Mobal Cell Phone

Aug 2nd, 2004, 05:37 AM
  #1  
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Mobal Cell Phone

Anyone here have any experience with the Mobal Cell Phone service?

http://www.thetravelinsider.info/roa...obalrental.htm

The phone costs only $49, and while the per-minute cost is very high, it seems like the least costly and most hassle-free option for someone who wants a phone in Europe only for emergency or occasional use.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has used this service. We'd be planning to use it, initially at least, in Italy.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 06:58 AM
  #2  
rex
 
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I found it very worthwhile to buy a pre-paid phone instead of renting. For about 80 euro (which would typically include the first 25 euro of calls in the price), you can get a nice low rate per minute (I didn't even use up the minutes included with the purchase, during an eight day trip in 2001 - - the incoming calls didn't use up ANY of the minutes).

And then "sell it forward" (here on this forum) when you come back. I got $55 (of the $80 purchase price) back on mine - - a win-win for me and the buyer.

Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:41 AM
  #3  
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Rex, where did you buy your cell phone -- in the US or Europe? The cheapest one I have found online in the US (not buying used) is $99, which does not include a SIM card -- that would be another $40 or $50.

How many minutes of use would you say were included with the 25 euro (minutes within the country, not to the US)?
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 09:49 AM
  #4  
rex
 
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I don't know how many minutes (for calls within Italy) that represented - - hundreds, I suppose? There were still over half left when I went back home and sold it onward. I mostly used it to call home, for calls of one minute or less - - and then my wife would call me back, at no "charge" (i.e., no use of the pre-paid time that came with the phone).

Others have suggested that "free" (incoming) calls to a pre-paid phone with this kind of "billing" results in higher costs to the caller. I learned about this (supposition) well after the fact, and cannot comment on whether the calls my wife made to me were more expensive than usual or not.
rex is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 09:52 AM
  #5  
 
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Calls made to "free" mobile lines generally are indeed much more expensive than calls to landlines.

Many of the so call 101 alternative services advertise rates as low as 3 or 4 cents a minute to the UK but charge close to 30 cents a minute to call a mobile line.

1016868 charges 7.9 cents a minute to call landlines in the UK but 13 cents a minute to call mobile lines.

One exception is T mobile which charges 29 cents a minute to call Western Europe from the US no matter whether you are calling a land line or a mobile line.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 11:31 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for the information ... I'm still wondering if there is a source within the US for a cell phone that can be used in Europe, costing not much over $100, including at least some air time?

I'd rather not deal with trying to buy a phone in Italy, and so far the $49 Mobal looks like the best deal to me (even with the very high per-minute cost). I can't imagine that we'd be using more than a few minutes of talk time in the 2 weeks we'll be there, as we don't anticipate the need to call the States. If we did, we'd get a prepaid phone card, as we have in the past.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:02 PM
  #7  
 
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The best and the least expensive way to do this is to buy an "unlocked" phone on e-Bay. When you get to Italy, walk into any mobile phone store and tell them you want to buy a pre-paid card that comes with a sim card. I'm sure if you ask nicely, the sales agent will put the sim card in for you. The cards usually start around $25 with tons of minutes.

The best part about this? Next time you go yo Hong Kong, London, Moscow you take the same phone and repeat the process and you have a phone there, or wherever you will travel in the future.

Unlocked phones on e-bay could be had for less than $100. The phone will be yours to keep and could be used anywhere you travel, with a local sim card and some pre-paid minutes.

By the time you figure rental, shipping, minutes you will find that option quite expensive. IMHO renting cell phones for travel is NOT a good option.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:25 PM
  #8  
 
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Take a look at www.expansys-usa.com. Some really good prices there for some really good unlocked GSM phones.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:44 PM
  #9  
 
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If you rent a car from AutoEurope.com, they give you a free cell phone and free activation. You are just responsible for airtime.
Amee is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:55 PM
  #10  
 
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We rented from World Roam for trips to the UK, Paris, and Bermuda. Phone was shipped to our house and activated/deactivated on dates we provided. The fee was 2.95/day, $1.49/ minute; calls made from US to UK on cell were free. You must, however, have Verizon as your carrier.

http://www.rentaphone.co.uk/bauk/about.htm

seetheworld is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:42 PM
  #11  
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Re: "If you rent a car from AutoEurope.com, they give you a free cell phone and free activation. You are just responsible for airtime."

Well, free is a matter of definition. The "free" rental phone from AutoEurope actually costs $40 for delivery and packing. So for $9 more from Mobal (free delivery) I could own a phone -- true, with high per-minute rates, but as I said, we don't really expect to use it much. The Mobal plan seems to have the advantage of simplicity -- there is no activation or monthly fee, and you do get a permanent phone number that you can give out for emergencies. Apparently, they simply charge each call you make or receive to your credit card.

I just wish I could find someone who has used it to tell me if it's really as good as it sounds.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:58 PM
  #12  
 
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We are trying to tell you but I guess you don't want to hear.

When you have unlocked phone, there are no activation fees, expensive minutes, no monthly fees, etc.

You are buying a pre-paid card and start to use it on your own phone as much or as little as you want. How much more simplistic can it get? Minutes are cheap, LOT cheaper than what you will end up paying on your rental.

Anyway, if you just want to know if the phone will work? YES.
But don't be surprised if the cost will be higher than what you thought. The expensive minutes get you very quickly.

Good luck!

Have a great trip!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 02:03 PM
  #13  
rex
 
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I think that AAFF is right on this...

and as for...

<<we don't anticipate the need to call the States. If we did, we'd get a prepaid phone card, as we have in the past.>>

I think that you may not fully appreciate how nice it is to be able to call from anywhere, anytime as you can on a mobile phone - - from your room (hotel, villa, wherever), from public transportation, from a restuarant, while shopping, etc. - - until you get to experience how liberating that makes your trip.

Calling from a public phone, or hoping you can use a calling card from the phone where you are sleeping simply does not compare.
rex is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 03:54 PM
  #14  
 
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Perhaps this has been covered, but I signed up for service on AT&T Wireless for the GSM network and purchased a Motorola Smartphone that works great in Europe. You need to enroll in the AT&T Universal Network (or something like that) before you travel. The GSM network is still being built out in the USA so it is not as reliable as your present cell phone.
gradyghost is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 04:16 PM
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Thank you AAF...

Once you've had a mobile phone in Europe while travelling you will discover just how valuable it is; especially if you use a European pre paid.

You can be reached 24/7. In this modern day of e mail and internet cafes, you simply e mail to your friends and family your local pre paid number. Or you can send them inexpensive text messages.

Using pay phones is becoming more difficult more so in Europe than in the US because mobile phone use in Europe is eons ahead of the US. It is an everyday thing for Europeans to use pre paid plans and when travelling from one country to another, getting local SIM's. This hopefully will change in the near future when international roaming rates become much more reasonable.

I am also don't understand this business of what a hassle it is to get a pre paid SIM in Europe. Nothing can be simpler. When you arrive at your first hotel, ask the concierge where the nearest mobile phone store is. Chances are it will be within 2 or 3 blocks as they are all over the place. If you don't already have one, they will sell you a perfectly useful GSM dual band phone; perhaps without all the whistles some of us want on our phone but a phone that will make and receive calls. They will almost surely help you insert the SIM card, help you realize just what your mobile phone number is and even set up voice mail. In many but not all European countries, having the menus set to English is not a problem and voila within 15 minutes you will walk out of the store with a mobile phone with a local phone number.

Now if you meet somebody out on tour who tell you about a great restaurant, you can look up the restaurant in your guide book and call for reservations. If you are driving and heaven forbid need assistance, you can call from the car (just like I will not allow my daughter to go out without a mobile phone...you really think you want to start looking for a public phone booth to get help?)

Your friends and family can reach you24/7...you can even use your calling card to make cheap calls back home. It couldn't be more simple.

And as others have pointed out, guess what. If you go back to Europe next year, or your kids go, or your relatives go, you can loan them the phone. I won't go into the nuances of unlocking phones and other things. Click on my screen name above and you can read the practical hints I have given out for free over this forum during the past couple of month; advise that is 100% accurate I might add.

The problem, I am afraid, is that some of us just don't want to accept or want to understand 21st century technology. We are on the cusp of a tremendous revolution when we will all have 1 universal phone number which can reach us 24/7. I really have that now as I can forward calls to my home phone to either my mobile phone while travelling in the US or to my 800 call number which I can program to forward to my European phone no matter what country I am in. And the technology works. It makes you feel that you are always in touch.

Yes I know some of the naysayers will start up with this who wants to be reached when on holiday or I don't have a mobile at home so why should I have one when travelling. But once you've stuck your big toe in the water, you will want to jump right in.

It's simple, it's neat and it's really 21st century like. Don't be put off by those people who talk about not wanting the hassle of getting a pre paid SIM or throwing their money away on a rental. Join the 21st century' you'll be gland you did.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 05:29 PM
  #16  
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I really am not anti-technology in the least. I've been using personal computers for over 20 years. We will be traveling to Italy with a wifi laptop, and 2 out of 3 places we are staying have free net access. So emailing or IM will not be a problem, and for most communication back home, I'd rather do that.

By the way, the first place we're staying is an agriturismo out in the countryside, so we probably wouldn't have an easy opportunity to get a SIM card until we've been in the country for a few days. That's another reason I'd like to arrive in Italy with a phone that would work right off the plane.

I've had a cell phone here in the US for several years, but I'm not one who uses it to chat. In fact, I rarely use the phone at home -- even when communicating with my family on the other coast, we generally use video iChat.

Also, when in a country where I speak the language badly and understand it even less well, I would rather not communicate by phone myself -- I'll ask the hotel to make restaurant reservations for me. So I just can't see myself spending a lot of time on the phone while we're traveling.

My husband and I each have cell phones that work well in the US, and we don't want to sink a lot of money into a Europe phone for a short trip, when we're not likely to use it much. Also, please note, AAFrequentFlyer, that I am not talking about a rental. The $49 for the Mobal phone would be a purchase -- we would then own the phone forever and only pay for whatever calls we make on it.

If I could buy a GSM phone with airtime for not much more than $100, I'd consider it. But I haven't found any way to do that. For this trip at least, I'd rather only spend $49, and possibly a few dollars more on calls, but probably not even $20 worth.

xyz123, I have read a lot of your posts on cell phones and found them very helpful, so I do appreciate your information. It's just that I still don't see any way to do what you recommend for much less than $150, which is definitely more than I want to spend.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 06:35 PM
  #17  
 
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To nonnafelice: I also read up on all advises from xyz in this forum. He knows what he talks about. You said that both of you have cell phone each. Can you get one of them unlocked and use it in Europe assuming that they are not single band? I unlocked mine and it is now in Bangkok with a local sim. I loaned it to my friend who will be there for a month. My plan is like what AAFF said. It is for traveling in other countries. BTW, I had to get another cellular for use in USA. The cost was $105. The sim card from the first phone was tranferred to the new one. The first phone was free when I signed up with T-Mobile.
georgiegirl is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:27 AM
  #18  
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Re: " You said that both of you have cell phone each. Can you get one of them unlocked and use it in Europe assuming that they are not single band?"

No, neither of our phones is GSM, and we don't want to change our cell service. So the only way we could get a phone that would work in Europe is to buy a new one, and as I said, I don't see any way to get started with a new GSM phone / SIM card for much less than $150.

If anyone has a specific suggesion for how to do this for $100 or less, I'd like to know about it. Otherwise, I guess no one here has had experience with the Mobal plan, so if we do end up using it, I'll report back.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 04:10 AM
  #19  
 
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I looked at their web site and they are charging $49 for the Nokia 3310 which is a good price. It is a solid dual band phone that will not work in North America but as you said you're satisfied with your current mobile carrier.

Their calling card prices are pretty stiff somewhat more expensive it sthan T mobile world class rates which charges 99 cents US/minute both to make and receive calls in Western Europe.

Having said that, it seems to me you can have the best of all worlds. Buy the package and have the Mobal SIM as a back up and still buy a local prepaid SIM. You, IMHO, will do much better as you will be in one country for a while.

It is not said on the web site whether the $49 phone is unlocked which is something you can check with them and let us know.

It's not the worst deal in the world, that's for sure.

Good luck and have a good trip.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 11:48 AM
  #20  
 
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I'm also looking at getting a cell phone for travel to Germany Austria and France in about 3 weeks.

I have US Nextel service and have activated their Worlwide service on my account.

My current plan is to buy a 900/1800 GSM phone and either use my Nextel SIM ($1.29/minute incomming and outgoing as this will allow family to call my US number without incurring long distance) or to purchase a pre-paid SIM in Europe if there are good deals.

This E-bay "Store" has good prices on unloced GSM phones. http://stores.ebay.com/wirelessrush_...lessrushQQtZkm

They have a Panasonic A100 (900/1800/1900 MHz) for $88.88 and a Motorola V525 (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) for $189.89. Both new.
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