You will need a working cell phone in the UK, but sticking with your US call plan will make matters very expensive. Most students take their handset to the UK and purchase a British SIM card at the earliest opportunity, which they insert into the phone. In order to do this you need to ensure the phone is “unlocked” before you leave home. Most students choose not to get a contract/ pay monthly phone and instead to opt for ‘pay as you go’, topping up data whenever they run out. You can top up your credit in many places: newsagents, mobile phone shops, supermarkets and anywhere you see the top up vouchers advertised.
There isn’t one company which definitively offers a better deal than the rest, since new bargains will always appear, but it might be a good idea to visit a shop like Carphone Warehouse for advice rather than buying the first SIM card that you see. The shop Three has also offered some good deals in the past.
Good news! Using your phone in most countries around Europe costs just the same as in the UK. The complete list of countries included in this deal are – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. Countries you may be visiting which aren’t include Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Morocco–because none of them are in the EU. What will happen when the UK leaves the EU? We’ll have to wait and see…
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.