How to Get a Phone SIM Card Abroad and Why It’s Important


Many hotels and cafés abroad offer their guests free WLAN networks, but the coverage is anything but complete in even well-fed countries. By the time you want to use the local services of the smartphones on the road, one is dependent on the mobile radio networks, but data roaming is sinfully more expensive.

Where Can You Get a SIM Card for International Travel?

The international network operators such as T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, and KPN also demand to roam charges from their customers when they register themselves in the sisters’ offices abroad.

In many countries, however, one gets cheaper on the net. Local traders are selling prepaid cards for a few euros, which already contain sufficient data volume for the holiday or at least allow the booking of daily flat rates. Often you do not even need to present your identity card or register the card.

Every EU citizen has been able to purchase a SIM card in every EU country since the beginning of the year – but perhaps that is not the case with all shop staff. Even in non-EU countries you can be unlucky and rejected by the dealers. Perhaps the operator of the next shop does not keep exactly to the local regulations.

When looking for the network best developed at the resort, the GSM association web page helps. The network operators provide the association with maps that document their network cover. Under which names you can buy SIM cards for the networks, one does not recognize it – if the cover cards reveal big differences, one should better grasp a network operator SIM and the possibly even more favorable offerings of the reseller.

Prerequisite for the use of a foreign SIM card is a smartphone without Tetlock. Free-purchased devices are mostly Tetlock-free, but most popular smartphones like the iPhone sell the Telekom and Vodafone still with the unloved lock. If you want to the netbook with the netbook, you need a netblock-free surf stick.

SIM Cards Can Also Work For Your Tablets and iPads

Alternatively, you can install software on your mobile phone, which provides a WLAN hotspot, or the notebook via USB cable to the smartphone – so you only need to buy a SIM card. The SIM cards also work in unsecured iPads and the iPhone 4, but you have to trim them if they are not already in the Micro SIM format. Some shop may have a punch, but one comes with commercial sharp scissors to the goal.

Because the tariff options necessary for internet access are only bookable via SMS for some providers, iPad users should get an adapter for a few euros: The iPad does not know any SMS, the SIM card must be inserted into an unlocked mobile phone. An alternative for iPads with Jailbreak is the four euro-expensive app SwilySMS, which allows the sending and receiving of SMS.

 Before inserting the new SIM card abroad it is advisable to switch off the data services of the smartphone – many smartphones unintentionally contact the network and synchronize addresses or download updated programs from the network.
If you have not yet booked the right rate, the prepaid credit is quickly exhausted. It is only after the booking of a corresponding package that the – now cost-effective – data use is released again. For security reasons, you should write down the necessary dial-in points (APN) for the networks available at the destination before the trip – a list can be found in the MWconn Wiki.

Shopping for Prepaid SIM Cards

Foreign prepaid cards are not only available directly on the spot. On eBay & Co. there are new and used SIM cards, even travel friends may have a card in the closet. If you do not find what you are looking for, you can also purchase the desired card from specialized dealers – these can, of course, be paid for their services. They often help with setting up and take over the support; they also provide recharge cards and help for the ordering of the data options.

Multinational SIMs You Should Also Know About

The Hutchison Whampoa telecommunications company from Hong Kong renounces the roaming rip-off with its offers marketed under the brand “3”. With the 3LikeHome option, 3 customers have been using the company’s networks in Australia, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Sweden since 2007 at the same price as in the country where the card was purchased; also charges for incoming calls are no longer required.

An insider tip is also the prepaid card from Vodafone Ireland. It is available – with different credit – through various eBay dealers. For 3 Euro per day, you can withdraw a volume of 50 MByte from 24 countries in Europe and Australia.

Data tariffs, which you pay per time or for small data folders, are mainly for the evening use in the hotel. If you want to use your smartphone constantly, must have a flat rate. For a week, 200 MBytes should be easy enough, for long stays with intensive use fall easily 500 MByte or 1 GByte. The partial volume flat rate is caution: Not all providers slow down the speed after consumption of the inclusive volume, some charge the data packets used in addition.

The repayment of unused prepaid credit is unusual in other countries as in Germany. You should therefore only charge the amount necessary for the stay for surfing and telephoning plus a small reserve on the map and ignore the remaining after the trip – recharge is almost always possible.