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newguy 31-03-2010 06:17

Good SIM that works in UK and France, free incoming?
Hello all!
I am travelling to Europe for the first time in 15 years. I have read the sticky note ("for Americans travelling to Europe")

I have a GSM 900/1800 phone (also 1900, so it works in the US too) that is unlocked and I have a 230V capable charger and a car charger. I actually have another phone as a backup, too.

I need to go to the UK for 1 week, then France.
I am looking for a prepaid SIM that has free incoming in BOTH countries, and a good outgoing rate would be nice too.

I do not plan to do ANY data, not even SMS/texting; voice calls only.

So question 1 is: What is a good SIM to buy that meets these requirements?
Q2: Are there any I could buy when I land in the UK? I leave in a week and a half and I am worried I couldn't get anything shipped to me fast enough.

I need to talk to folks back home on a regular basis but either I'd be calling them on the cellphone and spending a lot on minutes, or they'd be calling an international number and spending a lot on that.

I have a toll-free international conference number, which has a US 800 toll free number and international toll-free access, but it requires us to set up a fixed time to talk.
I was thinking I could point my GoogleVoice number to the (international) cellphone number but they do not allow pointing to a non-US number.

Q3: Does anyone have an idea how I can talk to folks back home in a way that's cheap for both sides?


MATHA531 31-03-2010 07:29

The UK part is easy for Q3....the France part not so easy.

There are many excellent UK sim cards. Competition is very very keen in the UK and the companies are literally giving the sim cards away. Moreover, many tie in with a firm called yourcallworld (web site of the same name) which allows you to make calls from the UK to the USA for 3p/minute....however they will pay to call you whatever their long distance company charges for a call to a UK would receive for free while in the UK. Most of the ld companies I know of in the USA charge around 30/minute to call a UK mobile. offers the luxury so to speak of buying a USA local number in almost every area code imaginable in the USA for $3 set up and then 99/month. You can tie this into your UK mobile number no matter what the company and you would pay about 12.3/minute to receive. They would pay for a call to whatever area code you chose and depending on their local plan.

France is a trickier matter. There are no cheap French solutions nearly as good as the UK. You could use the same UK sim card, continue with the above. Receiving wouldn't be so bad, the same 12.3 abpve [plus an additional 18p/minute on the UK sim but calls to the USA would be very very expensive indeed. You could buy a French sim card...get the free reception of calls in France, pay about 0,75€ (around $1/minute to make a quick call to the USA to tell them to call you back) and the localphone cost above would drop to 11.1/minute. You can program the localphone number on the web to ring to the French sim so they need not know the French number.....or you can have them call the French number and again most US ld carriers charge around 30/minute to call a French mobile.

Now if you want one number only to receive, you can try an e-kit simple card available on ebay for $9 with $3 shipping charge. Fine for receiving. You will get both a UK (well actually Isle of Man) number with a +44 country code number and a USA +1 number but you can't choose the area code. If they call you on your US number they pay whatever their ld carrier charges (it could be free of course) and you pay 19/minute to receive in both the UK and France (if you want them to call on the +44 number, you receive for free in both the UK and France but they pay the cost to a UK mobile as noted above.....calls to the USA from either the UK or France would run you about 49/minute with either a 35 or 50 set up fee, again making a quick call telling them to call you right back....again not too bad considering.

Or you can get a cheap second gsm phone and have the best of both worlds namely the free sim with dirt cheap calls to the USA while in the UK (the 3p/minute deal with yourcallworld is really very hard to beat) switching over to either e-kit or a French sim when you get to can program the localphone number above to ring to your UK sim while in the UK and then switch to have it ring to the e-kit +1 number when you get to France (less than 1/minute) or an infinite permutation of the above.

Of course then there is skype or voip solutions too which others can tell you about......Andy has pointed out a new British virtual mobile company...there's also lebarra which charges 4p/minute to call the USA directly while in the UK....again they give the sim cards away for free but it has to be topped up but again this will only be dirt cheap in the UK.....France will be the dealkiller on any of these.

FBlack_111 02-04-2010 17:32

Just check out the EKIT SIM cards. They have good rates, have been around along time, have great 24/7 customer service, and free incoming to numerous European countries.

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