It is strongly advised that you have a working cell phone whilst you are in the UK. It is not advised that you use your US sim card because the international call rate will likely be expensive. If you choose to bring your phone from home, you will need to purchase a UK sim card, which can be inserted into your phone on arrival. In order to do this you need to ensure the phone is “unlocked”.
Another option is to buy a cell phone on arrival. Prices start from £10 for a new one, to own the phone unit, then you credit money for your phone calls from as little as £5. These types of phones are called Pay as you go or Pay as you talk.
It will depend what you intend to use your phone for – international or local calls – as to what phone deal you choose. When you arrive in the UK, head to a store called the Carphone Warehouse (they can be found on most main streets) and talk with an advisor. This store has a wide variety of options from different brands. Also, a previous student used a company called “GiffGaff” and found information on its website – he strongly recommends it. Other stores that usually offer good deals include Lebara, Phones 4U, Virgin and The Orange Shop and can be found on any major high street. Prices do vary so it is best to shop around and not just dive in at the first sign of a phone shop!
You can top up your credit in many places: newsagents, mobile phone shops, supermarkets and anywhere you see the top up vouchers advertised.
If your phone is lost or stolen, it is possible to loan you a phone for a limited time while you find a replacement.
DON’T FORGET – even local calls cost money in this country. The only numbers that are free begin 0800 or 0500.
When you call home from England you need to dial:
001 + AREA CODE + NUMBER
Family and friends from the US need to dial:
011 + 44 + AREA CODE + NUMBER
(you must remove the first 0 from a UK area code / Area code for London is 020)
UK Calling Cards
British Telecom phone cards and calling cards can be bought from Post Offices and many newsagents. Calling cards can often reduce the costs of calling the US from the UK, especially from landlines (rather than public payphones). The number of minutes you get per pound depends on the type of phone card you buy. It pays to shop around to find the best deal.
USA Calling Cards
The main brands of calling cards bought in the USA will usually work here in England. Please note that 1-800 numbers DO NOT WORK OUTSIDE THE U.S. In order to use your calling card you need to dial a UK access number listed below. Calling cards work from public, private and cellphones. Please note there may be an extra connection charge to use a public payphone or cellphone. It is best to contact your cellphone provider and calling card company to find out any charges. Each country in Europe has a different access code, look at the website to find out more.
Internet Telephone Calls
There are now lots of online phone options – with a decent Internet connection and a headset you can get in touch with people all around the world very cheaply or even for free! Have a look at www.skype.com for more information (other suppliers exist).
You will see payphones in the street and in certain buildings throughout Britain. Most payphones accept coins and credit cards (check each phone as they vary). You can also use calling cards purchased from stores, newsagents, etc. Just follow the instructions above the phone.