my vacation. If I have it activated now with a Cingular or T-Mobile pre-paid "Go Phone" type of plan where you just pay ahead for a certain number of minutes, will they "lock" the phone so that it just works on their GSM band, or will the phone remain unlocked so that all I have to do is change the SIM card to an Egyptian one when I get to Egypt? I just want to know if I will have to un-lock the phone before I go. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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Thanks, xyz123, for this wealth of info. The Vodafone passport might work for us.

We have Verizon in the US, useless overseas except Mexico and Thailand.

After years of crazy adventures replacing SIM cards in rented and borrowed phones, we bought a Mobal, which has been fine for our purposes.

But next month our son is going to Spain - We want to know the number in advance and we're concerned he'll rack up charges making local calls on our Mobal.

My husband will be in Italy tomorrow and will check out buying a phone and signing up for the Vodafone passport plan. Or we might do the ebay/on onspanishtime.com combo.

But I agree this whole roaming thing is insane. These are truly the pioneer days of international phone usage.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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Hi crosscheck....

I understand your uneasiness about your son...is he going to a university as an exchange student? My thoughts remain that the knowing the number in advance is not all that important...in the modern world we have e mail, sms messages (if he sends an sms message to your cell phone, if it gets delivered (it should) you will immediately see his Spanish number which will be clear on the sms message..he can of course e mail you.

My thoughtxs are is that if he is at a Spanish university, the school might have special arrangements with one of the Spanish cellular providers or he can get help with his Spanish friends (it might be advantageous depending on tariffs to be on the same carrier as one's friends as manhy of the carriers have all sorts of call your buddy plans)....

If it is that important, you can try www.telestial.com which sells international sim cards at gigantically inflated rates...personally I am not a big fan of theirs as they triple or qudruple the price you would pay if you wait and they don't give you a choice of which Spanish operator you get....you get whatever they have at the moment.

Nobody can tell you what's best for you and your son...no matter what decision you make it will be the right one for you.

Don't be afraid to ask if you have questions or even better yet, throw your questions on the www.prepaidgsm.net European forum...it has quite an international cast of contributers who may have much better information than you are getting here on this board.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 08:20 PM
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My daughter is in Spain for the semester. We relied on the university recommended Spanish vodafon provider for the cell phone ( 5 months) It turns out that is does not work outside of Spain. Futher to unlock they charge 250 Euros each week unlock ( You also have to request to be unlocked each week in writing and fax it- she would have to go to business office to send a fax). They claim that they will refund any unused portion of the "deposit" for roaming outside of the country. It is a giant rip off. Calling cards are terrible cause you dont know if there will be a phone near in the event of an emergency and it takes too long to call for help with all the input numbers. We are looking into buying a quad band without a contract or monthly fee because we will only use it for traveling outside of the US. We all have Verizon,unfortunately as they do not work out of the US. So we cant even go for an international access plan with our current cell phones.My daughter's apartment does not have internet so do not assume that it will be easy to access the internet with a lap top. She has friends in Rome, Florence, Prague and Madrid and they all have the same lack of internet service. Her friends in Paris and London have service by wireless on a sporadic basis. If you find a great deal let me know and I will advise you likewise. She is staying in Europe after the semester ends and the cell phone goes back to the provider at the end of the term..so we need something for her to use while traveling. I prefer to find an option where her phone number does not change with every country sim she buys.Good luck (by the way she absolutely loves spain!)
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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missy6...

I am no expert on Spanish sims but something doesn't sound right....it would almost seem she was steered to a cell rental company rather than a do it yurself.

To the best of my knowledge, most European providers have pay as you go (PAYG) plans...some of them provide phones but you can always purchase an unlocked tri band (make sure it is 900, 1800, 1900) on ebay or an inexpensive quad band which is unlocked and then instead of following the university recommendation, bravely march into any mobile phone store and purchase a prepaid sim card PAYG.

You can check out various Spanish providers and their plans on the operators section of www.prepaidgsm.net

It should really not be all that expensive to go off in that direction.

The other thing is I find it hard to comprehend...I have been in just about every European capital except Madrid and I have never had any difficulty locating internet cafes...also a lap top with a wireless card (and most of them come with wireless cards in this day and age) should be able to locate a wireless network (you certainly may have to pay)....but as I said it is possible things are different in Madrid and Spain then the rest of Europe...I haven't been there to find out.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 08:39 PM
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Just went to the Spanish operators page on www.prepaidgsm.net

Vodafone Spain sells a prepaid pay as you go sim for €30 which comes with €18 worth of credit..rates within Spain are very cheap...I then followed the link to the Vodafone Spain web site which unfortunately (suprise, surprise) was in Spanish and no hable...but apparently Vodafone Passport is offered and there seems to be a 0,99€ surcharge for call while roaming in Europe on any vodafone network...there are other carriers listed which you can check out...

To go to www.prepaidgsm.net national operators, click on that link on their home page and then under European Union, you will find Spain.

To others, most of the people here are very ignorant on the ins and outs of international roaming...if you need advice go to that forum where you will find an international crowd who can much better answer your questions or make suggestions than some of those here.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 10:05 PM
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xyz123,

Our son is only 16. When he's in college we will trust him to buy his own cell phone. But now he's a tenth grader/compulsive text messager, and is going to Spain with a high school group for a 10-day exchange program.

He'll be attending school and living with a family and might not have the time or transportation to procure a SIM card.

We would send him with our Mobal but we think he will be making a lot of local calls to other students on the trip.

The Vodafone info was very helpful. As of now it looks as if we will either get an Italian phone w/vodafone passport or order a Spanish SIM card in advance. We haver other trips coming up and will be able to use any remaining minutes.

missy61952,

Your daughter should be able to find a cheap cell just about anywhere in Spain. We spent a month in Catalonia and found multiple phone stores (and internet cafes) in the tiniest villages, and that was several years ago. The farmhouse we rented didn't even have a land line, just a cell.

I'm off to www.prepaidgsm.com. Will report back.
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Old Feb 27th, 2007, 10:36 PM
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Just visited www.prepaidgsm.net

An amazing site - Who knew there were so many international roaming experts in the world?!

There are many posters who try out different SIM card options, then report back with reviews, as if they were hotels and restaurants.

Posted my question. No info yet about Spain, but quickly found out what I wanted to know about Chile.
crosscheck is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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I have to assume a quad-band phone is included in the $99 price.

Is this a better SIM deal than www.smobil.de for €14.95 (often discounted to €9.95) with €10 on the SIM?

Or Virgin Mobile's Siemens A57 with £5 on the SIM for £20?
Robespierre is offline  
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