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The National Geographic Talk Abroad 'Lite' Phone

 
Should I use my own phone? See our rates and packages below

The vast majority of Cellular Abroad’s customers purchase a phone and SIM card package instead of simply purchasing a SIM card, even if their current handset is GSM, unlocked and compatible for international use. There are several reasons to purchase a new phone with your SIM, but let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of using your own phone first.

Most travelers from the United States or Canada who have an unlocked GSM cell phone (especially those that relies heavily on data usage) prefer to get a SIM card with international capabilities to use while abroad. Travelers owning an iPhone can often roam freely with their current carrier, but from a cost standpoint that can easily add up to hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in cell phone bills. The most cost-effective option is to either get an international SIM card with data capabilities, or to turn off data altogether and rely on WiFi if and when it is available.

As an example of what travelers can save by using an international SIM card as opposed to roaming with their US carrier, consider that currently the least expensive roaming solution from Verizon is $25 (plus tax) per. 100mb of data. In contrast, Ortel (a local German carrier) charges 9 Euros (about $11) for unlimited data (after 750mb of usage the speeds drop to 2G) and Lebara (a local carrier for the UK) offers unlimited data for $49.

Many plans from US carriers exist that seem cost-effective but have hidden charges. If you have a Blackberry it’s possible to get a plan that includes unlimited emails, but not web browsing. T-Mobile has a plan that offers unlimited emails anywhere in the world at a rate of $19 for each 30 days (It is also possible to prorate this, for example, if you are only going for two weeks you can pay for just those two weeks of service) however make sure to have the service turned off when you return, because it will not switch off automatically. T-Mobile’s hope while providing this email plan is that you will also use your Blackberry for making and receiving calls, which in Europe (where this service is the least expensive) costs $0.99/min. plus tax.

It is advisable when using your own service to direct your calls to voicemail before you go overseas; if your phone picks up a foreign network (even if you then turn it off or divert the calls to voicemail after you arrive) every call that you receive will first connect to the foreign network, and you will most likely be charged for the call. Google Voice is a great tool for voicemail, it is a free service offered by Google that gives you a new phone number, this number allows you to forward calls to your voicemail, to then be sent to your email in a .wav format. You can view the number of the caller in the subject line, and contact them back or listen to the full message at your discretion. Since call rates using your US or Canadian carrier’s service will most likely be very high, it is a great idea to call them back using a phone and SIM card package purchased through Cellular Abroad instead.

Another reason travelers do not like to use their current phone is because of the risk of losing the phone, having it stolen or drawing attention to themselves. It certainly would not be wise to travel with a flashy and expensive iPhone to developing countries where the nationals do not make per year what it would cost to buy an iPhone. Still another reason is that some travelers have unique needs where their current cell phone just doesn’t fit the bill. For example, if you are traveling to an area where the reception is not stellar, you may opt for a handset with better reception than your current cell phone. Cellular Abroad also offers a popular solution for travelers who know that they may risk getting drenched or need a very durable phone. We offer a handset that is waterproof as well as virtually indestructible. This handset can literally be hurled against a brick wall, or probably more probably, drop down a hillside and into a creek and still function.

As previously mentioned, most travelers go abroad with two cell phones, their current cell phone that they use back home and an additional cell phone purchased from Cellular Abroad. This solution offers the broadest communication capabilities. Travelers can continue to receive text messages and phone calls from friends and family back home with their usual cell phone who don’t know their new number and the new cell phone to phone back home and to give to the locals. For example, if you are traveling to Italy and you want to give an Italian friend your phone number, not only will they appreciate the fact that you have a local number but, they may not even know how to dial to a US or Canadian phone number if they wanted to.

Rate Guide

Per-minute rates for the most popular Study Abroad travel destinations

Country

Calls to
US or Canada

In-country calling

Receiving calls

UK

UNLIMITED

UNLIMITED

FREE!

Italy

$0.44

$0.22

FREE!

Spain

$0.07

$0.12

FREE!

Mexico $0.25 $0.25 $0.25

Germany

$0.12

$0.13

FREE!

France

$0.25

$0.26

FREE!

China

$0.05

$0.05

$0.05

Australia $0.05 $0.15 FREE!

Israel

$0.26

$0.26

FREE!

Phone & SIM Card Packages

Australia


China


France


Germany


Israel


Italy


Mexico


Spain


United Kingdom

Country not listed? Give us a call at 1-800-287-5072 and we will recommend a solution for you!

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