International SIM card: how do I make calls from abroad?

How do you call your loved ones from abroad with an international SIM card? Here’s how to save money!

When you’re traveling abroad, it’s not unusual to have to make a call, either to deal with an unforeseen situation or simply to give your loved ones some news. I remember that ten years ago, making a call from abroad to France was a mission that sometimes generated exorbitant additional costs. You had to buy prepaid calling cards, find a phone booth or go to a cybercafé equipped with telephones… For a few years now, most people have had a smartphone in their pocket, but here again, you need a WiFi connection or access to mobile data, which can be expensive depending on the country you’re in.

Nowadays, there’s a whole range of solutions for making calls from abroad. Nowadays, roaming – the ability to use your phone or any other connected device when your operator’s network is unavailable – is simple when traveling within the European Union. But what about outside Europe? Here are the alternatives to the international plan for contacting friends and family and making calls from abroad.

Using a mobile application

WhatsApp, messagerie instantanée

Before discussing the benefits of an international SIM card, you can of course use your usual mobile operator’s sim card to make calls from abroad, but you may need to activate an option to use your international package. Before you leave, you should also check that your cell phone works properly in the destination country, and check the rates of your mobile package abroad, which are often very high. If you’re in an area with 3G/4G coverage or WiFi access, you can use Skype, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to call from abroad. Personally, I always use WhatsApp when I’m traveling, but only via WiFi when I’m staying with a local via Airbnb.

But what if you don’t have a WiFi connection? Since June 15, 2017, theEuropean Union has required operators to allow their customers to use the same services as in their country of residence across intra-EU countries. In Europe, a mobile package therefore works as in France, with unlimited SMS and MMS and 1 to 100 GB of mobile data. But outside Europe, mobile data activation is often exorbitantly expensive. On my trips outside Europe – to Taiwan and Bosnia – in 2017, for example, I had to pay extra for my repeated 4G connections…

Choosing a local SIM card?

Acheter une carte SIM locale en voyage

Photo credit: Flickr – mroach

In the old-fashioned way, you can opt for the local SIM card of the country you’re visiting, but you’ll have to change it every time you cross a border. And each time you visit a new country, you’ll have a different phone number, making it difficult to be reached by your loved ones. I remember when I went to live in Australia for a year – before smartphones – I regularly had to buy credit coupons in a tobacconist’s and enter the code to top up my credits and call France: fortunately, this solution, which was very expensive to call from abroad, is now a thing of the past!

To avoid this pitfall, you can buy an international SIM card, which you can use anywhere in the world: to book accommodation, call a cab, find someone, use a GPS to find your way around, organize your day, call a relative in an emergency, and so on. There are many reasons why a traveler might want to call, text or access the Internet from abroad.

The Explod international SIM card

Explod, carte SIM internationale

Launched by operator Explod, this international SIM card operates in 194 countries and is associated with a single telephone number, enabling connection anywhere in the world. It will enable you to make calls from abroad to France, with a prepaid international rate plan. First of all, Explod offers four SIM cards, at different rates:

  • 35 € : SIM card and 15 € credit,
  • 50 € : SIM card and 35 € credit,
  • 75 €: SIM card and 65 € credit,
  • 95 € : SIM card and 95 € credit.

This involves consulting the communication rates in force in the country concerned, and purchasing the Explod international SIM card online. Once you’ve used up your credit, you can top up your SIM card via your Explod account interface. No more roaming charges and roaming problems! You can now call abroad for €0.20 or €0.50 per minute, whereas making a call outside France used to cost upwards of €2.5 per minute! Data rates are also lower than for a traditional mobile package. And once you’ve ordered your international SIM card, you’ll receive it free of charge by post.

In fact, you always know what you’re paying, and there are no more surprises about out-of-pocket charges. You order your Explod international SIM card online, receive it by post and can call from abroad, with no commitment or subscription. The Explod solution also means you can use the card again at any time for a second trip: there’s no expiration date or validity limit, which is a great advantage.

Main photo credit: Pexels – Bruce Mars