Best SIM card for EU roaming data?
July 19, 2014 11:28 PM   Subscribe

I will be traveling for 10 days in Germany (2 days), Denmark (2 days), and Sweden (6 days) at the end of this month. Voice and texting is relatively unimportant, but I do need data for maps, keeping in touch with my traveling companions, etc. What's the best way to do this, given that I'm in Greece at the moment and need the SIM card by Friday?

I saw this question from last year, but I know that these things are constantly in flux, especially since the new roaming regulations went into effect July 1 this year.

I would prefer not to get a new SIM card in each country, but I guess I'll consider if it that's best way to do it.

I currently have a Greek Cosmote pay-as-you-go sim card ("What's Up"), but I'm willing to get switch to Vodafone or Wind if that's more economical. Are those my options? Any other suggestions?
posted by crazy with stars to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
From your description is sounds like your data requirements would be "light" - a few maps and web pages over 3g with any heavy use saved for times you are connected to wifi. For the sake of convenience it also sounds like you should pick one operator and then roam with them as required.

Given this: pay attention to how operators charge for their data. The traditional model is to invoice you a given amount for each day that you use any roaming data - and then to parcel in a given number of MB for each of those days. If you over-use your allocation you must pay at a premium rate and if you under-use it you will waste capacity - and you must decide in advance if you wish to enable data roaming for a particular day. This is a great model for the operators but not so great for you. A better option would be to go with one of those operators who simply charge by the MB (the UK's GiffGaff is one such example - but there are probably many others). That way you can enable roaming continuously.
posted by rongorongo at 12:28 AM on July 20, 2014

It's also fairly easy to keep data usage low in these areas -- public Wifi is easy to find (e.g. in Sweden, if you see a Max or McDonalds, you can often get on their public net without even entering the premises). Combine that with offline maps (figure out how that works on your device before the trip) and keep roaming off when you're not using the phone (otherwise you may end up with some app using up your allocation on pointless syncing alone), and you can get by with very limited data use.
posted by effbot at 1:55 AM on July 20, 2014

I just switched to the (US) T-Mobile international plan before a trip to Europe -- nearly unlimited international data and texts for $50/month. Voice while outside the US is $0.20/minute. I'm not sure if they have a similar plan available once you're already there.
posted by autopilot at 8:23 AM on July 20, 2014

Response by poster: I ultimately used Cosmote's Travel and Surf plan, which got me 150 MB of data for a week. Not ideal, especially since the service was pretty bad compared to their service in Greece, but it was better than nothing. I suspect the next time I have this question the situation will have changed again, hopefully for the better.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:19 PM on August 22, 2014

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