Buying a SIM card in various countries

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by Gargoyle, Sep 14, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gargoyle
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    In Finland and Estonia it was very cheap and simple to pick up a SIM card for my unlocked phone. They sell them at newsstands, € 5.00 at HEL airport, € 2.95 in Estonia (plus that card earned money for incoming calls, so I left after two days with about € 5 on the card).

    Every country has different rules, so this thread is for suggestions and info on buying cards.

    To start with- I'll be in France for a few days, I'd like to get a card, but it will get very little use, so I don't want to spend over € 10 or € 15 for it. Is that possible? And is there anywhere to buy it when I first arrive at CDG, or at a major train station in town?
     
  2. gleff
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    Personally I wouldn't get different cards for each country in Europe. Many European SIMs have free incoming calls across Europe. Paired with a callback service (eg Callbackworld, but they won't dial Estonian SIMs) you get pretty cheap outgoing calls, too. If you're in one country a good amount, sure, but for a few days I probably wouldn't bother.
     
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  3. mowogo
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    I will second gleff, and if you do want to get one, get a good general european SIM. It might cost more up front, but worth it if you make multiple trips to Europe.
     
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  4. Gargoyle
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    I do have a Vodafone Italian SIM, I've had that particular number and SIM card for at least 5 or 6 years; I just checked, the rates have gone down. Last time I checked (a couple years ago) it was around €1/minute inbound or outbound for use in France, but now outbound is € 0.42/minute, inbound is € 0.13/minute. That means now it makes sense to just use that one for this trip.

    Looks like something is wrong with Callbackworld- "This site has been suspended." I've used Jajah for 3 or 4 years, it seems like a similar service.
     
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  5. gleff
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    Weird, Callbackworld was fine a couple of weeks ago.
     
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  6. TRAVELSIG
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    The good news is that rates continue to decline with all carriers in Europe as the European Union has pushed the industry to reduce intra-europe roaming costs (although as of now this has not extended to data so be careful as you can eat up money very quickly even with just email).

    FYI- I am not familiar of any sim or plan that allows free incoming calls in multiple countries without at least purchasing a special option which is typically quite expensive and also limited.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Wow, that doesn't look like a professionally managed site.
     
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  8. Tenmoc
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    Not wanting to hijack Gargoyle's thread but does anyone have a recommendation for SIM providers in Denmark? Something that roams around surrounding countries would be ideal. And of course cheaper the better.
     
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  9. TRAVELSIG
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    I have been quite happy with Telenor- although I don't really know what the roaming rates/conditions are for other Nordic countries.
     
  10. Gargoyle
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    Not hijacking the thread at all- your post is exactly within the intended direction of the thread; while it started with my specific question, I would like this thread used for any international SIM card discussion. For that matter, although the thread title is Europe, what do people use for trips to Asia or OZ or Africa?

     
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  11. Tenmoc
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    In OZ it is Yes Optus all the time. You can buy the card in the news stand in the airport. $30 AUD. Choose the bonus plan and it comes with $120-$150 worth of credit. I do not have data services though, so it may not be ideal for that.
     
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  12. TRAVELSIG
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    In Thailand I use a TRUE network simcard which has both voice and data and fairly low calling rates to Europe and very low rates to North America. Then, with the data option you can also use Skype and save quite a bit of money.
     
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  13. milchap
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    Good info. Keep it up. :)
     
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  14. TRAVELSIG
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    Another good option are the SIMS for sale at Beijing airport- calls are less than 1 cent per minute, and they come preloaded with some credit- can be a useful way to make calls while in China.
     
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  15. Gargoyle
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    Maybe I'm paranoid, but if calls are that cheap I have to wonder if they are subsidized by the gov't and set up as a "party line", where someone else can listen in on your calls.
     
  16. milchap
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    I have nothing to hide......if China wants to listen to me chat with my grandchildren. :)
     
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  17. sobore
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    Any ideas for Moscow? Since I use VOIP calling alot, this would only be on-the-go calling so I would be looking for the very cheapest possible options. :)
     
  18. Travel2Food
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    For voice, I agree with you. For data, I think you're still better off getting separate SIM cards per country (with certain exceptions).

    As for "listening in" - most every government has the capability to listen in to calls ("legal intercept") whether it's a government-run telecom or private. The listening gear is installed at the switch (incidentally, this is one reason why the Skype version on Verizon phones uses their switches domestically - the other, of course, is money). Intercept is harder if you're using something like Skype that encrypts across a VPN network back to the US.... it's double-encrypted coming out of the foreign country. And oh, by the way, for calls crossing the US border, you may find intercept by US authorities.
     
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  19. TRAVELSIG
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    Well the mobile networks in China are probably subsidized in many ways- however I don't think the main intent is to listen in on foreigners calls. The key to keeping calls very inexpensive in China is to have enough volume to pay for the infrastructure- if a mobile phone was 50 USD per month there would be a lot less customers than there are at the moment.
     
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  20. gleff
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    Yes, I was talking about voice and not data (though SMS can be quite reasonable as well).
     
  21. TRAVELSIG
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    One area to check Gleff is that sending SMS to certain operators can be quite expensive (0.50 eur each) which can add up quite fast- best to check to ensure no hidden surprises.
     
  22. Justin Johnson
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    I'm doing a mini tour of Europe in October. Most of my time will be in Amsterdam, France and Italy.
    I will only be using the phone for in county calls, will be using Google Voice and T-Mobile WIFI Calling for home.
    What SIM should I get?

    Ps. Data would be nice, to check maps on my phone but not necessary.
     
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  23. Tivoboy
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    I think these are the rates that the european carriers are propagating as "standard" across europe. I haven't really seen any cards lately though which allow free incoming across europe? Can anyone verify a card that offers that?
     
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  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I wonder if it's worthwhile utilizing the MP Wiki feature to create a set of pages that provide this information in a more structured way. Then again, there probably are already several other sites that specialize on that?
     
  25. Tivoboy
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    Well, at least one. ;-)
     

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