SIM card for Spain

Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:21 AM
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SIM card for Spain

We are travelling next month to Spain. We will be in Bilbao, San Sebastian, Barcelona, and Valencia (in that order). I have an old phone that takes a SIM card, and I would like to use a SIM in that phone to use the phone for emergencies or getting in touch with accommodations or other reservations. I expect to use it rarely, and would possibly use talk and/or text. I do not expect to need data.
My questions are: 1. My old phone is a nokia C3, international version. When I purchased it, I had to configure it for using data on the AT&T network. I don't THINK I had a problem with regular talk and text. Am I safe to bring this phone to use a SIM in with expectations that it will work on whatever carrier is available in Spain without having to go through the headache of figuring out settings? Or should I play it safe and buy a SIM/phone combo instead?
2. Should I order online ahead of time? The benefits to this being, hopefully, I could refill and use the same SIM in other countries on future travels, and that I can leave my contact info with whomever needs it ahead of time. Or is there a benefit to just buying when I arrive?
lhubecks is offline  
Old Aug 15th, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Your Nokia C3 should work with any service as long as it is unlocked.

If you want a sim to use for traveling in other countries, then you do not want a Spanish sim card. You'll have to go with one of those international sim cards and pay a bit more. Those you can order ahead of time.

If you had T-Mobile as a service provider at home, then the cost would be substantially cheaper and you would have unlimited data and messaging while traveling in Europe. Calls home or locally would only be $0.20/minute, or free, if you have an iPhone 6 or an Android phone that allows for WiFi calling.
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Aug 15th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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I've not been to Spain or used a phone there, but you should be able to roam to other countries with your Spanish SIM depending on which mobile provider (you buy the SIM from) you use. Europeans certainly do it all the time. You may pay a bit more to roam but roaming charges within the EU are capped now. Still, the SIM card is basically disposable if you aren't going to use it regularly in Europe. The cost is minimal to buy a new SIM card on the next trip. The downside is that you'll get a new phone number next time.

Looks like the Nokia C3 is 2G only, but it has 900MHZ so it should work fine in Europe, as long as it is unlocked:

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_c3-3269.php

I am not familiar at all with this phone, but I can tell you than when I bought SIM cards for my old Android phone in Montenegro and Bosnia, data did not work by default; I had to add new APN settings for the new SIM card. I could have figured this out eventually, but I simply had the provider agent do it in each country, at the mobile store. You can buy SIM cards in different places - sometimes even from a convenience store - but of course don't expect anything in the way of customer service unless you buy it from a mobile store. So if you go to a mobile store, have the agent set it up, and make sure you are able to get data before you leave the store.

But as you say you don't care about data - you should have no trouble with a new sim card if using voice only. My Bosnian SIM worked for voice immediately but data didn't work til the agent added the new APN to it. I'd still have the agent you buy it from activate it, if possible. Sometimes there's a PIN on the SIM card or sometimes you have to call and activate. Also find out how to top it off to add minutes, if necessary.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 02:08 PM
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Of course you can go through the process of buying a prepaid sim from one of Spain's major service providers when you land in Bilbao. You can include data in the package. The advantage would be that all incoming calls, from anywhere in the world, are free, but only in Spain.

Your best option would be to head to El Cortes Inglés and see if the sales person speaks English, unless you happen to speak Spanish or Euskara (Basque).

Recharging the phone can be done at a phone store (in Spain only), or on-line, using one of the companies offering such services.

But I find what we had to do a few years ago somewhat dated now that T-Moble offers its service at very little cost.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 02:43 PM
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I had great T-Mobile service for years, but it wasn't worth the extra I was paying for it just to get international roaming in some European countries. I'm now using GoSmart Mobile (owned by T-Mobile) which is $20+/month less than what I was paying before. For the once a year I go to Europe, I don't mind buying a SIM card or two given that I'm saving over $240/year on my cell service. I use Google Voice as my primary number, anyway, and I can use that same number in Europe without any cell service, on WiFi if need be.

If you need 4GLTE data (GoSmart is only 3G) and/or travel overseas often, T-Mobile's roaming might be worth it for you. Wasn't for me.
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