Ask LH: What's The Best SIM Card For European Travel?

Dear Lifehacker, I am travelling to France for a couple of weeks, then getting on a cruise moving from France to Italy, Spain and then Malta. I have my phone with Telstra and I really only require data. Would you please advise which SIM card you would recommend please? Thanks, Deb

Dear Deb,

If you only require data, go with Globalgig. This is an Australian-based mobile virtual network operator that provides service in more than 100 countries -- including France, Italy, Spain and Malta. It's also affordable, with the SIM-only Traveller+ costing just $4.99 per month.

Globagig used to provide different data packages with prices ranging from $9 to $29. It's since moved to a pay-as-you go model. This sounds alarming for global roaming, but the prices are pretty reasonable. France, Spain and Italy will cost you 15c per MB, while Malta will set you back 30c per MB.

The service will send you an email alert once you've incurred $50 in data charges and at $50 increments thereafter. Naturally, you'll want to steer clear of video streaming and uploading large media files, but for stuff like email and social media, you shouldn't rack up a large bill.

There's no lock-in contract so you can cancel as soon as your finish your holiday. The monthly package also includes 250MB of data to use in Australia on the Optus network. This means you can continue to use it for the remainder of the month after returning home, at no extra change. (Unless you go over 250MB, of course.)

To get connected, simply order the relevant SIM card from the Globalgig website. This will then be sent out to you free of charge. Be sure to activate it just before you embark on your trip to maximise the number of days before you need to pay another $4.99.

We're also going to throw this one over to our readers. What's your preferred solution for mobile data when travelling abroad? Let Deb know in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    I found it really easy and convenient to simply grab a pre-paid SIM in local Vodafone/Generic Phone shops. The plans are done a bit differently, but there usually enough data in the basic 10 euro deal to see me through in whatever country I was in.

      I deal in this area all day every day, so hopefully this is helpful... I'd say the Three UK preloaded phone SIM (AUD$50) with 12GB data that roams for free in it's partner countries (UK, France, Spain, Italy etc...Germany/netherlands and a few not included...and tethering not allowed) is a hell of a deal:
      http://www.datago.co/3-uk-payg-phone-prepaid-sim.html
      Subsequent to that, if data only is OK, but you want full EU coverage, tier 1 networks (opposed to 3UK and Globalgig who use some tier 2 networks), and ability to tether/hotspot - I'd be looking at the dataGOroaming SIM:
      http://www.datago.co/datagoroaming.html
      That works out atleast 1/4 cost of Globalgig and is backed by higher quality telcos.
      Hope that helps!

    "...but the prices are pretty reasonable. France, Spain and Italy will cost you 15c per MB, while Malta will set you back 30c per MB."

    When did $150 or $300 per gigabyte become "pretty reasonable"?

    Isn't .30c/MB equal to $300/GB? How is that reasonable? He's already on Telstra, get a Travel Pack!

    I've just come back from Amsterdam and Barcelona and I just picked up a local data SIM for 10-15€ for 2Gb for use in my portable wifi hotspot.. These worked fine for the three days I was in each city and I was using Google Maps quite extensively. Add to the fact that many public places, at least in Amsterdam, such as museums, trains, stations, airports, buses, and restaurants and cafés (even small ones) all also provide free wifi, you really don't need anything else unless you need to SMS and makes lots of calls.

    Public free wifi is at incredible speeds there. In some places was 4-10 times as fast as Australian ADSL2 speeds, and often UPLOAD was higher than download speeds. In one place it was as high as 80Mbps !!! both for up- and down-load, but usually it's at least 20Mbps.

    Global roaming packets at $10/day for 50Mb only? Bah humbug!

    Try 3 prepaid ith their "Feel At Home" to cut roaming charges.
    http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Phones/Feel_At_Home?intid=3main_brand_PAYG_plans_FAH_P3

    Whenever I see roaming (or excess usage in Australia) mobile data quoted in cents/MB (or even cents/kB in extreme cases) I am reminded of the joke that most mobile deals are a stupid tax on people who can't multiply by 1000 (or 1,000,000).

    Have a look at this offer:

    http://mobile.free.fr/

    What I think it says is:

    * Cost is E19.99 per 35 days. Possibly E15 for customers but unless you know someone who is you won't be able to access this.

    * You get 3GB of roaming anywhere in EU 3G data throttled to 0.128 Mbps if allowance exceeded

    * If you have 4G device you get 50GB on Free's network in France.

    * Have to buy SIM from vending machine in Free shops in France

    More details here:

    http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/France

    I have just spent 6 weeks (currently in Berlin) in France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland and I found that I could get by without mobile data using free wifi in hotels, shopping centres, McDonalds (and similar) and gas stations plus offline maps in Google Maps and Maps.me.

    For voice I have a CoverMore SIM at 30 cents per minute, no flag fall to make calls, 15 cent texts and free to receive voice (except Slovakia where it's 10 cents/minute) and texts.

    Whenever I see roaming (or excess usage in Australia) mobile data quoted in cents/MB (or even cents/kB in extreme cases) I am reminded of the joke that most mobile deals are a stupid tax on people who can't multiply by 1000 (or 1,000,000).

    Have a look at this offer:

    http://mobile.free.fr/

    What I think it says is:

    * Cost is E19.99 per 35 days. Possibly E15 for customers but unless you know someone who is you won't be able to access this.

    * You get 3GB of roaming anywhere in EU 3G data throttled to 0.128 Mbps if allowance exceeded

    * If you have 4G device you get 50GB on Free's network in France.

    * Have to buy SIM from vending machine in Free shops in France

    More details here:

    http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/France

    I have just spent 6 weeks (currently in Berlin) in France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland and I found that I could get by without mobile data using free wifi in hotels, shopping centres, McDonalds (and similar) and gas stations plus offline maps in Google Maps and Maps.me.

    For voice I have a CoverMore SIM at 30 cents per minute, no flag fall to make calls, 15 cent texts and free to receive voice (except Slovakia where it's 10 cents/minute) and texts.

    Why bother? Currently travelling in Europe. Everywhere we are staying has free wifi. Every cafe, restaurant and bar has free wifi. I can just email, IM, Facebook, Skype anyone I want. If worried about snooping,must sign up to a VPN, way cheaper than using mobile data etc.

    Free Sim posted out to you, sounds good in theory. I tried this but still waiting for mine... oh this was ordered June 2015 ;-)

    I just went with a sim with a local provider. If you are going to one country this is easy enough. But multiple countries not so much.

    Agree with the comments above to just get local SIM cards on arrival.

    Most telcos around the world allow non-residents to buy prepaid cards. And these will provide much more data for far less money than any "global" card.

    Yeah, nothing will be chaper than a local SIM, but if youre travelling extensively around different countries it can get complicated.

    Forbesfone has a good deal in Europe - it's a prepaid SIM, coverage is really good and rates range between €0.05 to €0.07/MB in European countries.

    www.forbesfone.com

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