Should I Get An International SIM Card For Use When Iím Abroad? Are There Other Better Options?

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Buying an international SIM card for use when travelling may seem like the simplest option, but itís not always the best value for money. There are quite a number of issues to consider when you are thinking about keeping in contact with people when youíre abroad, and they differ from person to person and time to time, depending on all sorts of things. These include how long the overall trip is to be, length of time to be spent in individual countries, and whether you really need to be in regular contact with friends and family at home. An international SIM card can be a valuable and convenient asset, and some people enjoy the kudos they think it gives them to be able to make calls on an international SIM card when everyone else is madly swapping SIMs at each border - but an international SIM card may not always be your best option, so see below for some pointers on how to choose the best way for you to communicate when youíre abroad.

If youíre planning to use your existing contract on Ďroamingí you may have to contact your provider before you leave and check that roaming is switched on. Then, itís a good idea to check with your service provider as to how much phone calls and texts will cost to both make and receive in the country or countries you plan to visit (many people are unaware that they will probably be charged to receive calls while abroad). At the same time, ask which will be the cheapest network in each of those countries, so that you can be sure you use that one, rather than relying on your phone to find a network automatically.

Some contracts allow for a certain number of international calls to be included, so check with your provider to see exactly what the limits are for doing this. Most pay-as-you-go (PAYG) contracts, however, do not have special rates when it comes to travelling abroad, so thereís a good chance youíll find PAYG an expensive option. You may also be using a free SIM card with PAYG credit for your UK calls, but this is often the most expensive way of communicating from outside the UK. Check out the free SIM cards in the country to which you will be travelling, though; these can offer great value.

Buying free SIM cards with a pay-as-you-go tariff (amazingly, some free SIM cards include a certain amount of credit before you even start!) for use in the country or countries you are visiting. However, you will need to swap your free SIM card back to the UK one each time you call home, or otherwise you will be hit with international charges all over again!

If youíre visiting a large number of countries, and simply donít want to carry round more than one SIM, an international SIM card is a great idea. It may not always be the cheapest option, but using an international SIM card is convenient, easy and you donít need to remember to change your SIM all the time!

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