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People routinely travel with cell phones now, but you often pay more than you should to make calls while traveling in Europe. Some questions you'll find yourself asking about staying connected while traveling in Europe could be -
Here's some answers to these questions that may help you make better decisions on how to save money while using your cellphones on your next trip to Europe.
The best way to stay connected while traveling in Europe is to carry a cheap unlocked GSM triband cell phone with you and buy a prepaid SIM card locally from the city you are spending most of your time. If you are on Eurail or doing a lot of city hopping, buy it where you are starting off. Most European cell phone providers offer competitive rates for roaming in Europe.
Incoming calls are not charged in most cases, while outgoing call rates are a lot more affordable then your US based world calling service for sure. It may also be cheaper than purchasing from a private US based company that sells SIM cards for Europe. It's tough to find information on international calling rates from Europe on the sites of providers listed below, but it should be less than the USD 5/minute, you could pay when usinhg international roaming in Europe. Ouch!
The info below focuses on Prague, but it should be similar to the rates for other European countires. The bottom line: BUY a cheap GSM triband phone in your home country and buy a SIM card locally in Europe.
1. First, you need a GSM Triband unlocked phone that you can buy here or in Europe for less than USD 100. Get it in your home country because it will check off one thing to do to prepare for your trip and you can test it with your local SIM card and transfer important contacts and numbers that you will need during your trip from your regular phone or contacts on your computer. As long as the phone is GSM Triband and unlocked, it's the same thing everywhere!
2. A lot of US based companies pop up online when you search for prepaid SIM cards and Europe. They seem pretty "legit" and are selling prepaid cards for Europe with calling rates from 17 US cents to 44 US cents per call in that country. But, what if the card has any problems when you are traveling and you don't have internet access or a calling card to dial a US number?
LINKS to the three major cellular service providers in CR:
The largest and Europe-wide cellular service provider is Vodaphone, the most local is O2, which offers quite competitive per minute rates, and then there's TMobile, which does not seem to be too clear for what it offers in the prepaid area because the website has limited English on it. Below you will find links with information on the prepaid plans each one offers and the rates per minute.Vodaphone and O2 seem to have plans that give you lower per minute rates based on the amount credited to the account. In other words, the higher the amount you credit to your prepaid account in one shot, the better the per minute rate you will get for that sum.
VODAPHONE site for the CR -
They seem to have other options but the Loaded Card seems to make sense to me. The per minute rate is around 24 Euro cents/minute and it goes down if you add a larger amount of money. The ranges are shown on the page below.
Vodaphone shops in Prague -
There seems to be one on Terminal 2 of the airport. You might want to "google map" it and see what comes up.
TMobil in CR -
Their prepaid plan is similar to Vodaphone, may be 1 Euro cent cheaper per minute. The website was less informative than Vodaphone.
Couldn't find a direct store locator for TMobil shops in Prague, but here's the contacts page -
O2, the local company -
O2 seems to have a very straight forward page for prepaid SIM cards and also a very straightforward tariff plan. Since you are landing in Prague, this might be a good option for you. The per minute charge is again in the range of 5 and 6 Czech crowns, but they seem to have an attractive offer for 1crown/minute if you charge the prepaid card with more than 300 crowns at one time. Not bad at all considering it is the base price for the Vodaphone prepaid.
O2 shops in Praha -
FYI: Exchange Rates
1 EUR = 24.274 CZK
1 CZK = 0.0412 EUR
1 EUR = 1.35 USD
Share you experience if it is different or could save travelers more money!