If you’ve been in London for the Olympics and you didn’t bother to buy a UK SIM card or a European SIM card for the journey you might well have a big angry bill to wrestle with come the end of the month.
Typical charges range from $1.29 with Verizon all the way up to $1.49 with TMobile & Sprint. AT&T come in at $1.29. It’s crucial to mention here that these rates are only for per minute voice calls. If you have a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android device and you want to use data then you’re definitely going to be in for a shock. Check out our UK rates from the four big networks below. We have (for no selfish reasons whatsoever, honest) included our own rates for your comparison.
Someone using their own phone during the whole tournament making ten minutes of calls to the US per day and checking email and browsing three or four sites a day (estimated usage 1MB per day) could potentially rack up a bill of over $508 with Tmobile and $575 with AT&T! The same usage with SIMsmart prepaid would only cost $29.
It’s really important to know what your network is charging BEFORE you travel. If you do have a huge roaming bill, call and complain, if you’re lucky they’ll offer to reduce the bill for you. Buying a travel SIM, especially a prepaid one, before you leave can have lots of benefits including: knowing the call rates before hand, having a number to share with family and friends and having a predetermined spend limit so you don’t end up with bill shock when you get home.
The UK and European cell phone networks don’t operate on the same frequency as ours do so make sure that you have a compatible handset before you leave if you are taking your own cell phone. If you happen to know that you have a quad band phone then you should be fine, if not, try typing your model number in at www.GSMArena.com and they will likely have your model’s information. It’s a UK site so it’s in English and has all the European phones listed.
You’re most likely to get a cheaper European cell phone (err, like ours!) online before you leave but if you get there and yours doesn’t work, just grab a cheap one in a shop and insert your SIM card. Do be careful swapping SIM cards around, some smartphones may lose information and settings when the SIM is removed.
Changing a SIM card is like riding a bike (except infinitely easier!), once you’ve changed one, they’re all pretty much the same. We have a diagram using one of our Europe phones here that shows how easy it is to swap out your SIM card.
If you’re traveling to Europe, take a Europe SIM card with you and save money and hassle.