Best way for a UK citizen to manage money and cellphones in Europe?
May 9, 2014 6:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm a Canadian/UK citizen living in London and I'm going travelling in Europe for three months. What's the best way for me to manage my money/cell phone plan while I travel? Requirements and details over the fold.

Over the next three months I'll be visiting Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Croatia, and Hungary. Some places I'll only be a day or two, other I'll be several weeks. I would like to have access to a 3G data network everywhere I go. I have an unlocked iPhone 5S. Is there a company that is generally reliable in all of these countries, or has any coverage overlap? I don't really need text or minutes - as long as I have 3G, I can WhatsApp anyone I need to talk to, and use the 3G network to find my way around.

Also, for financial management: I have XXXX pounds, and XXXX Canadian dollars. What's the best way to make sure that this money can go the farthest in the Eurozone, and outside of it (Croatia and Hungary)? Should I buy a traveller's credit card? Should I just use my own cards and rely on my banks conversion rate? Should I convert it all to Euros and regional currencies and carry that around with me? Thanks for any help.
posted by Cpt. The Mango to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Best answer: Money: use euros for small purchases, credit card for everything else. Make sure you have a good credit card that doesn't have high fees. Always choose to "pay in euros" if prompted.

Hungary/Croatia: you'll generally need to withdrawn money into the local currency from your normal bank account, credit card acceptance is not as widespread in Croatia.
posted by devnull at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: With regard to having a mobile data plan, have you assessed what data you think you want to access while on the road? Personally, I generally find that saving my data access for when I have access to wi-fi and then caching as much as possible (e.g. Google Maps) is sufficient for most of my trips.

If you really need to access data over 3G, you are probably better off getting a pay-as-you-go sim card in each country, since I'm not sure there is a single plan that will cover all of those countries.
posted by oclipa at 7:01 AM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: For what its worth, every place we went to on the Croatian coast took euros and in some cases only quoted prices in euros. The places is full of Italians and other Europeans and caters to them.

I live in the UK too. Whenever we go to Europe, even for an extended time, we just use our UK debit card to withdraw money from bank machines in Euros. The rates have always been really good though that may depend on the bank.

Can't comment on the best mobile data plan. We usually just use our carriers data roaming rates of about £2 a day but I'm sure there is better options.
posted by vacapinta at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: MoneySavingExpert recommends Data Roam who offer roaming data only packages. Prices are much cheaper than the bolt ons or international packages you get from the main providers. You can probably do better buying a local SIM but if you are only there for a couple of days then that might be a bit of a faff and you could end up wasting money on credit you have to buy when you first get the SIM but then never get the chance to fully use.

You may also want to look at what the MVNOs also offer - companies that don't own their own network such as Tesco Mobile or Lebara. Although my gut feel is that they will probably only be marginally better than the big networks.

Regarding quality whilst you are abroad, this shouldn't matter to you as you are roaming so your phone will generally latch onto the best signal. Even if it doesn't (as some SIMs do have a priority) you can always override it in the phone settings.
posted by mr_silver at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: MoneySavingExpert also recommends credit cards to use abroad. Last year I followed their advice to get a Halifax Mastercard, which doesn't have fees for withdrawing cash outside the UK. I just used that in ATMs (including Hungary, France and several other countries on a 3 month trip), and never had problems.

Also, like Croatia, many places in Hungary will take Euros (although they may give you change in forints).
posted by Pink Frost at 7:09 PM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: I should have linked to the MoneySavingExpert article for you to look at. Lots of good stuff in there.
posted by mr_silver at 1:22 AM on May 10, 2014

« Older Resources for Dealing with High-Stress Professions   |   Ye Olde Tyme Suicide? Okay, not that old, but... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.