Money Saving Tips on an International Cell Phone

How to Save Money and Get Great Service on an International Cell Phone Rental or Purchase

We all love the convenience of cell phones, especially while traveling internationally on business, vacation, and even on a honeymoon. I carried this to an extreme once as a tour leader for Shalhevet High School students...while riding on a camel near the Dead Sea in Israel, I phoned my wife, Lida, in Los Angeles!

To give you a general idea of costs, I have listed several international cell phone short term rental rates, including phone insurance, voice mail, caller ID, call waiting, battery, charger, and case. As you will see below, cell phone rates in Israel are by far the cheapest in the world.

Country
Daily Rental
Calls To U.S.A. per min.
Incoming Calls per min.
China, Italy, +
$5.49
$2.99
$1.99
England
$5.49
$0.89
Free
Israel
$0.99
$0.39
Free









International cell phone costs vary around the globe because even with the increasing popularity of cellular phones and technological advances, countries have different cell phone standards, different cell networks, or have limited or no cell access. You can save money by making sure you know what to ask and by following my recommendations. One international cell phone rental company may have access to local rates in England, whereas another company may not. This could save you $2.00 per minute in calls.

Here are some examples and recommendations for needing an international cellular phone outside the U.S.A. To see specific rate information and to order, just select the highlighted company. Before you go abroad, you will receive the phone, phone number, battery, charger, case, instructions, and return envelope. Once you arrive at your destination, the phone will activate. Upon returning home, just mail the international cell phone back in the supplied return envelope.

Traveling to one or more countries

  • Rent a GSM cell phone with a removable/rechargeable SIM card for each country from TravelCell
    Or
  • Use your existing GSM tri-band cell phone and buy a removable, rechargeable SIM card for each country from Telestial.
    Or
  • Buy a GSM tri-band cell phone with a removable, rechargeable SIM card for each country from Telestial.
    Or
  • For only a day or two in a country, just buy an international phone card before you depart from SpeedyPin, or when you arrive, buy one at the airport, train station, or kiosk.
Traveling to one or more countries, and Israel
  • For countries other than Israel, rent a GSM international cell phone with a removable, rechargeable SIM card for each country from TravelCell
    And
  • For Israel, rent an Israeli cell phone with built-in walkie-talkie from Amigo-US.
    Or
  • For Israel, rent a regular Israeli cell phone from TravelCell
    Or
  • Use your existing GSM tri-band international cell phone and buy a removable, rechargeable SIM card for each country from Telestial.
    Or
  • Buy a GSM tri-band international cell phone with a removable, rechargeable SIM card for each country from Telestial.
Traveling to Israel
  • Rent an Israeli cell phone with built-in walkie-talkie from Amigo-US.
    Or
  • Rent a regular Israeil cell phone from TravelCell
    Or
  • Use your existing GSM international cell phone and buy an Israeli removable, rechargeable SIM card from Telestial.
    Or
  • Buy a GSM tri-band international cell phone with a removable, rechargeable SIM card for Israel from Telestial.
Traveling where there is limited or no international cell phone or landline infrastructure, including a cruise
  • Rent a satellite phone from TravelCell.

Money Saving Tips

Is it cheaper to rent or purchase an international cell phone? Humm, let's see.
  • If you already have a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) tri-band international cell phone, you can swap your existing SIM card with a SIM card for the country you will visit. You can buy the new SIM card before you go on your trip from Telestial.
  • If you don't already have a GSM tri-band international cell phone AND you are staying for a several weeks and/or you regularly travel internationally, you can buy a GSM phone, then buy or rent a SIM card for the country you will visit from Telestial. This would still be less expensive than a straight rental and paying the high rates per minute. Actually, owning your own tri-band GSM international cell phone in the U.S.A. today is easy since cell phone carriers in the U.S.A., such as AT&T;, Cingular, and T-Mobile now offer tri-band GSM international phones from vendors like Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. Just make sure you buy a tri-band international cell phone so you can use the phone in both the USA and other countries.
  • Many European countries have standardized on the GSM system for international cell phones, however roaming charges between countries can be expensive.
  • If you are traveling to different countries for at least 3-4 weeks and the countries use GSM international cell phones, you can save on roaming charges if you buy or rent a SIM card for each country from Telestial. Check to see if the carriers have special promotions eliminating or reducing roaming charges. In any case, you can stop at many shops to purchase additional minutes for recharging the SIM card.

Are there different rates for short or long term rentals?
Don't forget to check to see if the international cell phone provider has discounts for long term rates. Also, they might have free minutes as part of the long term rates. Some providers will give a discount for students, too. Be sure that if you are studying abroad for 10 months, don't sign up for a year contract.

Are rates for calling home to the U.S.A. or Canada the same for all companies?
An international cell phone company may offer low daily or monthly rates or low local rates, but may have high per minute rates to the USA and Canada for international cell phone rental.

Can I get free or discount calls to cell phones on the same carrier?
Some international cell phone carriers offer free or discounted minutes when calling cell phones on the same carrier or with walkie-talkie type calls with Amigo-US. These discounts vary between short and long term contracts.

How can I compare prices on international cell phone rental rates?
When comparing rates, compare apples to apples; phones to phones, be sure to compare like models of phones. An international cell phone that has a color screen, has Internet access, or has PDA capabilities may rent for twice or three times a simple model.

Free cell phone accessories
When renting an international cell phone, make sure that you do not have to pay extra for the battery, battery charger, case, and belt holster. Ask to have these items included in the costs.

Free incoming calls?
Some international cell phone vendors don't charge for incoming calls for select countries. Yes, zilch, zero, nada, shum devar!

Will buying insurance save you money?
I recommend that you buy insurance in case you lose or damage the international cell phone, otherwise you will be liable for about $350. Some companies include insurance in their international cell phone rental rates, while others have costs starting at $0.25 per day.

What if there is no international cell phone service where you're going?
When traveling in remote areas, international cell phones may not work. Fortunately, by renting a satellite phone, you are no longer at the mercy of non-existent or limited local wireless telephone infrastructure. Because of their special technology, international satellite phone rates are usually higher than other types of phones -
Weekly rental fee = $149.00
Outgoing calls = $2.49 / minute.

When you need an international cell phone in some remote location, the costs are reasonable, considering the alternative. Rent an international satellite phone from TravelCell.

How can I save money when calling an international cell phone from a U.S.A. landline phone?
Do you know the international long distance rates that your family, friends, or business associates will pay to call your international cell phone while you're abroad? I switched my direct-dial long distance carrier to CogniWorld and saved 50% when calling international cell phones.