How to call your relatives from abroad with an international SIM card? Here are all our tips on how to save money!
When travelling abroad, it is not uncommon for people to have to make a call, because they have to deal with an unexpected situation or simply to give news to their loved ones. I remember that, ten years ago, calling from abroad in France was a mission that sometimes generated an exorbitant extra cost. You had to buy prepaid calling cards, find a phone booth or go to an Internet café equipped with phones…You can visit simoptions.com for more about prepaid SIM cards. In recent years, most people have had a smartphone in their pocket, but again, you need a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data access, which can be expensive depending on the country you are in.
From now on, a wide range of solutions exist for calling from abroad. Nowadays, what is called roaming – a feature that allows you to use your phone or any connected device when your operator’s network is not available – is simple if you travel within the European Union. But, what about calling from outside the borders of our old continent? Here are the alternatives to the international package to contact your family and friends and make calls from abroad.
Use a mobile application
Before discussing the value of an international SIM card, you can of course use the SIM card of your usual mobile operator to make calls from abroad, but you may need to activate an option to use your international plan. It is also necessary to make sure before leaving that your mobile phone is working properly in the destination country and to check the rates from abroad of your mobile package, which are often very high. If you are in a 3G/4G coverage area or have Wi-Fi access, you can use Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp applications to call from abroad. Personally, I always use WhatsApp when I travel, but only in Wi-Fi when I go to stay with the locals via Airbnb for example.
But what if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection? Since June 15, 2017, the European Union has required operators to allow their customers to use the same services as in their country of residence through intra-Community countries. In Europe, a mobile plan works as in France, with unlimited SMS and MMS and 1 to 100 GB of mobile data. But outside Europe, the activation of mobile data often generates an exorbitant extra cost. When I travelled outside Europe – to Taiwan and Bosnia – in 2017, for example, I had to pay extra fees because of my repeated connections to 4G…
Choose a local SIM card?
You can, in the old way, opt for the local SIM card of the country you are going to, but you will have to change it at each border crossing. And each time you visit a new country, you will have a different phone number: difficult in this case to be reachable by your relatives. I remember when I went to live in Australia for a year – before smartphones – I had to regularly buy credit vouchers in a tobacco shop and enter the code to recharge my credits and call France: fortunately, this very expensive solution for calling from abroad is now over!
To avoid this pitfall, you can buy an international SIM card, which you can use anywhere in the world: book accommodation, call a taxi, find someone, find your way around using a GPS, organise your day, call a relative for an emergency, etc. There are many reasons why a traveller calls, sends an SMS or accesses the Internet from abroad.
The international SIM card
Launched by some telephone operators, this international SIM card operates in 194 countries and is associated with a single telephone number, allowing you to connect anywhere, in any country in the world. It will allow you to make calls from abroad in France, with a prepaid international plan in advance.
It is therefore a question of consulting online the call rates in force in the country concerned, and buying the international SIM card online. Once the credits are exhausted, it is possible to recharge your SIM card through the interface of your account. No more roaming charges and roaming problems! Data rates are also cheaper than a traditional mobile plan. Please note that once the international SIM card has been ordered, sending it by post is free of charge.
In fact, we always know what we are paying and there are no more surprises related to the off-package. You order online for your international SIM card, which you receive by post and can call from abroad, without obligation or subscription. This solution also allows you to use the card again at any time for a second trip: there is no expiry or validity date, so it’s very appreciated.