International SIM cards - are they worth it?
My partner and I are going travelling for 11 months this September. We were originally leaving our mobile phones at home but then came across some adverts for international SIM cards.
After looking into the rates of Toggle among other providers, they seem really expensive and seeing as we'd only be getting them for emergencies (say we lost one another or needed to phone home urgently), is it really worth it?
Has anyone used them before and if so, what are your views?
My main worry is that we get separated and have no way of contacting each other.
Thanks in advance,
Lew and Kat.
In a lot of countries this is as simple as walking into a shop and handing over the amount you want in phone credit (In the UK they even hand them out free on some flights!). In others you'll need to provide a local address (hotel should do) and some countries make it difficult for foreigners to buy sims so it's easiest just to get a local to go buy it for you.
Otherwise, if it really just is for emergency use, I'd say just buy a pre-pay sim from your home country and make sure it has intl roaming and good network sharing agreements (I know Virgin mobile doesn't have them in either Cuba or Albania, which has been annoying for me in recent times).
Making phone calls would not be cheap but hopefully it's not something you'll need to do too often. Just make sure you use and top them up often enough that they stay active.
Lew and Kat.
Taking a pay-and-go SIM from the UK may be our best option just to have a phone handy incase of emergencies.
Thanks for all your help.
Lew and Kat.
In spain, for example, I got a cheap cellphone, or used my cheap turkish cellphone to put in a spanish card that got me cheap calls to home, and cheap enough calls locally.
The same for Turkey and a few other countries.
The secret is to have a TRULY unlocked phone. I bought an American phone that said it was unlocked, but it only worked with certain sim card companies through Europe.
In some countries, many european countries now, it is nearly impossible to find a telephone booth in anywhere convenient, so if you need to make any kind of local contact at all, you need to know someone with a phone, or have one yourself. Otherwise you have to look for those funny foriegn call places than can cost a small fortune.
In Amsterdam, I had to buy a sim card for this very reason. The public phones, the ones one can find, all use a pre-pay card that you have to buy FIRST and cost a small fortune per minute.
Same in Turkey, and other countries.
To receive calls, I bought a "skype online number" which is a phone number in your home country. When people call this number (forward your home phones to this number), you can have it ring on your locally bought pre-paid sim card in whatever country you're in. That way people can call you anytime they want. A computer is not needed or involved for this.
Also with a slow dialup connection Skype is useless.
Since I see that most of your postings in other forums indicate you'll be spending most time around SE Asia / Asia, just bring your unlocked cell phones and purchase sim cards as you go in each country. They are very cheap in most countries, and can be purchased in 7-Elevens, or small shops everywhere.
Below is what I've paid for sim cards, not including Edge / 3G mobile internet:
Australia $5 AUD
New Zealand $75 NZD (not worth it, I could only get signals within cities, outlying areas had no reception)
Singapore $15 SGD (purchase in airport, as they sometimes need a copy of your passport)
Malaysia 10 Ringgits
Thailand 100 Baht
Laos 10,000 Kip
Vietnam 50,000 Dong
Hong Kong $150 HKD (expensive)
China 45 Yuan
Taiwan 1500 TWD (outrageously expensive, requires passport ID)
Egypt 10 EGP
It all depend on where you are going but in my case I always use an international Sim card when I travel abroad and now even when I am in the UK because I want to take advantage of the cheap international calls and I have different local numbers in the same sim card which I use for business purposes.
Ok. You may be confused now and wandering how it's all this related...
As a frequent flyer I tried several options to stay in touch with family and business contacts whilst abroad.
Tried different International Sim card brands but they were all a big mess with hidden charges and little stars everywhere, premium rates for people who call those numbers, call back systems, poor call quality and even worst customer service... until I found what I'm using now, toggle mobile allows me to have up to 9 local numbers with local rates in the same sim card, free incoming calls in 100+ countries, cheap international calls, etc. I'm also happy with their call quality and service reliability (they should be paying me for all the advertising!!!!)
Every case is a case but I always recommend an international sim card when travelling.
Here is the website of the one I use http://www.togglemobile.com but you can always check the competitors like Tru, WorldSIM, Travel sim, etc. It's always good to get second opinions!
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