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SIM cards and European travel

Missouri
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214 posts
31 reviews
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SIM cards and European travel

I am traveling from US to Europe this July- 3 days each in Munich, Prague, Krakow, and Berlin. I have an unlocked phone that I plan to buy local SIM cards for and use in each country (dining reservations, calling guides, etc). I also am planning on getting a second unlocked phone with a SIM card with a US number so family (several members may need me in an emergency or semi-emergency) can easily reach me (no way can they figure out international calling, trust me)- minimal usage, just piece of mind. Am I best off getting a cheap unlocked phone from Ebay and a low minute SIM card from Telestial, the $19 dollar Telestial cheap phone with 5 min SIM card that can be topped off (how small increments?) or none of the above? As far as the local SIM cards, what kind of charges do you incur for calls to US?

Gambrills, MD
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for Fussen
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1. Re: SIM cards and European travel

What I have done, and can recommend, is getting an unlocked quad-band GSM phone off Ebay, and then getting a local SIM card in the first country you visit. I think the local providers give you a better deal than Telestial. I like the Blauworld provider in Germany, but others prefer other providers. Whichever one you use, ask the seller to activate it in your phone -- it's easy for the seller to activate but harder for the buyer, since it requires a computer and some knowledge of the local language.

The prices are pretty similar in Germany for SIM cards. For Blauworld, you get the basic SIM for 9.90 Euros, which includes a credit of 10 Euros. Calls back to the US are 5 cents per minute, plus a connection charge of about 15 cents per call. Calls within Germany are 12 cents per minute. You can get data (internet) for an extra charge. You can top it up if you need to.

There is supposedly a new law abolishing "roaming" charges in the EU, but I don't know when it takes effect. You might want to check on that, to see if you would need a second local SIM in Europe or could get by with just one.

It might be easier to convince/teach your family to text you rather than call. That would avoid any problems with the time difference. Also, there are free texting apps you can install on your phone. While in Europe. I use one called HeyWire which gives me a free US tel number (in the app). People can text me for free from the US to this number, and I can text them back also for free using the app. If your family really needs you, then you could call them using your local SIM card.

http://www.blauworld.de/

Edited: 17 February 2014, 05:19
Gambrills, MD
Destination Expert
for Fussen
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2,922 posts
135 reviews
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2. Re: SIM cards and European travel

Forgot to say, you would need a data plan for one of the free texting apps such as HeyWire, or to be on wifi. Data isn't that expensive, though.

Missouri
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214 posts
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3. Re: SIM cards and European travel

Simple phone. Not looking for data, will use wifi and a ipad at the hotel. I am really looking for advice about the second phone for incoming urgent calls from the US called into a US number and reaching me.

4. Re: SIM cards and European travel

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