We all understand the headache of traveling to a European country, and paying ridiculous international roaming data charges. Let’s review some of the best value data SIM cards for making calls, GPS map usage and going online when using our smartphones in Europe.
Each and every year, millions of people visit countries in mainland Europe for vacations, short breaks and business trips. Whether you travel to Italy for the architecture, culture and history or to Spain for the amazing food and reliable sun, most of us love to stay connected to home through our smartphones when traveling within the EU.
The ability to use your smartphone while traveling is fantastic for staying in touch with family, friends and work commitments while abroad. They are also super useful for navigating a new and sometimes unfamiliar surroundings of the city and country you’re visiting. Locating “must see” attractions, great restaurants and quality hotels are only a click away.
The great news is it’s now quite cheap and really easy to use your smartphone in most European countries. EU legislation has capped and brought down the old extortionate data costs of roaming massively. You can find great deals (available online) to cut the costs further. In this article, we’ll look at 5 of the best and cheapest SIM card providers for cutting down the cost of roaming charges while traveling to Europe and internationally:
1. Mobal Europe Plus SIM Card
If you want to stay connected the way you’re so used to at home and still enjoy a worry free trip to Europe the Europe Plus SIM card by Mobal is a popular choice. For under $60, it includes unlimited incoming calls, 1 GB of 4G data, and unlimited texts, at a standard a rate of $0.30 per minute for calls to the USA and Canada. Should you find you’ve burnt through the 1 GB of data provided, you can simply purchase an extra 1 GB for $10 at any time. A great feature of the Europe Plus SIM is compatibility with all unlocked devices. Valid for 30 days after activation provides plenty of low cost roaming time.
2. Orange Holiday Europe SIM Card
Orange has introduced a great deal that includes 1,000 text messages,120 minutes of phone calls and a whopping 10 GB of mobile data, covering 30 European countries for just $50. So why does the Holiday Europe SIM card offer so much more data than the Europe Plus SIM card from Mobal even at a lower price? Simple: the card only has a 14 day valid usage period, instead of Mobal’s 30. Considering that 6.2 nights is the average length of a trip taken by travelers, it’s safe to say that the Holiday Europe SIM card is a much better, cost effective option for most people. However frequent business travelers may find another data plan more suited.
3. travSIM Prepaid SIM Card for UK
This SIM card offered by travSIM includes 3,000 free minutes for phone calls and 9 GB of data. Usable in most European countries plus the Brazil, USA, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, French West Indies, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands, Canary Islands, Israel, Madeira, Réunion, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Macau. The only downside is the SIM card doesn’t allow tethering, which is something to consider if your plan is working while traveling on your laptop or tablet, for example.
4. Cellhire 3-in-1 SIM Card
International travelers usually agree that hidden fees and additional charges are the worst. Cellhire wants to remove the stress of not knowing how much data you’ll have to pay for once you return home, that’s why the company offers it’s dedicated EU SIM card. With this package, you can use your account to monitor live data usage online, providing a clear overview of how much data you’ve used from the 2 GB included for free with the card. This SIM card data works inside over 30 countries in Europe, and is compatible with all unlocked mobile devices.
5. UK EE Mobile Prepaid SIM Card
These days, we take for granted being able to do just about anything while connected to the internet, including sending text, making phone calls and social media messages. That’s why the SIM card from UK EE makes a lot sense. Packed with 6 GB of mobile data for under $30, and has a 90 day valid usage period from activation. Important: please note that this SIM card is for online/internet use only — the data cannot be used to send/receive SMS or make/receive phone calls. However, you could always use Skype and WhatsApp to chat with friends and family. The only way to go online in Europe that is more cost effective than this offer is to pick up a local SIM card.
More Easy Ways To Get Online…
Roaming, as discussed, is now a very convenient way of connecting to the internet in EU countries while traveling. Typically, you should expect to pay no more than $20 on data for a trip of around one month.
Other than roaming, there are two other simple ways of getting online when you’re traveling in EU:
- Free wi-fi networks. Many hotels provide you with free wi-fi internet. This is ideal for quick tasks at the start and end of each day (e.g. reading your e-mails and checking weather). The main downside is inaccessibility when out and about, meaning GPS map applications may not work properly and potentially missing important e-mails and social media messages received during the day.
- Purchase local SIM cards in destination country. When traveling for more than a month, it should be more convenient and a lot cheaper to buy a local SIM card in the European country you’re visiting. Depending on your destination, this may involve a little bit of stress (e.g. local language and providing ID). However, with a local mobile phone number it will be much cheaper when contacting businesses and people in that country. You should expect to pay around €10 p/m for a local SIM card. Unlocking your smartphone before starting out on your trip in also advisable.
I hope you now have a better understanding of which data SIM cards you’ll use on your trip to Europe and have a fantastic time!