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Telephone calls from Spain to Home?

2020 Camino Guides

candida

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2003
You can make phone calls from your tablet/ipad (without sim card) using voip app. I use Smartgroshen app, good quality of voice! At start you get 0,50 euro gratis!
 

AlvinB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
With Smartgroschen app, you can make cheap phone calls to all mobiles and landline in Spain from your smartphones and tablet without sim card. You can try Smartgroschen, because at start you get 0,50 euro gratis!
 

AlvinB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
With Smartgroschen app, you can make cheap phone calls to all mobiles and landline in Spain from your smartphones and tablet without sim card. You can try Smartgroschen, because at start you get 0,50 euro gratis!
 

rickster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012), LePuy (2013), Coastal Portuguese( 2013), Norte (Fall 2014)
I use a local sim card with an unlocked phone for local calls and use Viber for calls to the States. As Al indicated, if you have a phone with apps, you download the app and the person you are calling does the same and all calls are totally free if both caller and receiver are on wifi. Once you get used to it, it is very simple and you can't beat free.
 

Letsgocamino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2013 Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela.
Camino Portuguese Porto to SdeC May 31 2017.
Can anyone tell me what is the best and cheapest way to phone home to California? Are there phone cards I can purchase? Should I take my cell? I heard US cell phones don't work very well?

Thanks :D
My husband & I walked last year mid May. we took our phones(T-Mobile Samsung 2's)just for emergencies. We weren't planning to phone home. T-Mobile hooked us up in our home town before leaving. We had no problems. Oh, wait. There was one day I walked on ahead of the hubs and got lost, doubling back to try and find him. Big mistake. I pulled out my phone to call him. He didn't answer, of course. Couldn't hear it! Then another day my cousin in Los Angeles dialed me by mistake. I picked it up thinking it was an emergency. Not! What wonderful memories. Take your phone. you wont be sorry.
 

Gil A

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances
2014 Camino Frances
2015 Camino Portugues
2017 Camino Portugues
I got an "Orange" sim card at "el corte ingles" with the "mundo" plan. (No data) but it cost only 6 cents a minute to call Canada or Mexico.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
I took an old unlocked quad-band GSM phone (not a smartphone) with this: http://www.simsforspain.com/Orange_Mundo.html
Calls back to the US were 1 cent per minute plus a 29 cent connection charge for each call (that's Euro cents, not US cents). Other charges are on the website linked above. I refilled the SIM card as needed in Orange stores in the larger cities. My smartphone at the time was an Android phone from Verizon, which could not be unlocked for use in Spain because it used CDMA technology, but I took it for use as a wifi device since the other phone didn't have that capability.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
I took an old unlocked quad-band GSM phone (not a smartphone) with this: http://www.simsforspain.com/Orange_Mundo.html
Calls back to the US were 1 cent per minute plus a 29 cent connection charge for each call (that's Euro cents, not US cents). Other charges are on the website linked above. I refilled the SIM card as needed in Orange stores in the larger cities. My smartphone at the time was an Android phone from Verizon, which could not be unlocked for use in Spain because it used CDMA technology, but I took it for use as a wifi device since the other phone didn't have that capability.
All Verizon LTE smartphones are now unlocked, just install a Spanish SIM card and use your phone like you would at home.
 

Cool Dabbler

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2011-2012
Camino Portuguese Sept 2015
On our first Camino I diverted all my calls from my iPhone to my son and switched it off and left it at home. I left my iPod and iPad in a drawer and the only electronics I carried was a small pocket camera. I kept in touch by checking my emails about once a week. the freedom was glorious and was one of the highlights of our Camino. One soon realises that the Camino is life stripped back to basics and we realise we are not that important in the scheme of things. Next month on the Camino Portuguese we will again be electronic free.
(We will even let our clothes get creased and travel without an iRon ;))
 

Tom Raftery

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2013
(May 2015)
Can anyone tell me what is the best and cheapest way to phone home to California? Are there phone cards I can purchase? Should I take my cell? I heard US cell phones don't work very well?

Thanks :D
I posted on FB, but I will repeat it here: I switched to T-Mobile because it has unlimited data and text in Europe and it defaults to Wi-Fi for free calls if it can. Skype is good option also.
 

sneakynin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015, 2016)
I see several posts about the difficulty of finding a phone to use if you choose not to bring a cell phone. Would there ever be a day that I would not be able to find a phone to call home? If so, do you know which regions/stages I should be aware of?

I've told my mother that I would call home once a week with the phone card I bought but that there may be a day or two lapse if I have difficulties finding a phone.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
I see several posts about the difficulty of finding a phone to use if you choose not to bring a cell phone. Would there ever be a day that I would not be able to find a phone to call home? If so, do you know which regions/stages I should be aware of?

I've told my mother that I would call home once a week with the phone card I bought but that there may be a day or two lapse if I have difficulties finding a phone.
If you have an unlocked cellphone, it will probably cost about the same to buy a Spanish SIM card as to buy a phone card, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of finding a pay phone (if they even exist anymore). I bought a SIM card from www.simsforspain.com before I left, and was able to make calls to the US for €0.01 per minute plus a €0.19 connection fee per call, although I see on their website the connection fee is now €0.29. The card I bought was http://www.simsforspain.com/Orange_Mundo.html. If you're only going to use the phone for once-a-week calls, you probably won't have to add minutes along the way.
 

Gil A

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances
2014 Camino Frances
2015 Camino Portugues
2017 Camino Portugues
I am in the Camino Portugues, a couple of days ago in Tui, I got a sim card from Orange for free with plan mundo, no data. I had to charge €10 and I have a week of free calls within Spain after that it is €.29 connection fee for Spanish calls and €.04 a minute to Mexico. Other countries have similar cost.
 
N

nathanael

Guest
For the low-tech peregrinos, here's what I have done on multiple occasions.

I bought a cell phone in 2000 for 25 E that came with 25E of phone time. Each year when I go back, I just get a new card, new phone number, and it works fine. I use that as an emergency back-up as well as for calling ahead in Spain to reserve places when that seems like a good idea.

For regular calls to the US, I either use the locutorios (I agree with mlcamino that the rates are usually very good) or buy a prepaid card that requires you to punch in numbers. There is a wide range in cards, the one I found to give the most minutes was Eurocity. (Some of these cards have daily fees, per call fees, etc, and it's hard to read the fine print -- the cards are always available at tabacalera shops, and the people working there usually have an opinion about the best cards for your particular calling destination).

If you use a phone card to call internationally, you will also find that you get a much better rate if you call from a private fixed landline. I have often found that small pension owners will trust me to use their phone and call home with the card. Another good option is the green and blue pay phones you find on the bar in many cafes -- not on the wall, these are regular phone units on the bar itself. That is a pay phone that is really a land line for the bar owner, I think, but whatever the set-up it certainly gives you much better rates.

Laurie
Greetings, I have done seven Camino's without a cell phone and now more than ever realize it is important to have a phone with you. Do you suggest buying an inexpensive cell phone in Spain for this purpose?
 

peregrina2000

Administrator
Staff member
Greetings, I have done seven Camino's without a cell phone and now more than ever realize it is important to have a phone with you. Do you suggest buying an inexpensive cell phone in Spain for this purpose?
Hi, nathanael,
The phone that I bought in Spain years ago still works fine. It just needs a new card every year. But I don't use it for wifi. If all you want is a phone that will make calls within Spain, this seems like the cheapest option to me. But I'm not a tech wiz by any means, so others may have better options. Buen camino, Laurie
 
N

nathanael

Guest
Hi, nathanael,
The phone that I bought in Spain years ago still works fine. It just needs a new card every year. But I don't use it for wifi. If all you want is a phone that will make calls within Spain, this seems like the cheapest option to me. But I'm not a tech wiz by any means, so others may have better options. Buen camino, Laurie
Thanks will look into for upcoming Camino in 2016.
 

gypsywind

Member
Arn,

If I am using an Irish mobile phone would I need to put in 0034 before those two emergency numbers that you have quoted.

I know that to many this may seem a stupid question and indicates my lack of technology. I feel like a dinosaur reading this thread. I know you are all speaking English but I understand so little of it.

Lydia
I am behind you all the way, Lydia! wishing i could still use smoke signals !!
 

gypsywind

Member
Last year I bought an unlocked non smart phone from Walmart, bought the SIM card at the Chamartin station Orange / phone store , got lots of free minutes , charged it up a couple of times and would call my hubby twice daily. VERY cheaply and I have loaned my phone a couple of times to other pilgrims going on their Caminos and no problems. I will take it again in Oct for the Ingles. I paid $25 for the Jenny phone from Walmart
What does the "unlocked" mean as to the phones
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I posted on FB, but I will repeat it here: I switched to T-Mobile because it has unlimited data and text in Europe and it defaults to Wi-Fi for free calls if it can. Skype is good option also.
I also switched to T-mobile for this reason. I haven't walked the Camino yet, but I've used it last year while on a Rhine river cruise through four countries, and also for a few weeks in Barcelona and Madrid.
I used Google hangouts and Viber to make calls. Most were free, but I bought $5.00 in Viber credit to call non Viber numbers. Calls to the US were about 2¢ per minute. I still have about $3.50 in credits, and I used it a lot.
 

Mark Barnes

Old Engineer
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - September - November (2017)
I plan to get an international plan through my local AT&T store here in Texas. I think it is about $35.00 a month. Does anyone have experience with just going through AT&T having then add an international plan for a few months to you normal account? Hope there is not a got ya since that is my plan.
 

Gil A

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances
2014 Camino Frances
2015 Camino Portugues
2017 Camino Portugues
I plan to get an international plan through my local AT&T store here in Texas. I think it is about $35.00 a month. Does anyone have experience with just going through AT&T having then add an international plan for a few months to you normal account? Hope there is not a got ya since that is my plan.
I am in Canada and I have bought plans to my provider, Freedom, that give me service from AT&T. I used a plan for calls and data in the US and another one called "go south" that gave me service in Mexico for calls and data. They worked great. It is the reverse of what you are asking but gives me the idea that AT&T plan for overseas will work for you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-SdeC(2010) Newark,UK-SdeC via Portsmouth & Santander (2014-17) CF SJPP-Sarria (2018-19)
From what I can see at the reference, it's good only if you have a spanish cell phone (SIM).

Landing in Spain with a North American cell phone, you would still be required to make a ''roaming call'', at a high cost, to piggy back on the proposed system.

In order to use the proposed card at a decent cost, the only option is to buy a Spanigh SIM card, if your phone is unlocked. That would increasing the cost of the operation, but never the less it remains a good option to consider.

Jean-Marc
Take your iPhone and buy a Spanish SIM card. I use Vodaphone. Rather than phone out, I get family to phone me, say after 6PM (9AM in Vancouver) when I have finished my walking day. That way there is not cost to me. This keeps use of the Spanish plan allowance for local calls.
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
Take your iPhone and buy a Spanish SIM card. I use Vodaphone. Rather than phone out, I get family to phone me, say after 6PM (9AM in Vancouver) when I have finished my walking day. That way there is not cost to me. This keeps use of the Spanish plan allowance for local calls.
Fine! thanks anyway. Notice my post is 7 years old. Things have evolved since. I have indeed used the Vodaphone option numerous times since and it works fine.
 
D

Deleted member 77020

Guest
For the low-tech peregrinos, here's what I have done on multiple occasions.

I bought a cell phone in 2000 for 25 E that came with 25E of phone time. Each year when I go back, I just get a new card, new phone number, and it works fine. I use that as an emergency back-up as well as for calling ahead in Spain to reserve places when that seems like a good idea.

For regular calls to the US, I either use the locutorios (I agree with mlcamino that the rates are usually very good) or buy a prepaid card that requires you to punch in numbers. There is a wide range in cards, the one I found to give the most minutes was Eurocity. (Some of these cards have daily fees, per call fees, etc, and it's hard to read the fine print -- the cards are always available at tabacalera shops, and the people working there usually have an opinion about the best cards for your particular calling destination).

If you use a phone card to call internationally, you will also find that you get a much better rate if you call from a private fixed landline. I have often found that small pension owners will trust me to use their phone and call home with the card. Another good option is the green and blue pay phones you find on the bar in many cafes -- not on the wall, these are regular phone units on the bar itself. That is a pay phone that is really a land line for the bar owner, I think, but whatever the set-up it certainly gives you much better rates.

Laurie
Laurie, greetings your advice on cell phones, I have never walked with one in my 10 Caminos and think it's wise to get one. I just require it for emergency and to reserve. I will be in Madrid for three days before venturing on Camino de la Plata. what do you suggest in a simple cell phone? thanks
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; Lisbon to SdC (2020)
What's the latest in getting cell phone coverage for calls fromSpain/Portugal to North America? Actually, I'd be calling Hawaii.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
What's the latest in getting cell phone coverage for calls fromSpain/Portugal to North America? Actually, I'd be calling Hawaii.
It does not matter where you are calling if you have a decent connection, last year on the Frances I used my UK O2 phone on roaming and had a perfect 4 G signal almost everywhere along the route. As I was walking into Astorga I had an hour long video call with my wife just to show her the scenery, it was a particularly nice day and I felt a bit lonely as there were no other pilgrims, everyone seemed to vanish over the Easter weekend, the video was perfect over a 4km swalk in the hills.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I am pleased to see this thread resurrected, as I have some questions regarding making overseas phone calls from Spain to North America. I have an unlocked I-phone 5s which I am quite comfortable using in Spain, buying and installing a sim card and paying for a service. But I have no idea how to make a call to North America. So far, this has not been necessary, as I keep in touch with family and friends through email. But both my Mastercard and my medical insurance provider insist that, in the case of problems with my credit card or the need of medical services to be paid for by my insurer, I must communicate with them by telephone. They have provided me with North American telephone numbers which they say I may call collect. I have never heard of making a collect call in Spain and have no idea how to do so. Are there telephone operators who respond to collect calls and how can I contact one in Spain, or possibly in other EU countries, like France and Portugal, where I may be walking pilgrim routes? Towards the end of my pilgrimage in Spain last fall, the Mastercard app on my phone stopped working. There was no way that I could contact Mastercard except by telephone. The regular number, printed on the card, passes the customer to a "customer service" line where I would have to wait for half an hour or more, until my money on the phone ran out, that is, if I knew how to make a call from Spain to Canada, which I don't. As an alternative, Mastercard provides a different number, also a regular North American number, but said to be a collect call number. I do not know if the collect call service exists in Spain, or how to contact it if it does. Today I bought medical insurance for a trip to Mexico, and this issue arose again, as I was told to telephone the insurer before getting any medical services. In this case, I think I could just use the number provided to make the call. But the issue remains in Spain. The only way that I have ever made a collect call is to pick up the phone, enter "O" for operator and tell whoever answers the number that I am calling and my name. I don't even know if I can do that at home in Calgary any more. It takes so little time these days to become technologically behind the times. Any help would be much appreciated. I have read the article on collect calls in Wikipedia, and find it of no help.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I probably mentioned it upthread, but I use the Viber app while on wifi to make free calls to other Viber users, and very low cost - 2 cents a minute calls to landlines and other phones in North America and Europe. The call quality is always very good, and $5 worth of Viber credit lasts me for well over the time that I'm on the Camino.

 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Thanks, @trecile
I have been looking through the Viber website to see whether this might work for me to make calls to Canadian landline numbers from Spain. I do not know whether I could sign up for this service at these conditions (cost, etc.) after I arrive in Spain and have purchased a local sim card. I cannot find this information on the web site. As things are at present, I would only need to make these calls to sort out a problem with my Mastercard or to get approval for medical care in Spain from my insurance provider. Neither of these things has yet occurred, so it seems like an unnecessary expense and bother to set up and pay for something that I might never need. I have just been thinking about how I could make such a call from Spain using my Spanish sim card and phone plan, if the need arose. But I do not know how it could be possible to do so. I would appreciate it if anyone could inform me.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thanks, @trecile
I have been looking through the Viber website to see whether this might work for me to make calls to Canadian landline numbers from Spain. I do not know whether I could sign up for this service at these conditions (cost, etc.) after I arrive in Spain and have purchased a local sim card. I cannot find this information on the web site. As things are at present, I would only need to make these calls to sort out a problem with my Mastercard or to get approval for medical care in Spain from my insurance provider. Neither of these things has yet occurred, so it seems like an unnecessary expense and bother to set up and pay for something that I might never need. I have just been thinking about how I could make such a call from Spain using my Spanish sim card and phone plan, if the need arose. But I do not know how it could be possible to do so. I would appreciate it if anyone could inform me.
You can download the Viber app either before you leave home, or once you are in Spain. You can choose to purchase the credits anytime and anywhere. I also use it to phone albergues, hostales, etc.
Another option is to make calls with Skype app and credits.
Neither option has nothing to do with whichever SIM card you have in your phone.
If you do have a Spanish SIM card in your phone you could use cellular data rather than wifi to make Viber or Skype calls.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
You can download the Viber app either before you leave home, or once you are in Spain. You can choose to purchase the credits anytime and anywhere. I also use it to phone albergues, hostales, etc.
Another option is to make calls with Skype app and credits.
Neither option has nothing to do with whichever SIM card you have in your phone.
If you do have a Spanish SIM card in your phone you could use cellular data rather than wifi to make Viber or Skype calls.
I shall think further about this. I think that Viber Out could be usable in the situations which I have described. The other uses of Viber seem to involve communication where both parties have the app, while I am thinking only of calls to Canadian land lines for particular purposes. Thanks again.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I think that Viber Out could be usable in the situations which I have described.
Those are the kinds of situations that I use it.
BTW, Viber offers calling plans, depending on which country you are in, but for Camino purposes I don't think that they are good value for the money. You can buy Viber credits in amounts of $. 99, $2.99, or $4.99 (all USD)
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have no idea how to make a call to North America.
I always get a Spanish SIM card with a plan suitable for a month. I have used several providers - Vodafone, Lebara, etc. It is usually a plan designed for tourists. In each case, there has been a good allowance for calls (free, included in the plan) to many countries including Canada. For example, 60 minutes world wide. That serves me for the occasional call in Spain related to reservations, and the occasional call to landlines in Canada. Of course, if you end up needing to call your credit card company or bank or insurance provider and you are put on hold, those minutes disappear quite fast. But that 60 minutes was just an example - sometimes it is even more time. You just need to dial +1-Canada-number.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I always get a Spanish SIM card with a plan suitable for a month. I have used several providers - Vodafone, Lebara, etc. It is usually a plan designed for tourists. In each case, there has been a good allowance for calls (free, included in the plan) to many countries including Canada. For example, 60 minutes world wide. That serves me for the occasional call in Spain related to reservations, and the occasional call to landlines in Canada. Of course, if you end up needing to call your credit card company or bank or insurance provider and you are put on hold, those minutes disappear quite fast. But that 60 minutes was just an example - sometimes it is even more time. You just need to dial +1-Canada-number.
So now I see that I still do not understand this. When I have purchased phone service in Spain it included so many gigs of data and so much telephone time, but there was nothing that I could see in the contract about international calls. Perhaps I need to inquire about this when I make my next purchase. One hour of worldwide calls should be sufficient as insurance against problems which necessitate calling Canada. I understand the system of calling on my phone which starts with +1, but I have always seen a number as the next part of the code, not the name of the country. Am I missing something? I am determined to be able to do this, as it seems really stupid for me to be needing services and unable to access them because of ignorance as to how to make a phone call. My only defence is that both these companies (bank and insurer) tell me to call them collect, and give numbers to do so, but I don't know whether collect calling, in its traditional sense, still exists, or how I might access it in Spain.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
So now I see that I still do not understand this. When I have purchased phone service in Spain it included so many gigs of data and so much telephone time, but there was nothing that I could see in the contract about international calls. Perhaps I need to inquire about this when I make my next purchase. One hour of worldwide calls should be sufficient as insurance against problems which necessitate calling Canada. I understand the system of calling on my phone which starts with +1, but I have always seen a number as the next part of the code, not the name of the country. Am I missing something? I am determined to be able to do this, as it seems really stupid for me to be needing services and unable to access them because of ignorance as to how to make a phone call. My only defence is that both these companies (bank and insurer) tell me to call them collect, and give numbers to do so, but I don't know whether collect calling, in its traditional sense, still exists, or how I might access it in Spain.
The last Camino I did (2018), the SIM card I got, alongside the data, texts and local calls, also included international calls. I was using Vodaphone and picked up my SIM in the Lisbon airport. For 20 euros it included: 5 GB data, 500 minutes or texts locally, 30 minutes or texts internationally (including Canada). You can see the details here: https://www.vodafone.pt/en/products-services/visiting-portugal.html
I expect Vodaphone in other European countries offers similar cards, as likely do their large competitors.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
My only defence is that both these companies (bank and insurer) tell me to call them collect, and give numbers to do so, but I don't know whether collect calling, in its traditional sense, still exists, or how I might access it in Spain.
@Albertagirl perhaps this is a question for your bank and insurer? I'm sure that the root of the problem is the blase assumption that all travellers are installed in Resort Hotels with flunkeys who will deliver a land-line telephone to your pool-side lounger - this despite the fact that everyone in the company from the MD to the call-centre operator will have a mobile phone. And, I'll assume they've insured you in full knowledge that you are actually hiking across rural Spain with not much more than two changes of undies in a back-pack. They should be providing you with a toll-free number that you can utilise from a mobile or a text number that you can use to alert them and receive a return call.

That said most "emergency contact" numbers given out by Banks & Insurers are usually answered much more promptly than those tedious customer-"help"-lines. You might just like to check with your providers that such an arrangement is in place and what actual information they will require if you call - usually account number or policy number and a personal identifier such as date of birth.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I still do not understand this.
I share in the confusion and uncertainty. I find that cell phone plans are confusing enough in my own country in my native language, so I don't expect more clarity in Spain!
They should be providing you with a toll-free number
The problem is that sometimes different toll-free numbers must be used to call from different countries. The banks probably decided that it was simpler all round, to accept collect calls, than to manage, update and communicate all the different numbers from every country.
I don't know whether collect calling, in its traditional sense, still exists
Yes it does. If you search on the internet you can find instructions, which I won't quote because I can't verify the details. I suspect that if you dialed 0, you would get an operator who could help. I believe I did it once a couple of years ago for a credit card problem.
I understand the system of calling on my phone which starts with +1, but I have always seen a number as the next part of the code
Yes, that is what I meant. Just dial+1, followed by the Canadian number.
I expect Vodaphone in other European countries offers similar cards, as likely do their large competitors.
Yes. For example see this website for Vodafone Traveller. The basic plan for 20 Euros doesn't seem to have international calls, but if you scroll down, you can see a 5 Euro additional package "Europe + Morocco + USA Bundle" with 300 minutes of calling to many countries including Canada. Other phone companies often have similar plans. I think I used Movistar last time and it was cheaper.

One situation that I have never really figured out is the best way to extend the plan past 1 month to cover a 6 week trip. I suggest stopping in a Vodafone/Movistar/etc. store in a town at about 3.5 weeks and asking them to help you renew it. Since I now usually plan only about a month away, I can live with a day or two in which I just use my Canadian roaming plan for $10/day if really needed.

texts internationally (including Canada)
One other point... people in Europe don't use the phone text messaging as much as we do in Canada. I found that a few international texts used up my call credits very fast and unpredictably. Now I use only WhatsApp, phone or email when in Spain
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Thanks to all who have replied. I can now see that there are a number of things that I can do, not all of which are obvious. The most obvious action would be to make certain that I have purchased adequate international calling minutes when I buy my telephone service in Spain. Then I would be able to contact both the medical insurer and Mastercard, should I need to do so. To pay the Mastercard bill whether or not I can communicate with them could be challenging, as some of my regular utility bills, etc. are charged to Mastercard and the cost can go up when I am travelling (some did last fall). But a large prepayment should take care of that and would cover those bills for a month or two when I get home, which could be very nice. A friend of mine always does this when he travels. I also have another Mastercard which I travel with, so could use this for unexpected expenses during the last month when I am away, and the bill would come when I get home. The easiest thing would obviously be to buy international minutes when I get my phone service, and remember to do so again when renewing it the next month. This seems to be the only way that I can guarantee that my medical care, if needed, will be paid for by my insurer, so this is what I shall try next time. Thanks again for all suggestions.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
perhaps this is a question for your bank and insurer?
I have certainly asked them and shall try to consult the bank again, if I can find adequate time before I leave for Mexico to fit in the half an hour or more wait before they answer the phone. I told the insurance agent yesterday that I don't believe that collect calls (to consult the insurer before getting medical care) still exist in most places. She expressed total indifference. I apologize for wasting the time of forum members with this issue, but it seems unwise to me to ignore it, so I have done what I can to sort it out. I am done with this.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I apologize for wasting the time of forum members with this issue
Not at all a waste. It is something that most of us have, or will, need to figure out - and the situation keeps changing.
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; Lisbon to SdC (2020)
My last Caminos were years ago. At that time, I bought SIM cards in Spain to replace the one that came with my phone (make sure your phone is an unlocked phone, otherwise you won't be able to switch them out). I ended up with a collection of Spanish SIM cards because each had particular quirks that made them not useful to me. I still have the packets, with their tiny pop-out cards and instructions in Espanol.
I did not call the US during my trip so the international capability of my SIM card was simply for emergency purposes. I never called ahead to reserve a spot in an auberge. I found that many of the people I met on the Camino, whom I wanted to keep in touch with during and after the Way, used Whatsapp, so I downloaded that app and used it.
I did use Skype when I wanted/needed to contact anyone for grins and shakes. It worked well. I suspect FB messenger might work as well? Any thoughts?
My next thread is going to ask about using ATMs along the Way, but I'll save that for later.
😋
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I have used various local sim cards over the years, and am still looking for a pre-paid service that (a) does not expire after 28 days and (b) is cross border.

On the promise that it would do both, on my last camino in Portugal I bought a Vodaphone sim. It practice it proved to be neither.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
Can anyone tell me what is the best and cheapest way to phone home to California? Are there phone cards I can purchase? Should I take my cell? I heard US cell phones don't work very well?

Thanks :D
In the 'old days' an internet cafe or locutorio would always be available. Not so much nowadays. If you have an unlocked phone you can always purchase a 'pay-as-you-go' chip from Orange or another service provider. As for calls home to panicking spouse....FB Messenger has worked well provided the WiFi is not too iffy...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
I have used various local sim cards over the years, and am still looking for a pre-paid service that (a) does not expire after 28 days and (b) is cross border.

On the promise that it would do both, on my last camino in Portugal I bought a Vodaphone sim. It practice it proved to be neither.
I have had no problem with Orange Mundo with my unlocked phone...albeit it takes a week...or two or three for my phone to stop thinking in Spanish once I get home. To add...I walked on the Camino Torres into Portugal....no problem.
 

Sheila W.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
March 2 through 23, 2020
Wondering if I could get a cheap phone AND international plan in Spain. Arriving march 2nd in Madrid will walk from Leon. Would like to be able to call in Spain and call my son at home. (Worried mom....lol he is 20 but ...) just to check in.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
You'll be keeping an eye on the youngster when he's 40, believe me:). I can't speak to buying a phone, but I have an unlocked cell phone and buy a 'pay as you go' chip such as Orange Mundo or the equivalent from another provider when I am in Spain. The downside is that my phone thinks in Spanish for about 6 weeks after I get home! Actually, I usually use Facebook Messenger to talk and video chat with home. Provided the 'wiffy' (WiFi ) isn't too iffy, it works quite well.
 

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