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Best Mobile Phone SIM card and plan in Europe?

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
I just found out that my AT&T calling plan in the US can’t be extended to Europe. So I’ll need to get a SIM card when I’m there for a plan that is pre-paid and not a regular recurring billing account. Any recommendations of what you’ve experienced along these lines? Thanks!
 
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jluspo

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
October 2019
Hi, I went to London and Portugal last year and used this sim card and was fairly happy with it. I plan to use them again this October when I walk my first Camino. I'm not affiliated with that company so I'm just speaking from experience. It's a 30 day sim card and I'm only walking for 2 weeks which means I can turn it on in the US one week before I leave to make sure it works.

Which ever sim card you use, make sure your phone is unlocked! You can check if your ATT phone is unlocked by going to this site.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I just found out that my AT&T calling plan in the US can’t be extended to Europe. So I’ll need to get a SIM card when I’m there for a plan that is pre-paid and not a regular recurring billing account. Any recommendations of what you’ve experienced along these lines? Thanks!
It's the same question as what backpack to use, are boots better than trainers, tap water over bottled water etc. Because it depends on what you need and how much of it. There are plenty of options.

BUT I would only suggest one thing. If You are planning to walk in Spain then try to buy SIM card in France for example (or any other EU country) because there are no more roaming fees and your "foreign" SIM card would search the best signal and not its own signal/transmitter (if you would buy Spanish Vodafone f/e). Just make sure you can top up that SIM card on-line with credit card or whatever.
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Just make sure you can top up that SIM card on-line with credit card or whatever.
The reason for making sure that you can extend the plan online is that it will be difficult if not impossible to find a place in Spain to do so. That means getting another SIM card in Spain at probably more expense than extending what you already have. It also means getting a new number and telling your friends and family to use that new number if they have to call you.
 
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ELHS220

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - 2015, 2017
Norte (Oviedo Costa) - 2018
Finisterre/Muxía - 2018
Norte - (2019)
I used a República Móvil SIM card and it was fantastic. For €20 a month, you get 23GB of data and, I believe, one hour of talk time, which was more than sufficient for calling ahead for reservations. And unused data rolls over to the next month when you renew.

I also discovered a neat trick. There is an app called TEXT NOW. It offers totally free wifi calls. I have it on my phone and use it occasionally. I discovered that it works perfectly in Spain for calls to friends and family in the US. Connections were always clear as a bell. When you download the app, they ask you to choose an area code and then they assign you a random phone number. I am not sure if you can RECEIVE calls though,
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Use Google FI. Not AT&T no card required works everywhere in world and at a fraction the cost of other cellphone planes.
Not true about the cost unless you use wifi for calls and internet connections. [EDIT: Fi will attempt to can make calls over wifi first and, if it can so, international calls will cost 2 or 3 cents per minute.] Otherwise it will be about 30 cents. A GB of data anywhere will cost $10. [Edit: US dollars and cents since the last I knew Fi was only available for US residents (though useful worldwide).]

[Edit: When you want to make a call over wifi turn on airplane mode. That shuts off wifi but you should turn it back on again. Now wifi is enabled but cell service is disabled.]

I'm a happy FI user but it suits MY needs and maybe not someone else's. I have a phone with an eSIM essentially meaning that I have a dual SIM phone and I will likely buy a European SIM card for my upcoming camino. I'll be able to switch between the two depending on my use. For example, leaving the phone on Fi (with the eSIM) to be able to get calls from home but switching to the SIM to get data when wifi is not available.

Remember, calling an accommodation 30 km away to make a reservation with your Fi number over a cell network is considered an international call.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
The reason for making sure that you can extend the plan online is that it will be difficult if not impossible to find a place in Spain to do so. That means getting another SIM card in Spain at probably more expense than extending what you already have. It also means getting a new number and telling your friends and family to use that new number if they have to call you.
Why would it be difficult or impossible. If you have SIM card in your phone you have internet access. And that's all you need for extending a plan/put more credit on SIM. And even if you run out of your SIM data you just find wi-fi spot and again voila ;)
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Why would it be difficult or impossible.
I said a place. Like a store or a kiosk somewhere. I attempted to warn that one might buy a SIM outside Spain that might not be able to be extended online (I assume that these exist). In that case it isn't going to be likely to find a place in Spain either.

Please forgive the bolding. It's just emphasis, not shouting.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
I've used cellularabroad.com for a number of years. They have an offering with 12Gig of data that comes with a UK number for receiving calls for about 70 bucks for 30 days or 90 bucks for one year. It's good in a bunch of countries (both in Europe and elsewhere). I like it for the feature of being able to use it for a year in multiple countries. I'm sure you can find a lower cost perhaps directly in Europe but I thought I would mention it because of the convenience.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I said a place. Like a store or a kiosk somewhere. I attempted to warn that one might buy a SIM outside Spain that might not be able to be extended online (I assume that these exist). In that case it isn't going to be likely to find a place in Spain either.

Please forgive the bolding. It's just emphasis, not shouting.
And this is what I posted: "Just make sure you can top up that SIM card on-line with credit card or whatever. "

So if you can top it up on-line there's no need to find a place, no? ;)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP2Santiago completed (Sept.15, 2018).
I just found out that my AT&T calling plan in the US can’t be extended to Europe. So I’ll need to get a SIM card when I’m there for a plan that is pre-paid and not a regular recurring billing account. Any recommendations of what you’ve experienced along these lines? Thanks!
Check out www.americantravelsim.com. They have a partnership w/ a SIM card co. in UK called THREE.
I purchased my SIM card pkg. for 21.99 (12GB, 3K talk and 3K text. My plan is good for 30days. AmericanTravelSim activated my card (based on dates I provided) . I had connectivity when I touched down in Santiago. No issues/plenty of data. As others have noted, be sure your telly is unlocked! Buen Camino
 
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP2Santiago completed (Sept.15, 2018).
Check out www.americantravelsimcard.com. They have a partnership w/ a SIM card co. in UK called THREE.
I purchased my SIM card pkg. for 21.99 (12GB, 3K talk and 3K text. My plan is good for 30days. AmericanTravelSim activated my card (based on dates I provided) . I had connectivity when I touched down in Santiago. No issues/plenty of data. As others have noted, be sure your telly is unlocked! Buen Camino
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
And this is what I posted: "Just make sure you can top up that SIM card on-line with credit card or whatever. "

So if you can top it up on-line there's no need to find a place, no? ;)
Exactly. I didn't mean to confuse the issue. I was trying to emphasize why your advice was so good. 👍
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2016
Francesco 2017
Francigena 2017
Portuguese 2018
Norte 2019
(2021? la Plata)
Pick up a sim card at your arrival airport in Spain. The services there are experienced with tourists needs, and have excellent 30 day deals. Over the last few years I've used both Vodaphone and Orange sims this way. If a "top up" is needed, it can be done at most supermarkets in Spain.

Also, seriously consider dumping ATT. They overcharge and underserve. After years of frustration I finally switched to T-Mobile, which provides unlimited calling in Europe for $0.25/minute and unlimited data (although at 2G speed) for no extra charge. I still get a Spanish sim for my camino because 2G is just too slow for my purposes.
 

Juspassinthrough

in our minds, we're vagabonds, you and I
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Inglés 2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Camino Aragonés (2023?)
I’ve used the 3 UK SIM 4 times with very good results. You get a UK (+44) number but there’s no roaming in the EU. I liked that it could be activated before I left the US and that it was active the minute I landed in Spain (or wherever). It can also be topped off from their app. Good luck, Buen Camino.
 
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sambajammer

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Camino del Norte 2018
We used Orange for both Camino trips. Cheap with lots of data and refillable at most supermarkets and or Orange stores. Sim works in Spain, France, Portugal and England.
 

Walkerooni

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPdP to Santiago (June-ish 2018)
We used Orange for both Camino trips. Cheap with lots of data and refillable at most supermarkets and or Orange stores. Sim works in Spain, France, Portugal and England.
Do you know if it will also work in Ireland? Thinking of a Camino/Ireland combo trip and it would be great if I just needed to get one card.
 

Jeff B

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
if you want, you can buy the card in the US before you go - Amazon has Orange, and probably others. Might be a little easier buying before you go because you need to register the SIM. This does not activate the SIM (i.e. start the clock running on your 30 days) as that happens when you turn your phone in in Europe - with the new SIM.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I’d make a point of checking that in the future. With the utter chaos that is Brexit, that’s not certain to continue.
With Brexit there would be (most probably) again roaming fees for SIM cards from UK because no roaming is valid only for EU member countries.
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Looks like it would meet my needs! I plan to buy one as soon as I reach Logrono next week, to do my 2019 Meseta walk....
That plan might only be if you buy online. I looked to see if the plan might suit me. It looks good but look at what Chrome translated from a portion of this wepage.

Buying on Vodafone.es we always assure you the best price of Vodafone products and services compared to other shopping channels, such as physical stores or by phone.

In Vodafone.es you can discover exclusive offers that will only be available on the web.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
That plan might only be if you buy online. I looked to see if the plan might suit me. It looks good but look at what Chrome translated from a portion of this wepage.

Buying on Vodafone.es we always assure you the best price of Vodafone products and services compared to other shopping channels, such as physical stores or by phone.

In Vodafone.es you can discover exclusive offers that will only be available on the web.
Looking at the Vodafone Traveler page it specifically says "available in stores", so unless they run out of that SIM in Burgos next week, we should be OK!
 
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Heartsong Willow

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria - Santiago (2014), Tui - Santiago (2018), Primitivo (Sept 2019)
Friends, forgive my inexperience but I am not bringing a cell phone to Spain. I can't seem to figure out if I can buy an actual prepaid PHONE at the airport much like a Tracfone in the US. I only need it to make in country calls (reservations) or allow my fam to get hold of me quickly. I don't need data necessarily but would welcome it and would then be able to leave my non cellular enabled IPad behind. THX!
 

E V Waight

It's the journey, not the destination.
Year of past OR future Camino
September (2017)
Possible September (2018)
Holy Year (2021) (all three Gladys, John and I)
Check out www.americantravelsim.com. They have a partnership w/ a SIM card co. in UK called THREE.
I purchased my SIM card pkg. for 21.99 (12GB, 3K talk and 3K text. My plan is good for 30days. AmericanTravelSim activated my card (based on dates I provided) . I had connectivity when I touched down in Santiago. No issues/plenty of data. As others have noted, be sure your telly is unlocked! Buen Camino
I used THREE as well. Worked like a baby. No issues whatsoever. Definitely recommend!!
 

Camino Jim

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(12), Portuguese(13), Finisterre(13), Norte(14Partial), Ingles(17),Via de la Plata(19partial)
On all my Camino's (8) I've used Vodafone in Spain, Italy and Portugal
 

MisterH

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018 neither successful
I just found out that my AT&T calling plan in the US can’t be extended to Europe. So I’ll need to get a SIM card when I’m there for a plan that is pre-paid and not a regular recurring billing account. Any recommendations of what you’ve experienced along these lines? Thanks!
I used ATT and T-Mobile for two trips, one in 2016 and 2017. I had no problens. I just had them code the ATT one for me for access in Europe. It is expensive at $10 a day, but I disabled the phone function and when I needed it, and i did, I then reenabled it. I also carried a super cheap phone from Tmobile which was also Europe enabled, but had a per minute charge. The per minute charge worked out less than the ATT flat rate was but I rarely use a phone. It was nice to have a backup cell phone.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata Oct 17
Primitivo Aug 18
We used Orange for both Camino trips. Cheap with lots of data and refillable at most supermarkets and or Orange stores. Sim works in Spain, France, Portugal and England.
Hi there, do you know if Orange can also be used in Amsterdam? I’m coming from NZ.
Regards, Kas
 
Silver Oxide Camino de Santiago pendent
Camino de Santiago pendant that has a shell on the front, and "Camino de Santiago" engraved on the back. Comes with a black cord. Pendent is slightly larger than a 50 euro cent coin, about 25mm.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

MisterH

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018 neither successful
Hi there, do you know if Orange can also be used in Amsterdam? I’m coming from NZ.
Regards, Kas
I don't know what the cell phone systems are like in NZ but if you can go to several cell phone companies and ask them about their European services. Also get their pricing and choose what you want. Within reason all "mainline" cell phones will work in Europe. The problems concern if your company can operate there. The cell phone its self will probably work ok.
 

K Turner

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
August-October 2019 CF
I just found out that my AT&T calling plan in the US can’t be extended to Europe. So I’ll need to get a SIM card when I’m there for a plan that is pre-paid and not a regular recurring billing account. Any recommendations of what you’ve experienced along these lines? Thanks!
I live in the US and missed your post initially. My husband and I have Google Fi, so no extra changes or purchases were necessary. We had great service and no trouble at all.
 

E V Waight

It's the journey, not the destination.
Year of past OR future Camino
September (2017)
Possible September (2018)
Holy Year (2021) (all three Gladys, John and I)
Hi there, do you know if Orange can also be used in Amsterdam? I’m coming from NZ.
Regards, Kas
Was this a "trick" question? Of course everything in the Netherlands is "orange"😃🙂😉
 

motero99

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
Camino Norte (2020)
I used Orange on the Camino Frances. When I was down to .01Euro, I tried to refill it, I kept getting errors that said the process failed. After completing the Camino, I went to an Orange store in San Sebastian, but was told I had to refill it at the same rate/plan as the original sim. I was only going to be traveling for a couple of weeks, so I decided not to bother. It still worked for WIFI and texting. I believe I started with a 15 or 20 European. Also, make sure you lock you screen. I did not do that on my iPhone regularly and on some days my battery was drained and my data went down even though the phone was used only for a few pictures.
 
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