Traveling abroad can be pricey, even if you’re pinching every penny and keeping an eye out for the cheapest options. The last thing you need as you travel the world is for your phone to be charging you large sums of money every time you fire it up. Especially as smartphones become more essential to our lives, it is important to know how to save money using it across the globe. This way you can send pictures and keep in touch with everyone at home without breaking the bank.
Find the Right International SIM Card for Your Travels
The most important thing for cutting down on international cell phone prices is your SIM card. Taking you regular US SIM card with you around the world will wind up with a high phone bill at the end of the month. However, by switching this US SIM card out for a global or travel SIM, you’ll be able to make affordable calls and send texts.
Below is a list of popular SIM cards to consider when shopping for your trip. First, though, it is necessary to go over figuring out if your phone will be able to travel with you outside the United States.
Will Your Phone Travel With You?
Unlock Your Phone
In order for your bring your phone on your travels, you’ll need to figure out if your handset is network unlocked. Most phones purchased through a carrier are bought already locked to that carrier’s network. This is to prevent you from taking that phone and using it on a rival carrier’s network. Unlocking your phone will allow you to utilize a different network for your phone.
Certain carriers might allow you unlock your phone through the cell company. However, not all carriers offer this service, so it is necessary to call the company’s customer service department or check in on their website. Should your carrier not provide this service, it is necessary to contact your carrier.
Check for GSM-Capabilities
Once your phone is unlocked, the next thing you need to ask is whether or not your device is GSM-capable. Your device will need to work on a GSM network, as most of the countries you’ll likely to be visiting will use a GSM standard for mobile devices. This is slightly different from the US, where carriers either utilize GSM or CDMA technology.
If you have one of the major US carriers, it is easy enough to figure this out. AT&T and T-Mobile utilize GSM networks, while Sprint and Verizon Wireless run CDMA. GSM networks make it far simpler for customers to switch their phones, as SIM cards are used for GSM compatible phones.
For T-Mobile or AT&T customers, running GSM technology, switching to a travel SIM will be simple, as you’ll just need to swap out your current SIM card. Verizon Wireless or Sprint customers, or customers of some other company, may have a tougher time with this. If you’re with one of these companies, you’ll want to ask your carrier about a SIM card slot.
Variety of Travel SIMs
Now that we’ve covered the bases with preparing your phone for a new travel SIM, we can get into a bit of comparison on the most popular SIM cards out there.
The World Pack, priced at $49, gives you an international SIM card loaded up with $20 of credit, as well as 250MB of data. Call rates hit around $0.35 for each minute, with data costing you $0.25 per MB. If you’d like to upgrade from 250MB of data to a full GB of data, GO-SIM offers the World Plus Pack, costing you $134.
This multi-fit international SIM will function with all mobile and Wi-Fi devices, providing roaming coverage in upwards of 190 countries and 220 cruise ships around the world. This SIM can be charged through a phone or web portal, or an Auto-Recharge can be set up through your credit or debit card. Your GO-SIM number can be called free of charge by friends and family using a toll-free hotline.
GO-SIM also offers a Global Data SIM. Customers can take their pick of 250MB for $29, or 1GB of data for $89. This card also enables users to add a Wi-Fi hotspot for another $40 if you choose the 250MB pack and $30 with the 1GB option. This data is usable in more than 120 countries, with a 30-day expiry period.
With the GO-SIM, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.35 for Canada, $0.75 for Mexico, and $0.35 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.35 in Canada, $0.75 in Mexico, and $0.35 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.25 per MB in Canada, $0.45 per MB in Mexico, and $0.25 per MB in the United Kingdom.
The global roaming service of WorldSIM gives you coverage in 200 countries, offering voice call rates starting at $0.15 per minute as well as data at near $0.10 per MB. The WorldSIM International SIM Card gives you a UK and USA number, with a 12-month expiry period. WorldSIM gives you easy top-up options with no minimum on your ongoing balance.
With WorldSIM, users can add data to their plans at any time, offering choices for the United Kingdom, Canada, Asia, Europe, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia among others. These data bundles range in sizes including 100MB, 200MB, 500MB and 1GB, the prices for these ranging from $9.45 to $13.50 for 100MB, and up around $47.25 to $74.25 for 1GB.
With the WorldSIM, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.30 for Canada, $0.45 for Mexico, and $0.15 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.20 in Canada, $0.20 in Mexico, and $0.08 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.15 per MB in Canada, $0.20 per MB in Mexico, and $0.15 per MB in the United Kingdom.
For those more intense travelers, OneSimCard is going to be ideal. OneSimCard gives you roaming mobile service in upwards of 200 countries, providing you a standard saving of 85% on voice calls. OneSimCard also gives you free incoming calls in 160 of those 200 countries.
With a GSM unlocked phone, the OneSimCard Data & Roam package is available. Rates for data start at $0.02 per MB, offering bi-weekly and monthly packages available. The SIM card itself will cost you $29.95 and free shipping is offered.
With OneSimCard users can also get a $29.95 Plus SIM package, which allows for less expensive international calls and a larger availability for SMS. This Plus SIM also gives you $10 in call credit, and is suited for travelers who are seeking low voice rates, charging only $0.25 per minute for outgoing calls.
Users of OneSimCard can also gain access to the OneSimCard VoIP app, which allows you to make and receive calls over Wi-Fi for lower rates. This also gives you a lower rate for SMS. The $29.95 Europe & More SIM with OneSim gives you $10 of call credit, as well as outgoing call rates of $0.25 per minute.
With the OneSimCard Data & Roam SIM card, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.29 for Canada, $0.75 for Mexico, and $0.49 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.20 in Canada, $0.20 in Mexico, and $0.15 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.50 per MB in Canada, $0.50 per MB in Mexico, and $0.25 per MB in the United Kingdom.
With the OneSimCard Plus SIM, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.65 for Canada, $0.39 for Mexico, and $0.39 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.40 in Canada, $0.25 in Mexico, and $0.25 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.25 per MB in Canada, $0.25 per MB in Mexico, and $0.25 per MB in the United Kingdom.
For a wide range of packages to suit your needs, Telestial offers a good variety. The International SIM Card gives users a low rate of $0.15 per minute for calls, $0.15 for SMS, and data from $0.35 per MB, offering availability in upwards of 190 countries and 220 cruise ships.
At $19, the one-rate card gives you $10 of credit, including Global +44 and US +1 phone numbers. The ability to call forward and recharge your credit automatically is also included.
Europe-bound travelers will want to look into Telestial’s Europe-specific SIM pack at $19. This pack gives you low priced calls, texts and data in 50 European countries and 140 other global destinations.
Telestial also offers different data packs, with either 14 or 30-day expiry period. Based on your destination, you can choose from data packages for 250MB for $29, 500MB for $49 or $69, 1GB for $69 or $89, or you can increase your data up to 2GB for $119.
With the Telestial, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.35 for Canada, $0.75 for Mexico, and $0.35 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.35 in Canada, $0.75 in Mexico, and $0.35 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.25 per MB in Canada, $0.45 per MB in Mexico, and $0.25 per MB in the United Kingdom.
What makes GigSky unique is the fact that it only provides users with international data access. To make up for this, the service of GigSky applies to over 90 countries and gives you both a SIM card and a GigSky mobile app in which to make simply activations and payments.
A data SIM card with GigSky will cost you $9.99, and gives you 100MB of worldwide data to start. This data is prepaid, and in the GigSky Data app you can recharge your card and package at any time.
For Canadian and Mexican bound travelers, GigSky offers 100MB for $15, 250MB for $25, 500MB for $35, and 1GB for $50. If you’re headed to the UK, you can purchase 100MB for $15, 500MB for $25, 1GB for $35, or 3GB for $50. IPad users can get a prepaid data plan for $0.01 per one MB.
Service from eKit will save you connection charges for voice calls, and gives you free incoming calls in various destinations.
The International SIM Card with eKit provides coverage in upwards of 190 counties and 150 cruise ships at a purchase price of $22.80, and gives you $10.00 of pre-loaded call credit. You can also opt for a data-only SIM. This option can get you 250MB for $34.80, 500MB for $46.80 or $58.80, 1GB for $82.80 or $106.80, or 2GB for $142.80.
With the eKit SIM, the cost per minute for US calls will be $0.27 for Canada, $0.63 for Mexico, and $0.27 for the UK. Text messages are going to cost you $0.27 in Canada, $0.63 in Mexico, and $0.27 in the United Kingdom. Data will cost you $0.27 per MB in Canada, $0.63 per MB in Mexico, and $0.27 per MB in the United Kingdom.
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