Overseas travel is unfortunately often associated with excessive charges and high roaming rates. This is especially true in Europe, where you encounter a large number of different carriers as you travel across individual states. This is where an international SIM card will help you immensely, especially when used with the best dual SIM phones in 2017.
Update 2/6/2017: These SIM cards no longer offer unlimited data as they did last year, the plans have been changed to 1GB free and unlimited incoming calls and texts.
International SIM Card
|Mobal||International SIM. 1GB Free Roaming Data and Unlimited Incoming Calls & Texts. Over 130 Countries.||59|
|OneSimCard||OneSimCard Europe SIM Card with Data and FREE Incoming Calls||53.99|
The high prices of roaming originate from the inefficient way operators pass down charges to individual customers. Since you have no easy way of determining which local carrier will facilitate your connection and what the costs are, your operator simply charges you with the highest possible rate to avoid losing any money.
Purchasing a local SIM card may be a good solution for certain cases, but certainly not for travelling across Europe. You will quickly get tired of constantly changing your SIM card, and the people you try to stay in contact with will have to play a guessing game when determining which number they should use to contact you.
A much better alternative is to purchase an international SIM card that you can use in all countries you will be visiting, thus keeping the same number and never worrying about extra charges. Even though there are many international SIM card providers, one stands out as the best choice for travelling in Europe. We are talking, of course, about Mobal and their new Global Unlimited SIM.
Global Unlimited SIM
Founded in 1989, Mobal is one of the world’s longest running cell phone providers and a provider of the bestselling international phone in America. Their fair approach to customer support already convinced thousands of international travelers, who appreciate that they never have to worry about hidden fees and surprising data caps. These travelers know how great it is to be able to easily connect with friends and family from any place they visit.
Mobal Global Unlimited SIM service comes with 1GB of free data and unrestricted tethering. You can use your international Internet connection to connect online with your laptop or tablet. All you need to do is create a portable hotspot and you are all set.
Unlike with roaming, there’s absolutely no reason to worry about accepting incoming phone calls because they are completely free in over 130 countries. The same is also true for text messages that you send to your loved ones and business partners.
Outgoing call rates cannot rival local providers, but 30¢ per minute in all countries beats roaming and the added convenience tips the scale in Mobal’s favor. After all, how else could you keep a single US phone number?
The service itself doesn’t require you to sign any contract. You simply pay $50 for every month you want to use the service and stop paying when you don’t need it anymore. The SIM card itself works with all devices and mobile operating systems.
International Cell Phones
Most unlocked GSM phones will work with international sim cards. The top tiered phones such as the newer generation iPhones and unlocked Samsung Galaxy phones will work. T-Mobile phones generally are also unlocked, and if for some reason your T-Mobile phone is locked, simply ask them to unlock it for you, it will be done without question.
Unless you have an iPhone, CDMA phones do not work well with international sim cards, so if you have a phone from Verizon Wireless, your best bet is to try to get Verizon to unlock the phone for you, or try one of these cheap global gsm phones below.
Best Dual Sim Smartphone (2017)
|Samsung||Samsung Galaxy S7||614.39|
|Huawei||Huawei Mate 9||585|
|One Plus||OnePlus 3T||507.9|
|ZTE||ZTE Axon 7||357.78|
|Huawei||Huawei Honor 8||273.85|
|Asus||Asus ZenFone 3||225|
|BLU||BLU Life One X||149.89|
How to Get Started
When you order your international SIM card, you have to wait 2-5 days before you receive it in your mail. Alternatively, you can pay $25-35 for a priority shipping option and have it in your mailbox next business day by 10:30 am.
All that remains to do is to activate the SIM card via the included activation link and leave for your European adventure.
Each month of use is billed individually, which means that you never pay for something that you won’t use.
An International Sim Card Versus Roaming
To remain at least somewhat relevant, carriers have implemented more palatable pricing structures and removed some of many outdated restrictions placed on their customers.
Sadly, even with these welcomed changes, international roaming still isn’t a viable option for most people. Those who are travelling to just a single country are much better off purchasing a local SIM card, and others can save lots of money by paying for a proper international SIM.
The least friendly of the bunch is AT$T with their 25-15 cents overage charges and high costs of data. The basic package starts at $30 and includes 120MB of data and $1 per minute calls. Things get a little better with the $120 option. It includes 800MB of data and 35 cents per minute calls.
On the other hand, T-Mobile leverages their international network by offering customers free international data roaming in over 140 countries. The only problem is that the free plan is limited to 2G speeds.
The cheapest plan with faster speeds costs $15 for 100MB of data to use for one day. When customers download more than the allocated amount, speeds become limited to 128 Kbps.
Sprint closely mimics T-Mobile’s model by offering free 2G data roaming in 60 countries around the world. Extra connection speed costs the same as with T-Mobile.
Last but not least, is Verizon with their improved TravelPass service. Customers pay a one-time fee each time they want to connect to a foreign network. Voice and data usage is then billed as normally. This costs $10 per day, with the exception of Canada and Mexico, where it costs just $2.
Things to Consider Before Traveling
Modern technology isn’t always travel-friendly. Different countries and regions use different standards and your particular phone may not work outside the country you brought it in. Furthermore, operators like to lock their customers to their own network to keep them from leaving for a competing provider.
Is Your Phone Unlocked?
You may have heard that about the concept of carrier locks, but there’s a good chance that you are unsure about what it really means. When you purchase a phone from a carrier, there’s a good chance that the phone will be configured to work only their network to prevent you from using a rival carrier’s plan.
Some smartphones are sold specifically as “unlocked” (often for a premium price), which means that you are free to use the phone on any network. These days, most carriers offer at least some way how customers can unlock their phones. It’s often not very straightforward, and it sometimes even costs money.
Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure that your phone is unlocked before you begin your travels. One of the simplest ways to do that is to head over to IMEI.info and input your IMEI number in the search field. You can get this number by dialing *#06# on your device.
Does Your Phone Support GSM Networks?
Mobile phones operate on two basic technologies: CDMA and GSM. Both CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobiles) are methods used by various radio communication technologies to facilitate wireless communication.
In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM networks, while Sprint and Verizon Wireless use CDMA. This rather complicates things because the rest of the world uses GSM.
If that wasn’t enough, GSM has 4 different frequencies, each used in a particular region. Europe operates on GSM-900 and GSM-1800, but North America uses 850 MHz and 1900 MHz communication bands.
Your phone has to support the particular frequency of a local carrier to work properly. Some phones come with a so-called quadband support, which means that they can be used anywhere in the world.
You need to consult manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that your phone is fully compatible.
It’s very unlikely that roaming prices would reach acceptable levels in the foreseeable future. Operators simply don’t have enough incentive to change their flawed business models and customers have to deal with the consequences.
Fortunately, international SIM cards, such as Global Unlimited SIM from Mobal, provide an excellent, cost-effective alternative for savvy travelers. We highly recommend you check just how much you could save and imagine what it would be like to travel without worrying about paying absurd sums of money.