Roaming charges on cell phones abroad can be exorbitant if using a home network. One may find a very high cell phone bill after a trip – even just for sending and receiving SMS text messages. Even if you visit a website for just a brief period your provider often charges you the maximum megabyte usage which can be very pricey. Be sure to disable “data roaming” on your phone.
The way to avoid these roaming charges is to unlock your phone or use a phone that is already unlocked. Contact your cell phone provider about getting your phone unlocked (often it can be done through their website using your account number or phone number). Sometimes phone shops will be able to unlock it for you while abroad. Then purchase a local SIM card in the country you are in – most easily done in airports after arriving in Europe. This will be much cheaper than paying the roaming charges to your home provider.
Most pre-paid SIM cards in Europe will work in multiple countries across the continent. Simply purchase from one of several plans typically offered by providers – choose a specific amount of data combined with local calling (if needed). These pre-paid plans typically are good for a certain amount of time – usually between 2 and 4 weeks – and then may need to be topped up again at the end of that time period (which can be done in phone shops or online using the providers website).
Primarily a relic from another time, we keep our notes about phone cards here for nostalgia purposes only as this was originally written from a time when people actually used pay phones!
Some phones in Europe accept coins but the majority are run on a phone card. You can purchase these at any “tabacs” or “tabachi” stores, or most super markets. The “tabac(hi)” is a store that sells a variety of things such as newspapers, cigarettes, books, gum, and phone cards. They are a very common store in towns. One note about phone cards especially ones from France is they have a collector value. Many of the older French phone cards are worth much more then there original price. Some are printed in limited quantity and like other collectibles such as coins and baseball cards, the value increases dramatically. Some phone cards are interesting because they have pictures of local towns or other sights and attractions. I bought several inexpensive phone cards just for the pictures!
Most of the phone cards will have a creased corner. This will need to be bent and removed before you can use the card. This is something that if not done (personal experience) will cause you much anguish and frustration when trying to use the phone. When entering the card into the thin slot in the phone – insert the card with the long rectangular strip facing up.
To call someone who lives outside of Europe you would dial “00” which is the international access code, and then add the country code of the country you are trying to call (in the United States this code is “+1”), and lastly type in the area code and the local number. Note: the rate is extremely expensive for calling overseas from a public telephone in Europe. You can change phone cards in the middle of a phone call but it gets a bit confusing. If you know you are going to be making a long distance phone call to another country using a public telephone you may want to purchase a more expensive phone card, which contains more minutes.
If you are not sure of a country code, from a public phone dial “12” to talk to the operator. The following chart lists several common “country codes”.
|Andorra +376||Australia +61||Canada +1|
|England +44||Germany +49||Hong Kong +852|
|India +91||Ireland +353||Japan +81|
|New Zealand +64||Singapore +65||South Africa +27|
|United States +1|