After retiring we sat down and figured out where our money was going. One large expense was our cell phones. We were paying between $40 to $80 month. We re-though our calling habits and decided we could cut down on the number of calls per month, after all we are retired. We did not need all the bells and whistle ( web and e-mail) so ’pay as you go’ phone made sense. We do not use our cell phone for internet or e-mail at present. We could get our e-mail with a small net book at free wifi locations while traveling. Also we needed a phone that could be used internationally. So we got a basic phone that was unlocked and operated on multiple radio bands. An unlocked phone can be used with any carrier.
These phone us the GSM system that use 4 frequencies depending what country you are in
If your phone is dual band, it will normally work at either 1800MHz or 900MHz.
If it is tri-band, it will work at 1800MHz, 900MHz or 1900MHz.
A quad-band phone should work at 1800MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz or 850MHz.
For more information on what bands a country uses that you are going to http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/index.shtml.
The best cell is the quad band as you can use it worldwide although they are a bit more expensive. We settled with a tri-band which would work in the USA and Europe.
You can buy these phones over the internet or at amazon.com at a reasonable price although you can pick them up in Europe for a lot less.
While in the USA we used T-mobile which had a ‘pay as you go’ for $100 with 1000 minute and lasts a year before you need to refill. At the end of the year you can renew and carry over any unused minutes to the next year. What we found that was interesting was that the T-mobile in the USA would not work in England but a T-mobile sim card from England will work in England and the USA. The local T mobile store did not know why. They only dealt with US customers and have no interest of out of the country usage. While in England we use an ASDA (a Walmart subsidiary) sim card which in actual fact is using the Vodafone system. Their system was the cheapest at the time and has unlimited refill date. As long as you use it at least once every 6 months it stays active. So while in the USA I use the ASDA sim card to call the local house once every 6 months and answer and then hang up, this keeps the sim card active and only costs .80 cents or so for the call. So now we have an active low cost local cell phone when we step off a plane in Europe.