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Thread: Looking for an inexpensive option for a trip to Europe

  1. #1
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    Looking for an inexpensive option for a trip to Europe

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe. On past travel we have not used cell phones except on WiFi. I have had good experience using Google Hangouts to call back to the USA, but I want something more. Specifically I want something I can use when we are out and about. I would need to set up two phones so that if we get separated we can call each other. I would also like a minimal amount of data for directions/info (yes, I download maps for use offline, but sometimes I need more).

    I have looked at Ultra Mobile, UK Three, and even Google Fi (too expensive). I realize getting a Sim after we reach Europe is probably our least expensive option, but I don’t want to spend half a day or more of our trip setting up phones. I would really like something I could set up ahead of time.

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    We’ve been using a Vodafone SIM and the pay as you go plan. It ends up being $1 per day for talk text and 500MB of data. It was offered on Amazon by uksims and you refill using their website. It will give you a UK phone number.

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    That is very reasonable. Were you able to set it up before you left the USA? I really hope to have everything activated and tested before we leave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by happygrrl1 View Post
    That is very reasonable. Were you able to set it up before you left the USA? I really hope to have everything activated and tested before we leave.
    I used Three UK SIMs when I visited Europe with the kids back in June. Bought them on eBay and Amazon. I bought three (3) Three UK SIMs, each from a different vendor who claimed they could be activated in the USA prior to leaving. (My reasoning was not to put all of our eggs in one basket, hoping at least one would work if some of the sellers turned out to be idiots or scammers. As it happened, they all activated flawlessly, and I worried for nothing!) IIRC, I bought 5GB SIMs for less than $20 each.

    They worked quite well here in the US, as well in the Czech Republic, France and the UK (in that order, despite the TOS warnings that the SIMs had to be activated and/or used in the UK first.)

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
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    I can’t remember whether I activated at home but they do work here. The only issue I had was choosing the correct APN setting for pay as you go. If I remember correctly the SIM automatically set my APN settings for the monthly plan and I had to use another device to search the internet for the correct settings. Once I got that fixed it worked great! The other thing to keep in mind is that the refill is not directly through Vodafone and it takes up to 48 hours to get a refill voucher from uksims. So don’t wait until you run out of money to refill.

    One more thing - if you use up the daily 500MB you can purchase 500MB more for the day for another $1. Doing that is available by text message as long as you have money in your account. Vodafone sends you texts as you approach the limit.

    We used our service in Ireland, Germany, France, and Netherlands. I don’t know whether these roaming agreements will continue if Brexit ever happens.

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    I used Three UK for data only using their paygo plan at 1p/MB (~$0.013/MB), using a GV # + Hangouts in Europe.

    Of course, for voice calls between you and your husband, you could use any compatible app over data only, such as FB Messenger, Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.

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    Thanks for this great feedback. This will make our trip easier. I just need to figure out setup. I really want to have everything working before we leave because I don’t want to devote a chunk of our trip to figuring out phones. Still not sure which cell service to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by happygrrl1 View Post
    Thanks for this great feedback. This will make our trip easier. I just need to figure out setup. I really want to have everything working before we leave because I don’t want to devote a chunk of our trip to figuring out phones. Still not sure which cell service to use.
    You're welcome.

    Just fyi, I ordered my Three SIM cards from http://ebay.com/itm/UK-Three-UK-Trip...G/222178839760 in April, 2018, and it looks like they are still being sold from that same listing. My total for two SIMs, including £0.70 shipping, was £2.68, which came out to $3.90 via PayPal.

    To fund the paygo balance on the Three UK SIMs I got from the above eBay seller, I downloaded and sideloaded the Kwikpay app from http://apkpure.com/kwikpay-%E2%80%93...charge.kwikpay, because Three UK won't accept US CCs for payment directly. The last time I funded Three using Kwikpay, it added a £0.20 fee.

    The address I used to set up my Kwikpay account was:
    Arlington House Luxury Apartments
    17 - 20 Arlington St
    Westminster Borough
    London
    SW1A 1RL
    United Kingdom

    Then I just selected a random flat #, and it was accepted by Kwikpay.

    Then I linked my PayPal account to Kwikpay to pay for my Three topups.

    Good luck!

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    If your phone has LTE band 20 you should get good high speed coverage in most countries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boz1 View Post
    You're welcome.

    Just fyi, I ordered my Three SIM cards from http://ebay.com/itm/UK-Three-UK-Trip...G/222178839760 in April, 2018, and it looks like they are still being sold from that same listing. My total for two SIMs, including £0.70 shipping, was £2.68, which came out to $3.90 via PayPal.

    To fund the paygo balance on the Three UK SIMs I got from the above eBay seller, I downloaded and sideloaded the Kwikpay app from http://apkpure.com/kwikpay-%E2%80%93...charge.kwikpay, because Three UK won't accept US CCs for payment directly. The last time I funded Three using Kwikpay, it added a £0.20 fee.

    The address I used to set up my Kwikpay account was:
    Arlington House Luxury Apartments
    17 - 20 Arlington St
    Westminster Borough
    London
    SW1A 1RL
    United Kingdom

    Then I just selected a random flat #, and it was accepted by Kwikpay.

    Then I linked my PayPal account to Kwikpay to pay for my Three topups.

    Good luck!
    I bought mine pre-loaded, figuring for two weeks abroad, I wouldn't have to reload if I bought enough data initially.

    I bought these:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Prepaid-Eur...s/143193945739

    I had forgotten these also had (UK-to-UK) talk and text (I only used data and used Google Voice for talking/texting). They were also slightly cheaper on Amazon, IIRC, but I had some eBay coupons at the time that dropped the price on these from $20 to about $15.



    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by happygrrl1 View Post
    My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe. On past travel we have not used cell phones except on WiFi. I have had good experience using Google Hangouts to call back to the USA, but I want something more. Specifically I want something I can use when we are out and about. I would need to set up two phones so that if we get separated we can call each other. I would also like a minimal amount of data for directions/info (yes, I download maps for use offline, but sometimes I need more).

    I have looked at Ultra Mobile, UK Three, and even Google Fi (too expensive). I realize getting a Sim after we reach Europe is probably our least expensive option, but I don’t want to spend half a day or more of our trip setting up phones. I would really like something I could set up ahead of time.
    UK Three is a good deal, but their web site says that your first country MUST be the UK in order to activate it. But on Amazon, many buyers say that they've activated it outside the UK. Not sure why there is this confusion.

    As someone else mentioned, Vodafone UK has a good deal for Europe. That's what I bought. It’s a maximum of £1/day for unlimited EU voice and EU text and 500MB of EU data per day (it’s not $1/day as someone else said, it’s £1/day, or about US$1.30/day). You don’t get charged on the days you don’t use it. It doesn’t expire. Since it works in the U.S. you can set it up and activate it before you go. I had to contact Vodafone UK to get it all working, they had to do something to get incoming calls and SMS working. If you use up the 500MB you can spend another £1 for another 500MB.

    The £1/day plan doesn’t include calls or texts back to the U.S. from the EU so use Hangouts or WhatsApp because those calls and texts to the U.S. are very expensive. You can also change to a “Big Value Bundle” for a larger amount of data.

    You can get the SIM cards on Amazon for under $5 (amazon.com/dp/B07PWHYJ6D).

    At the time I bought the Vodafone SIM cards I was on T-Mobile in the U.S. and I had international low-speed data included included, but since in the past I'd found it to be too slow to be very useful I wanted to buy a SIM that would work in the EU with high speed data. Also, the phone calls T-Mobile are 25¢ per minute and since we'd mainly be calling each other that would be 50¢/minute and the low-speed data is too slow for VOIP calls on Hangouts or WhatsApp.

    I recently switched to Total Wireless (Verizon network) which works much better in the U.S. than T-Mobile, and is less expensive, but doesn't offer any international roaming so I have to buy SIM cards whenever I travel outside the U.S., which is a lot. I thought that T-Mobile was a good idea at the time I got it, because of the included international data, but the included international data roaming is actually of little value because the data is so slow, and the upgrade to faster data is expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elecconnec View Post
    I bought mine pre-loaded, figuring for two weeks abroad, I wouldn't have to reload if I bought enough data initially.

    I bought these:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Prepaid-Eur...s/143193945739

    I had forgotten these also had (UK-to-UK) talk and text (I only used data and used Google Voice for talking/texting). They were also slightly cheaper on Amazon, IIRC, but I had some eBay coupons at the time that dropped the price on these from $20 to about $15.

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
    The UK Three web site says that these must be first activated and used in the UK. I didn't buy these because of that, I went with the UK Vodafone SIM cards and activated them in the U.S.. But I see on Amazon that others activated the Three SIM in other countries without going to the UK first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    UK Three is a good deal, but their web site says that your first country MUST be the UK in order to activate it. But on Amazon, many buyers say that they've activated it outside the UK. Not sure why there is this confusion.

    ...
    The Three UK SIM card I linked to above was able to be funded and activated on the Three website from the US in 2018.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elecconnec View Post
    I bought mine pre-loaded, figuring for two weeks abroad, I wouldn't have to reload if I bought enough data initially.

    I bought these:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Prepaid-Eur...s/143193945739

    I had forgotten these also had (UK-to-UK) talk and text (I only used data and used Google Voice for talking/texting). They were also slightly cheaper on Amazon, IIRC, but I had some eBay coupons at the time that dropped the price on these from $20 to about $15.
    That's definitely a good way to go if you think you'll have more usage. For me, the paygo data was all I needed, and it was great, because I STILL have some of my original balance left, since paygo balance never expires.

    Three is definitely one of the best deals for international use.

    It's also great even for limited backup in the US, since they can be activated in the US AND the paygo balance never expires AND the paygo data cost is 1p/MB (~$0.013/MB).

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    Quote Originally Posted by elecconnec View Post
    I used Three UK SIMs when I visited Europe with the kids back in June. Bought them on eBay and Amazon. I bought three (3) Three UK SIMs, each from a different vendor who claimed they could be activated in the USA prior to leaving. (My reasoning was not to put all of our eggs in one basket, hoping at least one would work if some of the sellers turned out to be idiots or scammers. As it happened, they all activated flawlessly, and I worried for nothing!) IIRC, I bought 5GB SIMs for less than $20 each.

    They worked quite well here in the US, as well in the Czech Republic, France and the UK (in that order, despite the TOS warnings that the SIMs had to be activated and/or used in the UK first.)

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
    Interesting. I went with the Vodafone UK SIMs because the Three TOS said that the cards had to be activated in the UK and we were not going to the UK. Good to know that their TOS are wrong.

    But in hindsight I would probably have gone with the UK Vodafone SIMs anyway because they don't expire and the 500MB per day at £1 was actually less expensive since we were only in the EU for 11 days.

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