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Using a phone on a Cricket plan abroad

Discussion in 'BYTE ME: Technology discussion' started by bosoxsue, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    I’m traveling to Ireland and the U.K. twice over the next several months. My iPhone 7 is on a Cricket plan. I only see international options available for data through Cricket if traveling to Canada or Mexico. Can anyone recommend a way I could use my phone while not on wifi? I anticipate I’d like to have access to online maps and Yelp while walking around. I figured there might be a way I could swap a SIM card, but I’m not sure where to look. I’ve seen things on eBay but would prefer to get guidance before buying anything. And if I did swap the SIM card, is it a plug-and-play kind of thing?
     
  2. Seven Costanza

    Seven Costanza Fred Astaire of SoSH SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,686
    If your iPhone 7 is 'unlocked' (I assume it is, but double check), swapping sims is probably the way to go. At least in the UK (and I'm sure Ireland as well), pay as you go sims are pretty easy to come by and fairly inexpensive. When I visit the UK, I'll generally spend about $20 on a sim from a mobile carrier shop (EE or Three are what you'd want in the UK) and that gives me a local number and all the data I can possibly use for a month. (Contrast that with Verizon, which charges me $10/day to use my plan in the UK) It absolutely is plug and play, although you might want to wait around in the shop while it sets itself up in case you need help. Simply swap your Cricket sim back in when you land here at home.

    You can buy sim cards online before you go, in corner stores, at the airport, etc. I just find it easier personally to go to a carrier store (think a Verizon or At&T store here) and conduct the transaction there. Better networks, and employees that will help you in case you need it.

    Depending on the timing of your trips, you may be able to buy a 1 month sim and use that for both trips- just make sure you don't lose it in between trips. Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure the EU just recently instituted roaming regulations as well- I think you may be able to use a UK sim in Ireland now w/o roaming, and vice versa.
     
  3. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    That is exactly what I was hoping to hear. The phone is indeed unlocked. Many thanks for your guidance.
     
  4. uk_sox_fan

    uk_sox_fan Member SoSH Member

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    920
    Confirmed that when in the EU on a U.K. sim you no longer have to roam.
     
  5. Seven Costanza

    Seven Costanza Fred Astaire of SoSH SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,686
    Absolutely! I love talking about this stuff, so if you have any more questions fire away.

    I'll just restate that it will be VERY easy for you to find a 'pay as you go' SIM anywhere in the UK or Ireland (any corner store, supermarket, myriad places in the airport, etc) but I'd strongly recommend going to a carrier store and just getting one there if possible. Just walk in, say 'I'm here for X days, and I'd like as much data as I can get in a pay as you go monthly SIM'. They'll set you right up -and if it's more than say 30-35 bucks, you're paying too much.

    Also, if you use a local sim you'll see some stuff on your iphone about having a new number for imessage, facetime, etc- don't sweat this, your contacts will remain the same. It'll revert back to your American number when you get home and put your cricket sim back in.
     
  6. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    Great advice! I was close to buying a SIM card on eBay, but I like the sound of going to a carrier store to get one to have them walk me through it. So I'd have a different phone number and would tell the person in my contacts that when communicating. I suppose the best thing to do is email for something that needs to be written or use Messenger/WhatsApp if not near wifi. I see that iMessage works for texting as usual when on wifi.
     
  7. Seven Costanza

    Seven Costanza Fred Astaire of SoSH SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,686
    Presuming you're not going directly to the middle of nowhere, any high/main street in any UK city/town will have multiple carrier stores on it. As long as you're able to navigate to one of them after you land, they'll set you right up. Should take anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour.

    You will have a different phone number while the other sim is in your phone. You're 100% correct that messenger/whatsapp will work with the new SIM (whatsapp will use the original number you set your account up with, presumably your American #). iMessage will also work, although your contacts will most likely see the message coming from a new number (as they have your 'name' saved under your American #). You can confirm how your iMessages initially go out by going on your iPhone to Settings-> Messages -> Send & Receive -> Start New Conversations From. Start New Conversations defaults to your actual phone number, but you can change it to your email address linked to your Apple account which presumably people will recognize. Feel free to switch back when you get your American number back. Or alternatively you can just tell them you'll be texting from a UK number for a period of days ;-)
     
  8. Blacken

    Blacken Robespierre in a Cape SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,745
    Seven's right, with one caveat to the "just pick a SIM": Lycamobile used to be your best bet (and easy to find, they're the awful-looking bright blue stores everywhere), but their shit has gone absolutely byzantine. I went to France after using them for the last 3-4 trips abroad and trying to get the SIM I bought to activate was an exercise in frustration.
     
  9. Seven Costanza

    Seven Costanza Fred Astaire of SoSH SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,686
    To that end, I'd stick to either EE or Three in the UK (as UK Sox Fan posted above, both will work in Ireland too with no issues). I've used both- coverage and price are roughly the same. Absolutely zero complaints or issues with either.

    You'll see Vodafone everywhere too but that should be a distant third option- only if necessary.
     
  10. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    Thank you again, everyone. I'm using a Schwab debit card over there and not getting any currency until I actually arrive in the country (vs. preordering from AAA), but let me know if that's a bad idea. I haven't traveled abroad in a long time.
     
  11. Joe Sixpack

    Joe Sixpack Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    3,529
    That's not a bad idea as long as there are no foreign transaction fees with the debit card (you should check first).

    Using a local ATM + no transaction fee credit card (and if you are using your card in touristy places they will sometimes give you the option to charge in USD or the local currency -- always choose the local currency so you're not letting the merchant hit you with their own fees) is the way I usually handle things when leaving the country.
     
  12. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    Great advice! Thank you. I wouldn't have been prepared for that local-vs.-USD question. I opened the Schwab account because none of my credit cards were free of foreign transaction fees, and with my credit frozen, I couldn't apply for a card that was more attractive in that way. My co-worker's wife works for NerdWallet and suggested I open a Schwab checking account because its debit card doesn't charge fees on foreign transactions or at any ATM, actually.
     
  13. cgori

    cgori Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,135
    A third recommendation for EE/Three in the UK. I got an EE sim with 8-10GB of data for about $13 last time I was there, more than enough.

    You’ll want to avoid promotional SIMs if you can - you want something where all the data is part of the plan. The one I got had something where you had to install another app and click a link to get 6-8GB of the total and I had real problems with it and ended up having to find another EE store in another town to get it resolved. (It did get resolved, was just an extra step)

    By far your best bet is to go to an EE store and have them install / activate / verify the SIM for you before you walk out of the store. If I had done that it would have saved me the second trip.
     
  14. bosoxsue

    bosoxsue Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,404
    This is a huge help -- thank you again, everyone!
     

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