International Prepaid SIM Cards
Save Money Using Your Phone Abroad!
you traveling abroad and want to
save money by using international prepaid SIM cards?
a great option that's becoming more and more popular as people expect
to be connected, whether for personal or business purposes, even when
we travel abroad. If you haven't already, you can visit International
to learn more about why the desire to have
cellular access is so popular, as well the role that GSM technology
plays with prepaid SIM cards.
I use my world phone?
carriers sell world phones that they tout as international cell phones.
What that means, however, is that
technology within the phone has multiple frequencies to ensure
will work on international carrier networks, or even be dual mode
(CDMA and GSM) to ensure that it can work on any network technology.
But beware! While world phones will work abroad and
could be considered the ideal international cell phones,
phones are usually locked and require that you use your home carrier's
service. What does that mean? Again....large
charges and fees! That said, I recently asked Sprint (via
chat) to provide me with the unlock code for my world phone, and they
did; and didn't charge me a fee! If you're not on contract,
may have better luck getting the code.
What about the whole
frequency, measured in MHz (megahertz), of a phone can be compared to a
language. The frequency, or language, of the phone must be
same as the cellular towers on which it operates. This allows
the handset to properly talk to the tower. So even
technology is the same (i.e. GSM), the frequencies can be different in
different countries. What this means is that a GSM phone
purchased in one country may not work on a GSM network in another
country if the frequencies are different. In other words, not
all unlocked GSM phones can be used as international cell phones.
Here's the typical
- When traveling outside of
North America, you'll need a phone that operates on 900 MHz
and 1800 MHz.
What about renting
the U.S., Canada, and
parts of South America, you'll need a phone that operates
on 850 MHz and/or 1900 MHz.
are many companies out there that rent international cell phones, and
provide international prepaid SIM cards for use when traveling.
You'll often find these stores at airports. Rental
can be a great option if you
travel VERY infrequently (i.e. once every many number of years).
But generally speaking, renting international cell phones is
still such an expensive option
that you're typically better off owning your own phone and buying
prepaid SIMs (or reloading the ones you have) as you need it.
main reason for this conclusion is the cost they charge you for the
phone, which can be $99 or more (and this can be a weekly fee!).
You can buy a new or used
phone in great condition for less than that. Also, consider
that when it's your own phone, the settings are the way you want them.
You know how to use the camera and features, you know how
long the battery lasts, etc. Messing around with these
is the last thing you'll want to be thining about while you're
traveling. Also, although SIM-based
handsets usually store phone numbers on the SIM itself, you can also
choose to store contacts in the phone's memory. This enables
you to keep your phone numbers handy even when you buy a new SIM card
on a trip to another country. If you rent international cell
phones, you won't
have that luxury!
Should I buy a
or multi-country SIM?
international prepaid SIM cards often
offer the choice of buying a SIM that will work in the country in which
you're traveling (or a
few countries in the area), or to buy a SIM
that can roam on networks in multiple countries. So which
option is better?
international prepaid SIM cards you'll have a phone number that's local
country, including that country's rates, which will be the lowest
available. However, when you travel to a different country,
you'll need to purchase another prepaid SIM card, which also means that
your phone number will be different.
international prepaid SIM cards, you get the benefit of keeping the
phone number as you travel between countries, and you avoid having to
purchase different prepaid SIM cards as you travel to each new country.
However, for that
convenience, you'll pay a higher per minute cost.
most people, the best deal will usually be to use a prepaid
SIM card in each country that you visit (i.e. local number with local
I buy a prepaid SIM before I go or when I get there?
you decide on the right international SIM card that's right for you,
buy it before you travel! This makes life a lot more
convenient. The last thing you want to do when you land
(whether for business or for vacation) is to have to think about
finding a place to buy a prepaid SIM card. And if the
destination airport doesn't have them, it may even take you a
couple of days to get to a city that has them available. If
you need your phone to coordinate your plans with people, this would be
severely annoying! Also, buying a prepaid SIM in advance will
allow you to give your phone number to people in advance.
should find that the price you can get online is just as good, if not
better as the price you'll find in the destination country.
And for those cases where it is slightly more expensive, the
convenience and peace of mind of not having to worry about finding one
when you get there is definitely worthwhile in my opinion.
The last thing
people want to do when they travel is worry about how to use
international cell phones and international prepaid SIM cards!
Ok, I want a prepaid SIM!
Where can I get one?
There are a number
of providers of international prepaid SIM cards.
to review some top providers of prepaid SIMs.
These providers also offer the opportunity
to purchase unlocked GSM international cell phones if
you don't already have one.