British holiday — the cell phone adventure part two

london-flagEarlier today I expressed the dizzying complexity I found when investigating how to obtain cellular phone service once I land at London’s Heathrow airport from the USA later this summer.

After all that frustration and nuisance I found more information for the weary traveler who despises needless complication and hassle: most terminals at Heathrow include a SIM LOCAL STORE just METRES beyond the immigration check point.

The shop sells unlocked phones and sim cards.  I have emailed them to see what else is available and how they suggest I handle all of the cellular needs for the trip — the micro SD card, power adapter, airtime, etc.

Sim Local seems to be the little secret that USA electronics stores don’t want you to know about and T Mobile especially doesn’t want you to know about.

As best as I can discover, the reason for the $2/minute airtime fee is ROAMING, something I’ve not encountered for a very very long time.  Of course I have not used TMobile since my first cell phone back in 2003.  That lasted just a year or two since T Mobile had TERRIBLE coverage in New York City compared to competitor Verizon (which can only be used in USA).

I am still looking for more information and emailed SimLocal to learn more for my trip.  But by all accounts I will save money by simply not adding any airtime to the T Mobile phone and using it just for this trip when in the USA to phone my taxi cab.

Yes, the new Sim card will cost me to purchase — about $20-$30 USD.  But for a card that will give me local phone charges to use — it’s worth it!

And oh yes — Heathrow has PAY PHONES and seems to really offer a lot for international travelers!

I will of course continue to update everyone on my British holiday adventures.  Now if only I had been able to find this information BEFORE I bought anything at Best Buy!  As a matter of fact, I’m wondering if I should ever shop Best Buy again!


2 thoughts on “British holiday — the cell phone adventure part two

  1. As an update: SimLocal did email me back and tell me they do carry microSD cards — after I already bought one at RiteAid. The email was vague and not very helpful. Obviously they want me to go to their stores in Heathrow so I can be sold to on the spot.

    I heard on a number of travel sites that much better SIM deals are available in London proper and across the UK — I think prudence says “use the payphones” until further into my trip when I can find a much better deal.

  2. Or just buy a pay as you go. Don’t use a payphone unless you have to. These days they are quite hard to find and general expensive. Get hold of a cheap pay as you go phone – and keep the card topped up. Many supermarkets will sell/top them up and if it’s JUST calls you want then that’s the way to go. Internet is another matter but you can get something similar – with £25 or so on a dongle. They are slightly fiddly to use and if you get one in a crappy area then your download rate will be SLOW, but London should be fine. The airport shops tend to be expensive.

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