How do I maintain multiple country specific telephoen numbers?
February 15, 2015 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling more internationally, right now between the US and the UK. I have an unlocked phone and switch SIM cards daily based on where I am (so I can check text messages/missed calls from the other number). This is getting annoying. Is there a Google Voice or other magic that makes this moderately less painful? Ideally I'd like it to make it easy for people to call/contact me on either number even if it is more cumbersome for me to make international calls from wherever I am.

Some more details:

- US number AT&T
- UK number Virgin Mobile

Would like to preserver both numbers without porting but if there's a great solution that's not possible without keeping my current numbers I'd be open.

In my ideal world I give people out both numbers and then they can just get ahold of me without caring where I am. WhatsApp/Facebook Messanger/etc. work great for some people but when they don't have that it is annoying, not everyone else, usually in the US is setup to not just text or call people.

I'm okay with paying for international calls/texts but romaing fees are way too expensive. I'm also okay with having international texts or calls just come in when I'm in a wifi zone.

I'd assume that with Google Voice or something I can achieve what I'm trying to do with minimal fees. I'm okay with data only voice calls like the quality I get over Facebook messenger, not ideal but better than having nothing.

Basically if I could just get top up / burner data plans in each country and make sure my data plan is up to date whereever I am with some minimal maintenance fees so calls and texts associated with the SIM card somehow magically get routed to the cheapest number, that would be great.

Does this make sense? Again, I'm willing to spend some money, I'm not on a shoestring budget, up until now I was switching SIM cards and paying two full voice and data plans which is a pain in the ass and expensive as I get hit with international charges when checking SMS or phone calls from whatever country I'm not in.

Also I've had US people not getting ahold of me fast enough when I've gone half a day without checking my US number and text my UK number which adds up.
posted by geoff. to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Two things you might look into:

Getting a US Skype number

Getting a dual-SIM phone
posted by penguinicity at 8:04 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Google Voice will only give you a US number.
It will also only forward calls/texts to a US number- but you can get it to forward voicemails and texts to your email when you're not in the US (that's how I have mine set up).
You can port your current US number to Google Voice-- although beware, I have had a few people not be able to use their system (the more technophobe types, but I can't see how that's the problem). And I also had a bunch of texts fall into some black hole caused by the unholy combo of apple's iMessage, Google Voice, and switching between my US T-Mobile SIM and my DK one.

And none of this helps for your UK number, because Google Voice wont' give you a UK number to use, nor will it forward your phone calls/texts to a UK number.
posted by nat at 8:09 AM on February 15, 2015

Get a dual-SIM phone.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:19 AM on February 15, 2015

With a dual SIM phone do I get charged international roaming if I get a text on a number outside the country I am in?
posted by geoff. at 8:24 AM on February 15, 2015

basically, yes. the sim card will behave as expected once it goes out of its country of service and gets on international roaming. but it will at least solve the problem of having to manually change sims every time, and on a dual sim phone, you can actually choose which sim to make your calls/texts with.
posted by cendawanita at 9:40 AM on February 15, 2015

but i should clarify, in my experience, i don't get roaming charges for receiving texts, only for sending them. calls do get charged either direction. (domestically, i don't get charged for incoming calls)
posted by cendawanita at 9:41 AM on February 15, 2015

If you want to avoid roaming charges in the US, you can port your UK number to Three. who have free roaming in the US.
posted by ambrosen at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2015

In the US you can switch to Tmobile, their postpaid plans include unlimited international data and text messages and 20c/minute calls.

(Cendawanita: most US phone plans charge to receive text messages)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:25 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could look into Truphone's consumer service and see if that works out for you.
posted by evoque at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2015

I used Truphone for a while and it worked fine. It should address your issue.

I only gave it up because I now just use Three as ambrosen points out. Especially since they have an unlimited data plan when I am in the US. It doesn't work for US callers but I don't have any US callers these days except my parents (who use FB to contact me) and work colleagues who will just have to dial me in the UK like they do anyways.
posted by vacapinta at 1:08 PM on February 15, 2015

I have had my cellphone forwarded to Skype and then from Skype to my local phone and local simcard when abroad. That way nobody needs a separate phone number for me. That doesn't help with the text message issue though.
posted by Che boludo! at 1:47 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cendawanita: most US phone plans charge to receive text messages

... that's... that's nuts.
posted by cendawanita at 5:50 PM on February 15, 2015

Your ideal situation of giving out both numbers isn't ideal for the people you are giving the numbers to: how will they know which one to call? Should they call both?

I would go the Skype route as Che boludo! said, but from experience I would do something different. Unless you are travelling for business, just turn both phones off. Leave a voicemail message telling people you are away travelling, and if they really, really need to contact you, they can e-mail you.

But you also get a local phone which one or maybe two people know the number of.

There there is this.
posted by devnull at 12:16 AM on February 16, 2015

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