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Old 17.11.2011, 17:05
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Cell phone help needed...

Let me start with a confession: I have never owned a cell phone! I know nothing about sms, 3G, 4G, sim cards, etc. Therefore I need help.

I would like to buy a cell phone and I need some advice. Here is my situation and my needs:
1. I am spending a year in Switzerland. I will return to Canada in July 2012.
2. While I'm here, I try to see a bit of Europe. I have a few trips lined up:
a) Two weeks in Italy during the Christmas holidays.
b) One week in Spain during the end-of-February school break.
c) Two weeks through France (and a bit of Germany) during the April school break.
d) Several long weekend trips to various places.

It is only during those trips that I need a cell phone (to call hotels, restaurants, museums, etc.). I do not need a fancy phone. I do not need Internet access.

What are the appropriate (inexpensive) solutions? Do I need to buy a sim card in each country that I visit? Are there some very simple options out there, like a very simple phone that will work anywhere in Europe (or say western Europe)? For my kind of limited use, are there appropriate pre-paid options?

Thank you.
P.S. Yes, I did search old thread...
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Old 17.11.2011, 17:29
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Re: Cell phone help needed...

Sounds like you want a pay-as-you-go phone (no contract). If I were you, I would go into town to an area where you have 2-4 providers close by so you can shop around to find your best rate. Having never had a paygo phone in Europe (I started out with a Tracfone in the US many years ago), I don't know how the roaming between countries is handled, but it shouldn't be too complicated. Try to find a bundle deal where you get phone/accessories (like a car charger or multi-socket travel adapter) and some "starter minutes."
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Old 21.11.2011, 01:33
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Re: Cell phone help needed...

This is from ricksteves.com a travel writer which is pretty much what I thought. Get a prepaid SIM card for each country you are in to make calls in that country.

Rates: If you're calling from the SIM card's home country, you'll generally pay around 10 to 20 cents per minute for domestic calls to fixed lines, and nothing to receive calls. (Calls to mobile phones tend to be more expensive.) Calling the US can cost $1 per minute or more — but using an international phone card with your mobile phone can bring that cost down to pennies.

A SIM card works most affordably in the country where you buy it. If you roam with the SIM card in another country, call prices go up, and you pay to receive incoming calls. If your SIM card is from a European Union (EU) country, fees are regulated when roaming within the EU: You'll pay no more than about 55 cents per minute to make calls or 21 cents per minute to receive calls. If your SIM card is from a non-EU country — or if you're traveling in one — roaming fees can be much higher. If you'll be making a lot of calls, it can be cheaper to buy a new SIM card for that country.

Remember to store your phone numbers in the phone itself, rather than on the SIM card — or you'll lose access to them when you switch SIMs. When storing phone numbers, include the plus (+) sign and the country code so your calls will go through, regardless of where you're calling from.
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