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Mobile Phone expenses

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Mobile Phone expenses

1. Posted by Peter (Admin 5812 posts) 12y

What a sucker I can be sometimes.. I can't believe I didn't ask you guys first :)

Only being a recent convert to mobile telephony, I didn't quite realise how much 'global roaming' would set me back.. (not that the phone company rep helped any when selling me my contract). Found out today I'd have to prepay $1000 to be able to even use global roaming while overseas - apparantly because I'll be gone for more than 3 months (3.5 months). Anyway, my only possible decision was to ditch that idea entirely. Let it be a warning to all :( At least I could suspend my contract for one of the months..

My question now to you mobile phoners out there is what are some good prepaid options in the US and Europe? Particularly I don't want to be swapping cards too much while travelling through the UK, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Is it possible to get a card that would cover them all?? My phone is tri-band I've found out, so I should be able to use it in the States. Any recommendations would be welcome..

Cheers, Peter
p.s. still love my little T630 though

2. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

Most phones in the US don't use sim cards like the rest of the world does. The exception to these are Cingular and T Mobile that I know of. T Mobile is the only one of those two that you can set up a pre paid plan.

Personally I use Virgin Mobile, but that is just because I like Virgin's Companies. At any rate unless your current phone is tri-band you'll probably have to buy a new one here in the states regardless because our frequencies are much different than the rest of the world. The good new with that is that a new phone will run you under $100 us and you can get cards for your phone in increments of 10 to 50 usd.

Not being an expert though, I am sure there are others here in the US that can give you more info than this.

Regards,
Ian

3. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

just noticed the "tri-band" part of your post, I guess I should read more carefully before I post.... T-Mobile is the company I would get in touch with to get a sim card that will get you active in the US.

4. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Hey Peter,

$1000????? Wow!! That’s a serious lump of mullah! No idea why it’s so much, but if your only a recent sign up, that might be it – they are scared that you’ll wop up a huge bill then not pay (it’s been known). Still sounds somewhat excessive to me though, as I never paid anything (and can use mine essentially anywhere).

It is possible to get the same card to work all over Europe/world, although points to bear in mind –

1. It will have to be a prepay card, as a contract requires bank account/address/Credit check/6 or normally 12 month minimum rental.
2. Most top up cards can only be bought in the country that you buy the phone in, so you either have to put a huge amount of money on the phone for it to stay in use or have somebody in that country buy cards and sms you the code to top up
3. Although it’s getting better, many prepay packages don’t allow roaming. Even if they say they do, sometimes the phone will die as soon as you are out of home country overage (an American had this problems on several occasions, despite being told several times by the salesperson that it did work abroad).
4. Even if you do have a phone which you can roam, rates can be VERY expensive, so if you talk, make it very quick! This includes incoming calls, where you have to pay the difference. Sms tends to be the way to stay in contact.
5. Admittedly it can be fiddly, but if your not going to be using it much (or not giving the # to many people) just buy a new one in each country/group of countries and pawn/px what’s left of your old one. Obviously though, you have a new number each time.
6. Some phones (newer ones) will only accept the chip that comes with it in order to make the phone dead when stolen (if the user cancels the sim, the phone is useless), which means your phone may not be useable with different cards anyway.
7. If your not going to be using it much, don’t bother. Get local phone cards etc to make calls, and set up something like an ISIC account which gives you a freephone answer service you can pick up all over the world. People can leave messages for you, and as it’s free to check, you can check as often as you can find a pay phone. Not quite as convenient, but probably work out much cheaper