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Advice Requested on Cell-Phone Plan for 7 to 8 Month Stay

Advice Requested on Cell-Phone Plan for 7 to 8 Month Stay

My daughter will be moving to Vannes, France on September 1, 2014 and will be there until March or April of 2015. While she is there she will be taking at least ten two-to-three day trips to other parts of France. She may travel to Germany once or twice. She will have her own apartment in Vannes and it will have free wifi. She just found out a couple of weeks ago that she will be going over and is rapidly trying to learn some basic French.

Our phone service provider in the US is Verizon. She has a Apple iPhone 5s and an Apple iPad Air. On a monthly basis she has an average data usage of about 3,000MB (3.0GB) on her cell phone and 700MB (0.7GB) on her iPad. She uses Wifi when available and the iPad is most commonly used where Wifi is available. She averages about 120 minutes of voice usage per month and 1,100 text messages per month.

She will obviously need to throttle back her usage when in France and I want to protect her/myself from exorbitant bills, especially for data. Based on my research it looks like the best thing for her to do with her Apple iPhone 5s is to get a pay-as-you-go card with a SIM from France. From what I have seen it looks like we are leaning toward a SIM from Lebara and one of their all-in-one plans. After review the Lebara website and several posts I still have some questions:

1. I assume that once she inserts the SIM from Lebara she will have a France-based phone number and her US phone number will not work. This is preferred as that is protection against running up charges on Verizon.

2. The Lebara plan notes that the package is good for 30 days. What does she do after 30 days?

3. There is a reference to “Top Up” your card, but the information I saw references adding minutes and SMS, how do you add additional data? I would like for her to have access to at least 1GB of data per month on her cell phone.

4. I was going to recommend that she buy the SIM and have it set up in the airport when she lands in Paris. From what I have read she would do this at a Relay store but I have read it is hit-and-miss regarding getting it set up in-store. Do you have any advice on what to do regarding this?

5. With the pay-as-you-go plans by Lebara I assume that once you are out of your paid allotment you don’t have service until you reload your account. I would like to avoid automatic charges.

In regards to her iPad, I know that if she keeps it in airplane mode that she will not be using the cellular service and will effectively be WiFi only. If I wanted to make sure it stayed in WiFi only mode couldn’t I just remove the SIM card before she goes to France? Another option I will look at is turning off the service to the iPad while she is gone.