I want to use a mobile phone in the Czech Republic, Italy, and France to make calls to the United States. What is my best source?
-Julia, Alexandria, Va.
It depends how much use you want to get out of your cell phone. Most U.S. cell phones will be able to call from Europe, but you will be looking at rates around $4.99 a minute. So U.S. cell phones may not be the most economical choice.
If you have a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone, or if your phone is unlocked (meaning it can be used in multiple countries outside the United States—contact your cell phone provider to find out), you can also purchase SIM (Subscriber Identity Model) cards in each country you visit. Several shops offer cell-phone unlocking technology, so you can bring your own cell phone with you when you travel. SIM cards operate as pay-as-you go cell phones do; you put a set amount of money on the card, and you can use your phone until the credit runs out or you add more money to your account. However, you will have to get a new SIM card in each country, meaning your phone number will change in each country. Still, this is your cheapest option.
You can also rent a phone from companies such as Cellular Abroad. It rents phones that work all around the world by using the remote National Geographic cell-phone service. Included in the rental is your phone, English-language voice mail, texting capabilities, an international plug adaptor and phone charger, and unlimited incoming calls from 65 companies. You also get more than 30 minutes of outgoing phone calls and 24-hour customer service.
However, renting costs $49 per week. It costs $199 to buy the phone. Since your number would be based out of the United Kingdom, prices per minute of outgoing phone calls would be pretty pricey, but not as much as if you used your U.S. service plan. In case you were wondering what that would cost, it would be 90 cents for a landline and $1.25 to call a U.S. cell phone.
WorldCell also rents international cell phones. Since it offers satellite phone service that works virtually anywhere, though, you will be set back $175 for your first week and $60 for each additional week, or $9 for each additional day. Again, since your number would be based in Iceland, you would have to pay international phone charges for each country, including a $2.49 per-minute charge to the United States.