OK -- I think I've finally decided what will work best as a cell phone for our nine-day trip to Israel in early Janaury 2011:
Telestial is by far the most expensive (see earlier post, below, for rates).
Even though I have an open GMS phone, I think it's cheaper to rent a phone with SIM card included through Amigo-US, rather than buy a SIM card from IsraelSIMS, using my own phone. Here is why:
IsraelSIM charges $43 for the card with 50 shekels phone credit. Basically, that's a $31 'fee' for the card with $12 left over for phone calls. (Their calls to the US are $.22 / minute; calls within Israel are also $. 22 / minute).
Amigo-US charges $.99 per day for the phone rental, including insurance and getting the Israeli telephone number before leaving the US. For me, that's about $10 for the rental. Since I don't live in one of the cities where there's free pickup of the phone (Atlanta), that will be another $10 for standard delivery. So a total of about $20 ($10 for the rental; $10 for shipping) as the 'fee' (less than IsraelSim, above). (Amigo's calls to the US are $.19 within Israel; $.28 / minute to the US; or, what I am signing up for, $.14/minute to one preferred US telephone number (my husband).
So Amigo offers $11 less of a 'fee' ($31 - $20) and offers cheaper rates (36% cheaper rates to the US if I call only my US-preferred number).
To make this analysis complete, I need but am missing current rates for SIM cards bought locally in Israel from Cellcom, in my case. Can someone provide this information? (At this point, I'm committed to the Amigo rental for Israel, but now I'm curious if it would have been cheaper to wait until getting to Israel.)
For me the peace of mind of having an Israeli cell number that I can give my family and local contacts ahead of time is worth going with Amigo. I love the option too of selecting a preferred-US number with the much cheaper rate of $.14/minute.
Thanks for any comments or corrections to this information. I hope it helps. Thanks too for all the many posts to my questions over the past few weeks! We leave January 4 for Rome for five nights first before arriving in Israel.