There's a price war going on among roaming SIM card providers, and anyone traveling overseas can benefit. For smartphone data users, the best bet right now is Telestial's Passport line of SIM cards, with data rates as low as 39 cents [now 16 cents with data bundles] per megabyte. That makes it one of our Editors' Choices for roaming SIM cards... Watch Video Review
If you will need a mobile phone extensively while traveling out of the country, consider buying prepaid subscriber identification card (they're called SIM cards) for your U.S. based cell phone.
"Before I left for London, I spent $29 for a Telestial prepaid SIM card for my unlocked Motorola cell phone. I also purchased $50 worth of prepaid airtime," said Erica Johnson "This particular SIM card came with a U.S. and U.K. phone number, so I was able to receive calls for free on the U.K. number and pay 19 cents per minute to receive calls on the U.S. number. Outgoing calls to the U.S. cost me 49 cents per minute."
Q: I will be spending two weeks in Greece, where my Verizon cell phone won't work. What is the most cost-effective way to have cell phone service while I'm visiting? I want to have a phone in case of emergency, if my family needs to call me and possibly for local use. What do you suggest?
A: You can find a lot of companies selling or renting phones for international use. For example, Telestial is offering a deal on its Pack Lite Travel cell phone. For $39 [now $19], you can buy the phone and get a SIM card and $5 [now $10] of call credit. Rates are 99 cents a minute to make calls and 89 cents a minute to receive them [now 39 cents].
The cheapest way to make local calls while abroad is to use an unlocked cellphone that can work with other carriers' networks. Travelers who want the security of having a SIM card before they land can buy one at sites like Telestial.com whose prepaid local SIM cards offer rates lower than most American carriers. For example, Telestial's $39 TIM SIM card for Italy comes with about $7 (5 euros) of airtime credit, free incoming calls and rates of about 14 cents per call and 21 cents per text for numbers within Italy. Telestial also offers regional SIM cards, which offer low calling rates for multiple countries.
Prepaid SIM cards are attractive options if you are staying for an extended period of time in one country, says Ken Grunski, president of telecom services provider Telestial.
One key advantage of prepaid SIM cards, which can usually be purchased from $19 to $80 [now $49], is that your incoming calls will be free. And you'll be able to avoid those pesky and substantial international roaming rates if you purchase international roaming SIM cards, which work in multiple countries.
Stewart Witt recently returned from a trip to Israel and was hit with his highest phone bill ever, about $600 more than usual. "I should have learned more about it before I left," Witt says. "AT&T did send me an e-mail letting me know my data usage was high, but it appeared to me as an advertisement." International roaming calls have always been expensive - typically $1.50 to $4.99 a minute depending on the country from which you're calling. Telestial sells a new SIM card that works in 150 [now 190] countries. It charges about 49 cents [now 20 cents] to 79 cents a minute for outgoing calls, while incoming calls are free. Data prices range from $2.50 [now 16 cents with data bundles] to $10 per megabyte. It also comes with a U.S. phone number.
"Even with an international roaming package on AT&T, it can cost 99 cents a minute or more for voice calls." said Philip Guarino, an international business consultant. "The moral of the story is, dump your American SIM card and buy a local one instead." Another option is to buy an inexpensive travel phone from a company like Telestial (telestial.com). They typically cost less than $50 [now starting from $29]. Telestial's Passport package provides free incoming calls in Europe, as well as calls back to the United States for 49 cents per minute.
My nephew headed to South Africa this week for the World Cup and ran into a problem vexing many summer travelers going abroad: What about your cell phone? My nephew said he plans to make just one call -- to his dad on his birthday. "It costs $2.50 a minute, so you can bet it won't be a long call." he said. Telestial, which sells prepaid SIM cards, can significantly cut the costs of making a call back home. For example, under its Passport SIM card plan, outgoing calls start at 49 cents per minute and incoming calls are free in more than 50 [now 80] countries, including popular destinations like France, England, Germany and Spain. Another option, especially for those without a phone using the GSM standard used in most countries, is renting a phone with an international SIM card.
A German traveler who got a 46,000 euro bill (about $69,000) for downloading a TV program in France is an excellent reminder of the kind of trouble an international traveler can get into with a smart phone. Some tips: Rent or buy a global phone. Companies such as Telestial often have the better rates. And Telestial offers voice and data SIM cards. Such alternatives can let you pay in advance so you don't get blindsided later.
We recommend an even better way to keep costs down: Unlock your phone, remove the AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card, and replace it with one or more European SIM cards for your trip. If you prefer a single card that works around Europe, calling with a multicountry European SIM card costs a bit more than with one-country cards, but still a lot less than "roaming" charges with your U.S. card. You can buy overseas SIM cards before you leave home from Telestial.
You don't have to wait until you arrive overseas to buy a SIM card for another country, however. Example: In advance of [my] UK trip, I purchased the Passport US SIM Card ($29; includes $10 of airtime) from Telestial. With Telestial's Passport US SIM Card, I get both a U.S. and UK phone number. If someone dials the U.S. number and I answer in the UK, the caller pays only U.S. long distance charges (or none, depending upon their phone plan). I'm charged $0.19 per minute to receive those calls--a lot less than the $0.99 or $1.29 per minute I'd pay AT&T, my wireless carrier, for international roaming with my Apple iPhone.
Also, incoming calls made to my UK number are free for me regardless of where the call originates; they're free or low-cost to callers in the UK. Calls I make from within the UK to landlines, regardless of the country they're in, are $0.49 per minute.
"A recent Harris Interactive survey found international roaming fees cost U.S. businesses an average of $693 per trip per traveler. In Europe, the typical wireless company generates between 3 percent and 10 percent of their revenue an annual total of 5 billion euro a year through roaming fees, according to the GSM Association. Why? Because they can, says Ken Grunski, President of wireless company Telestial. "When you roam, you are using your phone on another company's network, not the network of your own wireless company," he says. "These other companies generally charge high wholesale charges to your company for using their network."
If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for the country in which you're traveling, Telestial, an American company that sells overseas SIM cards, offers data plans that are as low as $5 [now 15 cents] a MB for Britain.
SIM cards bought for a specific country often have high roaming rates when these SIM cards are used outside that country. Telestial, which offers low-cost roaming in over 130 [now 190] countries, offers a unique international roaming SIM that offers users two numbers: one from the U.K. and one from the U.S. Users will receive calls and text messages when people call either number. Calling rates start as low as 29 cents [now 20 cents] a minute. The SIM card itself costs $29 and comes with $10 of airtime preloaded.
Recently, Clark heard from a listener who took an iPhone to Europe and got hit with more than $5,000 in fees for overseas use.... But realize that there is a much better alternative. Get a pre-paid SIM chip to use in an unlocked world phone. Clark recommends Telestial.com. Whatever you do, don't trust a stateside cell carrier with your wallet while overseas!
For better savings, consider using two phones - one for data, the other for talking. Telestial offers cheap calls via a SIM card - called the Passport - that can be inserted into unlocked GSM phones. The card costs $39 [now $29] and works in 110 [now 190] countries around the world, primarily in Europe, where outgoing calls are $0.49 per minute, while received calls are free.
Travelers too lazy or too enthralled by their journeys to keep comprehensive journals (can) outsource the job to their cellphones. Telestial, an international cellphone network ... tracks your travels and posts (to your private Web page) stock photos of everywhere you've been. Then while you're sitting on the runway waiting for takeoff, you can post entries on your online travel journal via text message. The service is included in the price of Telestial's international phone packages or SIM cards.
Another option is to go with a company such as Telestial, which offers SIM cards that allow users to make international calls without paying outrageous roaming fees. Customers pay $49 [now $29] for an international SIM card that comes with $10 of talk time, and the SIM card enables the phone to work in more than 90 [now 190] destinations worldwide. Outgoing calls to the U.S. start at as little as 49 cents a minute.
Online travel communications retailer Telestial has just launched Travel Journal, an online service that automatically creates an online trip journal based on the location of the user's phone. Using a special SIM card that triangulates the user's location using cell phone towers, Travel Journal automatically updates in more than 100 [now 190] countries. Trip data is displayed on a Google map and a journal is created with images of locations visited by the traveler, local weather, and a record of recent communications. Users can manually update their journal by sending text messages or photos to the Travel Journal site. This service (is) fun for people planning road trips or international travel. (they can) enjoy their travel, instead on focusing on chronicling it.
Telestial SIM card/GSM phone, $100 [now $19]. The GSM phone available through Telestial also works overseas; you insert a SIM card that will work with a local number and a local rate, so you can forget the exorbitant fees. There is free incoming calls in 40 [now 80]countries in the world. No contract is necessary."
"Unlike phone rental options, Telestial eliminates problems associated with incompatible cellular networks abroad or being tied to a U.S. network that charges huge overseas rates. Telestial works with international providers, and their customers can get the same low local call rates that international residents would pay, plus the convenience of having an enabled phone prior to arriving in an international destination."
"A Telestial GSM 900/1800 international cell phone starts at $99 [now $19], while a smaller phone with more features begins at $179 [now $49]. SIM cards cost $19-$79 [now $49], but Telestial says they pay for themselves within 30 minutes of use when comparing the costs with international roaming rates. With Telestial's $49 [now $29] Passport SIM card, for instance, that call from Spain would cost 49 cents a minute. Using a $59 [now $29] Explorer SIM card, a call from Russia would be 45 cents a minute. Both cards allow free incoming calls from the United States."
Telestial's customers are billed only when they use the service, so it's a good backup option for any traveler to have
You'll get the lowest possible per-minute rates.
Telestial holds you hand every step of the way.
...an essential convenience for anyone traveling out of the US. No matter where they are, a single phone number reaches the traveler, affordably and easily.
If you want to save money, get a GSM phone from an independent supplier like Telestial.