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Questions from a cell phone idiot

auburnfive

Active Member
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
 
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There are indeed no stupid questions, especially when it comes to mobile phones and SIM cards!

This video is the simplest explanation I've found for how to change/insert a SIM card on your iPhone:


Depending on your model the SIM slot may be in a different location (I also seem to remember the slot being on top of the phone in some older models), but you should be able to recognize it after watching the video.

Any shop that sells SIM cards will likely also have the tool needed to open the slot (some SIM cards even come bundled with one), and you can even use a safety pin or paper clip in a pinch. There should be no extra charge for installing/replacing a SIM card when you buy it from a vendor in, say, a mobile phone shop - but it never hurts to ask first. Deep breaths ... it's not as complicated as it might seem!
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
The short answer is "Yes" followed by the traditional "but".

Questions like: is your 'phone "locked" apply. If its provided by the carrier it probably is. If you bought it in-store it probably isn't. Changing the SIM on an iPhone is easy if you are a teenager in possession of a paperclip, or a sales-person in a 'phone shop. Lots of providers sell monthly plans these days so a store in Porto is your likely solution.
 
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In the days before I blackmailed my carrier (Rogers) into giving me a nicer plan, I used to pick up a flip phone at a Spanish telephone shop for about 30 euro, and then I would just buy more time as I would go along--- supermarket cashiers would do it for you.
 
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Newer phones are coming in with dual sim capabilities. You can have two numbers available on your phone. Some of these do not need a physical sim. You get a QR code when you get your phone number and you scan that to activate the number.

Here is a short Apple Support video on the process (Androids have dual SIMs too but each manufacturer may have a different process):
youtube video id: 4dVJulsiTiw
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Tinc is right. The first question you should ask your current provider is: Am I "locked?' or "unlocked?'
If you're locked you're basically f...ed!
If you're unlocked when you go to the Orange Shop they will take care of everythng for you when you buy your minutes. Store your current Sim in a safe place and watch how they remove the cover and re-install it.
The burner phone idea from oursonpolaire is great idea.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost?
What you must pay for is the phone service with a local phone service provider. The SIM card is just a cheap little device that installs the service in your phone, with a new local phone number. The store will put the SIM into your phone (likely at no identified cost).

There are often special plans aimed at tourists, that are good for 1 month. This type of plan is likely to be simplest, and is what I would recommend. (But I only have experience in Spain, not Portugal.)

I don't know what plan you have in Canada, but think about what your actual usage is likely to be, and what comfort/convenience you want. If it is just for emergencies, your normal Canadian plan will likely be fine, because you will likely not have any emergencies. For calling a cab, I'm not sure what the scenarios are - most often, I have found taxis on the street or would get the hotel or restaurant to call one.

Or do I need to bring the phone that is tied into my current plan?
No. Your current phone plan is irrelevant. However, keep in mind that you will want to install any apps, etc., that you want to use on the phone you take. Is there a reason you don't want to take your regular phone? Is it just that you are nervous about the technique for handling the SIM card?
 

isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I am on US Cellular. Is it going be more difficult getting a sim card for my phone
since US Cellular is more of a regional carrier
 
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La Brique Jaune

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Past OR future Camino
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Hi

On my camino, I did like oursonpolaire I bought a cheap flip phone in spain and simcard with a certain amount of minutes which I don't remember, useful for like you say calling a cab, emergencies and I will add making reservations if needed. I did that because at this time I needed a cellphone and in life I don't use one.

So I think if you don't want to sending emails or taking pictures with you cellphone a cheap flip phone with do the job. Advantages: lighter, smaller,thiefs don't care about, loosing it it's not a big deal and no needed to charge it often.

About if locked or not: I not absolutly sure but I think you can put a sim card from an another cellphone and you will know and I unlocked one this summer by calling the cellphone provider.
 

auburnfive

Active Member
What you must pay for is the phone service with a local phone service provider. The SIM card is just a cheap little device that installs the service in your phone, with a new local phone number. The store will put the SIM into your phone (likely at no identified cost).

There are often special plans aimed at tourists, that are good for 1 month. This type of plan is likely to be simplest, and is what I would recommend. (But I only have experience in Spain, not Portugal.)

I don't know what plan you have in Canada, but think about what your actual usage is likely to be, and what comfort/convenience you want. If it is just for emergencies, your normal Canadian plan will likely be fine, because you will likely not have any emergencies. For calling a cab, I'm not sure what the scenarios are - most often, I have found taxis on the street or would get the hotel or restaurant to call one.


No. Your current phone plan is irrelevant. However, keep in mind that you will want to install any apps, etc., that you want to use on the phone you take. Is there a reason you don't want to take your regular phone? Is it just that you are nervous about the technique for handling the SIM card?
I think my old cell phone is unlocked since I bought it outright 5 years ago, but my new phone is being paid for monthly, so I thought it might be easier.
Thanks for the suggestion about apps
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I think my old cell phone is unlocked since I bought it outright 5 years ago
For a few years now, I think all cell phone plans in Canada are required to be unlocked. But you should check with your provider to be sure. The outright purchase vs. monthly payment isn't a factor, I don't think.
 

Theresa Brandon

Artist, photographer, dreamer
Past OR future Camino
Camino Inglés (2018), Camino Ingles (from La Coruña, 2019), Camino Portugues (2020)
Another option would be to buy either an inexpensive phone or an international SIM card from https://www.mobal.com/international-cell-phones/ You could practice inserting the SIM card in your phone before you leave. Make sure you have a safe place to store your original SIM card when you are traveling! I used their International SIM card for travel for years before I finally switched to Google FI.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
I expect if you take your phone to the shop where you get the sim card they will fit it for you. You can take pretty much any phone.

If you buy a pre-pay sim it will come with some credit. If it runs out of credit you may have to top-up at some point. It depends how much you call and how much data you use. I expect calls to Canada would be expensive, but if it's just local calls it should be very cheap.
 
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Scott Sweeney

Active Member
The short answer is "Yes" followed by the traditional "but".

Questions like: is your 'phone "locked" apply. If its provided by the carrier it probably is. If you bought it in-store it probably isn't. Changing the SIM on an iPhone is easy if you are a teenager in possession of a paperclip, or a sales-person in a 'phone shop. Lots of providers sell monthly plans these days so a store in Porto is your likely solution.
I believe 4G phones are not locked. Unlike buying a phone in Spain they will not work in the US (or that's what Verizon told me)
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I am on US Cellular. Is it going be more difficult getting a sim card for my phone
since US Cellular is more of a regional carrier
Ask your provider.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I believe 4G phones are not locked. Unlike buying a phone in Spain they will not work in the US (or that's what Verizon told me)
I had an iPhone S for more than 15 years, I purchased the phone at a T-Mobile shop when there were no monthly plan and for years my service was a "pay as you go" plan. It made my life very simple when I lived or traveled to France and Spain, I would just walk into an Orange Shop and buy a plan which included their simcard.
Last month I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 13 and paid for the phone at the T-Mobile store which meant it would be unlocked, versus buying into a monthly payment plan to purchase the phone. I no longer have a "pay as you go" plan because access to wifi in the US was getting very frustrating without a data plan.
What is intersting about my new iPhone, there is no simcard in the port, it has an esim and the slot is open for any simcard I purcahse and install. I will be interested to see the two numbers pop up on the screen when I am traveling like the post from Rick of Rick and Peg.
 

jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive.

I don’t know how it works in Canada, but can you not get “international roaming” installed on your own cell phone, for in case of emergencies, but at no cost if you never ever use it?

That’s what I used to do (from South Africa) years ago, before we were connected to the European system. I could then take my own phone, that I am used to (I am also a cell phone idiot), in the certain knowledge that I could use it in an emergency.

The only time I can remember having to use it was to phone the number on the door of a residencial at Verdelha de Baixo, one stage out of Lisbon, to call the owner. It took a few seconds, he answered in English, and he was on his way.

Any bar, café, or restaurant will phone a taxi for you. For anything else I use the free wifi, which is all across Europe now.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
Don't forget that if you leave your existing phone (and SIM card) at home then people calling you on it - maybe your bank - won't be able to get in touch with you without having your new phone number which you, yourself, won't know until you buy your SIM card/burner phone (what a delicious, illegal scenario those words conjure up!).
As others have said, if you do take your home SIM card with you guard it with your life. There were several stories in UK newspapers in the days before Covid where cards were filtched abroad and used before the owner was aware of it.
In one case a lady had her SIM stolen in a hotel in the far east and somebody ran up a bill of £1500 (about $2500 CAD) before the phone company realised something was wrong and blocked it and then declared it was the lady's fault!
Better safe than sorry.
Have a great trip, Portugal is a lovely country.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Just to clarify for the OP: the SIM card you purchase while traveling simply allows you to use that carrier‘s service in that new country. The calls/texts/data you will use are charged separately. Your initial sim card purchase will likely come with some amount of service which you can then refill when either the time period or your allotment runs out.

Many cellphone services do not charge roaming charges while in the greater European area, but this is changing and you really need to check when choosing a plan if you think you’ll be moving around.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I don’t know how it works in Canada, but can you not get “international roaming” installed on your own cell phone, for in case of emergencies, but at no cost if you never ever use it?
I think that is typically the case.
 

isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Don't forget that if you leave your existing phone (and SIM card) at home then people calling you on it - maybe your bank - won't be able to get in touch with you without having your new phone number which you, yourself, won't know until you buy your SIM card/burner phone (what a delicious, illegal scenario those words conjure up!).
As others have said, if you do take your home SIM card with you guard it with your life. There were several stories in UK newspapers in the days before Covid where cards were filtched abroad and used before the owner was aware of it.
In one case a lady had her SIM stolen in a hotel in the far east and somebody ran up a bill of £1500 (about $2500 CAD) before the phone company realised something was wrong and blocked it and then declared it was the lady's fault!
Better safe than sorry.
Have a great trip, Portugal is a lovely country.

I really don't want carry around dead weight. Plus, I might lose the regular phone. Maybe I could just have my sister have my phone at home and change the greeting to say my European phone number. Then I don't have to guard stuff with my life
 
F

Former member 91017

Guest
I think that is typically the case.
Canada has the worst or second worst phone plans in the world (small population spread over enormous geography that still requires all the same terribly expensive infrastructure). We can purchase $10 per day “roam like home” but there is not such thing as “if you don’t use it you don’t pay”.

The OP should get a local SIM card in Portugal (right at the airport), a traveller’s plan… which is very inexpensive. Remove current SIM from the phone (or use the old phone, whatever, whatever). Tape Canadian SIM card into the back of passport for return home.

Our phones have indeed been unlocked by law for about 5 years now, and an older phone still in possession of the user would be “owned outright” which means that it is eligible for unlocking (for free) if it hasn’t already been done.

How do I choose which SIM in Spain? I simply go to whichever provider has the shortest line at the time so I’ve had both Orange and Vodafone. Many people have been happy with Movistar, but I don’t know if they are in PT as well as in ES. Prices are all very similar and not worth fussing about the small differences when one is looking at the clock to get out of town, to the albergue before it closes, etc etc.

We can access foreign resellers and some versions of Orange SIM deals on Amazon, but the prices are typically *much* higher than one pays on the ground in Europe for the same (or better) plan.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I don’t know how it works in Canada, but can you not get “international roaming” installed on your own cell phone, for in case of emergencies, but at no cost if you never ever use it?

there is not such thing as “if you don’t use it you don’t pay”.
What I meant was that, at least a few years ago, I was able to roam and make calls from/in Europe with my Canadian phone, but I had to pay high international rates per minute (a charge beyond my regular plan). If I did not make those calls, I didn't have to pay the per-minute charge for them. So that would be a sensible plan only for real emergencies.

I agree with the recommendation to get a SIM in Portugal.
 
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F

Former member 91017

Guest
What I meant was that, at least a few years ago, I was able to roam and make calls from/in Europe with my Canadian phone, but I had to pay high international rates per minute (a charge beyond my regular plan). If I did not make those calls, I didn't have to pay the per-minute charge for them. So that would be a sensible plan only for real emergencies.

I agree with the recommendation to get a SIM in Portugal.
Ah... I think that just doesn't exist anymore as a plan.... changed in 2019-ish I think... to the flat rate per day to be able to "roam like home" but only at a terrible price.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
Don't take your old phone. For my 2021 pilgrimage in Spain, I took my iphone5s, which was the phone which I used at home. It was too old to work with the Orange sim card in Spain and I had to buy a newer phone second-hand from an Orange store, resulting in having phone problems for most of my time in Spain. My iphone8 now works fine, but the old phone just would not work with the current Orange service in Spain. Any Orange store will remove the case and install the sim card for you, but make sure that you keep your home sim card to reinstall when you get home. If you lose it, your phone number will change with getting a new one. Good luck with this. It is no fun having phone problems while travelling.
 
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Just a thought, the man in the Vodaphone store was perfectly capable of changing the SIM card for me. The problem was that in removing the case, he bent my phone, not so much that it damaged the phone, but.. Now I remove the case myself. Hold the phone by the sides and gently push on the Apple on the back. Then, on the plane going home I can change back to my original SIM while everyone on the plane asks to borrow my SIM key.
 

auburnfive

Active Member
Thanks for the replys, it’s getting clearer.
So if I get a SIM card and plan in Portugal, then I get a new phone number to use just while I’m there - correct?
If someone from home calls me, does it need to be the new number? Is old number out of commission until the current SIM card is installed?
 
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Remove current SIM from the phone (or use the old phone, whatever, whatever). Tape Canadian SIM card into the back of passport for return home.
I advise against this. Your Canadian passport may have to be taken out and presented many times and each time there will be a chance of loss or damage. Additionally, you want to keep the card from static electricity.

I suggest putting the card in an anti-static bag, or better, in an anti-static plastic case which will prevent the card from bending or breaking. Before leaving home sew in a pocket into your money belt or pouch that can hold the card. When the SIM is taken out of your phone put it in its protection and then into the pouch. Safety pin the opening so it won't slide out when rummaging for your passport, money or ATM card.

Another way to keep your Canadian SIM safe is not to bring it. If you have dual SIM capabilities and one is an eSIM copy your card data to the eSIM and then take out the card and lock it up at home. You could do that now and once in Portugal have the local SIM put into the now vacant card slot. If your phone has dual eSIM capabilities then you don't have to even do that. See the video above.
 
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Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Thanks for the replys, it’s getting clearer.
So if I get a SIM card and plan in Portugal, then I get a new phone number to use just while I’m there - correct?
If someone from home calls me, does it need to be the new number? Is old number out of commission until the current SIM card is installed?
Yes, you get a new number. If you take your old SIM out, you lose access to calls and messages to the original number.

Yes, if you want to receive calls from home, you will need to give them your new number to call. They will then have to pay international mobile rates to call you.

If you have two phones, or a dual SIM phone, you can have access to both numbers.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Thanks for the replys, it’s getting clearer.
So if I get a SIM card and plan in Portugal, then I get a new phone number to use just while I’m there - correct?
Correct. Technically you could use that number back home too but let's skip that.
If someone from home calls me, does it need to be the new number?
Yes. And they will need to dial the prefix that allows them to call internationally beforehand.
Is old number out of commission until the current SIM card is installed?
Yes if removed from your phone. No if left in a dual SIM phone. People calling your regular number who didn't even know you left the country will be able to talk to you. Be quick though because while their call will essentially free you will be charged the international rates your plan has.

If you left the new phone at home with the SIM in it then it will be ringing in your desk or bedroom.

Edit: I could have saved myself some trouble if I had seen Molly's post had come in while wroting my reply.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2019)
I use my cell phone all the time,
I think the above answers the SIM card question but there is one more issue. Most Canadian financial institutions are starting to implement two factor identification for security where they send a code to your Canadian phone number. This is a concern for me and I'm planning to contact my bank and Visa to get a solution before my next trip so I don't encounter problems when using a foreign SIM card.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Most Canadian financial institutions are starting to implement two factor identification for security where they send a code to your Canadian phone number. This is a concern for me
I can see this as a problem but I don't see it coming up often. When you know it is going to come up, like transferring funds using an app, you could switch SIMs beforehand and take the hit of a small amount of international charges. It may just involve the sending of one text message.

Dual SIMs would keep you from having to do a physical SIM swap.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
I can see this as a problem but I don't see it coming up often. When you know it is going to come up, like transferring funds using an app, you could switch SIMs beforehand and take the hit of a small amount of international charges. It may just involve the sending of one text message.

Dual SIMs would keep you from having to do a physical SIM swap.
Yes, and my dual SIM allows me to completely disconnect one or both SIMs as required.
 
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gregrobinson

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
I switched to Google Fi when I started traveling. It's an international plan by default and works everywhere I have gone. There are no contracts and the plans start at $25 plus like $10/GB of data, but the cost caps after 6 GB of data used in a month. You could take your old phone to just about any large retailer or electronics store and they will install the sim card for you. The set up is very simple and you can just cancel it when you return.

I have used Google Fi all over Europe and also in Costa Rica. Also, most places you go would have WiFi available, so you wouldn't be using your data if you use the WiFi.

Here are some links that show plans and which countries are included:

 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Most Canadian financial institutions are starting to implement two factor identification for security where they send a code to your Canadian phone number.

It just occurred to me that it may be possible for a text message sent to your domestic number to be forwarded to your overseas number. I did a Google search and found that there are various ways. They probably work if the phone with your domestic number is on but I'm not sure if each method will work if the phone is off or if the domestic SIM card has been removed from the phone.

Anyone wanting to check these methods out can do the following search. You may want to add android or ios to the search terms.

have text messages forwarded to another phone
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
Could those who reply to this thread please be aware that @auburnfive is a Canadian and the services which are available in other countries are not available in Canada through the same providers. What is available here is also much more expensive than what you may be accustomed to.
@auburnfive: for communication with those at home you will be able to send and receive emails as usual with your phone. If you wish, you can set up a group email on your contact list and send out group emails.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Could those who reply to this thread please be aware that @auburnfive is a Canadian and the services which are available in other countries are not available in Canada through the same providers. What is available here is also much more expensive than what you may be accustomed to.
@auburnfive: for communication with those at home you will be able to send and receive emails as usual with your phone. If you wish, you can set up a group email on your contact list and send out group emails.
I think if you actually want to make international calls it will be expensive whichever option you choose. If you want to make local calls, then a local SIM is advisable.

Email can be done through wi-fi and you can switch the mobile signal off, but still have it available for emergencies.
 
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Lot of information but I think it boils down to the following:

1) If you use a lot of texts to your original number and/or using your current phone number for a lot of two factor authentication, it's a real pain in the butt to have a new number so you might just think about paying the toll and just try and use wifi calling as much as possible at free hot spots (easy to say).
2) If you phone is locked and you don't have the problem in #1 above, I didn't see the comment that you usually can get this unlocked just by paying the outstanding balance on the phone. If you're going to keep the phone for awhile, not a bad idea if you have the cash to do to. Then all you do is get another SIM card. IT is easy to change them with numerous videos out there. Just don't lose the paperclip :)
3) Variant on #2 - Again, if you're not stuck on point #1 and don't want to pay up front to unlock, just get the second SIM card. Use it during the day when you don't have access to WiFi and then switch it out when you get somewhere for the night to the original SIM card and get your texts and other stuff for free. Then switch it back. Again, somewhat of a pain in the butt.
 
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I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
Without you reaching out for an answer, I would have never know the SIM card tray existed or that I could open it with a paper clip. Idiot... no! With thanks. Elin
 

Ceci

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles from Ferrol; Camino Portugues from Valenca do Minho; Camino Frances from O Cebreiro - October 2014
I don't know if this is an option for you. I live in the US. I had Consumer Cellular, which did not have a good international plan. I changed carriers using my current phone and retaining my current phone number. There is a lot of competition here, so it's not hard to change carriers back and forth maintaining your number. I went with T-Mobile, which had a good international plan and worked well. Good luck!
 
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Obidad

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguese (2019)
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
Vodofone across the River from Porto (Av. da República nº 268, 4430-188 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal) - short walk. Very helpful - we have used them twice. Works in Portugal & Spain. Inexpensive too.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Tinc is right. The first question you should ask your current provider is: Am I "locked?' or "unlocked?'
If you're locked you're basically f...ed!
If you're unlocked when you go to the Orange Shop they will take care of everythng for you when you buy your minutes. Store your current Sim in a safe place and watch how they remove the cover and re-install it.
The burner phone idea from oursonpolaire is great idea.

We asked at a movistar shop inLeon to put in a chip on our iPhone…Which was and is unlocked…and I told them so….but they refused, saying that it doesn’t work in many situations. Bottom line we got a number, waited our turn (almost an hour) and there were others online behind us online who were interested in more profitable items and plans…. We got no help from them! So if you can,my advice is look at the videos and do it yourself! Noteveryone is a camino angel!😀!
 

Susan Mark

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
I’m in Canada as well, depending on your carrier here, you can find the “unlocking” how to on their website, or just call them and they’ll do it for you remotely.
then I buy a plan when I’m in Europe, usually €15 for 30 days. Keep your Canadian SIM card with you and replace once you’ve landed home.
 

Susan Mark

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future
Vodofone across the River from Porto (Av. da República nº 268, 4430-188 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal) - short walk. Very helpful - we have used them twice. Works in Portugal & Spain. Inexpensive too.
Also at the Porto airport, got ours changed when we landed.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Has anyone used a Spanish eSIM that one can get over the phone with a QR?
That’s an “eSIM” and they work well IF your phone is compatible (newer iPhones are as well as other brands). Haven’t used the Spanish ones, but did download a UK one this past September.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
In the days before I blackmailed my carrier (Rogers) into giving me a nicer plan, I used to pick up a flip phone at a Spanish telephone shop for about 30 euro, and then I would just buy more time as I would go along--- supermarket cashiers would do it for you.
This is exactly what I did when we started spending a fair bit of time in Portugal.

I bought a cheap-ish non-smart phone at one of the many phone shops in our part of Portugal (ours was a kiosk in a local supermarket) with a Vodaphone pay-as-you-go SIM card. You can top them up anywhere. Local cell charges are very reasonable, and even international, back-to-Canada ones not bad, though the plan I have (started 5 years ago; maybe I should update) is cheaper on weekends for international calls.

Many of the oldsters in Portugal have "dumbphones," so the (mostly younger and English-speaking) staff in the phone stores are happy to provide one.

Bom caminho!
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
Yes, I know there are messaging apps, I meant actual SMS text messages. Anyway I don't have an iPhone, so it doesn't matter.
I would be really cautious about this question. I’m not sure the advice you’re getting here is correct.

I’ve had problems with this. SMS messages I think go over the same Network that phone calls do. This is different than the way messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Etc. send messages which work fine over Wi-Fi.

I think the answer to this question would depend on exactly what you’re thinking of doing, perhaps even which particular phone you have. I think you should ask a specialist at the phone shop to be sure.

————————-

And there seems to be a lot of really complicated discussion on this thread about the original question, But every time I go to Europe, I stop at some phone store at the airport (where practically the only thing they do is help foreign visitors get local SIM cards ), get a Sim card which they put in my phone which I brought from home, and walk off into the sunset and I’ve never had a problem. I communicate with people back home via email or social media messaging or skype. I also always put WhatsApp on my phone, because people in Europe use this all the time.

Almost every phone made in the last few years works anywhere on the planet. If you’re using an older phone, you better check to make sure it’s going work on the networks of the country you’re going to.

Sim cards removal: I think someone posted a video here, but all you do is need a little needle or a thin paper clip, Just gently push it into the little hole on the side of your phone, and the little SIM card holder will pop right out. Make a note with your eyes how the card is sitting in the tray, and then pop it out and put the new one in. It’s really, really easy.
 
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Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
I would be really cautious about this question. I’m not sure the advice you’re getting here is correct.

I’ve had problems with this. SMS messages I think go over the same Network that phone calls do. This is different than the way messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Etc. send messages which work fine over Wi-Fi.

I think the answer to this question would depend on exactly what you’re thinking of doing, perhaps even which particular phone you have. I think you should ask a specialist at the phone shop to be sure.

————————-

And there seems to be a lot of really complicated discussion on this thread about the original question, But every time I go to Europe, I stop at some phone store at the airport (where practically the only thing they do is help foreign visitors get local SIM cards ), get a Sim card which they put in my phone which I brought from home, and walk off into the sunset and I’ve never had a problem. I communicate with people back home via email or social media messaging or skype. I also always put WhatsApp on my phone, because people in Europe use this all the time.
Hi Stephan,

What you say is exactly what I thought, and why I asked. It's not for me really. I live in Europe and already have 2 phones and 4 SIMs.

I just thought it wasn't quite right.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
I would be really cautious about this question. I’m not sure the advice you’re getting here is correct.

I’ve had problems with this. SMS messages I think go over the same Network that phone calls do. This is different than the way messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Etc. send messages which work fine over Wi-Fi.

Apologies if I gave any wrong or misleading advice. You're absolutely right - SMS messages work differently than those sent via apps like WhatsApp and Signal, and the situation likely differs according to one's particular phone and primary carrier. (That said - I don't recall ever having problems receiving SMS messages over wifi when I'm using my iPhone abroad, which is why I made sure to qualify my response as iPhone-specific. But again, my setup is different from the one the person I responded to was asking about.)
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Can you get texts through wi-fi?
"SMS, or "Short Message Service," refers to standard text messages that are sent using a cellular signal instead of an internet connection."

Messages to your phone number are sent to that cell phone number, so you can't get them on your new number (unless you are savvy enough to figure out a forwarding method).

In my experience SMS messages are not used much in Spain (assume the same about Portugal) and I had trouble using any. Rather, people use WhatsApp which does operate on a wifi internet connection, or of course, using phone data if you purchase it when you get a SIM card and plan

Facebook Messenger and various other chat programs work through accounts linked to an email or social media account. Thus if those accounts are set up on your device, you can use them with wifi or with data, even though your phone number has changed.

I was able to roam and make calls from/in Europe with my Canadian phone, but I had to pay high international rates per minute (a charge beyond my regular plan). If I did not make those calls, I didn't have to pay the per-minute charge for them. So that would be a sensible plan only for real emergencies.

that just doesn't exist anymore as a plan
I think there is still some misunderstanding. As an example, both Rogers and Fido still allow roaming calls on a Pay-per-Use basis with a normal plan, charged at a rate of C$2.00/minute from Spain or Portugal. I am not recommending that, for various reasons, but people should know that their Canadian-based phone and SIM card/number can still be used in an emergency, albeit at a cost. Thus they can carry a phone, turn off roaming, and use it only with wifi, unless there is an emergency (in which case they turn roaming back ON). That is what I have done on short international trips, or when my 1-month phone plan expired just days before I finished a 33-day period in Spain. It is an important reassurance to know that I have a phone connection if I really need it!
 
F

Former member 91017

Guest
"SMS, or "Short Message Service," refers to standard text messages that are sent using a cellular signal instead of an internet connection."

Messages to your phone number are sent to that cell phone number, so you can't get them on your new number (unless you are savvy enough to figure out a forwarding method).

In my experience SMS messages are not used much in Spain (assume the same about Portugal) and I had trouble using any. Rather, people use WhatsApp which does operate on a wifi internet connection, or of course, using phone data if you purchase it when you get a SIM card and plan

Facebook Messenger and various other chat programs work through accounts linked to an email or social media account. Thus if those accounts are set up on your device, you can use them with wifi or with data, even though your phone number has changed.




I think there is still some misunderstanding. As an example, both Rogers and Fido still allow roaming calls on a Pay-per-Use basis with a normal plan, charged at a rate of C$2.00/minute from Spain or Portugal. I am not recommending that, for various reasons, but people should know that their Canadian-based phone and SIM card/number can still be used in an emergency, albeit at a cost. Thus they can carry a phone, turn off roaming, and use it only with wifi, unless there is an emergency. That is what I have done on short international trips, or when my 1-month phone plan expired just days before I finished a 33-day period in Spain. It is an important reassurance to know that I have a phone connection if I really need it!
Ah... I see now what you were getting at. Maybe 1 or 2 phone-calls home... (now, still, last time I set this up specifically with Rogers it was done as a gift from Spouse and the problem was that *as soon as my phone* connected to the network in Portugal, it counted as "service used" and charged the full sticker price of $30 for the 'roam like home' option, even though I hadn't made *any* phone-calls). In short: be very aware of the fine print in any plan to keep your domestic service while overseas. And don't rely on the $2.00 a minute if you're going to use live-maps, do banking etc. The local SIM is really the solution to use the phone for all the myriad reasons it's the tech in one's pocket.

Me? I'm always connected to a network for a set of very pragmatic reasons that aren't anyone else's business to comment on (just foreclosing the "you should not be connected to anything on camino" stuff before it starts).

Conditions for each camino have been a bit different, too. On my first I was 5 days without an EU SIM because I landed in Bordeaux with an immediate connection to the train for Bayonne, needed to have a specifically SPanish SIM at that time, needed what was still sort of rare then: a nano-SIM... so it took to Pamplona... Cost me a bucketload to stay in touch with home and office.

By the last one, I walked into the Vodafone kiosk in Lisbon and got it all done -- tweaked the settings a little in Vodafone shop in Coimbra...

For the coming trip, I'll have to look into the 2-factor issue as I have to handle money issues at home while I'm away. And I've referred the Google-Fi information @gregrobinson mentioned over to a comm specialist friend for assessment.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
*as soon as my phone* connected to the network in Portugal, it counted as "service used" and charged the full sticker price of $30 for the 'roam like home' option, even though I hadn't made *any* phone-calls). In short: be very aware of the fine print in any plan to keep your domestic service while overseas.
Yes, I have learned a variation on that lesson too! But I think it was only $10 for the day, so I proceeded to take advantage of the day!
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I don't want to start a fight over which phone service is the best in Europe. I have used Orange for years and never had a problem with moving country to country. Several years ago I used Vodafone and the process to add minutes was confounding, granted that was several years ago.
 

DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
I think the above answers the SIM card question but there is one more issue. Most Canadian financial institutions are starting to implement two factor identification for security where they send a code to your Canadian phone number. This is a concern for me and I'm planning to contact my bank and Visa to get a solution before my next trip so I don't encounter problems when using a foreign SIM card.
 

RRat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
I can't relate to the iPhone, but I did exactly what you're suggesting with an old android. It has become my travel phone. What I did was purchase the cheapest simm card I could find, around $15 US, and practiced installing it from the comfort of home. This additionally confirmed the phone is unlocked. Youtube might provide videos to help. It did for my android.
 
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KCP

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2022
Yes, at least on an iPhone using Messages. You can also get texts using apps like WhatsApp and Signal on wifi regardless of phone platform.
and can't you also do WhatsApp voice or video calls on Wi-Fi? Not very phone savvy but my African friends often contact me via either of these calls and they don't have money to spare.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
and can't you also do WhatsApp voice or video calls on Wi-Fi? Not very phone savvy but my African friends often contact me via either of these calls and they don't have money to spare.
Yes, you can. I just didn't want people thinking they could get text messages from the bank and stuff on wi-fi, when you can't.

I already have a European phone and text messages cost me nothing, so I'd rather that than waste data on messages.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Lots of good advice for changing your SIM card yourself here. I've generally bought the new SIM card overseas and had the person in the shop where I bought the card do the switch for me. Remember to keep the old SIM card so you can switch back when you get home. Also, something to watch out for: When they install the new SIM card they might ask you for a password to unlock the SIM. When I first got a SIM card in Spain they set it up so that I needed the password every time I restarted my phone, something I didn't realize until weeks later (I generally don't restart my phone that often) and I had to try and find the password again. You might want them to not use that setting if you are like me.
 

WisTom

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Via Francigena Torino-Rome Feb/Mar 22
I am on US Cellular. Is it going be more difficult getting a sim card for my phone
since US Cellular is more of a regional carrier
I'm also on US Cellular. I had no trouble switching SIM cards to Movistar when in Spain in 2017 and 2019. You might want to confirm w US Cellular that your particular phone is capable of accepting a different SIM card. For what it's worth, also remember to store your US SIM card in a safe place while you're walking in order to put it back in on your return.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card?
You may want to read this article if you are concerned about whether your phone will work in Europe. Especially if it is an older phone. It includes help on checking your phone’s frequencies.


The above mentions iPhones and dialling *#06# to get your phone's unique ID. Dialling that on my Android did the same.

FYI, the URL of that link above is:
www.travelmobile.biz/blog/checking-if-your-phone-is-unlocked-and-will-work-overseas
 
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Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
For the coming trip, I'll have to look into the 2-factor issue as I have to handle money issues at home while I'm away. And I've referred the Google-Fi information @gregrobinson mentioned over to a comm specialist friend for assessment.
Definitely off topic, but:
This is a really difficult problem. I talked to my local bank and they basically said I couldn’t access them online in Europe unless I was able to receive the texts With the code. I’ll have to check with us some larger banks that have more international business to see if they do email authentication.

This was also a problem with just things like a local utilities. I like the two factor authentication, but they need to give you a choice to also receive it via email, which some places do.
 
F

Former member 91017

Guest
TL;DR for Canadians: Google-Fi is not available for Residents of Canada. You have to have a US address, and a device registered in the US.
 

Casserole

Member
Past OR future Camino
2009 - Solo, SJPdP to Finisterre
2018 - Daughter (2) and Hubby, Sarria to SdC
I have AT&T and they allow you to use your phone just as you would in the states (internet, call, text) for $10/day. It does get pricey, but if you don't need it daily then its not an issue. Also, if you are connected to Wifi you can usually use all the functions as normal.
 

mikebet

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
I had an iPhone S for more than 15 years, I purchased the phone at a T-Mobile shop when there were no monthly plan and for years my service was a "pay as you go" plan. It made my life very simple when I lived or traveled to France and Spain, I would just walk into an Orange Shop and buy a plan which included their simcard.
Last month I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 13 and paid for the phone at the T-Mobile store which meant it would be unlocked, versus buying into a monthly payment plan to purchase the phone. I no longer have a "pay as you go" plan because access to wifi in the US was getting very frustrating without a data plan.
What is intersting about my new iPhone, there is no simcard in the port, it has an esim and the slot is open for any simcard I purcahse and install. I will be interested to see the two numbers pop up on the screen when I am traveling like the post from Rick of Rick and Peg.
We have T-Mobile mostly because of its international service. We don't do have to do anything, but as soon as we arrive in a foreign country we get a text message that says' "Welcome to (Spain, Greece, Thailand, etc)" and informs us that we have unlimited data and text there, while voice calls are 30 cents a minute. The service is great -- I used Google maps on data while driving in the remote Carpathian mountains of Transylvania. I'm surprised you don't this service, too.
 
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JJinWI

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
Here is what you need to check:
  1. Does your phone support the frequencies (bands) of carriers in Portugal?
    1. Here is a link to check: https://www.frequencycheck.com/countries/portugal
    2. Once you are at the above page... click on "Check device compatibility" and select your phone.
    3. Once you know the bands your phone supports, you can find the best carrier and buy a sim card in Portugal.
    4. If your phone is supported, see step #2.
    5. If your phone does not support the bands... you will need to get a new phone.
  2. Is your phone unlocked? (If no... have your carrier unlock it)
Hope this helps!!!

-jj
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Fisterra 2021
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
A Canadian phone must be unlocked since 2017, even if it is an old phone. Getting a SIM card in Portugal or Spain is quite uncomplicated. Buy enough time and data for your whole camino though, if starting in a country other than Spain. We started in SJPdP in Sept '21, and bought a French SIM card with only two weeks of data. We were told we could refill it anywhere along the way. That was not true. We could not refill it in Spain. Thus we had to buy a new Spanish SIM card. They are not expensive, but it was a hassle to find one in small town Spain. Eurpean SIM cards can freely roam anywhere in Europe, but they can only be recharged in the country they were purchased in. Don't go with a Canadian provider though, since Canadian companies will rip you off to roam with them.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
We have T-Mobile mostly because of its international service. We don't do have to do anything, but as soon as we arrive in a foreign country we get a text message that says' "Welcome to (Spain, Greece, Thailand, etc)" and informs us that we have unlimited data and text there, while voice calls are 30 cents a minute. The service is great -- I used Google maps on data while driving in the remote Carpathian mountains of Transylvania. I'm surprised you don't this service, too.
I haven't traveled to France or Spain since I bought my new iPhone with the upgraded T-Mobile plan. I am aware of the services you mentioned but I also have many friend who I need to trade calls with when I am there so having a local number with a second simcard from Orange comes in handy. Paying $0.25/minute for voice could get very expensive.
 
Past OR future Camino
2018
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
I am from Canada too and I was in the same quandary as you. Our international plans are too expensive. I went to Spain in the fall, went into a cell phone store (maybe Orange) and bought an int’l SIM card. They helped me pop out the Canadian one, stored it and gave me one with a Spanish phone number. It had way more data than any of my Canadian plans, 180 min of world wide calling and it was something like 30 Euros. It worked well and having a Spanish phone number was helpful calling alburgues etc. I hope that helps.
 

RosemaryMcG

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016 León a Santiago de Compostela
Fellow Canadian. First time to Spain I took Cdn unlocked phone and bought expensive package I think it was 60.00 pm (Bell) yes we have one of the worst in the world . So next time I went I used a service with an european app on Cdn phone for a fraction of the price. It was ok for calls within Spain but a disaster to call or receive calls internationally. You had to enter special phone numbers to access and then your phone number, never again. So now I have a cheap phone bought on Amazon with dual sim capability and works great. I bought my sim card for the country I visit on the internet, Amazon may be good still. I take both phones because I want many apps like Google Maps, Google Translate, Banking, Booking.com and many more but most importantly WhatsApp. I used WhatsApp many times and make sure you get everyone back home on WhatsApp. It worked the best for international calls when I had access to wifi and I didn't use up my minutes on a sim card. Also I used a personal locator app so that my husband could see exactly where I was at all times. I visit Mexico often and because of a perceived increase risk I keep my regular phone out of sight and use my cheap phone when in unfamiliar places.
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I haven't traveled to France or Spain since I bought my new iPhone with the upgraded T-Mobile plan. I am aware of the services you mentioned but I also have many friend who I need to trade calls with when I am there so having a local number with a second simcard from Orange comes in handy. Paying $0.25/minute for voice could get very expensive.
And the T-Mobile international roaming is only intended for stays of up to around 2 months, so if you are staying in Europe longer it's best to get a local sim.

As far as the cost of phone calls when using T-Mobile - I never use the T-Mobile plan for that.
If I'm calling another mobile phone which has WhatsApp I will use that, but to call landlines and people without WhatsApp I use the Viber app. I buy $5 worth of Viber Out credit, and I can make calls using wifi or cellular data for only 2 cents a minute. I can also use it to call back to the US in case I need to call my bank or something.
 

1spiritedmom

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I think that is typically the case.
Hi..from Canada too. Roaming charges for us Canuks is absurdly expensive compared to simply getting a local SIM. I'm with a major carrier and my roaming would be $15/day but instead I got a SIM card in Pamplona for $10EU that lasted me for a MONTH - with more data, phoning and texting than I'd ever need.
Get the local SIM is my advice. Just remember to have them tape your existing sim onto the back of your phone so you can change it back before you land in TO upon return. :)
 

DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
We started in SJPdP in Sept '21, and bought a French SIM card with only two weeks of data. We were told we could refill it anywhere along the way. That was not true. We could not refill it in Spain. Thus we had to buy a new Spanish SIM card.
It is correct that you can't buy extra credit in a different country but there are two other options that mean that you don't need to buy another SIM if you don't want to. Of course if you want another EU SIM then no problem.

Option 1
Buy extra credit before leaving France. There is nothing preventing anyone from adding as much credit as you like either when you first buy the new SIM card or at any time before leaving France. You don't have to wait for your credit to expire.

Option 2
Buy your extra credit online using the telephone company's website. Some companies are better than others in allowing different languages on their website or learn enough French to get you through.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Fisterra 2021
It is correct that you can't buy extra credit in a different country but there are two other options that mean that you don't need to buy another SIM if you don't want to. Of course if you want another EU SIM then no problem.

Option 1
Buy extra credit before leaving France. There is nothing preventing anyone from adding as much credit as you like either when you first buy the new SIM card or at any time before leaving France. You don't have to wait for your credit to expire.

Option 2
Buy your extra credit online using the telephone company's website. Some companies are better than others in allowing different languages on their website or learn enough French to get you through.
Hi Doughnut NZ
Orange would not let us load our French cards online, nor in Orange stores, while in Spain. That was very frustrating. We should have loaded up credit when we bought it but we did not know how much we would need, and they made it sound like it was really easy to do (which it would have been had we stayed in France).
 

DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
Hi Doughnut NZ
Orange would not let us load our French cards online, nor in Orange stores, while in Spain. That was very frustrating. We should have loaded up credit when we bought it but we did not know how much we would need, and they made it sound like it was really easy to do (which it would have been had we stayed in France).
Good to know.

Sometimes it does depend on the package marketed around the SIM card. This is probably not the case with your purchase but some SIM cards marketed to short stay tourists can't be recharged and/or have other restrictions around them.

Some of the Portuguese SIM cards marketed to tourists are very bad in this area as unlike almost all SIM cards in Europe some of the Portuguese tourist SIM cards sound cheap but can not be used outside Portugal!
 
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SanJo

♥ Gratitude ♥
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (April & May 2017)
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
Turn your phone onto Airline mode and never take it off, is what I say. Fellow Canadian here and I know the roaming rates are outrageous. On one trip, I ensured I was on the hotel's wifi, took it off airplane mode for half an hour and BOOM! Nice charges on my next bill. Anyhow, take an old phone that is UNLOCKED. Visit any cell kiosk in Portugal (airport?) and they will do it all for you. I bought an Orange SIM card when I was in Spain and had excellent coverage while I was there. Buen Camino!
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Turn your phone onto Airline mode and never take it off, is what I say. Fellow Canadian here and I know the roaming rates are outrageous.
I'm surprised about your advice. After seeing on this thread the ridiculous rates Canadians pay and your expensive accident I would expect your advice to be "Remove your SIM card."
 

Ronald Boivin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I use my cell phone all the time, but don’t know how to get the case off let alone change a SIM card.
I’m going to Portugal for 3 weeks soon, and would like to be able to use the phone to call a cab if needed or for emergencies. I’m from Canada, a travel plan from the carrier is very expensive. Can I take an old iPhone and get a store in Porto to install a SIM card? Will there be additional charges beyond the SIM card cost? Thanks.
Bring your own cell phone and put it permanently on Airplane mode when in Portugal. You can use its features except telephone calls when you access free wifi.

Bring another phone I to which you can put in a SIM card and use it as a regular phone there. You will be assigned a telephone number for THAT phone. Total cost should be $30-50. Get the local telecom company there to set it up for you.
I have done this in France, Spain and Mexico when I travelled. Work well cheap option.
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I have AT&T and they allow you to use your phone just as you would in the states (internet, call, text) for $10/day. It does get pricey, but if you don't need it daily then its not an issue. Also, if you are connected to Wifi you can usually use all the functions as normal.
It's not as pricey as it sounds. They cap it at $100 per billing period. So $100 for 30 days of using your phone just like you're at home seems well worth it vs. all the confusion being discussed here. Ps. I realize that the OP is Canadian and that this is not an option for them. I'm just saying, if you're American this seems like the simplest if a little bit more expensive option.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
It's not as pricey as it sounds. They cap it at $100 per billing period. So $100 for 30 days of using your phone just like you're at home seems well worth it vs. all the confusion being discussed here. Ps. I realize that the OP is Canadian and that this is not an option for them. I'm just saying, if you're American this seems like the simplest if a little bit more expensive option.

Wow, that really does make a difference for me - I just assumed that ATT would charge $10 per day for its Int'l Day Pass, and $300 for each month's worth of data use while I'm abroad seemed excessive to me. But sure enough, it says "after 10 daily fees on a line, that line may continue to use IDP through the end of the bill cycle at no additional charge" plain as day in the IDP service terms, which I had never bothered to read closely. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention!

 
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DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
Wow, that really does make a difference for me - I just assumed that ATT would charge $10 per day for its Int'l Day Pass, and $300 for each month's worth of data use while I'm abroad seemed excessive to me. But sure enough, it says "after 10 daily fees on a line, that line may continue to use IDP through the end of the bill cycle at no additional charge" plain as day in the IDP service terms, which I had never bothered to read closely. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention!

Quite often when roaming on a different network you get lower priority for service and if there is any contention then the roaming client will lose service before the native client. This could mean that your calls get dropped or your phone shows no service. It generally also means that you get allocated the slowest data connections.

In general though SMS TXT services are not adversely affected.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
Quite often when roaming on a different network you get lower priority for service and if there is any contention then the roaming client will lose service before the native client. This could mean that your calls get dropped or your phone shows no service. It generally also means that you get allocated the slowest data connections.

Good to know, thanks. I'm not particularly concerned with slower data speeds (my maps and other info will be downloaded to my phone in advance and I hope to avoid recreational web browsing and social media engagement as much as possible during my walk) or even voice calls, but staying in touch with family via text and being able to make reservations & c. via WhatsApp and the Booking.com app will be a priority.
 
F

Former member 99942

Guest
I don't know if this is an option for you. I live in the US. I had Consumer Cellular, which did not have a good international plan. I changed carriers using my current phone and retaining my current phone number. There is a lot of competition here, so it's not hard to change carriers back and forth maintaining your number. I went with T-Mobile, which had a good international plan and worked well. Good luck!
Ok this is more what I am Looking for.

So you didn’t swap out any SIM cards or purchase any Spanish plans.

You simply used an international plan with your current phone? Is that correct?

If so where you able to call local hotels in Spain with that plan?

Thank you
 
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F

Former member 99942

Guest
It's not as pricey as it sounds. They cap it at $100 per billing period. So $100 for 30 days of using your phone just like you're at home seems well worth it vs. all the confusion being discussed here. Ps. I realize that the OP is Canadian and that this is not an option for them. I'm just saying, if you're American this seems like the simplest if a little bit more expensive option.
Ok so I’m not taking crazy pills. This is actually what I was thinking as well but couldn’t understand why more people weren’t considering it.
 
F

Former member 99942

Guest
Maybe because $100US a billing cycle could mean $200 over the course of a month spending upon when a trip falls on the cycle? Versus $10 for a Spanish SIM card.
Thanks Joe. Wasn’t aware they were only $10. Big difference there potentially.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Depending on various factors, it could be as much as $25 or so for a month, but still inexpensive.
In 2019 I bought a Spanish SIM for 10€ from a little shop. It ran out in no time at all but I was near an Orange shop and asked about that. Turned out I needed the 15€ plan to get the monthly service I wanted. I don't blame the original seller; we were having some communication problems.
 
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