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Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

Rockville, MD
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Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

I will be in Italy for 2 weeks in June (arriving in Venice but also going to Florence and Rome) and I need a cellphone to be able to contact American relatives who will also be traveling in Italy during that time. I do not have a smartphone, and my regular Verizon cellphone is not GSM so can't be used internationally. Is there someplace in Venice where I can buy an inexpensive disposable cellphone and prepaid minutes? If there is such a place and product, do you know if instructions in English are available?

As an alternative, can you recommend a reliable company for renting a phone for international use before I leave the US? I did this in the past for a trip to Israel, but that company only rented phones for Israel.

San Clemente...
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for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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1. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

You can purchase an inexpensive GSM world phone online at home(amazon,ebay,etc) prior to departing for Italy. They will be cheaper here than in Europe.

You can also purchase the SIM card online(TIM) prior to departing so that you will know your telephone number in Italy.

Rockville, MD
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2. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

Thanks, ricardo, can you suggest specific phone brands or types to look for on Amazon (that would work in Italy)? I'm sure there are hundreds of cellphones available, but it would help to narrow down the search.

San Clemente...
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3. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

Since you don't need a smartphone then just look for any QuadBand GSM cellphone Unlocked. They sell for around $30.

With the Quadband then you can use it in pretty much any country in the world should you travel in the future.

Rockville, MD
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4. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

Thanks, I see a couple on Amazon that may fit my needs.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

never rent a cellphone. that puts the companies hand in your pocket and there is no realistic way to challenge high bills that they claim you ran up. I know someone who was charged over $1000 including for times she wasn't using the phone and last I heard had gotten no documentation and no mercy.

buy a cheap phone and a sim card, or better yet, get an unlocked phone in the US like an Iphone that is unlocked and by a sim card for it when you get there.

Rockville, MD
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6. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

I'm definitely leaning toward buying a cheap phone rather than renting, but I don't want an iPhone. The one that seems best for my purposes on Amazon is a BLU Tank T190i unlocked GSM Quad-Band phone with dual SIM. But it's not clear to me whether I should buy a SIM card online before I go, and if so which kind. Ideally I would like one SIM card that allows me to call US phones from Italy and another that allows me to call Italy or other European phones (landline or cell) within Italy.

San Clemente...
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for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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7. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

You can purchase the TIM sim card for Italy on line for $50 with 15 euro credit for Italy phone calls, receiving phone calls, and for telephoning and texting to the USA and other countries. The advantage to having the card prior to arrival in Italy is that you can tell other people your Italian phone number. The card will need to be activated in your phone after arrival in Italy(instructions included).

However, the price is more to purchase it at home versus purchasing it at a TIM store in Italy. If you purchase it in Italy then bring your passport with you to the TIM store.

Also, you can purchase Vodafone, and Wind Sim cards for Italy. Avoid any other SIM cards. Purchase only the ones mentioned here for Italy.

They will all allow voice, text within Italy and to other countries and the card is recharged by purchasing a recharge card for the SIM.

Rockville, MD
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8. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

Thank you, ricardo, that is very helpful--just what I needed to know. I may be able to wait until we get to Italy to get the card, since my husband will be able to use his Blackberry in Italy and can give people that number ahead of time. I just wanted to have a simple phone for myself in case we do some things separately and need to contact each other or other relatives.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

for this safety purpose my husband and I just bought cheap phones in Paris -- unfortunately they are locked and so only usable in France. my husband now has an unlocked Iphone so we will just get a sim for him when we travel.

New Lenox, IL
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10. Re: Buy an inexpensive cellphone in Venice or rent before I go?

When I last traveled to Europe my cell phone was not GSM, I just called my carrier, Verizon, and they sent me a temporary phone which I could use in Europe. I mailed it back to them when I got home. They even updated my plan for the time I was in Europe to keep the bill low. I think it was around $20.00 for the service and very convenient.