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Mini-review: SIM4Travel Roaming SIM

SIM4travelUpdated: With thanks to commenter ‘BigJohn’ for his note about the use of a Jersey Telecom number range.

One of the services I have been most remiss in not writing about after my time in China was SIM4Travel.  Now owned by the chaps over at Truphone we’ve been waiting for ‘a bit’ to see what exciting services they can offer using their own SIM cards.  However, in the meantime SIM4Travel still offers customers their original, cheaper alternative to your own operator’s roaming charges.  Costing £5.99 if purchased with £10 of calling credit the service provides a replacement roaming SIM with its own UK mobile number Jersey-based ‘07509’ number which will work in any unlocked phone.  Call costs to these numbers vary (15p per minute from a BT landline at the time of writing), but are often excluded from bundled minutes on mobile tariffs.

I used the service in Spain, China and Dubai during my travels instead of my Three contract SIM to achieve the following savings:

Calling between Spain / UK

  • Make call to UK from Spain:
    • 25p per minute with SIM4Travel
    • 25p per minute with Three
  • Receive call from UK in Spain:
    • Free with SIM4Travel
    • 10p per minute with Three

Calling between Dubai / UK

  • Make call to UK from Spain:
    • 49p per minute with SIM4Travel
    • 180p per minute with Three (contract)
  • Receive call from UK in Dubai:
    • Free with SIM4Travel
    • 80p per minute with Three

Calling between China / UK

  • Make call to UK from China:
    • 69p per minute with SIM4Travel
    • 180p per minute with Three (contract)
  • Receive call from UK in China:
    • 39p with SIM4Travel
    • 80p per minute with Three

In use the SIM4Travel operates slightly differently to a normal SIM.  When a number is dialled a slightly disconcerting ‘Call not allowed’ message is displayed briefly on the handset.  A few seconds later the service calls you back with the number you were calling ringing.  The service is managed via SIM4Travel website, where credit can be added to the account which operates as a pre-pay service, however an on-phone SIM menu is also available for basic tasks such as checking credit.

It all worked brilliantly for me and, having used up the complementary £5 of credit provided for the review, this will be a service I will use again – a particularly nasty bill shock on my contract SIM when I got home reminded me how easy it is to lose track of you spend overseas especially for calls received (I didn’t want to ask my UK-based contacts to bare the cost of calling my Chinese number).

My only gripe, if I have one, is that this service shouldn’t really need to exist.  Your operator ought to be able to offer the same pricing as this service, regardless what technical trickery is used to achieve it.  Having a seperate SIM for overseas use is a pain, but it’s one I’m willing to put up with to avoid the dread of the post-holiday phone bill… and anyway I’ve finally found a use for one of those ‘old’ phones I had tucked away in my desk draw.

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

5 replies on “Mini-review: SIM4Travel Roaming SIM”

They dont use normal UK Mobile Numbers, they use Jersey Mobile Numbers and calls to them are rarely allowed from UK mobile network inclusive minutes.

They have also recently introduced a 39p a day service charge.

Thanks John – I'll amend the post re: the number. Didn't think the service charge was very note-worthy given I save more than that if I recieve one call in 2 of the locations tested. What do you think?

I finally got around to using mine recently and was shocked by the 39p dailly access fee. I never saw this spelled out in their tariffs when I purchased it – I think this was added in recently. Also, after reading the fine print – hidden away – I discovered that the SIM card stays active for 270 days (whatever that means) but after 90 days of inactivity they charge you 2 GBP every 30 days to keep your credit valid! Another hidden fee. As far as I am concerned this deal is a major ripoff and will never use them again. I am currently looking (carefully) at other vendors such as gosim, oneroam, rangeroamer, etc however in the short run using my virgin uk and vodafone gr sims on roaming is a better deal. I went through the numbers and discovered that one needs to make a 4 minute call (either send or receive) before sim4travel begins to be cheaper than roaming on the other cards in the EU.

I finally got around to using mine recently and was shocked by the 39p dailly access fee. I never saw this spelled out in their tariffs when I purchased it – I think this was added in recently. Also, after reading the fine print – hidden away – I discovered that the SIM card stays active for 270 days (whatever that means) but after 90 days of inactivity they charge you 2 GBP every 30 days to keep your credit valid! Another hidden fee. As far as I am concerned this deal is a major ripoff and will never use them again. I am currently looking (carefully) at other vendors such as gosim, oneroam, rangeroamer, etc however in the short run using my virgin uk and vodafone gr sims on roaming is a better deal. I went through the numbers and discovered that one needs to make a 4 minute call (either send or receive) before sim4travel begins to be cheaper than roaming on the other cards in the EU.

I finally got around to using mine recently and was shocked by the 39p dailly access fee. I never saw this spelled out in their tariffs when I purchased it – I think this was added in recently. Also, after reading the fine print – hidden away – I discovered that the SIM card stays active for 270 days (whatever that means) but after 90 days of inactivity they charge you 2 GBP every 30 days to keep your credit valid! Another hidden fee. As far as I am concerned this deal is a major ripoff and will never use them again. I am currently looking (carefully) at other vendors such as gosim, oneroam, rangeroamer, etc however in the short run using my virgin uk and vodafone gr sims on roaming is a better deal. I went through the numbers and discovered that one needs to make a 4 minute call (either send or receive) before sim4travel begins to be cheaper than roaming on the other cards in the EU.

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