Cell Phone Tips: 2011
More and more travelers are using mobile phones in Europe. How does your US phone work in Europe? Have you found any great deals for buying or renting a phone once you arrive?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Me and my my wife, we traveld to turkey last week and had excellent service with cellular mobile (cellomobile.com) and we had service everywhere
Even our guide was using our phone once when his phone had service problems
St. Louis, MO USA Thu 12/29/2011
I'm very thankful to all here with great advice.
I found like most people here that the Cello mobile international cell phone package was my best friend.
Me and my my husband were traveling through Italy Greece and Turkey and service was excellent.
SD USA Sun 12/18/2011
Piccell Wireless for Italy
Great post. I used Piccell Wireless while I was in Italy. You get a local italian SIM with a basic phone. All went great...and had free incoming calls, SMS, cheap to USA. No way would I pay At&t $1/minute!
Boston, MA USA Tue 12/13/2011
Use your cel phone in Europe
You can use your own phone when traveling to Europe! Call your mobile service provider (I use T-Mobile). Get someone in the corporate or business division; they tend to know much more than the average employee. Let them know you'll be traveling abroad and request an unlock code. They request the unlock code from the phone manufacturer and email it to you with easy to follow directions. They told me it would take up to two weeks, but I had my code within 24 hours. When you arrive in Europe, purchase a prepaid SIM card from a cel phone provider. Take your SIM card out (leave the data card in though, so you'll have your apps, etc.) and put the European SIM card in. Voila!
P.S. Your smart phone will be able to pick up free wifi if it's unlocked... there's free wifi EVERYWHERE in western Europe.
Dallas, TX USA Thu 12/08/2011
I wish I would have found this site earlier this year because I got burned with one of the cell phone rental companies.
This time I used cello mobile and they did exactly what they promised to do, no secret fees, service was excellent, I highly recommend them to anybody that needs reliable service and mobility.
Lincoln, NH USA Tue 11/29/2011
I also used Cello phones, but was unhappy with the final billing. When I had inquired as to why there would be additional charges, I did not receive a response and the fees added up for being late. Although they claimed to have sent a response, I never received one (even checked the spam /junk folder). So I had to pay an extra 100.00 that I had not budgeted for.. I suggest buying or using another company.
Bonita, CA USA Tue 11/29/2011
Don't rent from EZROAM
I rented a phone from EZROAM for my recent trip; all went well until I ran out of minutes; even though I had signed up for "autoload" when the balance of minutes fell below $10. I must have called the company twenty times to try to get more minutes; they NEVER answered the phone, and NEVER returned messages. Poorest customer service I've ever encountered.
Quilcene, WA USA Mon 11/28/2011
My Blackberry Curve has a locked SIM card and did not work in Europe. Cell phones were too expensive for me. So I used Skype and paid very little to call from my computer. I also used it for free video calls.
Boston, MA USA Sat 11/26/2011
Call In Europe
I bought a phone, with a French SIM card, in 2008 from callineurope.com and have used it on 5 trips to many countries in Western Europe and in Greece. I have been very happy with the service -- the coverage has been excellent.
Albuquerque, NM USA Tue 11/15/2011
I really had a good time in Italy this past summer, I was traveling all over Italy with my partner, and we had a blast!
Thanks to the Cello cell phone company mentioned here I really saved a lot on my talking charges.
Lehi, UT USA Mon 11/14/2011
I have used mobal.com in the past. Although their service is great, their rates are very excessive.
Jackson, MS USA Tue 11/08/2011
International Phone Service
Unfortunately, our U.S. mobile phone equipment and carrier do not provide service overseas. As a result, we researched the possibility of purchasing a phone just for our international travels. We found Mobal Phone (www.mobal.com) to be first rate. Not only was the equipment, services (including voice mail) and per minute usage price what we were looking for at a reasonable price (we got a phone on sale for only $29!), but the customer service provided for purchasing and assisting us with our new phone were exemplary. You only pay for the call time used, so it is a very reasonable way to make and receive phone calls while overseas. We highly recommend it!
David & Marlene Simpson
Redmond, OR USA Mon 10/31/2011
Cell Phone Tips
I brought my own cell phone with us to Rome and then a 7 day Med cruise (Sicily, Malta, Turkey & Crete). We have AT&T service and for a $5.00 charge this gave us a roaming rate of 0.99 per min. It was worth having my own phone with all my contacts and less of a hassle learning the use of a new phone.
Wentzville, MO USA Sat 10/29/2011
Had same thing during their Jewish holiday week, but was given excellent service by email, technical support was never closed.
Glad I went with Cellomobile.com, saved money and was hassle free.
Albuquerque, NM USA Thu 10/27/2011
Cellomobile [INVALID] my experience thus far: Ordering was easy, phone arrived on time. Tried to test it at home, unsuccessful. Called support office during business hours, was told, Oh, Sorry, Jewish holiday, send an email to our customer service. Sent email, received automated reply, Oh, sorry, Jewish holiday, we're closed for the next TEN DAYS. Hahahaha! So now I have a phone, don't know whether or not it works, and my trip is in three days.
Alameda, CA USA Fri 10/14/2011
Only had positive experience with cellomobile. The delivery was quick and efficient a week before my trip and the support people were fantastic.
West Hartford, CT USA Tue 09/20/2011
I found a very good promo code to use for cellomobile.com which takes 20% off from the rental of a phone but its only valid if you travel I think for 15 days and more
It's -1520- promo code
Paramus, NJ USA Thu 09/15/2011
I had a great time in France thanks to advice found here.
I also took the advice of many fellow travelers and got a cell phone from cellomobile it was great and worked fine!
Atlanta, GA USA Mon 09/12/2011
Thanks for all the great advice I got from this board I rented a Blackberry for my journey across Europe it was very affordable and coverage was great even in very remote places.
Chazy, NY USA Sun 09/11/2011
Another happy customer
We took 2 different cell phones from 2 different companies on our recent trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom we had a nightmare with one company that uses an Estonian number, however the second phone that we took from cello mobile.com was a blessing. The service was loud and clear and also we had service even in remote Northern Ireland which I was very surprised. Thanks for all the recommendations here. Almost forgot to mention about their excellent customer service! And shipping was every reasonable.
Moncton, NB Canada Sun 08/28/2011
free calls from magic jack
I use Magic Jack on my Computer to call anywhere in Europe through WIFI to the USA. It's allways been free both ways and great reception.
Auburndale, Florid USA Thu 08/11/2011
I agree with Aria, but this is only when traveling to a single country and you own a GSM cell phone, otherwise get a SIM card still at home or rent a phone.
I will be trying cellomobile.com like mentioned below, and I will report back with my findings, so far all my questions were answered in a timely manner, and their customer service is very helpful.
Shipping $10 is also very affordable, because they use Fedex or UPS can't remember now.
Schroon Lake, NY USA Mon 08/01/2011
Unlocked GSM Phone & Local Sim
The best way is to get an unlocked quadband GSM phone, or if you are on a GSM carrier such as AT&T or T-Mobile, have them unlock your phone, but make sure your phone is a quadband so it will work on the GSM networks abroad. All you have to do when you travel is purchase a local sim card for a prepaid service for the country you are visiting and you can get very inexpensive phone service. That's what I've done and it works quite well. For calling home, skype app on phone works well for that.
New York, NY USA Sun 07/31/2011
I used Skype on my trip when abroad last year came out very inexpensive but was very big hassle, even places with internet were blocking VOIP calls on Skype, and I also had a family emergency, but couldn't call right away and really regretted not having a way of communicating.
I am currently looking at various cell phone companies like Travel cell and cello mobile (the one many people here recommend) and I see that it's indeed very inexpensive at least to have one for emergency use.
I am leaning more towards buying than renting because we travel quite a bit, at least once a year.
London, ON Canada Mon 07/25/2011
I also used Cellomobile.com for my recent trip to Taiwan and was very impressed with the service and speed of delivery.
Shipping was very affordable at $10.
I will use them again for my trip to Jordan and Greece in winter 2012.
Thanks Rick for all the great tips you offer, I am a BIG fan of yours.
Excelsior, MN USA Sun 07/24/2011
Regards from Greece
First off...I am a very a happy customer of CelloMobile.com, and my referral came directly from this site. CelloMobile.com in my opinion has the best customer service team and best rates.
Some customers could think that they own the world or when they hear something they don't like, they hear it as being rude.
I was touring Greece and the service and reception was great. My only problem was that the instructions is printed in a very old fashioned way, not on a glossy durable paper, but who cares...
Shipping with Fedex was only $10
Cedar Rapids, IA USA Fri 07/22/2011
I just wanted to add a comment (which is unfortunately not altogether positive) regarding Cello Mobile. While the overall service was adequate and cost-effective, I found the shipping costs to be excessive, and I also had an issue with my invoice. When I called their help line the technician was very rude. I attempted to express this dissatisfaction through their website (and a 3rd-party reviewer, www.resellerratings.com) but my review has not appeared on their site -- I wonder if Cello Mobile has editing power over their listing on resellerratings.com.
Saint Louis, MO USA Wed 07/20/2011
I agree with Emily 100% as my sim card from cello mobile is my best companion when I travel.
For short term travlers I would suggest a rental phone which is much easier.
La Jolla, CA USA Mon 07/18/2011
I bought a quad band phone on ebay, and went with Rebelfone for the sim card rental. This worked fine for me as I did not want to make a lot of calls back to the states, but wanted to be able to call within Italy. I could not find many reviews of Rebelfone, but I took the chance, and it all worked out fine.
USA Sun 07/17/2011
rather a global SIMS card
Don't repeat my mistake back in 2005 when I was traveling across Europe and was thinking to buy a local SIM card in each country.
1. Phone number constantly changed 2. I always left money behind as I crossed the border 3. OMG, language barrier, they were just not understanding what I am talking about 4. I had to look for a cell phone store whenever I crossed borders 5. They never supplied me any kind of call record, once I had I think it was Italy where my 20 Euros depleted on a 3 minute phone call.
Please do not repeat my mistakes, I have gotten a SIMS card since from cellomobile like recommended here by many fellow travlers and I am a happy camper since, they speak my language show me my detail calls made and received. I couldn't wish for a better company to deal with.
Los Angeles, CA USA Sun 07/17/2011
Using Smartphone in Germany and Ireland
Howdy fellow ETTBDers. I've benefited greatly from Rick's books and the Graffiti Wall and wanted to share my recent experiences.
I have an unlocked iPhone 3GS (you cannot change SIMs unless your iPhone is unlocked, Google for more info) but this information will also benefit other smartphone users. As you probably know, using a smartphone in Europe can be very expensive. Here is how to reduce the costs by using paypaid SIM cards.
The cheapest option that I found is to buy a SIM in each country. Apparently there are also plans that in multiple countries so that is worth checking into.
You may want check your data usage prior to leaving to see how much data you will need. 500 MB is probably good for two weeks if you don't watch video. Calling will not be cheap with prepaid so keep that to a minimum.
Phones usually have a data counter that can be reset. Do this when you get your SIM card so you can keep track of your data usage for that SIM card.
Using iPhone without a data plan ================================ It is possible to use a smartphone in Europe without a dataplan by using WiFi in a hotel, cafe, etc. Look for hotels with free WiFi and you will be able to use email, etc. when you get back to the hotel.
On the iPhone put your phone in "Airplane Mode" and then turn on WiFi. This will turn-off calling and dataplan data and only use free WiFi data. GPS apparently will work albeit slower or less accurate. My experience was without a data plan GPS locating was slow or didn't work.
For maps, etc. consider an offline map application.
Germany phone & data ==================== I used Tchibo in Germany but I can't recommend them based on my experience. Tchibo is like a coffee store plus a tiny Ikea (discount items). They sell mobile service too.
Ask for Prepaid SIM card. They will want an address in Germany. Apparently people have used hotel addresses.
Once you have your SIM card you can top-up "guthaben" to add more money to it. Purchase this at one of the many Tchibos around. You will get a receipt with an authorization number and directions on how to call and activate. Despite the directions being in German it is easy to use. Dial the access number, press 1, enter the authorization code followed by "#".
Some report O2 top-ups will work but Tchibo told me they don't. YMMV. Tchibo SIMs use the O2 mobile network. Also I found the data speed slow outside of cities. It is probably better to use a different carrier that has more 3G coverage.
Tchibo has two nice data plans.
L E 9.95 for 500 MB / 30 days XL E 19.95 for 5000 MB / 30 days
Either call (they may not speak English) or see here for directions
Ireland phone & data ==================== After some research I decided on 3 Mobile. They have great coverage and also a good data deal.
E 4.99 for 500 MB / 30 days
Go into a 3 Mobile phone store and they will take care of you.
Buy at least a E 10 prepaid card and you will get the SIM free, 500 MB, and about E 5 left over. :-)
I found phone and data coverage was good (3G) from Dublin to Galway to Dingle.
San Jose, CA USA Sun 07/10/2011
+1 for Cellomobile I used them and am/was very happy!, just felt sharing it with you guys.
Las Vegas, NV USA Mon 05/09/2011
mobile cell phone
Avoid Mobal.com cell service! I have only had my phone for 1 week and the customer service has been very unsatisfactory. I was sent an incorrect charger, called and a new one was sent and I got another $10 shipping charge for their mistake. Agents on the phone have been curt and less than friendly. Just glad I found out early on and am cancelling the service. Now I am spending a large portion of my time just trying to get the phone returned and all refunds due.
Beaverton, Oregon USA Wed 05/04/2011
Avoid Telestial: Rip off!
Two years ago I bought a Telestial SIM card for a multi-country trip to Europe. It *failed* for almost all calls except customer service, & to my horror those calls were billed to my pre-paid minutes. Scam scam scam. I've since used country-specific prepaid SIMs purchased after arrival to use w my unlocked cellphone. Most airports have kiosks, or magazine vendors, that sell SIMs.
Portland, OR USA Sat 04/23/2011
Yes, I agree!
I can also attest to all the great reviews here on cellomobile, they are very reliable and very good customer service.
St. Hubert, QC Canada Mon 04/11/2011
I am very happy with CelloMobile.com
I recently rented from CelloMobile.com a Blackberry for my trip to France and Italy, I was able to have unlimited emails and also used it as a GPS. I also was able to tether my laptop to it, so I had real mobility with me. I highly recommend CelloMobile.com for any traveler out there, they have regular cell phones too.
Candle, WY USA Thu 03/31/2011
International Data Cards
I used to use Xcomglobal.com for data cards, but recently found a much better solution for me. I rented a Blackberry from CelloMobile.com, and they allow it to connect to my laptop as a modem, it is much more convenient for me this way, so I can have real mobile convenience. Also, a big deal of the Blackberry from Cello Mobile is that it works even in multi countries, there is no need to change SIM cards for every country.
Smith, BC CA Thu 03/31/2011
Skype app for iPhone 4
For those of you that have the iPhone 4, download the Skype App. With the new camera they installed on the front of the phone, you can use it to Video chat with others - without having to use Facetime. It's also great for just voice chatting on your phone as well.
Canada Thu 03/24/2011
I just came back from China with CelloMobile.com SIM card and it worked great. I only paid like 29 cents a minute. I always use them for all my trips and it works great.
Billings, MT USA Wed 02/02/2011