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

Quick and hopefully easy question regarding using cell phones in France

Quick and hopefully easy question regarding using cell phones in France

Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:32 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Quick and hopefully easy question regarding using cell phones in France

We have an unlocked GSM phone we are loaning to a friend to take to France, her first visit to Europe. The chip in it (only 2 euro left on it) is from Germany.

She just needs to pick up a SIM chip in France, correct? That will give her a phone number and a balance on the phone with which to call the US.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is the exact sequence to call the phone from the US? Dial ? then ? then the phone #? My mom, in the US, tried dialing the German number but never could get us. She tried variations on the leading numbers and she is no dummy but finally gave up. Our friend in Germany and a co-worker in Germany had no trouble calling us using that number.

Also, for our friend to call back to the US inexpensively - should she buy a french phone card, or maybe bring a Sams Club phone card and then use the card on the cell phone or would take be double paying for minutes used?

We just got back from France with the phone but we were dialing home direct with the German SIM and not caring about have much it cost. It is a company phone and the minutes were going to expire anyway. That was expensive, about 1 euro per minute.

Please help me explain to my friend exactly the best way to go about this. Cell phones in Europe baffle me, I don't know why. I am pretty good at navigating there otherwise.
HappyCheesehead is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 01:27 PM
  #2  
jefftkeller
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
It is possible that the SIM card is with a company that covers both France and Germany in which case she might be able to get a refill, in which case the German number would be the same. The folks who sell her either the refill or the new SIM card should be able to advise her on the best way to call the US. To call France from the US you have to dial the International Access number (00) then the country code (33) and then the phone number. The country code for Germany is 49.
 
Old May 3rd, 2006, 02:16 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Note: A french cell phone number will be 06 XX XX XX XX. However when calling from the US you would dial O11 33 6 XX XX XX XX. The zero at the beginning of the cell phone number is only dialed when calling from within france.
MorganB is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 03:25 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will have her ask if the chip is for both countries but I don't think so. When we were calling out or getting calls while in France it said we were on roam. Does anyone have any idea what the per minute back to the US will be?
HappyCheesehead is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 03:33 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>what the per minute back to the US will be?
Expensive, more than 2€/min at least. All German prepay cards roam in France. Why don't you post the name of the phone company here? It would put an end to guessing ;-). It's printed on the card!
Common cards would be T-Mobile, O2, E-Plus and Vodafone. There are also a number of resellers which usually have the same rates as the original when calling abroad.
logos999 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:06 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
you can "recharge" pre-paid sims cards at any ATM machine.
the menu has a section for "recharging", then PHONES, then the COMPANY (t-mobile, vodafone, movistar, whatever..
then the amount, the number, etc.

i am not sure she needs a new sims card as most european sims work between the countries, switching from one satelite to another.

you DO need to know the main phone company plan you bought with the pre-paid sim.. which if you publish the first THREE numbers, someone here can tell you which one it is.
then you will know which company to say on the atm request.

also, as mentioned, to call out TO the US from europe, you dial 00+area code+number.(NOT 011!!!!).

if all fails, she goes to a phone store and they will tell her what she needs..or skip the idea and buy a phone card at kiosk.

Leaving the phone on and receiving calls will cost her approx. 1 euro/minute or MORE if she is OUTSIDE the country the original sims card was activated. it will be free to receive in germany.
lincasanova is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:07 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
forgot to add, that if is thinking of mainly receiving calls, best to buy new sims card in france at any phone shop. probably 25 euros for the card, and 15 for phone minutes.

should cost NOTHING to receive that way, from ANYWHERE.
lincasanova is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:16 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>"recharge" pre-paid sims cards at any ATM machine
Unfortunately not German cards at French ATMs
>first THREE numbers
Doesn't work anymore. Info which phone company printed on card.
> 1 euro/minute or MORE
at least 1.50€ to the USA
>switching from one satelite to another.
satellite? , in space?.
Sorry, didn't mean to sound like a smart... ;-)
logos999 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:36 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sorry..don't get the satellite part.is it the typo.. or aren't these signals bounced off satellites?

i assumed each company has different ones, as when we cross a border, i get different companies vying for my calls every time i turn a corner.

i didn't know you couldn't recharge a german vodafone prepaid card at a french atm, but i guess you are right.. the number would be missing the country access code.

would it work if you put the access code in front of the number?

sorry to have misled this person!



lincasanova is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:41 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
bookmark
StuDudley is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:46 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oh yikes, I swear I feel like a complete and total idiot trying to understand this. She already has the phone so I cannot look at the chip.

We were charged for incoming calls (from Germany) while using a German chip in France, but she would not be charged for incoming calls if using a French chip in France? Do I have that part right?

Now, her husband could maybe use a calling card to call her from the US.

Ok, so how to get the price down for calls to the US? Does a calling card - French or otherwise, do it?
HappyCheesehead is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:52 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The GSM transmitters look like this
http://www.stich.priv.at/a1_wien_xx10.html
no satellites involved. You have a priority list stored in you phone that automatically selects your preferred network or the phone scans for allowed transmitters (like the one on the photo) and selects the strongest. Vodafone! has indeed made it possible to recharge German cards using french vodafone codes for a additional fee, but you're better off using the internet to buy a german code. You'll need to dial automated customer service and enter the code. It will be credited to the sim card you use when entering the code.
logos999 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:03 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
She'll find the card if she removes the battery. It's easy.
>Do I have that part right?
Yes.
>Does a calling card
Vodafone will charge 1€/min only to call the access number and 1.50€/min to call the US, however you can opt to receive calls in France for 75ct per call up to one hour.

A french card would be cheaper. However to be able to say how much anything migh cost you'll have to give the name of the phone company on the german sim card.
logos999 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 01:36 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Calls to the US are 001 plus area code - number rather than 00.
MorganB is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 05:11 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
exactly morgan.. forgot to put the U.S country code ( 1) in there.! so sorry.

i answer to the french chip question.
one does not pay incoming calls when using a mobile phone in europe in the country the mobile chip is from.

(well.at this point i am not daring to answer anything else since i have already messed up, but at least this is how it is with OUR phones here)
lincasanova is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 06:04 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think logos has nailed it...

At first when somebody said there were sims available that worked in both France and Germany, my initial reaction was no way. However, then I remembered what is called Vodafone Passport (it has a much longer name in Germany, logos please help).

From the pre United Mobile days, I have a German prepaid plan with Vodafone DE....luckily when I first acquired it I was able to get Vodafone to set the voice menus to English as I don't speak a word (well maybe a word or two) of German....and from the web site I figured out how to register for the German equivalent of Vodafone Passport on my Vodafone DE account.

Now in France, the vodafone network is called SFR. If you have vodafone passport and are roaming on SFR (this is important) then..

1. for a fee of €0,75 per call you get free reception of calls on all vodafone networks.

2. calls back to Germany in this case are priced at the rates of your German plan with a surcharge of €0,75 per call but international calls, and that would include local calls in France, are still expensive.

3. You can use an SFR voucher to top up the German Vodafone account at par (a voucher for €10 gives you €10 worth of credit) while you are in France.

So if your chief use is to receive calls, signing up for Vodafone passport might be the cheapest way to go, especially if the incoming calls are long.

OTOH calling out this way is expensive.

Using a plan such as callbackworld for outgoing interntional calls would save some money as long as the calls are fairly long....cbw charges 40/minute US to call from a German mobile to the US so a one minute call using callbackworld would be €0,75 (the vodafone charge) + $0.40/minute or close to $1.35 but then it drops to 40 for each additional minute so a 10 minute call isn't terrible for mobile phone rates.

Of course, you could buy as noted a French sim card. The cheapest seems to be Virgin Mobile FR which is a relatively new service but French mobile phone rates for local (French) calls are relatively high so I don't know how cost effective that is if you will not be making many local calls while in France.

Lots of choices, but really it's hard to come up with the absolute "best" and "cheapest" way without knowing the exact calling pattern you will be using.
xyz123 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 06:08 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One clarification...I messed up a bit..

While roaming in France with Vodafone passport you have to be roaming on the vodafone network (in this case SFR) but all incoming calls, not just those from a vodafone network phone, are free with the €0,75 surcharge per call.
xyz123 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 07:40 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>Vodafone Passport
It's called Vodafone Reiseversprechen (Vodafone travel promise)
logos999 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 07:48 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reiseversprechen ?

Boy oh boy, I couldn't pronounce that word...even the Dutch call it Vodafone Passport!

As I said, a linguist I'm not.
xyz123 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 08:03 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Vodafone finally realized that Germans prefer simple german words like "Reiseversprechen" instead of hard to pronounce English. Douglas cosmetics has started this trend when they had some consultants ask the customers what their corporate motto "come in and find out" meant in German. A majority said it meant: "Enter the shop and find the exit"
logos999 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:45 AM.