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So before I left, I decided to research the best travel sim card for Europe.

You see, I understand you can buy a cheap sim so long as you have an unlocked handset when you land in your destination country which suits most people just fine for a 2-3 week vacation, but when you’re looking to travel to more than 15 countries over 6 months, the thought of buying and sorting out a new number every week or so didn’t sit well with me, or alternatively, taking your home phone on global roaming and being charged hundreds of dollars for a 3min call or quick check of google maps to find your hotel was as equally unappealing.

I looked deeper and uncovered a range of “travel sims” – sim cards set up especially for the traveler who wants to control their budget on their phone while travelling but still have the flexibility and convenience of being able to make a call wherever they are without hassle. These travel sims are pre paid, have data, txt and call rates comparative to local providers (depending on the country) and can be topped up online.

Enter the Travel SIMs

From my research, I found three solutions that I reviewed – TravelSIM, AussieSIM and TruSIM. All these travel sim cards are very similar with some slight differences. What I can tell from my extensive research of their websites is this:

What Countries Do They Work In?

Travel SIM’s website says their card works in 160 countires, TruSIM 220, Aussie SIM seems to be continent specific.

Porting Your Number

TravelSIM gives you a new number, Tru sim lets you keep your own (plus have 2 others) but you have to port it from your current provider which may mean breaking your contact with your existing provider and paying any fees / outstanding bills to do so, Aussie SIM you can keep your number.

Set Up Costs

  • Travel SIM is $49 for the SIM which includes $5 credit
  • Tru sim costs $29.99 and includes $15 credit
  • Aussie SIM is $49.95 includes $20 credit

Do I need to unlock my phone?

  • Yes – You’ll need an unlocked phone for all SIMs

Call, Data and Text Costs

  • Costs vary from country to country and also slightly depending where you are from – for this comparison I have used the same data where possible – an Australian using the SIM from Estonia, in Eastern Europe. Costs as per respective websites, June 2013.

Travel SIM:

  • TXT: $0.48c per text,
  • Local Call: N/A (could not find rate)
  • Call to Aust: $0.59 per min for calls
  • Data: $0.70 per MB
  • Recieve TXT: $0.0
  • Receive Call: $0.0

Tru SIM:

  • TXT: $0.20 per text
  • Local Call: $0.50c per min
  • Call to Aust: $0.50c per min
  • Data: $2.09 oer MB
  • Recieve TXT:
  • Receive Call:

Aussie SIM:

  • TXT: $0.10c per text
  • Local Call: $0.65 per min
  • Call to Home: $0.65 per min
  • Data: $0.45c per MB
  • Recieve TXT: N/A (could not find)
  • Receive Call: $0.17/min

After doing a test case, for my usage requirements the best solution seemed to be TruSim. I ordered my TRUSim online and it arrived within 7 days to Australia. The setup process was simple and they phone support staff were very helpful – they help you set up your new sim and phone.

Things I like about TRUSim

There are a lot of things I like about TRUSim.

The txt messages you get as you arrive in each country explaining the fees and charges of txt, call and data rates for that country. They are often less than the $0.20c as specified in the rates, often they are 15-16 cents.

There is a phone menu where you can check and top up your pre pay balance at any time for free.

The fact that the data works really well and even though it can be expensive in some countries (Sweden) in others (Like the UK) you can check Facebook, use google maps or other data related apps for a few mins for a fairly low cost (great for when you get lost in the early hours of the morning after a few drinks!).

Things I don’t like about TRUSim

For the most part this card has been excellent except for when I arrived in Stockholm to find that my txt messages were not working – I could call, and receive txts but txts I sent were not received by their intended recipients despite appearing to have gone through from my end. This problem seemed to rectify itself in Germany.

Also the SIM randomly loses signal in places where it previously had full service. There have been a number of times where I’ve had to go through the support area to try different strategies to get the signal back. It always comes back but sometimes takes a long time which is not ideal when you are trying to organise to meet someone for dinner or let them know when you’ve arrived!

This SIM card has come in very handy and has made meeting up with friends, staying in contact with family and working out where I am in the middle of the night much easier than last time I went travelling. I’m sure once some of the other bumps have been ironed out, that it will be smooth sailing from here.

I hope this helps you decide which SIM card to choose for your next travel adventure!